One of the foremost authorities on Hungarian knowledge is Laszlo Karsai. In April 2014, on the 70th anniversary of the beginning of deportations, Karsai gave an interview in which he noted that:
Horthy and the political elite were perfectly aware from the summer of 1942 that the Germans were killing the Jews in the areas they occupied. The Germans had massacred about four million Jews by the end of 1942, and this was not entirely concealed from the Hungarian media. It is telling that when the chief editor of the governing party paper Pester Lloyd, György Ottlik, asked Dömé Sztójay while ambassador to Berlin in the autumn of 1942 what the Kallay government could do to regain the Germans’ trust, Sztójay answered that they should deport 300,000 Jews and then a little later negotiate this down to 100,0000. “When I noted”, wrote Ottlik, “that this meant the death of 100,000 people, Sztojay answered yes”. Now if Sztojay and a reporter from Pest were also clear in this matter, then the foreign minister and, of course, Horthy himself should have known about it.Karsai's draft chapter, The Fateful Year: 1942 in the Reports of Hungarian Diplomats, places these events in a more precise context:
On October 3, 1942, describing Hitler's speech of September 30, [Sztójay] reported to Kállay that "Chancellor Hitler repeatedly, and with the strongest terms inveighed against the Jews, whose extermination he promised. This constantly recurring, firm, and extremist attitude of his leaves no doubt that there is much more than empty propaganda behind his words, and there are facts to prove it, anyway." It can even be established with relative certainty from when the „well-informed” in Budapest knew that the Nazis were murdering the Jews they had put their hands on. György Ottlik, editor-in-chief of Pester Lloyd, a German language daily, which was close to the government, made a prolonged trip in Western Europe between August 18 and September 28, 1942. He visited Sztójay in Berlin, who, according to Ottlik, „... would rather Hungary did not wait until the urgent emergence of the issue [i.e. the Jewish question], but instead sped up the pace of the change of guard and deported a considerable portion of our Jewish population to occupied Russia. Our ambassador first mentioned 300,000 people, then, haggling with himself, lowered the number to 100,000. Upon my interspersed remark, he made no secret of the fact that this would mean not deportation but execution."Sztójay would also have been unconvinced by the attempts of the German Foreign Office to assuage the Hungarians. On October 5, 1942, Sztojay met Luther and expressed concerns that deported Hungarian Jews would not have a "continued existence." Luther replied that all evacuated Jews would "first be used in the East for road construction and would later be settled in a Jewish reserve [NG-1800, p.4]." This was clearly a lie because the reference to road construction at Wannsee, which Luther attended, had concluded that Jews would be finished off when their work was no longer needed. Although Sztójay was clearly not privy to Wannsee, he knew that the Nazis were not in the habit of keeping hundreds of thousands of Jews alive in the occupied eastern territories because he had been receiving reports from Hungarian diplomats, as Karsai meticulously documents. Luther had also been aware of mass shootings in the USSR because he wrote summaries of the reports (for example, see M.9/191).
Hitler made attempts to secure the deportation of Hungary's Jews when he met Horthy in April 1943 and March 1944. When the first of these failed, Hitler fumed that "the junk of small states which still exists in Europe must be liquidated as quickly as possible." Horthy in turn had drafted a letter to Hitler stating that "A further reproach of Your Excellency was that the [Hungarian] government has failed to take as far-reaching an action in the extirpation of the Jews as Germany had taken, or as would appear desirable in other countries." [source citing The Confidential Papers of Admiral Horthy, p. 255]. After the second meeting, during which Horthy was forcibly removed from power, Horthy noted that "Our crime is, therefore, that I have not fulfilled Hitler’s wish, and have not allowed the Jews to be massacred." [Karsai, p.69, citing Demokrácia, 5.8.45, pp.1-2]. Horthy had been stalling for two years, keenly aware of what would befall the Jews should he relent, but now his time was up, and the Jews could no longer be saved.