The Info List - Hungarian Soviet Republic

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The Hungarian Soviet Republic
Hungarian Soviet Republic
or literally Republic of Councils in Hungary
(Hungarian: Magyarországi Tanácsköztársaság[2] or Magyarországi Szocialista Szövetséges Tanácsköztársaság[3]) was a short-lived (133 days) communist rump state[4] established in Hungary
in the aftermath of World War I. It was the successor of the first Hungarian People's Republic
Hungarian People's Republic
and lasted only from 21 March to 1 August 1919. Though the de jure leader of the Hungarian Soviet Republic
Hungarian Soviet Republic
was president Sándor Garbai, the de facto power was in the hands of foreign minister Béla Kun, who maintained direct contact with Lenin
via radiotelegraph. It was Lenin, who gave the direct orders and advises to Béla Kun
Béla Kun
via constant radio communication with the Kremlin.[5] It was the second socialist state in the world to be formed, only preceded by the October Revolution
October Revolution
in Russia
which brought the Bolsheviks to power. The Hungarian Republic of Councils had military conflicts with the Kingdom of Romania, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
and the evolving Czechoslovakia. It ended on 1 August 1919 when Hungarians sent representatives to negotiate their surrender to the Romanian forces.


1 Formation 2 Coup d'état

2.1 The Garbai Government

3 Communist policies 4 Foreign policy scandal and downfall 5 See also 6 Footnotes 7 Further reading 8 External links


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As the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy collapsed in 1918, an independent Hungarian People's Republic
Hungarian People's Republic
was formed after the Aster Revolution. The official proclamation of the republic was on 16 November 1918 and its president became Mihály Károlyi. Károlyi struggled to establish the government's authority and to control the country. An initial nucleus of a Hungarian communist party had been organized in a Moscow
hotel on 4 November 1918, when a group of Hungarian prisoners of war and other communist proponents formed a Central Committee. Led by Béla Kun, the first members returned to Hungary, and on 24 November created the Party of Communists from Hungary (Hungarian: Kommunisták Magyarországi Pártja). The name was chosen instead of "Hungarian Communist Party" because the vast majority of their followers represented social class, and the factory workers of the proletariat then had no ethnic Hungarian roots in Hungary. Also, ethnic Hungarians were only a minority in the new party.[6] The party recruited members while propagating its ideas, radicalising many members of the Social Democratic Party of Hungary
in the process. By February 1919, the party numbered 30,000 to 40,000 members, including many unemployed ex-soldiers, young intellectuals and ethnic minorities.[7] The party came to power as the only group with an organised fighting force and promised Hungary
would be able to defend its territory without conscription. Kun promised military help and intervention of the Soviet Red Army, which never came, against noncommunist Romanian, Czechoslovak, French and Yugoslav forces.

An automobile loaded with revolutionists dashing through streets of Budapest, March 1919

Kun founded a newspaper, called Vörös Újság ("Red News") and concentrated on attacking Károlyi's liberal government. During the following months, the Communist Party's power-base rapidly expanded. Its supporters began to stage aggressive demonstrations against the media. In one crucial incident, a demonstration turned violent on 20 February and the protesters attacked the editorial office of the Social Democratic Party of Hungary' official paper, Népszava (People's Word). In the ensuing chaos, seven people, some policemen, were killed. The government arrested the leaders of the Communist Party,[7] banned Vörös Újság and closed down the party's buildings. The arrests were particularly violent, with police officers openly beating the communists. This resulted in a wave of public sympathy for the party among the masses of Budapester proletariat. On 1 March, Vörös Újság was given permission to publish again, and the Communist Party's premises were re-opened. The leaders were permitted to receive guests in prison, which allowed them to keep up with political affairs. Coup d'état[edit]

The government of the Hungarian Soviet republic

On 20 March, president Mihály Károlyi
Mihály Károlyi
announced that Dénes Berinkey government would resign. On 21 March, Károlyi informed the Council of Ministers that only Social Democrats could form a new government, as they were the party with the highest public support. In order to form a governing coalition, Social Democrats started secret negotiations with the Communist leaders—who were still imprisoned—and decided to merge their two parties under the name of Hungarian Socialist Party.[8] President Károlyi, who was an outspoken anti-Communist, was not informed about the fusion of the communist and social democrat parties. Thus, while believing to have appointed a social democratic government, he found himself faced with one dominated by Communists. Mihály Károlyi
Mihály Károlyi
resigned on 21 March. Béla Kun
Béla Kun
and his communist friends were released from the Margit Ring prison on the night of 20 March 1919.[9] Liberal president Károlyi was arrested by the new communist government on the first day, later he could only manage to escape, and flee to Paris after the end of July, 1919.[10] For the Social Democrats, an alliance with the KMP not only increased their standing with the common people, but also gave them a potential link to the increasingly powerful Russian Communist Party, as Kun had ties with prominent Russian Bolsheviks. On 23 March, Lenin
gave an order to Béla Kun, that Social Democrats must be removed from the power, thereby Hungary
will be transform into a real communist state, thus the "dictatorship of the proletariat" will rule it.[11] Accordingly, the Communists started to purge the Social Democrats from the government on the next day.[12][13] The Garbai Government[edit] Sándor Garbai, Béla Kun, Vilmos Böhm, Tibor Szamuely, György Nyisztor, Jenő Varga, Zsigmond Kunfi, Dezső Bokányi, József Pogány, Béla Vágó, Zoltán Rónai, Károly Vantus, Jenő Landler, Béla Szántó, Sándor Szabados, György Lukács, Jenő Hamburger, Gyula Hevesi, Antal Dovcsák, Gyula Lengyel and Béla Vágó. The ministries often rotated among the various members of the government.

Sándor Garbai
Sándor Garbai
president and prime minister of the Hungarian Soviet republic Jenő Landler
Jenő Landler
commissar for interior Sándor Csizmadia, Károly Vántus, Jenő Hamburger, György Nyisztor - commissars of agriculture József Pogany, later also Béla Szántó
Béla Szántó
- commissars of Defense Zoltán Rónai, later also István Láday - commissars of Justice Jenő Landler
Jenő Landler
- commissar for trade Mór Erdélyi, later also Bernát Kondor - commissars about food Zsigmond Kunfi, later also György Lukács, Tibor Szamuely, Sándor Szabados - commissars about education Béla Kun
Béla Kun
- commissar for foreign affairs Dezső Bokányi
Dezső Bokányi
- commissar of labor Henrik Kalmár - commissar for German affairs Jenő Varga, later also Gyula Lengyel - commissars of Finance Vilmos Böhm - commissar for socialism, later also Antal Dovcsák

After declaration of the constitution changes took place in the komisararo. The new ministries:

Jenő Varga, Mátyás Rákosi, Gyula Hevesi, József Kelen, Ferenc Bajáki - commissars about economic product Jenő Landler, Béla Vagó - commissars about internal affairs, railways and navigation Béla Kun, Péter Ágoston
Péter Ágoston
and József Pogány
József Pogány
- commissars for Foreign Affairs

Communist policies[edit] Following Lenin's model, but without the direct participation of the workers' councils (soviets) from which it took its name, the newly united Socialist Party created a government called the Revolutionary Governing Council, which proclaimed the Hungarian Soviet Republic
Hungarian Soviet Republic
and dismissed President Károlyi on 21 March. This government consisted of a coalition of socialists and communists, but with the exception of Kun, all commissars were former social democrats.[14] The government was led by Sándor Garbai, but Kun, as Commissar of Foreign Affairs, held the real power. Under Kun, the new government, which had adopted in full the program of the Communists, decreed the abolition of aristocratic titles and privileges; the separation of church and state; codified freedom of speech and assembly; and implemented free education, language, and cultural rights to minorities.[7] The Communist government also nationalized industrial and commercial enterprises, and socialized housing, transport, banking, medicine, cultural institutions, and all landholdings of more than 40 hectares. These economic policies created high inflation while leading to food shortages across the land. Public support for Communists was also heavily dependent on their promise of restoring Hungary's former borders.[7] The government took steps toward normalizing foreign relations with the Triple Entente
Triple Entente
powers in an effort to gain back some of the land that Hungary
was set to lose in the post-war negotiations.

Leaders of the Hungarian Soviet Republic: Tibor Szamuely, Béla Kun, Jenő Landler
Jenő Landler
(left to right). The monument is now located at the Memento Park
Memento Park
open-air museum outside Budapest.

In a radio dispatch to the Russian SFSR, Kun informed Lenin
that a "dictatorship of the proletariat" had been established in Hungary
and asked for a treaty of alliance with the Russian SFSR.[7] The Russian SFSR refused because it was itself tied down in the Russian Civil War. The Hungarian government was thus left on its own, and a Red Guard was established under the command of Mátyás Rákosi. In addition, a group of 200 armed men—known as the Lenin Boys—formed a mobile detachment under the leadership of József Cserny. This detachment was deployed at various locations around the country where counter-revolutionary movements were suspected to operate. The Lenin
Boys, as well as other similar groups and agitators, killed and terrorised many people (e.g. armed with hand grenades and using their rifles' butts they disbanded religious ceremonies).[15] They executed victims without trial.[16] This caused a number of conflicts with the local population, some of which turned violent. The situation of the Hungarian Communists began to deteriorate in the capital city Budapest
after a failed coup by the Social Democrats on 24 June, the newly composed Communist government of Sándor Garbai resorted to large-scale reprisals. Revolutionary tribunals ordered executions of people who were suspected of having been involved in the attempted coup. This became known as the "Red Terror", and greatly reduced domestic support for the government. Foreign policy scandal and downfall[edit]

József Pogány
József Pogány
("John Pepper") speaks to communist soldiers.

See also: Revolutions and interventions in Hungary
(1918–1920) and Hungarian–Romanian War of 1919 In late May, after the Entente military representative demanded more territorial concessions from Hungary, Kun attempted to "fulfill" his promise to adhere to Hungary's historical borders. The men of the Hungarian Red Army
Red Army
were recruited from the volunteers of the Budapest proletariat.[17] In June, the Hungarian Red Army
Red Army
invaded the eastern part of the newly-forming Czechoslovak state (today's Slovakia), the former so-called "Upper Hungary". The Hungarian Red Army
Red Army
achieved some military success early on: under the leadership of Colonel Aurél Stromfeld, it ousted Czech troops from the north, and planned to march against the Romanian army in the east. Despite promises for the restoration of the former borders of Hungary, the communists declared the establishment of the Slovak Soviet Republic
Slovak Soviet Republic
in Prešov
on 16 June 1919.[18] After the proclamation of the Slovak Soviet Republic, the Hungarian nationalists and patriots soon realized that the new communist government had no intentions to recapture the lost territories, only to spread communist ideology and establish other communist states in Europe, and thus sacrificing Hungarian national interests.[19] Hungarian nationalists saw this as a betrayal, and their support for the government began to erode. Despite a series of military victories against the Czechoslovak army, the Hungarian Red Army started to disintegrate due to tension between nationalists and communists during the establishment of the Slovak Soviet Republic. The concession eroded support of the communist government among professional military officers and nationalists in the Hungarian Red Army; even the chief of the general staff Aurél Stromfeld, resigned his post in protest.[20] When the French promised the Hungarian government that Romanian forces would withdraw from the Tiszántúl, Kun withdrew his remaining military units who had remained loyal after the fiasco in Upper Hungary. However, following the Red Army's retreat from the north, the Romanian forces were not pulled back. Kun then unsuccessfully tried to turn the remaining units of the demoralized Hungarian Red Army
Red Army
on the Romanians. The Hungarian Soviet found it increasingly difficult to fight Romania
with its small volunteer force, and support for both the war and the Communist Party was waning at home. After the demoralizing retreat from "Northern Hungary" (later part of Czechoslovakia), only the most dedicated Hungarian Communists volunteered for combat, and the Romanian army broke through the weak lines of the Hungarian Red Army
Red Army
on 30 July. Béla Kun, together with other high-ranking Communists, fled to Austria
on 1 August[7] with only a minority, including György Lukács, the former Commissar for Culture and noted Marxist philosopher, remaining to organise an underground Communist Party.[21] The Budapest
Workers' Soviet elected a new government, headed by Gyula Peidl, which only lasted a few days before Romanian forces entered Budapest
on 6 August.[22][23][24] In the power vacuum created by the fall of the Soviet Republic and the presence of the Romanian Army, semi-regular detachments (technically under Horthy's command, but mostly independent in practice) initiated a campaign of violence against Communists, leftists, and Jews, known as the White Terror.[25] Many supporters of the Hungarian Soviet Republic were executed without trial; others, including Péter Ágoston, Ferenc Bajáki, Dezső Bokányi, Antal Dovcsák, József Haubrich, Kalmár Henrik, Kelen József, György Nyisztor, Sándor Szabados, and Károly Vántus, were imprisoned by trial ("comissar suits"). Most of them were later released to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
by amnesty during the reign of Horthy, after a prisoner exchange agreement between Hungary
and the Russian Soviet government in 1921. In all, about 415 prisoners were released as a result of this agreement.[26] Kun himself (along with an unknown number of other Hungarian communists) was executed during Joseph Stalin's Great Purge
Great Purge
of the late 1930s in the Soviet Union, to which they had fled in the 1920s.[7] See also[edit]

