1. THE POLITICAL, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL BACKGROUND . . .
. . . . . . . . . p.1
2 THE EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE NATIONAL-DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION
(January - October 1918) . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .p. 8
3. THE KAROLYI REGIME (October 1918 - March 1919). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .p.13
4 THE "SOVIET REPUBLIC" (March - August 1919). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p.16
5 THE PEIDL GOVERNMENT (August 1919). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p.26
6. THE FRIEDRICH GOVERNMENT (August - November 1919). . . . . . . . . . . . . . p.53
7. THE HUSZAR GOVERNMENT (November 1919 - March 1920) . . . . . . . . . . . . p.54
POSTSCRIPT: THE HORTHY SEMI-FASCIST REGIME. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .p.56
APPENDIX: THE FATE OF BELA KUN. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p.58
I N T RO D U CT I 0 N
For 133 days, from March 21st. to August 1st., 1919, a "Soviet Republic" existed in Hungary.
This "Soviet Republic" was defined as a state in which "the working class held political power",, as "the dictatorship of the proletariat":
"In Hungary, for the first time in the world, the socialist
revolution had been won and the dictatorship of the proletariat set up
in a peaceful manner".
(J. Kende, L. Gecsenyi and A. Steinbach: "Revolution in Hungary: 1918 and 1919"; London; 1968; p. 22).
"The seizure of power had been carried out peacefully.
... No opposition or protest was made even by those sections of society
which did not agree with the internal political programme of socialist
(Z.L. Nagy: "Revolution in Hungary )", in: E. Pamlenyi (Ed.): "A History of Hungary"; London; 1975; p.434-5).
"Judge: Was there no resistance?
Rakosi: Not the least resistance. ... No one resisted. It is utterly incredible".
(Trial of the Hungarian Society, 1935, in: "The Imprisonment and Defence of Matyas Rakosi"; London; 1954; p. 98, 104).
What cannot be explained on the basis of this theory, however, is the fact that the ruling capitalist class actually released the leaders of the Communist Party of Hungary from prison and invited them, in conjunction with the leaders of the Social Democratic Party, to set up a "Soviet Republic". As the the President of the Republic, Count Mihaly Karolyi, related in his memoirs:
"The bourgeoisie voluntarily surrendered power to the
Communists of Hungary. The bourgeoisie demonstrated to the
whole world that when a grave crisis supervenes, .....the bourgeoisie is
unable to govern".
(V.1. Lenin: Communication on the Radio Negotiations with Bela Kun, March 1919, in: ibid.; p. 243).
"In Hungary the revolution was most unusual in form.
The Hungarian Kerensky, who over there is called Karolyi, voluntarily resigned,
and the Hungarian compromisers - the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries
realised that they must go to the prison where our Hungarian comrade Bela
Kun ... was confined. They went to him and said: 'You must
take power!' The bourgeois government resigned. . . This
is a revolution of world-historical importance. . .
The Hungarian bourgeoisie admitted to the world that it had resigned voluntarily and that the only power in the world capable of guiding the nation in a moment of crisis as Soviet power".
(V.1. Lenin: Report on the Domestic and Foreign Situation of the Soviet Republic, Extraordinary Meeting of Moscow-Soviet, April 3rd, 1919; in ibid.; p. 269;270).
or the establishment of the Hungarian "Soviet Republic" was not the genuine seizure of power by the working class, that is, the Hungarian "Soviet Republic" was not the genuine dictatorship of the working class, but a false facade erected by the Hungarian national capitalist class to serve some purpose of its own.
On March 20th., 1919 the Hungarian national capitalism class, and its government headed by President Mihaly Karolyi, were faced with a grave dilemma. On that day there was received in Budapest an ultimatum from the victorious Allied Powers which amounted to the dismemberment, not merely of the territory of the former multi-national Kingdom of Hungary, but of ethnic Hungarian territory.
They were unwilling to accept this ultimatum. Indeed:
They therefore embarked on a cunning plan, a plan to frighten the Allied Powers with "the specter of Bolshevism". On March 21st., 1919 they arranged for the establishment of a "Soviet Republic" in Hungary with the declared aim of bringing about a military alliance with Soviet Russia.
Already, on March 19th., Karolyi had:
As the Minister of Nationalities in the Karolyi regime, Oszkar Jaszi, expressed it:
The political atmosphere in Hungary at the time - where workers were setting up Councils modeled on the lines of the Soviets in Russia and where in many areas the landless peasants were arbitrarily seizing the large estates - played an important role in disguising the false facade of the "Soviet Republic".
But that the officials of the national capitalist regime did not take the "Soviet Republic" seriously is testified to by Matyas Rakosi, relating at his trial in 1955 the events which followed his release from prison on March 21st., 1919:
"Owing to the fact that the entire social Democratic Party
had accepted the agreement with the Communist Party, and because as a result
these men (the social-democrats - Ed.) were in a position to present themselves
to their discontented followers as protagonists of the proletarian revolution,
it was impossible to eliminate them. Therefore the proclamation of
the dictatorship of the proletariat had consolidated these men in their
positions. It permitted them to stay in their positions and to carry out
their struggle against the dictatorship of the proletariat, just as they
had done before its proclamation . . . .
"The bourgeoisie ... succeeded in maintaining itself in all the key positions (of the 'Soviet Republic' - Ed.)".
(M. Rakosi: Statement at Trial, 1935, in: ibid.; p. 141-2).
"Woe to the government 'which has the peasantry against
it. It leads but a shadowy existence".
(B. Szanto: "The Real Reason for the Collapse of the Hungarian Soviet Republic", in: "Die Internationale" (The International), Volume 1, No. 15/16; November 1st., 1919, in: H. Gruber (Ed.): "International Communism in the Era of Lenin"; New York; 1972; p. 135).
From the point of view of its authors, the Hungarian national capitalist class, the plan proved very successful. Within a week of the "socialist revolution" the Peace Conference in Versailles despatched to Budapest the mission which the Karolyi regime had striven unsuccessfully to obtain, bearing with it new terms which Karolyi himself described as "amazingly favourable".
The representatives of the national capitalist class within the Soviet regime", the former leaders of the Social Democratic Party, then turned against both the Communists and the regime - bringing about the resignation of the "Revolutionary Governing Council" and the end of the "Soviet Republic" on August 1st., 1919.
Some of the lessons which Marxist-Leninists drew from the collapse of the "Soviet Republic" in Hungary were formulated in the following year in the Conditions of Affiliation to the Communist International, drafted by Lenin, which were adopted by the Second Congress of the CI:
PART ONE THE POLITICAL, ECONOMIC AND) SOCIAL BACKGROUND
The Hungarian National-Democratic Revolution of 1848-9
In the 1840s Hungary was a semi-colonial province of the Austrian Empire, three times the size of the present-day state. Its population included not only Magyars (ethnic Hungarians), but also national minorities of Czechs, Germans, Italians, Poles, Romanians, Serbs, Slovaks, Slovenes and Ukrainians.
The social system of Hungary was predominantly feudal and agricultural, with land ownership dominated by a handful of aristocratic Magyar families who were content with their status of junior partners to their Austrian counterparts.
As a capitalist economic system developed, slowly and with difficulty, within Austrian feudalism, the rising bourgeoisies of the nations and part nations imprisoned within the empire became the leading force in the democratic revolutionary movement directed against the ruling autocratic centred In Vienna.
On March 13th., 1848 a revolutionary uprising in the imperial capital led to the resignation and flight of the Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Klemens von Metternich, to the acceptance by emperor Ferdinand I of a Constitution on April 25th., 1848, and to the abdication of the Emperor on December 2nd., 1848 in favour of his nephew, who became Franz Josef I.
In Hungary at the same time, a national-democratic revolution led to the Declaration of Independence of April 14th., 1849, which proclaimed Hungary to be an independent republic with Lajos Kossuth as Governor-President.
Following the "restoration of order" in Vienna by imperial forces commanded by Prince Alfred zu Windisch-Graetz, the independent regime in Hungary was crushed by the combination of an Austrian imperial army under the command of General Baron Julius von Haynau and Russian forces under the command of Field-Marshal Ivan Paskevich. Its overthrow was followed by a bloody reign of terror under Haynau which lasted for nearly a year.
The Compromise of 1867
The one permanent achievement of the revolution of 1848-9 was the law of September 6th., 1846 abolishing serfdom, which was not repealed after the successful counter-revolution. This helped forward the development of the capitalist economic system within Hungary.
In 1859 the Austrian imperial armed forces were defeated by the armies of Italy and France, resulting In the cession to Italy of Lombardy. And in 1866 a further defeat at the hands of Prussia resulted in the cession to Italy of Venetia and the payment to Prussia of a large sum in reparations.
These internal and external developments so weakened the Austrian autocracy that in 1867, it was forced to strengthen its position by raising the status of the Hungarian aristocracy to that of nominally equal partners. The Act of Compromise of May 29th., 1867 transformed the Austrian Empire formally into the Dual Monarchy of Austro-Hungary. By this, Hungary became a Kingdom in "indissoluble unity" with Austria, with the Austrian Emperor as King, with autonomy in internal affairs but accepting the "joint character" of foreign affairs, finance, defence and diplomatic representation.
In June 6th., 1867 the Emperor Franz Josef was crowned King of Hungary.
The Development of Capitalism
Although the development of the capitalist economic system
in Hungary continued to be held back by the dominant landed aristocracy,
the Compromise of 1867 permitted
this development to a limited extent - as the following table shows:
Industrial capital in Hungary was relatively concentrated: by 1900 0.5% of all industrial companies produced 66% of output and employed 44% of the workers. This concentration was particularly strong in metallurgy. Three iron-producing firms controlled the majority of output.
With the development of industry, the share in it of the Hungarian national capitalist class (which was predominantly Jewish) rose - from one third of the industrial plants in 1880 to two-thirds in 1913.
