Republicans with a Fascist Heritage:Laszlo Pasztor

February 20, 1990

by Chip Berlet and Holly Sklar

The Bush administration works with former
Arrow Cross official Laszlo Pasztor, a convicted Nazi 
collaborator. Pasztor told us he has helped arrange White House 
briefings on Hungary and helped channel National Endowment for 
Democracy tax dollars to his friends in Hungary, all despite his 
much-publicized “resignation” from the ethnic arm of George 
Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign.

Having lost the battle to impose fascism on Europe, 
Pasztor emigrated to the United States. He followed in the 
footsteps of thousands of Nazis and Nazi collaborators protected 
and recruited by the CIA and its predecessor, the OSS, to resume 
the war on communism, a sickening episode documented in 
Christopher Simpson’s book “Blowback.” Now Pasztor and other 
former Nazi collaborators are eager to assist U.S. efforts to 
shape the post-Cold War world, especially in Eastern Europe.

Pasztor has misrepresented his past for yeaars, but leading 
Holocaust historian Randolph L. Braham fully documented Pasztor’s 
collaboration and conviction in the June/July 1989 issue of 
“Midstream.” After joining the rabidly anti-Jewish Hungarian 
Arrow Cross in 1939, Laszlo Pasztor became a leader of its youth  ð 7 3 Šorganization and later commanded a Nazi-armed paramilitary unit 
during the coup which toppled the Hungarian government in October 
1944. When the Nazis installed the genocidal Arrow Cross puppet 
regime, Pasztor was assigned to the Hungarian legation in Berlin 
as assistant secretary. After the war Pasztor spent two years in 
prison after his 1946 conviction by a court in the new multi- 
party Hungary.

In the 1950’s, Pasztor resettled in the United States. 
He joined the Republican Party’s campaign ethnic unit and, after 
Nixon’s election in 1968, Pasztor organized it into a permanent 
body, the Republican Heritage Groups Council. Pasztor became the 
founding chair of the Heritage Council into which he recruited 
individuals of anti-democratic political heritage such as the 
fascist Bulgarian National Front and Romanian Iron Guard, 
Ukrainian nationalist Nazi collaborators, and Italian-Americans 
tied to the fascist P-2 Masonic Lodge (which plotted to return 
Italy to dictatorship). Pasztor’s political career flourished, 
and by 1987 he was boasting of his frequent visits to the White 
House, State Department and Helsinki Commission.

Charges of Republican anti-Semitic and fascist ties, 
circulating since the 1960’s, resurfaced during the 1988 
presidential campaign in “Washington Jewish Week,” the 
“Philadelphia Inquirer” and a detailed Political Research 
Associates report by Russ Bellant. The potentially explosive 
campaign scandal was quickly short-circuited by the supposed 
removal of a few overexposed individuals including Laszlo Pasztor 
from the Bush Campaign’s National Coalition of American 
Nationalities. In fact, on January 27, 1989, just a few days 
after Bush’s inauguration, Pasztor was among the Hungarian-
American leaders invited to a State Department briefing by Mark 
Palmer, the U.S. Ambassador to Budapest, an incident reported 
months later far off the national front pages in the Braham 
article.

Pasztor told us he helped Bush White House staff stage an 
April 1989 briefing on Hungary. Members of the National Security 
Council reportedly attended the event held at the Old Executive 
Office Building next to the White House. The White House confirms 
the meeting took place and notes that Bush didn’t attend but 
otherwise White House officials are stonewalling. Pasztor 
apparently was on the original invitation list but was cut after 
warnings from other government agencies.

Following the 1988 campaign exposes numerous Jewish and 
human rights groups demanded a full investigation. The Republican 
Heritage Groups Council asked Chiang Kai-Shek booster Anna 
Chennault to oversee a report. Its facile dismissal of 
allegations was found unacceptable by Republican National 
Committee Chief Counsel Benjamin L. Ginsberg who warned Chennault 
that the Heritage Group’s continued tie to the Republican Party 
is “in severe jeopardy.”

Pasztor works with the Coalitions for America, a project
of New Right leader Paul Weyrich’s Washington-based Free Congress 
Foundation. The Pasztor-Weyrich-White House relationship is 
explored in a forthcoming Political Research Associates report on 
Coors family funding of right-wing groups, in which author 
Bellant discusses the close ties between Weyrich and Bush 
administration officials such as White House Chief of Staff John 
Sununu. Weyrich recently visited Hungary to help train neophyte 
political activists. Pasztor told us he did not personally brief 
Weyrich prior to the trip, but did provide a list of contacts. 
Weyrich is a political reactionary condemned even by conservative 
Catholics for his support of the Society for the Protection of 
Tradition, Family, and Property, a renegade neo-fascist Catholic 
sect closer to the ideals of the Spanish Inquisition than current 
Vatican teaching. The Hungarian Arrow Cross and several other 
WWII Eastern European pro-Nazi groups were termed clerical 
fascist movements because of their linking of Catholicism to 
fascism and theories of national and racial destiny.

Pasztor told us he is assisting the congressionally-funded 
National Endowment for Democracy (NED) by translating and 
evaluating grant requests by Hungarian and Czechoslovakian 
groups. NED, a so-called private agency, channels our tax dollars 
to numerous organizations led by old hands in CIA connected-
groups such as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Free Trade 
Union Institute. Pasztor claims he makes frequent phone calls to 
staff at the NED-related National Republican and National 
Democratic Institutes for International Affairs as well as to the 
German Marshall Fund. In July 1989 Pasztor reported to Weyrich 
regarding his involvement in obtaining “assistance for the anti-
communist democratic opposition behind the Iron Curtain” from 
NED.

At the NED board meeting of March 17, 1989, the 
Republican Party’s NED conduit, the National Republican Institute 
for International Affairs, was granted $25,000 to assist 
“independent youth organizations” in Western Europe and Eastern 
Europe, in part by encouraging “institutional cooperation between 
young European and U.S. political leaders.” The Democratic Party 
conduit, the National Democratic Institute for International 
Affairs, received $48,060 to “send a survey mission to Hungary to 
establish contact with emerging non-Communist political parties 
and others.” On September 15, 1989, the NED board approved a 
$35,000 grant to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce-affiliated Center 
for International Private Enterprise to assist the Hungarian 
Association for Private Entrepreneurs. In all, close to $400,000 
was allocated by NED in 1989 for Hungarian projects, with 
hundreds of thousands more allocated for other Eastern European 
programs.

Pasztor recently visited Hungary, telling associates he 
went there to clear his name. Pasztor told us he returned with a 
document confirming he was never “condemned as a war criminal,” 
which, while true, fails to explain away his Arrow Cross 
membership, conviction for Nazi collaboration, and later 
associations. In an interview, Braham dismissed as lies Pasztor’s
claims of secretly helping Jews while in the genocidal Arrow 
Cross. According to one Hungarian reporter, Pasztor’s trip came 
at a time when a visitor’s ability to attract hard currency 
investment and provide good contacts with the U.S. government for 
foreign aid would most likely make Hungarian officials ignore an 
Arrow Cross past. Pasztor says while in Hungary he “unofficially” 
met with leaders of several new political parties, including the 
Hungarian Democratic Forum, MDF, a group where anti-Semitism 
still resonates.

In recent months there was an attempt to lift the ban on 
the Arrow Cross Party in Hungary. Ethno-nationalist parties of 
Serbians, Croatians and Slovenians have already been announced in 
Yugoslavia where critics term them neo-Nazi. As the new wave of 
nationalism sweeps Europe it is essential that fascist forces be 
exposed lest they turn the dream of self-determination to a 
nightmare.
____________________________________

Chip Berlet, in 1990 was an investigative journalist with Political 
Research Associates in Cambridge, MA. He writes frequently about 
authoritarian movements.

Holly Sklar, the author of “Washington’s 
War on Nicaragua”, has been writing about the NED’s role in 
foreign policy.