Tibor Szamuely Aftermath of World War I Revolutions of 1917–23 Hungarian Revolution of 1956 Red Terror Red Terror
Red Terror
(Hungary) Slovak Soviet Republic


^ Angyal, Pál (1927). "A magyar büntetőjog kézikönyve IV. rész". A magyar büntetőjog kézikönyve. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 19 January 2012.  ^ A Forradalmi Kormányzótanács XXVI. számú rendelete (in Hungarian) ^ Official name of the state between 23 June and 1 August according to the constitution, see: A Magyarországi Szocialista Szövetséges Tanácsköztársaság alkotmánya (in Hungarian) ^ John C. Swanson (2017). Tangible Belonging: Negotiating Germanness in Twentieth-Century Hungary. University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 80. ISBN 9780822981992.  ^ Arthur Asa Berger
Arthur Asa Berger
(2017). The Great Globe Itself: A Preface to World Affairs. Routledge. p. 85. ISBN 9781351481861.  ^ E. Raffay, Trianon Titkai (Secrets of Trianon), Szikra Press, Budapest
1990 (ISBN 9632174771), page 13. ^ a b c d e f g The Library of Congress Country
Studies – Hungarian Soviet Republic ^ Borsanyi, Gyorgy, The life of a Communist revolutionary, Bela Kun, translated by Mario Fenyo; Social Science Monographs, Boulder, Colorado; Columbia University Press, New York, 1993, p178. ^ Howard Morley Sachar (2007). Dreamland: Europeans and Jews in the Aftermath of the Great War. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 409. ISBN 9780307425676.  ^ Spencer C. Tucker (2014). World War I: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection [5 volumes]: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection. ABC-CLIO. p. 867. ISBN 9781851099658.  ^ John Rees (1998). The Algebra of Revolution: The Dialectic and the Classical Marxist Tradition. Psychology Press. p. 255. ISBN 9780415198776.  ^ David A. Andelman (2009). A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today. John Wiley & Sons. p. 193. ISBN 9780470564721.  ^ Timothy C. Dowling (2014). Russia
at War: From the Mongol Conquest to Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Beyond. ABC-CLIO. p. 447. ISBN 9781598849486.  ^ Janos, Andrew C. & Slottman, William (editors) Revolution in perspective: essays on the Hungarian Soviet Republic
Hungarian Soviet Republic
of 1919, Center for Slavic and East European Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 1971, p. 68. ^ Kodolányi, János (1979) [1941]. Süllyedő világ (in Hungarian). Budapest: Magvető. ISBN 978-963-270-935-2. OCLC 7627920.  ^ See resources in the article Red Terror. ^ Eötvös Loránd University
Eötvös Loránd University
(1979). Annales Universitatis Scientiarum Budapestinensis de Rolando Eötvös Nominatae, Sectio philosophica et sociologica, Volumes 13-15. Universita. p. 141.  ^ Jack A. Goldstone (2015). The Encyclopedia of Political Revolutions. Routledge. p. 227. ISBN 9781135937584.  ^ Peter Pastor (1988). Revolutions and Interventions in Hungary
and Its Neighbor States, 1918-1919, Volume 20. Social Science Monographs. p. 441. ISBN 9780880331371.  ^ Peter F. Sugar; Péter Hanák; Tibor Frank (1994). A History of Hungary. Indiana University Press. p. 308. ISBN 9780253208675.  ^ Borsanyi, Gyorgy, The life of a Communist revolutionary, Bela Kun, translated by Mario Fenyo; Social Science Monographs, Boulder, Colorado; Columbia University Press, New York, 1993, p205. ^ "Magyar Tudomány 2000. január". Epa.niif.hu. Retrieved 2008-11-21.  ^ Ignác Romsics: Magyarország története a XX. században, 2004, p. 134. ^ "Hungary: Hungarian Soviet Republic". Library of Congress Country Studies. September 1989. Republished at geographic.com. Retrieved 7 October 2010.  ^ ""White Terror" in Hungary
1919-1921". Armed Conflict Events Database. 16 December 2000. Retrieved 7 October 2010.  ^ 2000 - Bűn És Bűnhődés Archived 30 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine.

Further reading[edit]

Gioielli, Emily R. "'White Misrule': Terror and Political Violence During Hungary’s Long World War I, 1919-1924. (PhD Diss. Central European University, 2015) online György Borsányi, The life of a Communist revolutionary, Bela Kun translated by Mario Fenyo, Boulder, Colorado: Social Science Monographs, 1993. Andrew C. Janos and William Slottman (editors), Revolution in Perspective: Essays on the Hungarian Soviet Republic
Hungarian Soviet Republic
of 1919. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1971. Bennet Kovrig, Communism in Hungary: From Kun to Kádár. Stanford University: Hoover Institution Press, 1979. Bela Menczer, "Bela Kun and the Hungarian Revolution of 1919," History Today, vol. 19, no. 5 (May 1969), pp. 299–309. Peter Pastor, Hungary
between Wilson and Lenin: The Hungarian Revolution of 1918–1919 and the Big Three. Boulder, CO: East European Quarterly, 1976. Thomas L. Sakmyster, A Communist Odyssey: The Life of József Pogány. Budapest: Central European University Press, 2012. Sándor Szilassy, Revolutionary Hungary, 1918–1921. Astor Park, FL: Danubian Press, 1971. Rudolf Tokes, Béla Kun
Béla Kun
and the Hungarian Soviet Republic: The Origins and Role of the Communist Party of Hungary
in the Revolutions of 1918–1919. New York: F.A. Praeger, 1967. Ivan Volgyes (editor), Hungary
in Revolution, 1918–19: Nine Essays Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1971. Ferenc Tibor Zsuppán, "The Early Activities of the Hungarian Communist Party, 1918-19," Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 43, no. 101 (June 1965), pp. 314–334.

External links[edit]

Tibor Hajdu, The Hungarian Soviet Republic. Alan Woods, "The Hungarian Soviet Republic
Hungarian Soviet Republic
of 1919: The Forgotten Revolution."

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