In 1913 the class composition of the population
(including dependents) was roughly as follows:
Landlord class: 0.1
Comprador capitalist class: 0.2
National capitalist class: 0.2
Rich peasantry: 0.3
Urban petty bourgeoisie: 1.9
Middle peasantry: 6.0
Poor peasantry: 8.2
Urban working class: 5.9
The Development of the Working Class Movement
The first political organisation claiming to represent the interests of the working class was the General Workers' Association, formed on February 25rd., 1868 on the initiative of Janos Hrabje, a member of the General Council of the First International. Its programme, strongly influenced by the teachings of Ferdinand Lassalle, included demands for the extension of the franchise, for working class education, and for the establishment of workers' productive associations "to overcome capitalism".
In the spring of 1871 the GWA organised a series of strikes in support of improved working conditions, and a number of demonstrations in support of the Paris Commune. After the suppression of the Commune, the government banned the GWA, arresting its leaders and, in April/May 1872, trying them for treason. Although they were acquitted, the persecution brought about the disbanding of the organisation, although its Sickness and Disablement Fund (established in 1870 on the initiative of Karoly Parkas) survived.
In 1876 Leo Frankel, who had been Commissioner of Labour in the Paris commune and a member of the General Council of the First International, returned home to Hungary, and on his initiative a conference held on April 2lst-22nd., 1878 re-established a political organisation claiming to represent the interests of the working class - the Non-Voters' Party (the only name which the authorities would permit).
At a conference on May 16-17th., 1880 the General workers' Sickness and Disablement Fund merged with the Non-Voters' Party to form the General Workers' Party of Hungary (GWP). Although this party did not break completely with the influence of Lassalle, its programme was couched in the language of Marxism and aimed at public ownership of the means of production.
In 1881 Frankl was arrested on charges of 'criminal libel' in the party's press and sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment. On his release he left the country, and the leadership of the General Workers' Party shifted into the hands of the more openly right-wing officials of the sick fund.
In 1889. the General Workers' Party of Hungary took part in the foundation congress of the Second International.
A conference of the GWP in the autumn of 1889 elected Pal Engelmann to the leadership, and on his initiative the party began to lay greater stress on socialist agitation. In 1890, for the first time in Hungary, 60,000 workers celebrated May Day.
At a congress on December 7th., 1890 the General Workers' Party of Hungary was renamed the Social Democratic Party of Hungary (SDP), and the congress became the First Congress of the SDP. The congress adopted a "Declaration of Principle" designating as the ultimate aim of the party the public ownership of the means of production, but without specifying how this was to be brought about, and as more immediate aims universal suffrage and "parliamentary democracy". It made, however, no mention of land reform.
In the summer of 1891 violent clashes took place in the rural south-east of Hungary (the "Stormy Corner") between the gendarmerie and agricultural workers demonstrating for higher wages and better working conditions. Following this, at the Second Congress of the SDP at the end of 1892, the right-wing officials of the sick fund, who repudiated class struggle, succeeded in expelling the "left-wing", headed by Engelmann, from the party.
At the Third (Unification) Congress of the SDP, on May 13th. 1894, the "left-wing" was readmitted to the party, and one of its representatives, Ignac Silberberg, became party leader. This congress adopted, for the first time, an agrarian programme; this, however, declared that the working class had no interest in "preserving the peasantry" and put forward a policy of nationalisation of the large estates without redistribution.
This policy towards the peasantry was continued into the 20th century. An article on "Peasant Politics" published in "Nepszava" (The People's Voice) in July 1907 declared:
At the end of 1895, however, the right-wing faction had been successful in removing the "left-wing" faction, headed by Silberberg, from the leadership.
In the summer of 1897 large-scale harvest strikes broke out among agricultural labourers in 14 counties. The movement found enthusiastic support within the leadership of the SDP in the person of Istvan Varkonyi, who had himself been an agricultural labourer and who had commenced publication in the summer of 1896, mainly from his own resources, of the newspaper "'Foldmivelo" (The Agricultural Labourer). The leadership of the SDP repudiated class struggle in the countryside, as in the towns, and officially dissociated the party from Varkonyi and his paper. As a result, on the initiative of Varkonyi, a congress was held at Cegled on September 8th., 1897 which formed a new party, the Independent Socialist Party (ISP) which adopted a correct agrarian policy of demanding, not only better conditions for agricultural workers, but the nationalisation of church lands and of all estates over 60 hectares - these to be redistributed in plots of 5 hectares at a low rent. The influence of the ISP spread rapidly in the rural areas of Hungary, and in 1898 the government arrested Varkonyi, banned "Foldmivelo" and savagely repressed the movement for the land reform. At the same time the government declared trade unions under militant leadership (about one-third of the total) illegal, and even banned the congress of the SDP from being held. In 1898 also the government adopted the so-called "Slave Act", which compelled every farm worker to enter into a written contract with his employer, the breaking of which constituted a criminal offence, and which prescribed severe penalties for organising agricultural workers or engaging in strikes.
Until 1899 trade unions were local organisations only, but in this year the first Trade Union Congress was held - following which the first countrywide trade unions were organised. By 1904 the number of trade unionists had risen to more than 50,000, five times the number in 1899. Almost all the trade unions were closely associated with the Social Democratic Party.
On March 25th., 1906 the Independent Socialist Peasant Party was formed under the leadership of Andras Achim. It published "Paraszt Ujsag" (The Peasant Journal) and called for land reform, universal suffrage, progressive taxation and measures to protect small farmers and agricultural workers. Although Achim endeavoured to build an alliance between the poor and middle peasantry on the one hand and the industrial workers on the other, this was fiercely resisted by the leadership of the SDP. In May 1911 Achim was shot down by the sons of a landowner, and his party fell to pieces.
Meanwhile in 1909 the landlord class made a rival attempt to win the middle peasantry to its side by the formation of the National Independence and '48 Farmers' Party (known as the "Smallholders' Party"), led by Istvan Nagyatadi Szabo, but this did not become a serious political force until after the destruction of the "Soviet" Republic in August 1916.
Also In 1909 the Hungarian national
capitalist class launched, at the University of Budapest,
the Galileo Circle as a centre for
progressive young intellectuals from the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie.
On May 23rd., 1912 the SDP launched a general strike and demonstration in Budapest in protest at the appointment of the arch-reactionary Count Istvan Tisza as Speaker of the House (an appointment made to try to force through the Army Bill against parliamentary opposition). The demonstration was attacked by mounted police and unit of the army, and pitched battles were fought for most of the day, which became known as "Bloody Thursday".
On July 28th., 1914, Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and within the next few days the war developed into the First World War, with Austro-Hungary and Germany at war with Britain, France and Russia.
The Social-Democratic Party gave full support to the war "against tsarist barbarism", and in February 1918 Jakab Weltner, the editor of the party's newspaper "Nepszava" (The People's Voice) was able to boast that it was one of the few parties of the Second International in which no left-wing group of opposition to the war broke away .
On November 25th., 1917 several hundred thousand people attended a mass meeting in the Hall of Industry in Budapest called to express support for the socialist revolution in Russia. The meeting adopted a resolution calling for a general strike against the war and for the formation of Workers' Councils along the lines of the Soviets formed in Russia.
The first such Workers' Council was set up on December 26th., 1917.
Until 1919, the franchise was limited by property and sex qualifications to 6% of the adult male population, so that the Hungarian National Assembly was dominated by political representatives of the landlord, comprador capitalist and national capitalIst classes:
PART TWO THE EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE NATIONAL-DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION (January - October 1918)
The January General Strike
On January 18th., 1918 a large-scale political strike broke out in Vienna in protest at the harsh demands being made by the Central Powers against Soviet Russia in the peace talks at Brest-Litovsk. Budapest workers joined the strike, which for three days spread through most of the industrial centres in Hungary, involving more than half a million workers.
The government reacted to the strike by placing returned prisoners-of-war from Russia in quarantine for screening, by banning the Galileo Circle, by arresting labour leaders who had expressed sympathy with Soviet Russia, and by creating a special security headquarters to combat "subversion".
The Development of the National Movements
By the spring of 1915 the national movements of the oppressed part-nations within Hungary were demanding a radical redrawing of the frontiers of South-Eastern Europe along ethnic lines. The Allied powers gave support to many of these national movements with the aim of further weakening the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The Social Democratic Parties in both Austria and Hungary denounced the demands of the national movements in the name of preserving the territorial integrity of the Empire.
The June General StrIke
From the middle of 1918 Hungary became increasingly short of food fuel and raw materials. The real wages of the workers had sunk to 53% of the pre-war level, that of day labourers to 46%, that of office workers to 35%.
On June 20th. the Military Commandant in Budapest ordered workers demonstrating at the MAVAG works in support of demands for the resignation of the government to be fired upon. Within a few hours all factories in the capital had stopped work in protest, and the workers of the provincial towns followed suit the next day. The general strike lasted nine days and involved half a million workers, who demonstrated, despite martial law, for an end to the war and the resignation of the government.
The Disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Army
By 1918 the Austro-Hungarian Army was gradually disintegrating. In February a mutiny broke out in the Cattaro fleet. By the summer the number of deserters exceeded a hundred thousand. On May 20th. mutinous soldiers at Pecs occupied the barracks and raIlway station, and were disarmed only after a long and bitter battle.
On September 30th., 1918, Bulgaria surrendered to the Allied Powers, and the enfeebled Austro-Hungarian army was compelled to try to fill the gaping hole in the southern front.
The Extraordinary Congress of the SDP
In mid-October 1918 an Extraordinary Congress of the Social Democratic Party of Hungary adopted a resolution calling for the formation of a "People's Government" in Hungary.
The Proclamation of Federal Union
In an effort to save the Empire from dissolution, on October 16th., 1918 Emperor Karl proclaimed its transformation into a Federal Union of four states - German, Czech, South Slav and Ukrainian. 'The lands of the Hungarian Crown" were, however, to be outside this federal arrangement and to be governed as at present. The Polish inhabitants of the Empire would be permitted to join the new state of Poland, whose independence had been proclaimed on October 7th.
Within the next two weeks National Councils were forced by the peoples of most of the oppressed nations and part-nations within the Empire.
The Resignation of the Wekerle Government
As it became clear that the military position of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was hopeless, on October 25rd., 1915 the Hungarian Government, headed by Sandor Wekerle, resigned.
The Formation of the Hungarian National Council
On October 25th., 1918, on the Initiative of Count Mihaly Karolyi, the leader of the Independence and '48 Party, a Hungarian National Council was formed in Budapest, composed of representatives of his own party, the National Bourgeois Radical Party, and the Social Democratic Party.
The Battle of the Chain Bridge
On October 28th., 1918 a large crowd marched to Castle Hill in Buda in a demonstration calling for the appointment of a Government headed by Count Mihaly Karolyi. At the Chain Bridge police fired on the demonstration, killing 3 people and wounding 55.
The Formation of the Hadik Government.
On October 29th., 1918, in defiance of popular demands, the Emperor appointed a political representative of the landlords, Count Janos Hedik, as Prime Minister of Hungary. His government lasted barely two days.
The Request for an Armistice.
On October 29th., 1918 the Austro-Hungarian Government requested the Allied Powers for an armistice (which was signed in Padua on November 3rd.).
During the war Hungary had mobilised 3.6 million men (17% of the population), and had lost 0.7 million killed, with 0.7 million wounded and million taken prisoner.
The Dissolution of the Empire
By this time the Austro-Hungarian Empire had no real existence.
On October 21st., 1918 the 210 German members of the Imperial Parliament had formed themselves into a National Assembly of German Austria, and proclaimed this an independent state on October 30th.
On October 27th, 1918, the Romanian National Council in Bukovina announced its secession from Austro-Hungary in order to join Romania.
On October 28th. the Czech National Council, and on October 30th. the Slovak National Council proclaimed the establishment of an independent state of Czechoslovakia.
On October 29th., 1918 the parliament of Croatia voted to secede from Austro-Hungary in order to join the new state of Yugoslavia, which was proclaimed on the same day.
On October lst.; 1918 the Ukrainian National Council in Galicia announced its secession from Austro-Hungary in order to join the Ukraine then under the Skoropadsky regime.
The National-Democratic revolution in Hungary
On October 30th., 1918 crowds of soldiers and workers demonstrated in front of the headquarters in Budapest of the Hungarian National Council. By this time the Austro-Hungarian state authority had virtually collapsed, and at dawn on October 31st. they occupied, without resistance, the headquarters of the military Commandant of Budapest and the principal public buildings throughout the capital.
The Hungarian national-democratic
revolution had been accomplished.
PART THREE : THE KAROLYI REGIME
(October 1918 - March 1919)
The Formation of the Karolyi Government
On October 3lst, 1919 the victory of the national-democratic revolution was celebrated in Budapest with the wearing of michaelmas daisies. The government headed by Count Janos Hadik resigned, the revolutionary soldiers arrested the milItary commandant of Budapest and the king called on Count Mihaly Karolyi (leader of the Independence and '48 Party) to form a government.
his government later the same day, with ministers drawn from his own party,
the National Bourgeois Radical Party and the Social Democratic Party.
In its programme, the government promised to enact legislation formalising
independence, introducing universal suffrage and the secret ballot, civil
rights, social reform and land reform.
The Formation of the Budapest Central Workers' Council
On November 1st. the peasants began to drive out the local government officials and to disarm the gendarmerie. In the towns the workers had already begun to form Councils modelled on the Soviets set up in Russia, and the soldiers in the army quickly followed suit. From meetings and demonstrations all over the country, demands for the immediate organisation of a republic began to flow in to the government.
On November 2nd., in an effort to canalise this spontaneous movement into legal channels, the leaders of the Social Democratic Party formed the Budapest Central Workers' Council, under the control of right-wing social-democrats. This body, jointly with the government, immediately called upon the population to observe "law and order", to wait for the government's decrees, and to surrender all arms; it began to organise a National Guard for the preservation of "order".
On November 3rd. representatives of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy signed an armistice with representatives of the Allied Powers in Padua. This contained no provisions as to the frontiers of Hungary, and the Allied army in the Balkans continued to advance. A government delegation led by Karolyi therefore began negotiations in Belgrade with General Franchet d'Esperey, the Allied Commander-in-Chief in the Balkans, and a separate armistice was signed here on November 13th. The demarcation line laid down in this armistice agreement ran deep into the former territory of Hungary in the south and east, but did not affect Slovakia in the north.
The Karolyi government officially condemned the repressive policy adopted by the Dual Monarchy to the national minorities in the territory of Hungary. At the same time, in the interests of the capitalist class which it represented, it was keenly anxious to maintain the territorial integrity of the old Hungary, and for this reason rejected the granting of the right of secession to the national minorities.
On November 13th., 1918 the Minister for Nationalities, Oszkar Jaszi, began negotiations with the various National Councils within Hungary in an effort to persuade them to accept measures of limited political and cultural autonomy within the Hungarian state. This programme was, however, unacceptable to the national councils.
The Proclamation of the People's Republic
On November 16th., 1918 the National Council passed a "People's Decree", which was ratified by a mass meeting of 300,000 people in front of Parliament. It declared that:
On March 24th., 1918 a group of released Hungarian prisoners-of-war
in Russia, headed by Bela
Kun, had formed the Hungarian
Federation of the Russian
Communist Party, which proceeded to
carry on propaganda work among Hungarian prisoners-of-war
still interned in the Soviet Republic. It also
ran two schools - in Moscow and Omsk - in which, by November 1918, some 500 cadres had been trained as cadres for the future Communist Party of Hungary.
Bela Kun was born on February 20th., 1886 in the village of Lele, in Szilagy county in Transylvania. He joined the Social Democratic Party in 1902 at the age of 16.
In the autumn of 1904 he enrolled in the Koloszvar Law Academy, at the same time taking a part-time post with the local Workers' Insurance Fund and writing articles for the radical newspaper "Or" (Guardian).
In 1905 he moved to Nagyvarad to join the staff of another radical newspaper "Szabadsag" (Liberty), and in February 1907 moved once more, this time to the capital to become a staff member of the influential "Budapest Naplo" (Budapest Post).
In 1915 he married Iren Gal.
On the outbreak of war in 1914, he was conscripted into the army, and in January 1915, sent to the Russian front. In early 1916 he was taken prisoner, and interned near Tomsk in Siberia..
In the spring of 1917 Kun wrote to the Tomsk City Council, which was controlled by the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, and persuaded it to allow himself and a number of other prisoners who were members of the SDP to live outside the prison camp.
On April 23rd., 1917 he wrote to the Tomsk branch of the RSDLP offering his services to "the socialist cause". At the end of the month he was admitted to the branch, becoming a member of its executive Committee.
In early December 1917, following the socialist revolution in Russia, he went to Petrograd at the invitation of the Central Committee of the RCP. Here he met Lenin and joined the staff of the Propaganda Department of the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs - becoming editor of its Hungarian-language newspaper "Jemzetkosi Szocialista" (International Socialist) and later editor of its German-language newspaper "Fackel" (the Torch).
He attached himself to the "Left Communist" faction within the party, headed by Nikolai Bukharin.
On February 25rd., 1918 the Propaganda Department of the PC of Foreign Affairs was wound up in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
On March 24th., 1918 he became Chairman of the Hungarian
Federation of the RCP, and in April also Chairman of the Confederation
of Foreign Communist Groups of the RCP.
On November 4th., 1918, when the news of the national-democratic revolution in Hungary had reached the Soviet Republic, the Hungarian Federation of the RCP convened a conference in Moscow, which resolved that members should return home forthwith and proceed there as soon as possible to found a Communist Party.
Bela Kun and other leading members of the Federation arrived
in Budapest on November 17th.
- Matyas Rakosi had already returned in May - and others followed during the next few days.
On November 24th., 1918 the returned members of the Hungarian Federation of the RCP, together with some left-wing elements who had now broken away from the SDP and the anarcho-syndicalist Revolutionary Socialists (established in the autumn of 1917), held the Foundation Congress of the Communist Party of Hungary, under the chairmanship of Karolyi Vantus.
The Temporary Constitution of the party, adopted by the congress, contained the "leftist" provision that:
The principal points of the party's programme adopted at its Foundation Congress, were:
(1) an end to class collaboration with the capitalist class;
(2) exposure of the right-wing leadership of the Social Democratic Party;
(3) effective means to combat unemployment;
(4) assistance for demoblilised soldiers and the disabled, to be paid out of war profits;
(5) the immediate introduction of "workers' control" in the factories;
(6) nationalisation of the large estates and their conversion into large-scale state or cooperative farms;
(7) the replacement of the foreign policy based on seeking the favour of the Allied Powers by one based on alliance with Soviet Russia;
(8) extension of the role of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Councils;
and (9) ultimately, the seizure of political power by these Councils and the construction of socialism.
On December 7th., 1919 the party began publication of the newspaper "Voros Ujsag" (Red Journal), and in January, 1919 of a monthly theoretical journal "Internationale" (International).
Although the party conducted agitation in the factories, in the first months of its existence it had little success in winning the support of the organised workers who, by and large, remained loyal to the social democratic Party. It did, however, win wide support among the unemployed, who were neglected by the SPD.
Nevertheless, a mass meeting organised by the party in Budapest in the second half of December 1918 endorsed the slogan "All Power to the Workers' Councils!", and this slogan was adopted in the next few weeks by a number of such councils.
The Formation of the Hungarian National Defence Force Association
On November 30th., 1918 a fascist-type counter-revolutionary organisation representing the interests of the landlord class was formed - the Hungarian National Defence Force Association (Magyar Orszagos Vedero Egyesulet )(MOVE), under the leadership of Gyula Gombos.
The Revision of the Armistice Agreement
In December 1918 the Allied Powers unilaterally amended the armistice agreement signed with the Hungarian government in Belgrade on November 13th. This amendment permitted the Czechoslovak and Romanian armed forces to cross the demarcation line laid down in the armistice agreement into Slovakia and Transylvania respectively.
In December 1918 and January 1919 the Karolyi government adopted:
On January 2nd., 1919 a strike broke out at one of the largest coal mines in the country, at Salgotarjan, and the miners proceeded to occupy the pits, the local administration buildings and the railway station. The government crushed the action by armed force, and executed 10 strike leaders on January 10th.
Over the next few days, however, a number of factories in the capital and in provincial towns were taken over by Workers' Councils, who evicted the managers and proceeded to run the enterprises themselves.
The Election of the President
On January 11lth, 1919 the National Council elected Mihaly Karolyi President of the Republic.
The Coollidge Mission
On January 15th., 1919 a mission from the Allied Powers, led by US historian Archibald Coolidge, arrived in Budapest. The government sought to convince the mission of the importance of granting economic "aid" to Hungary - through the American Relief Administration directed by Herbert Hoover - in order to strengthen the position of the bourgeois democratic regime and avert the "threat" of the "spread of Bolshevism".
The mission did, in fact, make such recommendations, but they were not acted upon.
The Formation of the Berinkey Government.
On January 18th., 1919 President Karolyi appointed Denes Berinkey, a lawyer who had been Minister of Justice in the Karolyi government, Prime Minister. He formed a new coalition government, with four Ministers (of Education, Public Welfare, Trade, and Defence) drawn from the Social Democratic Party.
The Offensive against the Communist Party
A few days after the Coolidge mission had left Hungary - leaving behind one of its members, Philip Brown, in Budapest - the head of the British Military Mission in Vienna, Colonel Sir Thomas Cunninghame, had talks with the Hungarian government, informing it that Allied economic "aid" would be dependent upon "a reduction of Communist influence" in Hungary.
Accordingly, on January 28th. 1919, the Budapest Central Workers Council, under the leadership of right-wing members of the Social-Democratic Party, expelled members of the Communist Party from its membership and from that of the trade unions, in the interests of 'safeguarding democracy".
A few days later, on the orders of the Minister of the Interior, police raided the premises of the Communist Party and of its' newspaper "Voros Usjag" (ed Journal), destroying the latter's printing press.
The Land Reform Law
On February 16th., 1919 the government enacted its Land
Reform Law. It provided that all estate land in excess of 700 acres (in
certain instances, over 300 acres) was to be acquired
by the state, with compensation
payable to the landholders concerned.
This nationalised land was then to be leased
sold either individually or cooperatively.
On March 23rd., 1919 President Mihaly Karolyi distributed surplus land from his own vast estates at Kalkapolna in accordance with the provisions of the law.
The law failed to satisfy the expectation of the land-hungry poor peasantry. Not only did they consider the limits set on the size of estates to be unreasonably high, but they found that the process of distribution was surrounded with so much bureaucratic red tape - of which the civil servants, who were mostly unsympathetic to the land reform, took full advantage - that very little land was distributed during the lifetime of the Karolyi regime.
The impatient peasants at first deluged the government with demands that the land reform should be speeded up, but soon they began arbitrarily to occupy the large estates, redistributing the occupied land either among individual peasant families or - in so far as they were under the influence of the SDP (which opposed individual redistribution) - to peasant cooperatives.
The Unemployed Demonstration
The dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire had a serious effect on the economy of Hungary, already disastrously weakened by four years of war. This, together with the occupation of the southern, south-eastern and northern areas of Hungary's former territory, further fragmented the economic unit which had until then functioned as an economic whole. Serious shortages of fuel and raw materials brought the majority of the factories to a standstill.
As a result of this economic situation, by the beginning of 1919 unemployment in the towns had assumed massive proportions, the ranks of the unemployed being swelled by over a million demobilised soldiers and refugees from the occupied areas.
On February 20th., 1919 a mass demonstration of unemployed took place outside the offices of the Social Democratic Party's daily newspaper "Nepszava" (The People's Voice) in Budapest. The demonstrators clashed with police, a number of them being injured and several policemen fatally injured.
The Arrest of the Communist Party Leaders
For some weeks the Social Democratic Party Ministers in the government had been resisting recommendations from the Minister of the Interior and the Commissioner of Police that the leaders of the Communist Party should be arrested. The violence of February 20th. gave them the pretext to change their position, and on February 21st. 68 leading members of the Communist Party were arrested. They were, however, treated as political prisoners, enabling them to receive visitors and to continue a degree of leadership of the party from prison.
The Formation of the Directories
In March 1919 arbitrary occupation of the large estates took on country-wide dimensions.
In numerous places, both in the towns and in the countryside, the Workers and Peasants' Councils refused to allow the government-appointed Commissioners to take up their posts, and seated their own local administrations - called Directories.
The Allied Ultimatum
On February 26th., 1919 the Peace Conference in Versailles decided to set up a "neutral zone"' in Hungary, outside the jurisdiction of the Hungarian government and to be occupied by Allied forces, in the south-eastern part of the country. The purpose of this move was to establish a secure buffer zone between Romanian and Hungarian armed forces, in order that the former could be used in the war of intervention against the Soviet Republic without any danger of their being attacked by the latter.
The Allied demand was handed to President Karolyi on March 20th., 1919 by the representative of the Allied Power in Budapest, the French Lieutenant-Colonel Vix, in the form of a Note.
Vix made it clear to the Hungarian government that the demarcation line of the "neutral zone" would be the new frontier of Hungary;
Since the "neutral zone" included areas inhabited entirely by Magyars, the government considered it impossible to accept the ultimatum. On the other hand, it considered that the armed forces at its disposal were totally insufficient to enable it to reject the ultimatum. It therefore resigned on the day the ultimatum was received, March 20th., 1919.
The Merger of the CP and the SDP
On the afternoon of March 21st., 1911, a delegation of leaders of the Social Democratic Party, headed by Jakab Weltner, visited the leaders of the Communist Party in prison and informed them that they would be released forthwith from prison if they agreed:
On the following day, March 21st., 1919., the leadership of the two parties met and formally agreed - without either party attempting to hold a congress which would normally decide such an issue of principle- - to "merge" the two parties into the Socialist Party of Hungary.
The "merger" was not brought about, of course, because the leaders of the Social Democratic Party had been miraculously converted overnight to the principles of Marxism-Leninism:
"The Hungarian Social Democratic Party is the most spineless
of the parties belonging to the Second International".
(M. Rakosi: Statement at Trial, July 1926, in: "The Imprisonment and Defence of Matyas Rakosi"; London; 1954; p. 39).
"Up to the last moment, the Karolyi Government, and with
it the Social Democrats, were hostile to us".
(M. Rakosi: Statement at Trial, 1935, in: ibid.; p. 177).
Because of the peculiar method of organisation of the Social Democratic Party, by which every member of a trade union automatically became a member of the party, its total membership in the spring of 1919 was approximately 700,000, organised in thousands of branches:
"The Social-Democratic party had been an organisation
of trade unions where membership in a union automatically meant membership
in the party".
(P. Kenez: "Coalition Politics in The Hungarian Soviet Republic", in: A.C. Janos and W.B.Slottman - Ed.); "Revolution in Perspective", Berkeley; 1971; p. 64-5).
"The Social Democratic Party already counted 700,000 members.
. The Social Democrats formed an intact party, possessing thousands
(M. Rakosi: Statement at Trial, 1935, in: "The Imprisonment and Defence of ;Matyas Rakosi"; London; 19545 p. 143).
The "merger" between the Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party was thus the liquidation of the party of the working class, and the virtual submersion of its members in the Social Democratic Party.
On the side of the Communist Party the merger was accepted by a majority of the leadership who accepted a Luxemburgist underestimation of the role of the party in the socialist revolution:
"The greatest error committed by the Hungarian workers
revolution of 1919 ... consisted of allowing the revolutionary party of
the Hungarian workers, the Communist Party, to be absorbed into the Social
(M. Rakosi: Statement at Trial, July 1926, in: "The Imprisonment and Defence of Matyas Rakosi"; London; 1954; p. 42).
The Formation of the Revolutionary Governing Council
The "merger" agreement between the Executive Committees of the Social Democratic and Communist Parties provided that the two former parties would "jointly participate" in forming a government:
The left-wing of the former Communist party, led by Tibor Szamuely, who had opposed the dissolution of the party, also opposed the acceptance by the former Communist party of less than 50% of the posts in the revolutionary Governing Council:
The first act of the new government, on March 21st., 1919, was to proclaim the establishment of the Hungarian "Soviet Republic'".
On the night of March 2lst./22nd., 1919 the Revolutionary Governing Council proclaimed martial law throughout the country. The administration of martial law was placed in the hands of a special Political Department of the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs, headed by Otto Korvin, which proceeded to establish a security police modelled formally on the lines of the Cheka in the Russian Soviet Republic.
Although opponents of the regime put out much propaganda about the "savage" nature of the "Red Terror" which existed under the "Soviet Republic", even former President Mihaly Karolyi was compelled to admit that this was, in fact, "mild":
The "merger" agreement between the SD? and the CP had stressed:
The Abolition of Titles and Ranks
On March 22nd., 1919 the RGC issued a decree abolishing titles and ranks.
Lenin's Misgivings about the "Soviet Republic"
On March 23rd., 1919 Lenin sent a radio message to Bela Kun on expressing serious misgivings about the nature of the Hungarian "Soviet Republic":
On March 24th., 1919 the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs Bela Kun despatched a Note to the Peace Conference at Versailles on behalf of the RGC. This emphasised the peaceful intentions of the Hungarian government towards all states and asked the conference to send a diplomatic mission to Budapest to open direct negotiations.
The Closure of Retail Shops
On March 24th., 1919 the People's Vice-Commissar for Socialisation, Gyula Hevesi, issued the most absurd decree of the "Soviet Republic's brief existence, all retail shops, with the exception of food shops, tobacconists and pharmacies, were ordered to close, and the death penalty prescribed for any retail commercial transactions outside these exempted fields.
The decree caused such chaos that it was sensibly repealed on the following day.
The Separation of Church and State
On March 25th., 1919 the RGC issued a decree separating the Church from the state, and formally guaranteeing freedom of religious worship.
The latter section of the decree was partly nullified in practice by the fact that the RGC gave its encouragement to an "anti-religious campaign, directed by a defrocked priest Oszkar Faber, which involved the desecration of churches and the insulting of priests.
The Formation of the Red Army
The "merger" agreement between the SDP and the CF declared:
The Establishment of Revolutionary Tribunals
On March 25th., 1919 the ROC issued a decree abolishing the existing courts and replacing them by revolutionary trIbunals. These included, in addition to trained lawyers, lay assessors drawn from the working class.
The Establishment of the Red Guard
On March 26th., 1919, the government issued a decree merging the police and the gendarmerie into a single force, called the Red Guard, but without any significant change of personnel.
The Nationalisation of Banks, Insurance Companies and the larger Industrial Enterprises
On March 26th. 1919 the RGC, issued a decree nationalising all banks, Insurance companies, together with all industrial mining and transport enterprises employing more than 20 workers. Some 100,000 workers were employed in these nationalised enterprises.
Production Commissars were appointed by the government to direct each nationalised enterprise, and workers' councils were to be elected in each to "assist" the Production Commissar.
The decree also froze bank deposits, placing restrictions on the amount of withdrawals.
The nationalisation of industrial enterprises was, however, premature. Neither the Production Commissars appointed by the state, nor the workers councils had the necessary experience of industrial management, and the decree was followed by a sharp fall in industrial production:
"The effect of nationalisation was seriously to curtail
industrial production, causing commodity shortages that turned both workers
and peasants against the government".
(H.Gruber "International Communism In the Era of Lenin"; New York; 1972; p. 121).
On March 27th., 1919 the RGC issued a decree nationalising blocks of flats, requisitioning all housing accommodation in excess of three rooms per family for the rehousing of homeless families and those in substandard accommodation, reducing rents by 20% and canceling arrears of rent.
Under this decree, in Budapest alone 51,410 working class families (amounting to more than 100,000 people) were rehoused in requisitioned accommodation.
The Allied Blockade
On March 26th., 1919 the Allied Powers announced that they would continue the economic blockade of Hungary imposed during the World War.
The Education Decree
On March 29th., 1919 the RGC issued a decree nationalising all educational institutions (some 80% of elementary schools and 65% of secondary schools had been owned by the church) and establishing free compulsory education up to the age of 14.
A campaign was also undertaken against illiteracy, providing for the establishment of free evening courses in reading and writing for adults.
Other Social Measures
Among other social measures instituted by the RGC in March/April 1919 were:
(I) the implementation of the law passed under the Karolyi regime establishing an 8-hour working day;
(2) the establishment of equal pay for equal work;
(3) the introduction of 6 weeks maternity leave on full pay for women workers;
(4) the general raising of wages by 40%, the raising of overtime rates to time-and-a-half for the first two hours, and to double time for each subsequent hour, together with the introduction of a bonus of 20% for night work:
(5) The increase of the produce traditionally allocated to agricultural workers by an average of 100%;
(6) The (mistaken) abolition of piecework system in industry;
(7) the introduction of unemployment benefit;
(8) the introduction of a state accident and sickness insurance scheme (compulsory for employed workers, voluntary for working peasants); during the first four weeks of disability, benefits amounted to 60% of wages, rising to 75% after the fourth week.
During the period of existence of the "Soviet Republic", the state organised many theatrical performances, concerts, art exhibitions and film shows for the working people of town and country.
Among the leading artists who participated In this cultural work were:
the poets Gyula Juhasz and Arpad Toth;
the writers Mihaly Babiti, Bela Balazs, Gyula Krudy and Zsigmond Moricz;
the philosopher Gyorgy Lukacs;
the painters Robert Bereny and Bortalan Por;
the sculptors Beni Ferenczy and Ferenc Medgyessy;
and the composers Bela Bartok, Erno Dohnanyi and Zoltan Kodaly.
On April 2nd., 1919 the Draft Constitution of the Hungarian "Soviet Republic" was published; it was modeled closely on that of Soviet Russia.
The Draft Constitution defined the state as "a Republic of Workers', Peasants' and Soldiers' Councils", in which "the working class held full political power", as "the dictatorship of the proletariat", and stated that Its aim was "the construction of a socialist society":
It would arm the workers, establish a Red Army as the "class army of the proletariat", and "disarm the exploiting classes".
The local organs of the soviet state were to be Village and Town Councils, elected by the working people in each locality. These councils would elect delegates to constitute District Councils, Dan the latter would in turn , elect delegates to a National Congress of Councils, which was to be the highest organ of the state.
The National Congress of Councils would elect a Governing Central Committee, to be the highest organ of the state between sessions of the congress and responsible to the latter.
The Governing Central Committee would elect the government, the Revolutionary Governing Council. which would be the highest organ of the state, between sessions of the Governing Central Committee; this government would be responsible both to the latter and to the National Congress of Councils.
The members of the Revolutionary Governing Council would be called People's Commissars, and each would head a department of state, called a People's Commissariat.
The Revolutionary Governing Council, the Governing Central Committee and the National Congress of Soviets would all have the power to issue decrees.
would be restricted to working people
of both sexes over the age of eighteen - this term being defined to include
pensioners, soldiers and those engaged in housework.
All citizens were guaranteed the right to work (or to state support if unemployed or incapacitated).
The working people were guaranteed the right to free education, together with freedom of speech of of press, of association, of assembly and of demonstration.
Racial or national oppression was outlawed, and national minorities were guaranteed the right to use their own language and to form councils for the promotion of their national culture. A continuous area in which a majority of the inhabitants were of German or Russian nationality would constitute an autonomous national county.
The Appointment of Bohm as Commissar for War
On April 3rd., 1919, as a result of hostile demonstrations
outside the headquarters of the People's Commissariat for War by left-wing
soldiers, the former SPD leader Joszef Pogany was forced to resign as Commissar
for War. He was replaced by another former SPD leader, Vilmos Bohm, who
also became Commander-in-Chief of the Red Army.
The Land Reform
On April 3rd., 1919 the RGC decreed the nationalisation of all land on estates in excess of 140 acres.
Both the Social DemocratIc Party and the Communist Party, before their "merger", had opposed the redistribution of land among the poor peasantry, contending that the large estates should be kept intact and farmed collectively.
Already, at the time of its formation, the RGC had stopped the redistribution of land being carried out under the Karolyi regime's land reform. With the passing of the RGC's own land decree, the nationalised land was not redistributed, but made available for collective farm only.
This caused bitter dissatisfaction among the poor peasantry:
"The fact that the new land law did not make it possible
for the landless to receive land evoked dissatisfaction in the countryside".
(Z.L.Nagy: "Revolution in Hungary (1918-1919)", in: E. Pamlenyi (Ed.): "A History of Hungary"; London; 1975; p. 437).
"Another capital error was the fact that, unfortunately,
we failed to distribute the large estates to the landless peasants. We
began to organise agricultural cooperatives at a moment when the prerequisites
for this were non-existent. . .
The Communist Party of Hungary realises that it committed a grave error when, at the time of the dictatorship, it did not distribute the land".
(M. Rakosi; Statement at Trial, July 1926: in 'The Imprisonment and Defence of Matyas Rakosi"; London; 1954; p. 42, 53).
"Commissars of production were appointed to head the agricultural
cooperatives that were formed in this manner. Since the new state
did not have the necessary number of skilled men, these experts were appointed
overwhelmingly from among the former owners, or the stewards who had previously
managed the large estates".
(Z.L. Nagy: ibid.; p. 436).
"The nationalisation of large estates, which were converted
into collectives generally managed by the local gentry and their agents,
who were the most experienced administrators, automatically made many peasants
enemies of the regime".
(H. Gruber: "International Communism in the Era of Lenin"; New York, 1972; p. 121).
Like the Karolyi regime which preceded it, the Revolutionary Governing Council of the "Soviet Republic"
The Smuts Mission
There was a difference of opinion between the Allied Powers as to the response which ought to be made to the Hungarian government's note of March 24th. The British and US delegations, led respectively by Prime Minister David Lloyd George and President Woodrow Wilson, favoured the sending of a diplomatic mission to Hungary authorised to make concessions to the "Soviet" government; they accepted at face value the propaganda of the Hungarian nationalist capitalist class to the effect that the "socialist revolution" in Hungary had been brought about by the offence to Hungarian national sentiment created by the demands put forward in the Vix note, and feared that the continued existence of the "Soviet" government in Budapest could only provoke the spread of "Bolshevisim" through Central Europe:
On April 7-10th., 1919 elections were held throughout the country to Village and Town Councils. They were carried out on the basis of a single list of candidates nominated by the Socialist Party of Hungary.
These Village and Town Councils then proceeded to elect delegates to the District Councils, and the latter, in turn, to the National Congress of Councils.
The councils at all levels were dominated by members of the former Social Democratic Party;
On April 17th., 1918, with the backing of the British imperialists, emigre aristocrats established in Vienna the Viennese Counter-Revolutionary Committee, headed by Count Istvan Bethlen.
On 'May 2nd, a group of army officers associated with this committee broke into the Hungarian Legation in Vienna and stole considerable quantities of Hungarian money.
Following the rejection of the new armistice terms offered by the Allied Powers through the Smuts mission, the British and US Imperialists accepted the line of their French counterparts and resolved to approve an invasion of Hungary by Romanian and Czechoslovak troops.
The Romanian and Czechoslovak governments approved the new Allied plans on April 10th., but the French Commander-in-Chief In the Balkans, General Franchet d'Esperey, was unsuccessful in efforts to persuade the Yugoslav government to join in the invasion.
On April 16th., 1919, therefore, with the approval of the Entente, Romanian forces crossed the demarcation line into Hungarian territory from the south-east and, since the Hungarian Red Army was still in process of organisation, were able to advance rapidly.
The Revolutionary Governing Council immediately began to call up men of military age for the Red Army, and established an Eastern High Command, with the Commissar for War and Commander-In-Chief, Vilmos Bohm, as its Commander and Aurel Stromfeld as its Chief of Staff.
On April 23rd., 1919 Colonel Craenenbrock, the commander of the Szekely (Transylvanian) Division, which formed the core of the Red Army on the Eastern Front, came to terms with the Romanian High Command and ordered the division to surrender. This created a grave situation for the Red Army on this front, and it was forced to retreat to the river Tisza, which Romanian troops reached on May 2nd.
On May 1st., 1919, the RGC issued a decree nationalising all private hospitals, clinics, sanatoria and spas, and establishing a state health service with free medical and hospital care for all citizens.
The decree also established a school medical service, and a system of holidays for working class families and school-children. During the summer of 1919, more than 1,000 working class children spent a a holiday on the shores of Lake Balaton.
The Trade Union Recruiting Campaign
On May 2nd., 1919 as Romanian troops reached the rive Tisza, the 500-member Budapest Council of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, called on the trade unions of the capital to mobilise every available worker for the Red Army. Within ten days the campaign had succeeded in mobilising 500.000 workers into new units, which succeeded in halting the Romanian advance.
The Appointment of Stromfeld as Chief of Staff
On May 5th., 1919 Aurel Stromfeld was promoted from the post of Chief of Staff of the Eastern Red Army to that of Chief of Staff of the entire Red Army.
The Formation of the "National Government"
On May 5th., 1919, a number of aristocratic landlords and comprador capitalist politicians established at Arad, in south-eastern Hungary under French military occupation, a "National Government", headed by Count Gyula Karolyi (a cousin of Count Mihaly Karolyi) as "Prime Minister". The "Government" was backed by the French imperialists as a rival to the Viennese Counter-Revolutionary Committee established in Vienna on AprIl 15th. ; with the backing of the British imperialists.
The "Minister of War" in the "National Government" Admiral Miklos Horthy, former Commander of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, proceeded to organise a "National Army", with its officers drawn from the old army and its rank-and-file recruited largely from the peasantry.
On June 2nd., 1919 the "National Government" moved its headquarters 100 km. to the east, to the city of Szeged, which was also under French military occupation.
The Red Army Offensive In the North
Having checked the Romanian advance, on May 20th., 1919 the Red Army, reinforced by the workers units recruited by the trade unions, commenced a large scale offensive against the invading Czechoslovak troops in the North, whose organisation and morale was weaker than that of the Romanian troops in the south-east.
By the end of May the Red Army had succeeded in driving a wedge between the Czechoslovak and Romanian forces, had driven the Czechoslovak troops from Hungarian soil and had begun to advance quickly into Slovakia, where it was greeted sympathetically by the population.
The Congress of the Association of Agricultural Labourers
Membership of the Association of Agricultural Workers had increased spectacularly since the end of the war - from l,300 in 1917 to 40,000 by the end of 1918 and to 580,000 by the spring of 1919.
On June lst.-2nd., 1919 the union held a congress, which denounced the failure of the Revolutionary Governing Council to distribute the land.
The Railway Strike and the Rural Uprisings
On June 1st., 1919 the Viennese Counter-Revolutionary Committee was successful in provoking a strike of railway workers on the Southern Railway, and a series of armed peasant uprisings in the Danube-Tisza area and in Southern Transdanubia. So far as the Vienna Committee was concerned, these actions had the aim of paralysing the rail communications of the Red Army and of seizing a piece of territory within Hungary that could serve as a base for further operations.
The Revolutionary Governing Council succeeded in ending the rail strike by granting substantial wage increases to all transport workers, and in crushing the uprisings by transferring Red Army units into the area.
The Clemenceau Note of June 7th.
As, in the first days of June 1919, the Red Army advanced into Slovakia, the Czechoslovak government appealed to the Allied Powers at the Peace Conference in Versailles for urgent assistance:
The First Congress of the Hungarian Socialist Party
On June 12th-13th., 1919 the First Congress of the Hungarian Socialist Party, was held in Budapest, attended by 327 delegates.
Now that the "Soviet Regime" had fulfilled the purpose assigned to it by the Hungarian national capitalist class - that of frightening the Allied Powers into modifying the terms of the Vix ultimatum significantly to Hungary's advantage - its political representatives within the HSP - the former leaders of the SPD - began to turn, at first secretly, against both the "Soviet Regime" and the members of the former CP:
"The right wing and the centre of the Social Democratic
Party had the fixed idea that if they played their cards well, they
could liquidate the dictatorship of the proletariat. . .
The Social Democratic Party itself was thinking out ways and means of liquidating the dictatorship of the proletariat. ... In two places in his book, Bohm declares that he called the leaders of the Social Democratic party together to discuss how to put an end to the dictatorship of the proletariat and to remove the Communists from power by force".
(M. Rakosi: Statement at Trial, 1935, In: "The Imprisonment and Defence of Matyas Rakosi"; London; 1954, p. 146, 157).
"A debate over political methods dominated the congress
of the united workers' party on 12th. and 15th. June. The differences
between the Communists and the Social Democrats, which their mergy
of their parties only postponed but did not resolve, became increasingly
apparent ... and led to violent debates and clashes of opinion during the
discussions of the congress. One group of the Social Democratic leaders
condemned the government's radical measures and demanded that they be moderated".
(Z.L. Nagy: "Revolution In Hungary (1918-1919)", in" Z. Pamlenyi (Ed.) "A History of Hungary"; London; 1975; p. 445).
"At the Party Congress in June, the Social-Democratic
opposition led by Zsigimond Kunfi ... tried to push the Communists
into the background".
(Z.L.Nagy: "133 Days"; in: "The New Hungarian Quarterly"; Volume 10; No 33; Spring 1969; p.14.)
In April the Executive Committee of the Communist International had written to the Executive Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Party saying:
In the election for the Executive Committee of the party, the former SDP majority refused to accept the recommended list of candidates which included four former CP members out of 15. Only when the former CP group threatened leave the party (which the Hungarian national capitalists did not at this stage wish), did the congress reluctantly accept the original list:
"When the election results were communicated to the united
party's leaders, it appeared that as the result of a massive anti-Communist
write-in campaign, with the exception of Kun, the Communists failed to
receive enough votes to qualify them as members of the party executive.
This was more than the Communists were prepared to accept. They announced
that they would abandon the party unless the election results were voided
and a united slate nominated. ... the originally proposed slate was
restored and elected by acclamation by a most reluctant party congress".
(R.L. Tokes: "Bela Kun and the Hungarian Soviet Republic"; New York; 1967; p. 183-4).
Following the rejection of Its' Note of June 7th., on June 15th., 1919 the Peace Conference sent a further Note to the RGC, also signed by Clemenceau. This stated that if the Red Army withdrew from Slovakia:
The military leaders of the Red Army, correctly correctly opposed this decision an the grounds that the note contained no guarantees that the Romanian troops would, in fact, withdraw from eastern Hungary:
The National Congress of Councils
On June 14th-23rd, 1919, the National Congress of Councils - elected indirectly from the election of April 7th. - met in Budapest attended by 348 delegates, and guests from Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany and Soviet Russia.
The main opposition at the congress came from rural delegates, who attacked the RCG particularly on an anti-Semitic basis (a majority of its members being of Jewish origin). As Bela Kun said indignantly at the Congress :
The Attempted Putsch in Austria
Faced with the fact that there was no prospect in the
near future of effective military assistance from
Soviet Russia, in mid-May 1919, Bela Kun sent Erno
Bettellheim to Vienna, charged with the task of "brining about a
socialist revolution and establishing a Soviet Republic"
Bettelheim himself later described his mission as follows:
The Communist Party of Austria, which had come into being at its foundation congress on February 9th., 1919 under the leadership of Elfriede Friedlander (later known as Ruth Fischer) and Franz Koritschoner, had influence chiefly among the unemployed and returned soldiers. The great mass of the organised workers - including the trade unions, the workers' councils and the para-military People's Militia - remained firmly under the leadership of the SDP.
The political position of the SDP-led workers' council movement was evidenced by the reply which the Executive Committee of the Austrian workers council movement made on March 23rd., 1919 to the appeal of the Hungarian Revolutionary Governing Council of the previous day:
"Bettelheim used his ample financial resources to circumvent
the CPA leadership in establishing anonymous action committees".
(H.Gruber; ibid.; p 178-9);.
Accordingly, Vienna was flooded with leaflets and posters, issued by the "Committee of Four" and the "Action Committees" ; which it controlled, calling for the "socialist revolution" to take place on June 15th:
"Had the German-Austrian Communist Party ... usurped 'power'
by means of a putsch ... without the support of the majority of the proletariat,
this 'victory' would merely have weakened the Hungarian Soviet Republic.
A German-Austrian Soviet Republic a la Bettelheim - would not have been
a soviet Republic at all. The councils were after all opposed to
its proclamation. The trade unions were opposed to it. On whom could
it have based itself? On enlisted Red Guards who would have been
obliged to apply force against the majority of the working class?
... These simple reflections should have indicated to the Bettelheim people
the madness of a putschist tactic. ... But this is precisely the
crux of the matter:
the messiah of the Budapest bureau of propaganda did not have a glimmer of the meaning of communism; every word of his charge against the German-Austrian Communist Party proves this. . The vanguard of the German-Austrian proletariat, the communists, frustrated during the June days the putschist tactic of the Bettelhelms. They did not plunge themselves into the adventure of the Soviet Republic without Soviets".
(K. Radek: ibid.; p. 191, 194).
On the evening of June 14th., police arrested the members of the "Committee of Four" - except for Bettelheim, toescaped - and more than a hundred members of the "Action Committees".
On the morning of June 15th; some 7,000 people demonstrated in Vienna; the demonstrators were mostly unemployed workers and disabled returned soldiers; the memebers of the People's Militia and msot oranised workers obeyed thier leaders' instructionsnot to take part. The demonstrators attemepted to release their impriosned leaders, and were dispersed by police with about twenty killed.
On June 16th., 1919, as the Hungarian Red Army had come to occupy a large part of Slovakia, a Slovak "Soviet-Republic" was established at Eperjes, modelled on the lines of the Hungarian Soviet Republic". Its revolutionary Governing Council was headed by Antonin Janousek, head of the Czechoslovak section of the Hungarian Socialist Party and a number of its People's Commissars - such as Erno Por as People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs Tibor Szamuely' as People's Commissar for Social Production- were seconded from the RGC in Budapest.
A proclamation by the RGC of the Slovak "Soviet Republic" declared that it would aim for union with a future Czech "Soviet Republic".
The Formation of the Council of National Economy
On June 21st., 1919 the RGC set up a Council of national Economy headed by Jeno Varga as Chairman, with the function of regulating the economy of the country.
On July 9th. the GNE reinstituted piecework rates in industry in an effort to secure increased industrial production.
The Attempted Coup of June 24th.
On June 24th., 1919 an attempt to overthrow the Revolutionary Governing Council by force took place in Budapest. Units of the Danube flotilla and the troops of one barracks in the capital took part in the attempted coup, which had been planned by Joszef Haubrich, a former Leader of the SDP who had been appointed commandant of the Red Guard in Budapest in April.
The plan was that workers in the capital would join the coup, after which the Red Guard would intervene "on their 'side". But the plan failed because the attempted coup aroused no support among the working class:
"The whole scheme failed .. . due . . . to the fact that
the industrial workers ... never rallied to the counter-revolution".
(M. Rakosi: Statement at Trial, 1935; In: 'The Imprisonment and Defence of Matyas Rakosi"; London; 1954; p. 189).
The Negootiations In Vienna
On June 24th, 1919 Vilmos Bohm arrived in Vienna for discussion with the diplomats of the Allied Powers. A few days alter he was joiend by memebers of the former Social Democratic Party.
In these dIscussions it was agreed that the Hungarian "Soviet Republic" should be liquidated as soon as possible, and that the Entente should put forward:
"The Entente never stopped repeating that if the dictatorship
of the proletariat fell, then they would help any democratic government
which replaced it".
(M.Rakosi: Statement at Trial, l935, in "The Imprisonment and Defence of Mayas Rakosi"; London; 1954; p.159).
On June 30th. ,1919, the Hungarian Red Army began its withdrawal from Slovakia.
The Slovak "Soviet Republic" was then immediately overthrown by troops of the Czschoslovak government.
The withdrawal adversely affected the morale of the working people, and especially that of the soldiers of the Red Army:
"By the middle of July it had become painfully clear that
the decision to retreat from Slovakia was a fatal strategic and tactical
mistake. The withdrawal had irreparably damaged the national pride
of the trade-union battalions, caused mass desertions from the Red Army,
and induced the Czechoslovak army ... to pursue the dejected Hungarian
(R. L. Tokes: "Bela Kun and the Hungarian Soviet Republic"; New York 1967, p. 200).
"The withdrawal of the Hungarain army and the Romanian
governemtn statement gave rises to biter disppointment among the people
fo the country, and above all among the soldiers of the workign class army.
This unfavourable effect undoubtledly diminshed the mass basis of support
for teh dictatorship of teh proletariat."
(J.Kendes, L.Gecsenyi, and A.Steinbach: "Revoltuion in Hungary: 1918-1919; London; 1968; p.48.
On July 5th., 1919, the Revolutionary Goveerning Council approved a plan put forward by the new commanders of the Red Army for an offensive against the Romanian troops with the aim of driving them from teh area East of the Tisza.
On July 11th., 1919 the RGC issued a decree imposing universal military service for the Red Army.
On July 20th., 1919 the Red Army launched its offensive, which was doomed before it began:
The Executive Committee of the Communist International had called upon the workers of The Allied countries to carry out a political strike on July 21st., 1919 in solidarity with the Russian Soviet Republic and the Hungarian "Soviet Republic", and in protest at foreign military intervention against these states.
The social-democratic parties of the Second International, however, opposed the strike call, which met with little response:
"The failure of the expected strike was the last blow
in defeating the spiritual strength of the proletariat".
(M. Rakosi: Statement at Trial, 1935, in: "The Imprisonment and Defence of Matya Rakosi"; London; 1954; p. 159).
During the first three months of 1919, the Soviet Russian Red Army made sweeping advances on the Ukrainian Front, under the command of Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko, reaching the eastern border of Poland by mid-march. On March 19th. President Mihaly Karolyi:
As soon as the latter was formed the government of Soviet Russia attempted to render it military aid. On March 25th, 1919,. - four days after the formation of the Revoltuioanry Governing Council in Hungary - the Russian Soviet Government requested Khristian Rakovsky, who ahd been appointed Chairman of the Council of hte Ukranain Soviet Republic on Jnauray 25th., 1919, to order the Ukranian RedArmy to cease its advance towards the Black Sea and:
On April 22nd., 1919 Lenin himself cabled to the Soviet Russian Commander-in-Chief, Joakhim Vatzetis:
Taking advantage of the confused situation which followed, on May 17th. the white "Volunteer Army" under General Anton Denikin opened an offensive against the Ukranian Red Army from the South, directed towards Kharkov which he took on June 24th. By the end of June the forces of Soviet Russia had been pushed back as far as Kiev.
By this time Bela Kun was convinced that the failure of the Soviet Russian Red Army to give effective military aid to the Hungarian Red Army was due to treachery on the part of Khristian Rakovsky, the Chairnan of the Council of People's Commissars of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic, and Georgi Chicherin, the All-Russian People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, and telegraphed his suspicions to Lenin. Lenin replied at the end of June:
That Kun's suspicions that Antonov-Ovseenko, Chicherin and Rakovsky were treacherously obstructing Soviet Russian military aid to teh "Soviet Republic" of Hungary may not have been without foundation is evidenced by thier history. All three came from aristocratic families, were Mensheviks until the eve of the socialist revolution in 1917, were during World Ward I closely associated with Trotsky on his Paris journal "Nashe Slovo" (Our Cause), and, in the 1920's, were prominently assocIated with the opposition groups headed by Trotsky.
The Clemenceau Note of July
On July 26th., in line with the discussions held in Vienna with Bohm, and his social-democaratic colleageus, the Allied Powers sent a Note to the RGC in Budapest, signed by Fernch Prime Minster Georges Clemenceau declaring:
By the end of July 1919 the Romanian troops had succeeded in crossing the river Tisza and were only 100 kilometres from Budapest.
On August 1st, a joint session of the Revolutionary Governing Council and teh Central Committee of the Socialist Comunist party of Hungary was held.
Bela Kun told the cetlng that the position of the "Soviet" Republic" was now hopeless:
The Austrian Social Democratic government gave Kun diplomatic immunity and he left the same day for Vienna with his family and a few friends, in a special train:
PART FIVE: THE PEIDL
(August 1st. - 7th., 1919)
The Formation of the Peidl Government
The Hungarian capitalist class considered that the dismantling of the principal measures effected by the "Soviet" govcrnment could be brought about by a governent of social-democratic politicians and trade union leaders with less resistance from the working class than if this dismantling were carried out by a government of openly bourgeois politicians.
On August 1st., 1919 therefore, following the resignation of the Revolutionary Governing Council, the Budapest Central Workers' Council, which was dominated by social democrats was permitted to "appoint" a new government headed by the former leader of the right-wing faction of the SPD Gyula Peidl which was composed almost entirely of trade union leaders.
The Lifting of the Allied Blockade
On August 2nd., 1919 the Allied Powers agreed to lift their blockade of Hungary.
The Dismantling of the "Soviet" Measures
On August 2nd., 1919 the new government released all the political prisoners arrested under the "Soviet" Republic, abolished the revolutionary tribunals and restored the old law. courts.
On August 3rd.,1919 the government dissoved the Red Guard and restored the old police force.
On August 4th., 1919 the blocks of flats nationalised by the "Soviet" government were handed back- to their former owners, and the decrees of that government reducing rents were repealed.
On August 6th., 1919 all the industrial, commercial and financial institutions nationalised by the "Soviet" government were returned to their former owners.
The Romanian Occupation of Budapest
Meanwnile, on August 3rd., Romanian troops reached the
capital, Budapest, and occupied it.
The Overthrow of the Peidl Government
On August 7th., 1919 the Peidl government was overthrown in a military coup by a group of army officers acting on behalf of a section of the landlord class closely allied with the former imperial family.
The officers proclaimed Archduke Josef State Governor of Hungary, and he in turn appointed a government headed by Istvan Friedrich.
The DIssolution of the Szeged "Government"
A majority of the members of the "government" in Szeged were prepared to recognise the Friedrich government, and this "government" dissolved itself.
The more far-seeing members of the "Szeged governmnt", however, realised that a regime associated with the former Imperial family would be unacceptable to the Allied Powers. These members rallied round Admiral Miklos Horthy, who had held the post of Minister for War in the Szeged "government".
The Formation of an "Independent" High Command
On August 9th., 1919 Horthy announced that the "National Army" formed by the Szeged government and under his command - a force of some 25,000 with officers drawn from the landlord class and its rank-and-file mainly from the middle peasantry - constituted an armed force independent of the Friedrich government in Budapest.
Colonel Baron Antal Lehar, who commanded a similar armed force in the west of the country formed on the initiative of the Viennese Counter-Revolutionary Committee headed by Count Istvan Bethlen, in turn placed his army under Horthy's Supreme command.
Horthy was also supported by two fascist para-military organisations formed under the Karolyi regime. These were the Hungarian National Defence Force Asscciation (Magyar Orszagos Vedero Egyesulet) (MOVE) and the Association of Vigilant Hungarians ( Ebredo Magyarok Egyesulete) (EME), both commanded by Captain Gyula Gombos, who had been Unzer-Secretary of War in the Szeged government.
The Reconstitution of the Social Democratic Party
On August 24th., 1919 the Social Democratic Party was reconstituted under the leadership of Karoly Peyer a trade union Leaderwho had been Minister of the Interior in the Peidl government.
The Resignation of Archduke Josef
On August 24th., 1919 Archduke Josef rcsigned as state Governor under the unremitting pressure of the Allied powers.
The Withdrawal of Romanian Troops
The French imperialists, believing that they could convert Romania into a French client state favoured the continued occupation by Romanian troops of as much of Hungarian territory as possible.
The British and US imperialists, however, not wishing to see the influence of their French rivals strengthened in this way, took their stand on the "independence of Hungary" and through their domination of the Allied Supreme Council, were successful in forcing the withdrawal of Romanian troops, which was completed by Novernber, and gave their full backing to Horthy's counter-revolutionary forces.
The White Terror
On August 11th., 1919 Horthy's "National Army" started out from Szeged, marching through the north of the country not occuppied by Romanian troops to join up with Lehar's army in the west, where Horthy established his military headquarters.
From here, the combined counter-revolutionary force proceeded to cccupy the whole country as the Romanian troops withdrew, taking Budapest on November 16th.
The path of the force was marked by savage white terror and mass anti-Jewish pogroms. Within a few months 5,000 people had been brutally murdered, and 75,000 more were crarmmed into improvised concentration camps. More than 100,000 fled from the country to escape terror.
The Peidl government had instructed all local organs and officials of the "Soviet Republic" to remain in office until further notice. Thsoe who obeyed this instruction fell victim to the White Terror.
On August 17th., 1919 the National Federation of
Hungarian Manufacturers imposed a 50% wage cut on all industrial workers.
The Formation of the Huszar Government
On November 24th., 1919, following the occupation of Budapest by Horthy's counter-revolutionary troops, a new government was formed by these forces, headed by Karoly Huszar.
The British diplomat Sir George Clark, who had arrived in Hungary on October 23rd., pressed Horthy to introduce a facade of "democracy" in Hungary, since the atrocities committed by his troops had caused some embarrassment to the British imperialists.
As a result of this intervention the new government
was drawn not only from the two newly-formed parties
representing the landlord class - the
Christian National Unity Party, and the National
Independence and '48 Farmers' Party ("Smallholders Party") led by Istvan Nagyatdi Szabo; the Social Democratic Party representing the interests of the national capitalist class, was permitted to take part in the government, its leader, Karoly Peyer, being given the portfolio of Minister of Labour and Public Welfare.
On November 26th., 1919 the Supreme Allied Council recognised the Huszar government as the legitimate government of Hungary.
On January 25-27th., 1920 parliamentary elections were held. However, the White Terror continued during the election campaign, effectively preventing the candidates of the Social Democratic Party from contesting the elections. As a result the party withdrew from the elections, and, in protest, from the government.
The 150 seats of the new parliament were thus divided
between two political parties representing the interests of the landlord
and comprador capitalist classes:
National Independence and '48 Farmers' Party. . . . 91 seats
Christian National Unity Party . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 seats
The Restoration of the Monarchy
On February 29th., 1920 legislation was passed by the new parliament restoring the monarchy, but leaving the post of monarch vacant.
The "Election" of Horthy as Regent
On March 1st 1920 units of Horthy's "National Army" surrounded
and occupied the parliament buildings and demanded that the deputies elected
Horthy as Regent of Hungary, which they duly did.
The Formation of the Simonyi-Semadam Government
On March 14th., 1920 a new coalition government of the two main political parties was formed, headed by Sandor Simonyi-Semadam as Prime Minister.
The Treaty of Trianon
On June 4th., 1920 the Simonyi-Semadam government signed
the Peace Treaty of Trianon with the Allied Powers. This fixed the
new boundaries of Hungary so as to leave the new "kingdom" an area of 35.9
thousand square miles (out of the area of 125.6 thousand square miles of
the old kingdom) and a population of 7.6 million (out of the population
of 20.9 million in the old kingdom);
it provided for the payment of an unspecified sum in reparations; and it limited the armed forces of the new state to 35,000.
The semi-fascist regime under Horthy continued until October 1944.
Its character is described by modern revisionist historians with accuracy:
Following the collapse of the Hungarian "Soviet Republic", Bela Kun was interned in Austria until the summer of 1920. After his release, he went to the Soviet Union, where he remained until his death in 1939.
In the autumn of 1920, he took part, as a Political Commissar, in the last campaign of the Civil War, in the Crimea, against the White guard troops commanded by General Baron Petr Wrangel.
In February 1921, Kun was coopted to the Little Bureau of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, and sent as the representative to Germany. Espousing the "leftist" "theory of the general offensive", he played the leading role there in the disastrous "March Action".
(These facets of Kun's political career are analysed
in the Communist League report on "Revisionism in Germany: Part One'
Following his severe criticism by Lenin in connection with his role Germany, he was then given a minor post in the Urals.
At the 4th. Congress of the Communist International, in February 1922, he resumed his place in the leadership of the CI. Thereafter he took an active part in all the congresses and most of the plenums of the Cl. He was at various times member or candidate member of the ECCI, deputy member of its Presidium, member of its Organizational Bureau, head of its Agit prop Department, and wrote numerous pamphlets.
Bela Kun was arrested
by the security police of the People's Commissariat of
Internal Affairs (NKVD) on May 50th., 1937 and executed
on November 50th.,
1939. His wife Iren was arrested on February 25rd., 1958 and sentenced to 6 years in a labour camp, his daughter Agnes was dismissed from her position in a publishing house, and the latter's husband, the Hungarian poet Antal Hidas was also confined in a labour camp until released in 1945.
On February 21st., 1956, shortly after the 20th. Congress of the CPSU, Kun was "rehabilitated" in an article in "Pravda" (Truth) written by the Hungarian Jeno Varga.
In March 1959 Iren Kun returned to Hungary.
On March 21st., 1964- a school and a street in Leningrad were named after Kun.
Despite his "rehabilitation", the neo-revisionist leaders - both of the Soviet Union and of Hungary - have been extremely reticent about the circumstances of his arrest and execution.
The officially approved Soviet biography of Kun, by I.M. Grachalk and M.F.Lbovich, merely states:
"Stalin's homicidal fury in the Comintern ... was
directed against both leaders and Party militants. . .
The foreign Communist groupings were wiped out by Stalin. . .
The Hungarian Communist leaders . .. managed to escape the "White Terror" only to fall victim to Stalin's terror.. . .among them Bela Kun."
(B.Lazitch: "Stalin's Massacre of the Foreign Communist Leaders"; in M.M. Drachovitch and B.Lazitch: "The Comintern: Historical Highlights"; New York; 1966; p. 140, 161-2;.
"There could not have been an internal power struggle
voiced in the massacres described here, because the victims were foreigners
and therefore ineligible as potential rivals of Stalin.... or does
the explanation that the purpose of the massacre was to get rid of the
remaining Trotskyite, Zinovievist or Bukharinist elements suffice, for
almost every foreign Communist leader arrested and killed by Stalin's police
had in the past served Stalin against Trotsky, Zinoviev and Bukharin..
No exclusively political interpretation could explain why it was necessary to murder, along with their wives and children, Comintern leaders who had been in Stalin's service for many years."
(B.Lazitch: ibid.; p. 170-2).
The facts of Kun's arrest and execution make sense however, if it is understood that:
(2) at the 7th. Congress of the Communist International its' revisionist leadership, headed by Georgii Dimitrov, had diverted the CI onto a right revisionist course; and
(3) Kun, with his long history of leftism, was unable completely to accept this right revisionist line:
'Very well', said Manuilsky; 'Citizen Bela Kun must know
that a representative of the USSR in the Comintern is Comrade Stalin'."
(A. Tuominen: "Kremls Klockor" (The Kremlin Chimes) Helsinsfors; 1958; In "Est et Ouest"
(East and West), Volume 15 No. 293; February 1st/5th. 1963; p. 9).
"When this duel had ended, Dimitrov shook a little bell
and declared that the meeting was terminated. . . . Bela Kun was allowed
(A.Tuominen: "Kremls Klockor" (The Kremlin Chimes); Helsingfors; 1958; in: "Est et Ouest" (East and West), Volume 15, No. 293; February lst./l5th., 1963; p. 9).
Clearly, either Stalin possessed a perverted and sadistic "sense of humour", for which there is no evidence, or the moves to eliminate Kun were not made on Stalin's initiative. Indeed, Stalin's telephone call may be seen as a move to make Kun's arrest by the revisionist majority more difficult.
Besides Kun, a number of other foreign Communists resident in the Soviet Union who - because of their firm Marxist-Leninist position, or more frequently, because of their consistent "leftist" positions - were unable completely to accept the right revisionist line adopted at the 7th Congress of the CI were eliminated by the (still partly concealed) revisionist leaders of the CI in conjunction with the revisionist led NKVD on the basis of trumped-up charges. To link these actions with the "Personality cult" which they had built up around Stalin, the "charges" were not infrequently related to alleged insults of Stalin.
Other writers have given similar accounts to that cited
by Tuominen of the Bela Kun "case" of the proceedings in relation to other
such foreign Communists resident in the Soviet Union. For example
Herbert Wehner, then a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Germany living in Moscow, has described how the elimination of those leaders of the CPG who were unable completely to accept the political line of the 7th. Congress was carried out under the supervision of Palmiro Togliatti (Italy). In the case of Herman Schubert, he relates: