|G. Baross: Hungary and Hitler|
Now the Regent faced the difficult task of choosing his representatives to be sent to Moscow. This was a very difficult
and rather delicate matter. His choice fell on Geza Teleki, son of the former Hungarian Minister President Count Pal Teleki, and Gendarmerie General Sandor Faragho, the latter having been military attache of our country to Moscow in the early Forties. These two gentlemen, having been furnished with all necessary directives and papers, started their travels to Moscow on the 28th of September in greatest secrecy. Accounts of the results of the negotiations conducted by General Faragho were relayed in his several secret radio messages. According to these, immediately after his arrival Faragho negotiated first with General Krzniezov, deputy chief of staff of the Russian General Staff, and later with General Antinov, chief of staff of the Soviet Russian General Staff. Both refused to negotiate for anything except the military aspects of the armistice.
Faragho requested that in compliance with the previous messages received through Count Zichy, the political questions surrounding the armistice ought to be negotiated also. As a result of his demand, Foreign Commissar Molotov received Faragho twice and communicated to him that the reports of Count Zichy were not to be regarded as official; the preliminary conditions of an Armistice as stipulated with the consent of the Anglo-Saxon powers were the following:
Hungary was to withdraw immediately from the territories she occupied in Czechoslovakia, Rumania, and Yugoslavia, withdrawing within her boundaries prior to the two Viennese Arbitrage decisions.
She was to immediately break connections with the Germans and to declare war on the Third Reich.
When Faragho had obtained Molotov's consent to a concentration of all Hungarian battle groups toward Budapest and to the cessation of the air raids directed against the capital and had also received full power from the Regent, he signed on October 11 the protocols containing the above enumerated conditions; he reported this fact to the Regent with the request that a commanding general be sent to the Soviet Russians to negotiate about the details.
The Regent, who regarded the request for the armistice as one of his constitutional rights, had a proclamation worked out in which he communicated the laying down of arms and the request for an armistice by the Hungarian nation.
While these secret negotiations and actions went on in the innermost secret circles surrounding the Regent during September and the first days of October 1944, the Germans also prepared in the greatest secrecy for counter action to prevent an eventual defection by the Hungarians. German Ambassador Veesenmayer negotiated several times with Ferenc Szalasi, head of the Hungarian Arrow Cross of Nazi Party, and thought that eventually an armed group of the latter headed by Emil Kovarcz could be utilized against the Regent and the Hungarian Govern-. ment. SS General Winkelmann, on the other hand, was more inclined to make us, if it was necessary, of the Keleti Arcvonal Bajtarsi Szovetseg (K.A.B.Sz) (Collegiate Federation of the Fighters of the Eastern Front).
This group was politically close to Imredy and was well trained and well equipped. Hitler sent SS Major Skorzeny to Budapest. This man had played an extremely outstanding role in the escape of Mussolini from his place of detention in the Italian Gran Sasso. He came with his own special battle group to begin orientation and, in case it was necessary, to arrest the Regent.
Veesenmayer preferred to take the smooth and possibly mild way for a change and to reach his goal eventually by use of constitutional steps. Winkelmann wanted to put terror actions and worse methods into swing. To decide between these two German factions, they both traveled to Berlin to ask directivess. from Hitler, Ribbentropp, and Himmler. During their absence Szalasi worked out a detailed plan for the removal of the Regent and the takeover of power. He worked out a complete reorientation and transformation of the Hungarian Administration, and he compiled a list for the future Cabinet and also a list to replace the commanding generals; and all this in the interest of the continuation of the war on the side of the Germans provided the latter would support the defense of Hungary honestly and with all their power. He expected to carry out these plans toward the middle of November 1944.
In the meantime, in the political sphere there occurred two very important events.
One: the formation of the "Nemzeti Szovetseg" (National Federation) by Ferenc Rajniss, a member of Parliament and of the Government Party. This Federation counted over 200 Parliamentarians among its members very quickly; it decided to continue the war and did not want to break down relationships with the Third Reich, and they wanted to find constitutional ways to the solution of the problems created by the ever-increasing pressure exercised on political life by the Arrow Cross Party. The group reported its foundation, its aims and its requests to Minister President Lakatos and to the Regent.
