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The Hungarian Soviet Republic or literally Republic of Councils in Hungary (Hungarian: Magyarországi Tanácsköztársaság[2] or Magyarországi Szocialista Szövetséges Tanácsköztársaság[3]) was a short-lived independent communist republic established in Hungary in the aftermath of World War I.

Hungarian Soviet Republic
Magyarországi Tanácsköztársaság
1919
Motto
"Világ proletárjai, egyesüljetek!"
"Workers of the world, unite!"
Anthem
Internacionálé[1]
The Internationale
Map of territory of the former Kingdom of Hungary, May–August 1919
  Controlled by Romania in April 1919
  Controlled by the Soviet Republic of Hungary
  Subsequently controlled by Soviet Republic of Hungary to establish the Slovak Soviet Republic
  Controlled by France and Yugoslav countries
  Borders of Hungary in 1918
  Borders of Hungary in 1920
Capital Budapest
Languages Hungarian
Government Soviet socialist republic
Leader
 •  1919 Béla Kun
Chairman
 •  1919 Sándor Garbai
Legislature National Assembly of Soviets
Historical era Interwar period
 •  Established 21 March 1919
 •  Constitution 23 June 1919
 •  Disestablished 1 August 1919
Currency Hungarian korona
Preceded by
Succeeded by
First Hungarian People's Republic
First Hungarian People's Republic
Today part of  Hungary
 Slovakia
 Ukraine
 Romania
 Austria
Proclamation of the Hungarian Soviet Republic – 21 March 1919
Béla Kun, leader of the 1919 Hungarian Revolution
"To Arms! To Arms!" Bolshevik Hungarian propaganda poster from 1919

It was the successor of the first Hungarian People's Republic and lasted only from 21 March to 1 August 1919. Though the de jure leader of the 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 via constant radio communication with the Kremlin.[4] It was the second socialist state in the world to be formed, only preceded by the 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 and the evolving Czechoslovakia. It ended on 1 August 1919 when Hungarians sent representatives to negotiate their surrender to the Romanian forces.

Contents

FormationEdit

As the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy collapsed in 1918, an independent 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". The Communist party chose it (Hungarian: Kommunisták Magyarországi Pártja) instead of "Hungarian Communist Party", because — at the time — the vast majority of their following represented social class: the factory workers, the "proletariat," hadn't ethnic Hungarian roots in Hungary yet, and the ethnic Hungarians were only a minority in the newly founded party.[5] It recruited members while propagating party's 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.[6]

The Communists came to power as the only group with an organised fighting force, promising Hungary would be able to defend its territory without conscription. (Kun falsely promised the military help and intervention of the Soviet Red Army against Romanian, Czechoslovak and French - Yugoslav - forces, none of whom were communist at that time).

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. Their 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 Democrats' official paper, called Népszava (People's Word). In the ensuing chaos, seven people—including policemen—were killed. The government arrested the leaders of the Communist party,[6] 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 Communist Party. 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 their prison, which allowed them to keep up with political affairs.

Coup d'étatEdit

 
The government of the Hungarian Soviet republic

On 20 March, president 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.[7] 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 resigned on 21 March. Béla Kun and his communist friends were released from the Margit Ring prison on the night of 20 March 1919.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10] Accordingly, the Communists started to purge the Social Democrats from the government on the next day.[11][12]

The Garbai GovernmentEdit

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 president and prime minister of the Hungarian Soviet republic
  • Jenő Landler commissar for interior
  • Sándor Csizmadia, Károly Vántus, Jenő Hamburger, György Nyisztor - commissars of agriculture
  • József Pogany, later also Béla Szántó - commissars of Defense
  • Zoltán Rónai, later also István Láday - commissars of Justice
  • 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 - commissar for foreign affairs
  • 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 and József Pogány - commissars for Foreign Affairs

Communist policiesEdit

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 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.[13] 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.[6]

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.[6] The government took steps toward normalizing foreign relations with the 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 (left to right). The monument is now located at the 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.[6] 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).[14] They executed victims without trial.[15] 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 downfallEdit

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

In late May, after the Entente military representative demanded more territorial concessions from Hungary, Kun attempted to "fulfill" his promise to restore Hungary's borders. In June, the Hungarian 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 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 communist promises on the restoration of the former borders of Hungary, the communist declared the establishment of the Slovak Soviet Republic in Prešov on 16 June 1919.[16] 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.[17] Despite the series of military victories against the Czechoslovak army, the Hungarian Red Army started to disintegrate due to this fundamental tension between patriots and communists during the establishment of the Independent Slovak Soviet Republic, and this concession shook the popular and military support of the communist government, particularly among professional military officers, patriots and nationalists in the Hungarian Red Army; even the chief of the general staff Aurél Stromfeld, in fact, resigned his post in protest.[18] 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 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 on 30 July.

Béla Kun, together with other high-ranking Communists, fled to Austria on 1 August[6] with only a minority, including György Lukács, the former Commissar for Culture and noted Marxist philosopher, remaining to organise an underground Communist Party.[19] 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.[20][21][22]

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.[23] 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 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.[24]

Kun himself (along with an unknown number of other Hungarian communists) was executed during Joseph Stalin's Great Purge of the late 1930s in the Soviet Union, to which they he had fled in the 1920s.[6]

See alsoEdit

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ A Forradalmi Kormányzótanács XXVI. számú rendelete (in Hungarian)
  3. ^ Official name of the state between 23 June and 1 August according to the constitution, see: A Magyarországi Szocialista Szövetséges Tanácsköztársaság alkotmánya (in Hungarian)
  4. ^ Arthur Asa Berger (2017). The Great Globe Itself: A Preface to World Affairs. Routledge. p. 85. ISBN 9781351481861. 
  5. ^ E. Raffay, Trianon Titkai (Secrets of Trianon), Szikra Press, Budapest 1990 (ISBN 9632174771), page 13.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g The Library of Congress Country Studies – Hungarian Soviet Republic
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Howard Morley Sachar (2007). Dreamland: Europeans and Jews in the Aftermath of the Great War. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 409. ISBN 9780307425676. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ John Rees (1998). The Algebra of Revolution: The Dialectic and the Classical Marxist Tradition. Psychology Press. p. 255. ISBN 9780415198776. 
  11. ^ David A. Andelman (2009). A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today. John Wiley & Sons. p. 193. ISBN 9780470564721. 
  12. ^ Timothy C. Dowling (2014). Russia at War: From the Mongol Conquest to Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Beyond. ABC-CLIO. p. 447. ISBN 9781598849486. 
  13. ^ Janos, Andrew C. & Slottman, William (editors) Revolution in perspective: essays on the Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919, Center for Slavic and East European Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 1971, p. 68.
  14. ^ Kodolányi, János (1979) [1941]. Süllyedő világ (in Hungarian). Budapest: Magvető. ISBN 978-963-270-935-2. OCLC 7627920. 
  15. ^ See resources in the article Red Terror.
  16. ^ Jack A. Goldstone (2015). The Encyclopedia of Political Revolutions. Routledge. p. 227. ISBN 9781135937584. 
  17. ^ Peter Pastor (1988). Revolutions and Interventions in Hungary and Its Neighbor States, 1918-1919, Volume 20. Social Science Monographs. p. 441. ISBN 9780880331371. 
  18. ^ Peter F. Sugar; Péter Hanák; Tibor Frank (1994). A History of Hungary. Indiana University Press. p. 308. ISBN 9780253208675. 
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ "Magyar Tudomány 2000. január". Epa.niif.hu. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  21. ^ Ignác Romsics: Magyarország története a XX. században, 2004, p. 134.
  22. ^ "Hungary: Hungarian Soviet Republic". Library of Congress Country Studies. September 1989. Republished at geographic.com. Retrieved 7 October 2010. 
  23. ^ ""White Terror" in Hungary 1919-1921". Armed Conflict Events Database. 16 December 2000. Retrieved 7 October 2010. 
  24. ^ 2000 - Bűn És Bűnhődés Archived 30 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine.

Further readingEdit

  • 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 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 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 linksEdit