Fights of 1919
It has caused an unexpected surprise in Paris
when the powers that were busy deciding the fate of Hungary have discovered that a so far
obedient country now had a communist government daring to oppose the
"omnipotent" Antant. The French lieutenants were on "pins and needles"
urging armed intervention. The diplomats, however were trying to be lenient at first. This
is why Lieutenant Jan Christian Smuts arrived in Budapest in the name of Antant on April
4, 1919. Although the negotiations were not successful, the intervention of Antant urged
by many did not materialise.
The Soviet Republic inherited a badly
organised army of 60 thousand. Recruiting for the Red Army has started at the end of March
on a volunteer basis.
At the onset of Romanian attacks the army had
55-60 thousand soldiers, while the Romanians had double and the Tzech and Slovacs had
triple that much.
The Soviet Republic did not need an allround
defence as the Serbs didn’t move neither was there any danger from Austria. At the same
time the Romanians have occupied by the middle of April Szatmárnémeti, Nagyvárad,
Nagykároly and Arad. On April 23 Debrecen has also fallen opening the way to the Tisza.
On that same day the Tzech-Slovaks ran into Ungvár, which by the end of the month
developed into an offensive all the lengths of the Northern front. The two invading armies
have met on April 28 between Csap and Munkács thus partially surrounding Hungary.
The front was halted by the "good
wiled" Antant prohibiting the invasion of the Romanians the Tzech on the other hand
occupied Balassagyarmat, Salgótarján, Miskolc and the industrial area of Borsod. The
Hungarian government in the meantime succeded improving the leadership of the Red Army.
May 1 the labour day was celebrating by the
Soviet Republic overshadowed by failure with the Romanians having reached Szolnok only
about an hour away. The recruting of workers in the capital commenced and within a few
days workers troops of 15 thousand going to the fronts. The number of soldiers has doubled
by the middle of May, thus avoiding the immediate danger of collapse.
In the course of May only the Tzech army
attacked the Romanians were resting by the Tisza and the Serbs still did not budged from
behind the demarkation line. The Northern offensive bringing great success began May 9
with reoccupying the industrial Salgótarján. With the fierce battle for Miskolc the
enemy has been pushed back from the area Salgótarján-Eger-Miskolc. On 21 May Miskolc was
taken and in the beginning on of June Kassa and Eperjes.
On June 7 a written message arrived to the
governing council from the French Prime Minister Georges Benjamin Clemenceau who was at
the same time the head of the Paris peace conference demanding a halt to the offensive and
the return to the demarcation line, as well as offering an invitation to the piece
conference. Defence secretary Béla Kun however did not accept the ultimatum. By the 10 of
June the Hungarian armed forces reached the Polish borders. Thus a strategy was realised
separating the Tzech and Romanian armies. At the same time there was an offensive on the
Felvidék both to the middle and to the West. Crosing the river Ipoly soldiers of the Red
Army have occupied Érsekújvár and Nyitra and were threatening Pozsony when by the
intervention of Antant they had to stop.
These temporary successes were due beside
heroism of the soldiers to good equipment, excellent artillery and effective leadership.
New supply of soldiers was provided by compulsory military service and recruiting. The
military efforce however did not bring political successe. The Soviet Republic had no
influence on the later established borders of the Trianon pact. A subcomittee ofg the
piece conference has already finalised its decision on March 18 concerning the boundary
between Hungary and Romania and soon the Hungarian-Tzechslovak and Hungarian-Yugoslav
borders have been drawn. The Suppreme Soviet on May 12 has accepted it all with a nod
without any discussion. This was the decision declared by Clemenceau later in his
ultimatum of June 13. In this the peace conference announced the new borders of Hungary
with the exception of Yugoslavia. Over the established lines the Hungarian troops were at
a standstill, while the Tiszántúl was under Romanian invasion. The pact has offered
withdraving of the Romanians from the Tiszántúl after a Hungarian order to retreat from
the Felvidék. The date of the end of the retreat was set in the ultimatum to June 18.
This resulted in a new turn in the history of
the Soviet Republic. Refusal was equal to an allround war with attacks of Romania, Serbia
and the Antant, acceptance on the other hand meant admittance of failure. Béla Kun
decidid for the retreat concidered the less evil. With the Tzechs an armistice was signed
on 24 June. Kun trusted Clemenceau, thinking that what he says he does, therefore the
Romanians will empty the Alföld which they had no intention of doing.
While in Szeged a "counter
government" was formed – providing the basis for Miklós Horthy – and
organisation of the Hungarian National Army has started, the Red Army has quickly begun
emptying the territories on June 30, having liberated them with heavy blood sacrifices. To
the contrary of their promise the peace conference did not order the Romanians to move
from the Tisza. This new foreign policy failure has made it clear that Paris ignores those
Hungarians whose fate they were about to decide. The majority of the leadership has
considered the armed resistance futile and proposed abdication and handing over the power
peacefully to a civil socialdemocratic government at the control of Antant. Those refusing
to retreat were keen on attacking the Romanians even though by now they have lost almost
all support. The industrial workers were also tired of constant fighting and poverty.
The attack against the Romanians was launched
by the Red Army July 20. at than one point. This offensive was initially gaining, its aim
being to reach the Hungarian-Romanian borders established by the peace conference. By the
end of July, however, the offensive has collapsed and the Romanians have crossed the river
Tisza at several points, cleaning the way to the capital Budapest. The Revolutionary
Governing Council had its last neating on Aug. 1. 1919. The majority decided to abdicate.
The decision was announced immediately at the session of the Budapest Workers Soviet.
At the time of abdication it was stated that
the power will by transferred to a clearly socialdemocratic government. The Romanian Army
however still occupied Budapest on Aug 3-4. –with the approval of a two-faced Antant
–taking formal control even of the government. The so called Peidl-government had
functioned for a week and by the 6 of August was ousted with the help of a
When on August 1st the council abdicated and
the majority of functionarities immigrated to Austria, there was a country left without
borders in between the demarcation lines. She had no stateform, no head of state and no
legistation. She had on the another hand two "shadow gowernments" one in Szeged
and another in Budapest, the later made of socialdemocratic and union leaders. The Red
Army as well as the Red Guard have dissolved and Horty’s National Army was only capable
of inner "tidying". The Romanian Army having crossed the Tisza has within two
days occupied the capital, then North-Transdanubian, all the way to the Balaton. It was
devastating to see Romanian soldiers marching on the Ring in Budapest, a noisy forlorne
From August 1919. on the most important
"powercenter" has been the invading Romanian Army, backed by the victorious
Antant. On the territory to the Tisza the Romanians introduced their own millitary policy,
no Hungarian civil or millitary authority was allowed to function. In other invaded parts
of the country there was a restored Hungarian civil administration, police and guards.
On the Southern and Westen Transdanubian
controlled by the National Army civil powers belonged to the so called governing
ombudsmen. The Romanian Army has participaded in the torment of the administration of the
Soviet Republic, in the disarmament of the Red Army as well. Any legislation of the
Hungarian government has been censured, newspapers were prohibited to appear until the end
of September and later they were controlled by the army.
The Romanian Army has systematicaly organised
robbing of our country. After the harvest thousands of wagons carried to Romania wheat,
food and liverstock. Mobile factory equipment was also dismantled and transported. This
band of burglars even attempted to lute our national treasures. Cases of material from the
Hungarian National Museum have only been saved by the serious interference of the American
Major General Harry Bill Bandholtz. Despite of several "strict" warnings of the
Antant and the peace conference the Romanians did not leave Budapest until the middle of
November 1919. This is when they were compelled to retreat to the river Tisza and later at
the end of March 1920 they abandoned the "Tiszántúl" all the way to the new
state borders. With that the first basic condition of an independent Hungary was