by Debra Heine · March 16, 2017
A story alleging that Trump aide Sebastian Gorka is a “crypto-Nazi” actually made the rounds today on left-wing media and even among mainstream news outlets. The allegation is so absurd one has to wonder if the White House baited the media into looking foolish.
The Forward published the story Thursday morning, claiming that Gorka is a lifetime member of Hungarian nationalist group Vitézi Rend. The charge was based on the hearsay of two members of the group.
The Forward characterizes Vitézi Rend as “Nazi-allied”, but that is a stretch. The group, also known as the “Order of the Valiant,” began in 1920 and is recognized as an “Institution of Chivalric Character” by the International Commission on Orders of Chivalry. During World War II, many members of the group collaborated with the Nazis — but many also died fighting against Hungarian Nazis, according to some historians.
Liel Leibovitz writes in Tablet:
Gorka’s father, Paul, was a dedicated member of the anti-Communist underground, and had risked his life to organize the Hungarian resistance and deliver vital information about the Soviets to western intelligence agencies, including the MI6.
He was eventually arrested, badly tortured, spent two years in solitary confinement and some more in forced labor in the coal mines before eventually escaping to England.
In 1979, Vitézi Rend awarded the elder Gorka with a medal for creating an anti-Communist, pro-democracy organization at the university he attended in Hungary and Gorka has occasionally worn the medal proudly in public.
Gorka spoke about the medal and his father’s torture at the age of 20 in a video last month for Breitbart News, which covered this smear of Gorka here:
To hear the piece tell it, Gorka, a top counter-terrorism advisor in the Trump White House, has sworn a lifetime oath to Vitézi Rend, an outfit that the story tells us is a nasty nationalist group in Gorka’s native Hungary that giddily collaborated with Hitler. Well, not the Vitézi Rend — that group was outlawed by the Communists, naturally — but the off-shoot of Vitézi Rend, resurgent after Communism’s fall in 1989. Or at least an off-shoot of the group: there are two, and Gorka, according to The Forward’s sources, appears to belong to one of them, called Historical Vitézi Rend. How do we know that? A member of the group, Kornél Pintér, said so. “Of course he was sworn in,” Pintér told The Forward in a phone interview. “I met with him in Sopron [a city near Hungary’s border with Austria]. His father introduced him.”
As Leibovitz noted, Pintér didn’t say that he’d witnessed Gorka’s swearing in, he merely said that he’d met the man because he was an associate of Gorka’s father Paul. Gorka told Leibovitz that the allegations are flat-out false: