A staffer working for Rep. Darrell Issa's Oversight Committee on financial regulation issues has come under scrutiny by ThinkProgress for changing his name after he left his previous position at Goldman Sachs. The story implied that he changed his name three years ago to hide his background with the company.
But Peter Haller, formerly known as Peter Simonyi, said in a statement to TPM that he and his sister switched their names a few years back to respect the last wish of his grandfather to carry on his mother's family name.
His mother's father, Alfred haller-koi gr Haller, was killed by fascists in Budapest in 1944 when he tried to stop children from being conscripted into the military, Haller said.
“My mother, whose maiden name is Theodora Maria Theresia haller-koi gr Haller (in the U.S., Dora Haller), married Imre Gabor Simonyi and took his name. Her father Alfred haller-koi gr Haller was killed in Budapest in 1944 by fascists as he attempted to prevent children from being conscripted into the military. Prior to his return to Hungary in 1944, he served under Regent Miklos Horthy, as a Hungarian diplomat stationed in England supporting the British in opposition to Germany. His last request was that if Theodora marries, her husband and children would carry on the Haller name.”
"As my sister and I became adults, at some point discussions began that we should carry on the name of my mother's family, which had lived in Transylvania, up until it was granted to Romania under the Treaty of Trianon after World War I," Haller said.
"During a period of unemployment following my time at Goldman Sachs, I found the time to proceed with the name change, as did my sister," Haller said. "Please note my father and mother remain happily married to this day."
The War Nerd's Gary Brecher, however, begs to differ about this family tale, contending that if Peter's grandfather was killed by fascists, it was merely because he was from a different faction of fascists:
Miklos Horthy was “Regent” of Hungary from 1919 to 1944. If he was “supporting the British,” it was a well-kept secret. If only Hitler had known that about his pal Miklos, he might not have posed with him in quite as many photo ops, where you can see the Fuhrer and the Regent shaking hands, strolling together, taking a little ride in a convertible together, just generally lovin’ up a storm, as Jerry Lee would say.
[...] Horthy woke up a little later than most of them. Nobody ever said the old landlocked Admiral was a very smart fella. It wasn’t until 1944, when the Soviets had been bleeding the Wehrmacht for years, that Hungary tried to withdraw. And even then, they failed: The Nazis, with the worst intelligence system of any modern power, managed to find out that Horthy planned to ditch them, captured him and put a reliably insane Hungarian fascist in his place.
And if I remember correctly, Peter, it was in 1944 that your brave, “anti-fascist” ancestor with that aristocratic German name came back to Hungary, right? Weird timing, huh? A Horthy supporter who was “killed by fascists” in ’44—let’s translate that into something that makes sense. Grandpa Simonyi-Haller was a Horthy loyalist, you mean, an ordinary garden-variety nationalist-fascist Hungarian/German upper-class diplomat whose backer, Horthy, had tried to ditch his Nazi sponsors and failed. So what you mean, Peter m’boy, is that your fascist granddad was killed by OTHER fascists—and with a name like Grandpa had, it was pure German-on-German violence we’re talking about here—because his “moderate fascist” boss Horthy had double-crossed the German Army that he’d been cheering for as long as it helped him steal more land from the other gangs in South Central.