At the same time Miklos Horthy Jr. started a new "resistance movement," forming it out of the ranks of the Small Holder and Social Democratic Parties and those of the so-called "Peace Party." This latter group sent a. memorandum to the Regent in which they proposed to create a democratic government, and also requested the release of political prisoners, the arming of the workers, and a cooperation with the Soviet Russian Army.
At the same time, in the military field, General Szilard Bakay, the Commander of the First and Second Reserve Army Corps, and General Karoly Lazar, commanding the garrison of the capital city of Budapest and also the body guard of the Regent, organized forces to be utilized in the eventual case of German atrocities. General Bakay had a few Nazis arrested, although be released them later upon the intervention by Veesenmayer. Shortly after this incident, General Bakay was captured one
night by armed National Socialists and taken to Germany. He regained his freedom after the end of the war.
Veesenmayer and Winkelmann only returned to Budapest in the first part of October. They kept the result of their negotiations conducted in Berlin the greatest secret even in front of Szalasi, but their attitude made it perceptible that Hitler must have decided to eliminate the Regent.
The German newspapers started to brand the various Hungarian Governments as weak and cowardly and that the Third Reich was going to see to it that their activities should not hamper the progress of the war. Veesenmayer conducted lengthy and frequent negotiations with Szalasi and his staff concerning the implementation of their plans. But he was rather careful because of the hated character of Szalasi. Winkelmann wanted to have quick and efficient actions immediately. His plan was to gather in Esztergom all the adherents of Szalasi, Szalasi himself, and also to be summoned there was the Hungarian Parliament which would have then to pronounce the removal of the Regent and the transfer of the powers of head of state to Szalasi.
But apparently in Berlin they did not have the confidence in Veesenmayer nor in Winkelmann to be the skillful personalities to carry out such a complicated plan of great delicacy, namely, to observe constitutional appearances in making a change. Therefore, Hitler sent SS General Von Dem Bach-Zalevsky from Warsaw and special ambassador and advisor to Mussolini, Rudolf Rahn from Carnago, Italy, to Budapest with special powers over and above the three SS battalions and Gestapo units already under the command of Skorzeny. Rahn received orders to solve the problem if possible with peaceful negotiations with the Regent. Von Dem Bach-Zalevsky, however, was empowered to use any means, even terror actions. This German apparatus was ready to strike on October 14. Veesenmayer requested an audience with the Regent for October 15 in order to make a last attempt accompanied by Rahn to prevent the Regent from committing treason.
According to the sources of information and also according to his own memoirs, in those days the Regent decided to undertake decisive and final steps to solve the problems and the climax fell exactly on October 14. He had a proclamation worked out through his chief of Civilian Cabinet Office Gyula Ambrozy, in which he intended to communicate to the nation that he was asking for an armistice. He also transmitted the text of the proclamation to Minister President Lakatos who in turn read it and submitted it to the Council of Ministers. There, all ministers with the exception of two agreed with the stand and were of the opinion that, as the chief of the Army, the Regent had the right to request and proclaim an armistice on his own constitutional powers.
The Regent also decided that at twelve o'clock on October 15 he was going to receive Veesenmayer, the German Ambassador, and he would communicate to him the
text of the proclamation which would have then been immediately broadcast in several foreign languages through the Hungarian radio network. He wanted at the same time to direct coded wireless messages to General Miklos and General Veress, commanding the First and Second Armies respectively. These messages would have given them the directives about what to do to carry out the armistice. He entrusted the development of a defense position in the capital to General Ferenc Farkas, also entrusted the task of keeping order in the capital city to General Aggteleki, and finally, entrusted the defense of the fortress in Buda to General Lazar.
The Regent also communicated his intentions about the armistice to these above mentioned generals, and he communicated his intentions to Chief of the Hungarian General Staff General Janos Voros too. The latter tried to influence the Regent to place himself under the protection of the First Hungarian Army and pointed out the great difficulties and threatening dangers of the planned decisive action.
During the night of the 14th and 15th of October, Colonel Geza Utassy, who was sent by the Regent to Szeged, got in touch with Soviet Russian Marshall Malinovski, commander of the Armies thrusting forward from the Balkans. He returned and brought with him the conditions of the armistice.
These were that the Hungarian connections had to be broken off with the Germans within 48 hours, that the Germans had to be attacked immediately, and that the Hungarian Army would withdraw from the territories which she held in Czechoslovakia, Rumania, and Yugoslavia. Malinovski also requested that a report on the situation be rendered to him at his headquarters in Szeged on October 16. This ultimatum in reality was merely a repetition of the conditions which had been communicated a few days before through General Faragho to the regent and received as such from Molotov. Horthy, however, received his reports in the morning of October 15.
But on this fateful morning of October 15, the Regent received several other disturbing and dramatic news. The Hungarian Chief of Staff Janos Voros received, at about ten o'clock of the same day, an ultimatum from German Chief of General Staff Guderian, according to which from then on Hungary was to be regarded as a German strategic territory in which the Hungarian Army could receive orders only and exclusively from the German High Command and that all orders issued by the Hungarian Army were void and null.
Guderian also communicated that the new German Panzer divisions are enroute to reinforce the northeastern front. Also in these same hours the news came to the Royal Palace that Miklos Horthy Jr. had been caught by Skorzenys henchmen at about nine in the morning while negotiating in the offices of the Magyar Folyam es Tenger Hajozasi Tarsasag (Hungarian River and Sea Shipping Company) with representatives of Marshall Tito. Whether
this had been a genuine representative or a German agent is unknown as of yet. The chauffeur and the car in which be had arrived were dynamited, one of his friends was shot in the stomach, and he was bludgeoned, wrapped in a blanket and taken in a fast car to the airport where he was immediately shipped to Germany. (I mentioned this happening earlier in my study.)
These were the circumstances under which the Regent at 10:80 a.m. opened the Crown Council summoned for that day. Only a few members of Cabinet and a few outstanding political personalities were partcipating. The Regent communicated to them the happenings of the morning, described the attitude of the Third Reich towards Hungary and revealed that as a consequence of those factors he had decided to request an armistice.
After the Regents statement, Chief of the General Staff Voros and Minister President Lakatos gave reports about the futility of a defeated military situation. In the meantime, the clock showed noon and, adjourning the Crown Council, the Regent withdrew to another room to receive Veesenmayer. There he made bitter reproaches to the German Ambassador, mentioning the arrest of General Bakay and that of his own son, and he told him that he was not going to continue the war and that he was going to request an armistice. Veesenmayer showed great surprise and proposed that the Regent should also hear Rahn. The Regent acceded to his wishes but did not tell Veesenmayer that he had already undertaken all the steps and measures to request an armistice. After Veesenmayers visit he also forgot to give the orders for the broadcasting of the proclamation, hut when he returned to the room of the Crown Council, he ordered that the proclamation be communicated to the commanding generals of the First and Second Armies. All this resulted in technical troubles and delays, and the radio broadcast the proclamation at 1 :00 p.m. rather than at 12:30 p.m. and repeated it several times in several foreign languages. In the meantime, the Government Printing Office produced the place-cards of the proclamation but they were never distributed.
During the first broadcast of the proclamation, Rahn arrived at the Royal Palace and the Regent received him immediately. In a stormy dialogue lasting more than an hour, the Regent repeated his reproaches concerning the attitudes of the Third Reich, and Rahn proposed the question of how Horthy proposed to avoid bloodshed between the Germans, the Soviet Russians, and his own opposition party, the Arrow Crossers. The Regent saw only one way out of this: that was that the German Army withdrew behind the Austrian frontiers. According to Rahn this would have been possible only if the Hungarians would not lay down their arms to the Russians, and if they would not stand to the side of the Russians, but in either case armed clashes between Hungarians and Germans were possible. The conversation and negotiations terminated with a promise by Rahn to report everything to Hitler and to ask directives; the Regent
promised Rahn that he would take his propositions into consideration.
During this time, Foreign Minister Hennyei communicated to the Swedish and Turkish Embassies in Budapest the proclamation and its reasons, and communicated also to the Hungarian Embassies in Stockholm and Ankara the request that they should bring the facts to the attention of the representatives of the Allied Powers.
After Rahns departure, the Regent again opened the Crown Council, and now the Lakatos Government formally abdicated. The Regent designated that the abdicated ministers, with the exception of two (Jurcsek and Remenyi-Schneller), form a new Government and continue carrying on the affairs. The new Government took the oath at 5 p.m. The afternoon was characterized by two new developments in addition to the above. After his audience with the Regent, Rahn returned to the German Embassy where he discussed in detail his conversation with Horthy with Ambassador Veesenmayer. They decided that Hitler would quite probably not accede to the wish to withdraw the German Army from Hungary, and that Horthy would quite probably not change his plans pertaining to the request of an armistice; therefore, forced action would quite probably not be avoidable.
After having ascertained that their opinions were congruent, they got in touch with Von Dem Bach-Zalevsky and the three German plenipotentiaries decided to remove the Regent and replace him with Szalasi. Through this action they wanted to prevent the Hungarian Army from stopping her actions against the Russians and turning against the Germans. They also decided that before the Panzerfaust (Ironfist) Operation started, a renewed attempt would be made to carry out in a peaceful manner this change of leading personalities. For these actions the SS General gave a deadline until six o'clock of the morning of October 16.
At the same time that all this happened, the staff officers at the operation division of the Hungarian General Staff listened with great concern to the proclamation of the Regent; they obtained orders to carry out the stipulations of the same from the hands of Chief of Staff Voros. Their surprise was of course genuine because they had not known about the Regents decision and could not have prepared any measures or orders to the Army fighting on the front or stationed in their various garrisons. The situation became even more entangled when Voros arrived at his office and immediately denied knowledge of the proclamation and also denied that he would have signed orders to effect the carrying out its stipulations. However, later he proved to be a two-faced player, for then he repeated again and again that the proclamation issued by the Regent as Commander in Chief of the Army must be carried out. At the time that a very heated debate had developed as to the implementation
of the order, Veesenmayer burst into the room and, referring to his conversation with the Regent, demanded that Voros should immediately issue counter orders to void the previous ones issued. Voros promised this and, after Veesenmayers departure, discussed the necessary actions with his subordinate officers and had the following orders written out:
"Nobody should interpret the statements heard in the radio speech of the Regent as a surrender of the Hungarian Army. At present the question is only to negotiate an armistice. Therefore, since the outcome of these negotiations is unknown, all Hungarian units should continue fighting with unchanged effort against all attacks." These orders were issued at about 5 p.m. with the signature of Voros and sent to all fighting and garrisoned units.
These stormy events resulted in a series of misunderstandings, hasty actions, and contradictory measures which caused turmoils.
General Miklos, the commander of the First Army, was not at his headquarters at Huszt and heard the proclamation of the Regent over the radio at Beregszasz He immediately issued an order that the units subordinate to him should cease hostilities with the Russians and should attack the Germans. But nobody followed his orders, since they had received in the meantime the countermanding order of the Chief of the General Staff Voros. When Miklos returned to Huszt and learned about the rescinding order, he of course was obliged to withdraw his previous orders.
Janos Veress, Commanding General of the Second Hungarian Army, was in heavy battle with the Soviet Russians at the time and neither heard nor received orders concerning the proclamation of the Regent or the countermanding orders of Voros; therefore, he continued his tactical moves.
General Heszlenyi, the commander of the Third Hungarian Army, heard the proclamation of the Regent but did not act upon it. The garrisons remained inactive. Only the commander of the garrison in Budapest, General Aggteleki, introduced a few measures to maintain law and order. These measures, however, because of the very small resources of his armed contingencies proved to be very ineffective. Although the Germans tried to stop the adherents of Szalasi from any hasty actions, one of their leaders Kovarcz succeeded in overpowering by ruse the officers of the Magyar Tavirati Iroda (Hungarian Telegraph Office) and also the radio station of Laki Hegy. Von Dem Bach-Zalevski was satisfied by only sending his armored cars and patrols overnight into the streets of Budapest. The population of Budapest just as that of the country towns and villages, continued their routine daily activities with great inertia and only very sporadically were there some elements of the youth shouting slogans.
After having taken the oath, the members of the new Cabinet returned to the Palace of the Minister President. There, on the basis of reports coming in from every sector of the country, they
learned that the Hungarian Army was not going to follow the orders of the Regent, that the commander in charge of the defense of Budapest, General Aggteleki, had been arrested by his own officers and that Kovarcz had taken over the radio. They also learned that the capital city was under the rule of Szalasi and that the latter was plotting with the Germans to take over the Government.
Thus, the Cabinet decided to get in touch with the German representatives and try and save whatever was left to be saved. Minister President Lakatos telephoned to Veesenmayer and Rahn, requesting them to appear at the Minister Presidency. The latter did not accede to his wishes because they were suspicious of an eventual trap. Therefore, they requested Lakatos to come to the German Embassy. However, he was reluctant to accept this invitation, being fearful of eventual meddling by Szalasi. Finally they decided that Veesenmayer would send one of the Legation cars and, as an escort, one of the secretaries of the German Legation to fetch the Minister President. Upon this, Lakatos, accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hennyei, went to the German Embassy where he discussed the situation it length with Veesenmayer in the presence of Rahn, and also discussed the possibilities of a peaceful evolution.
In view of the fact that the Hungarian Army had complied to the agreement reached between the Regent and Rahn and had not surrendered but had continued to fight, the Hungarian representatives demanded that the German Army withdraw to the Austrian frontier, that General Bakay and Miklos Horthy Jr. be set free, and also emphasized that the Regent was unshakable in his decision to enter armistice negotiations.
Thinking that the rigid attitude of the Regent would change pretty soon, the two German diplomats tried to postpone and stretch out the negotiations, stating that they were ready to report the Hungarian demands to Hitler and they wanted them in writing. At that very moment a German officer entered and reported that General Lazar had ordered that all streets leading into the fortress be closed by mine fields This came as an excellent point for delay to the Germans, and they immediately stated that they did not wish to continue with negotiations any more because they regarded themselves as prisoners. They asked the Hungarians to leave the offices of the Embassy immediately.
At the same time, Minister of Defense Csatay received a telegram message from Von Dem Bach-Zalewski who said that if General Lazar did not eliminate all the mines by 8 :00 p.m., the SS was going to storm the fortress. Also at the very same moment Ribbentropp telephoned Veesenmayer, and in utmost anger reprimanded him for his delaying attitude and actions, relieved him of his duties and ordered him to report with Rahn at the general headquarters of General Greiffenberg at the Svabhegy in order to be placed under arrest.
On the other hand, during these same afternoon hours the
Regent negotiated with General Voros, Chief of Staff, and Colonel Nadas, Chief of the Tactical Division of the General Staff, about sending a delegation headed by Colonel Utassy to Soviet Russian General Malinowsky at Szeged. The delegation should have negotiated about the modalities of the surrender. During these negotiations, the aide-de-camp Toszt reported that the Germans intended to attack the fortress and he requested the Regent to hurry into the air raid shelter. Utassy never reached Szeged for be was arrested in the course of the same night.
In the meantime, the Minister President returned to his office and there summed up in an aide memoire the Hungarian request discussed at the German Legation while the men of Von Dem Bach-Zalewski and Skorzeny occupied all Danube bridges and the streets leading into the fortress and other tactically important points. They made preparations for their attack which was planned to start at six o'clock the following morning. Szalasi and his party constantly broadcast their slogans over the radio.
It may have been around ten o'clock when the Regent requested the presence of Lakatos, of the Ministers Hennyei and Rakovszky, and also that of Chief of Staff General Voros. The Ministers hurried immediately to Horthy but Voros refused to go. The Regent communicated to the Ministers that he had received an ultimatum from General Antinov, Chief of the Soviet Russian General Staff, and according to it the conditions of the surrender had to be accepted by 4 a.m. on October 16, which was the next day, or else all negotiations would be stopped immediately. The Regent asked Foreign Minister Hennyei to formulate an answer. The Ministers were very surprised by the news of such an ultimatum because they had not be cognizant of the negotiations conducted by General Faragho in Moscow. Only after Ambrozy, Chief of the Regents Civilian Cabinet, had explained the background to them, the preceding happenings, and the steps that had been taken, did they decide to communicate to Antinov that they had broken all connections with the Germans and that as further steps to be taken, they were requesting that Antinov get in touch with the commanding generals of the First and Second Hungarian Armies. After this the Ministers returned to the Minister Presidency. Then in a moment of desperation Minister President Lakatos telephoned Veesenmayer to communicate the happenings to him and to ask him to do everything to avoid mutual bloodshed. The German Ambassador gave an evasive answer. In the meantime, General Vattay, chief of the Regents Military Cabinet, arrived at the Minister Presidency and communicated to the Ministers that the armed attack by the Germans was about to break at any minute and that the life of the Regent was in danger. The only way out of the situation that he could see was that the Regent be taken prisoner of war and that the
Cabinet turn the Government over to the Germans after which Hungary would no longer be regarded a free state. The Ministers were in favor of Vattays proposals and upon this the General returned to the Regent in order to persuade him to accept the same fate. In spite of the persuasive efforts of Vattay, Ambrozi, and the two aides-de-camp, the Regent and his family refused to accept those proposals. Vattay returned to the Minister Presidency and stated that the Regent had accepted his proposals; he persuaded the Minister to telephone and inform the German Embassy that in order to avoid bloodshed and a civil war the Hungarian Government was abdicating, and that the Regent had decided to withdraw and was asking for asylum in the German Reich. This message was taken at 2 a.m. by Feine, Secretary of the German Legation, with the pronouncement that Veesenmayer would immediately relay the message to Hitler.
At about four in the morning, General Lazar reported to the Regent that the German SS troops were preparing to attack at 6 a.m. The Regent ordered him to resist to the last man and also ordered that his family be placed in the protection of the Palace of the Apostolic Nuncio.
The SS started to attack the fortress; one battalion of the defense units commanded by General Lazar defected to them. The General regrouped his forces and the shooting began.
Minister President Lakatos notified General Lazar at five in the morning that he had received a consent to compromise and that the fighting should cease immediately. Lazar did not believe the message and continued to resist.
During this time Lakatos, accompanied by Veesenmayer, had arrived at the Royal Palace. General Vattay, who was in attendance of the Regent, persuaded him to receive Veesenmayer. This happened and Veesenmayer made the following statement: "I have the disagreeable task of placing your Serenissime in safety because our attack is going to start in a few minutes." Upon the question of the Regent as to where he was going, Veesenmayer answered, "to the Hatvany Palace," and taking him by the arm, led him away; during this conversation orders were issued to Lazar to cease hostilities. Lakatos, Vattay, and the aides-de-camp Toszt and Brunswick followed them.
The SS, however, continued their attack and penetrated the Royal Palace where they captured General Lazar and started to deracinate and annihilate the chambers. Several Hungarian and German victims were wounded and died in the armed resistance. Ministers Hennyei, Rakovszky, and Schell were arrested and taken to the jail located in the Foucca.
In the Hatvany Palace the regent was separated from his suite and was placed in one room, while Lakatos, Vattay, and the two aides-de-camp were placed in another room. Both were guarded by armed SS men. There Toszt shot himself to death fearing that the Germans would force him to betray top secrets. In the meantime, Veesenmayer started to form a new Government under the leadership of Szalasi, and he invited the prospective
members of this Cabinet to the German Embassy. There he communicated to Szalasi that the Regent wanted to see him. This was untrue; however, Szalasi, believing that he was to receive the Regents order to form a new Government, reported to the latter, only to have Horthy deny him an audience. Then Minister President Lakatos was taken under an armed escort to the German Legation where in the presence of Rahn and the Secretary of the Legation Feine, Veesenmayer communicated to him that only if the Regent retracted his proclamation, abdicated from his office, and designated Szalasi Minister President, would Hitler treat Horthy in a manner deserved by a head of state.
Lakatos returned to the Hatvany Palace and reported these conditions to the Regent. He was willing to retract his proclamation and signed a document prepared in German. The contents were approximately the following: "I declare that my proclamation dated October 15 is invalid and I am repeating the orders of the Chief of the General Staff that the fighting has to be relentlessly continued."
Lakatos took this document to the German Embassy stating that the Regent refused to comply with the two other conditions. After this he was taken back to the jail located in the Foucca where an SS officer gave him a pass according to which he was allowed to return to his home located in the Minister Presidency. At seven in the morning, he was summoned again from there to the German Embassy where he was told that Veesenmayer and Rahn personally had tried to persuade the Regent to abdicate and to nominate Szalasi but that Horthy had refused to accede to their wishes and to sign the pertinent documents and consequently both his own life and his sons were in real danger. Lakatos and Rahn drew up now another document which contained the abdication of the Regent in constitutional form and also the designation of Szalasi. This document was taken by Lakatos and Veesenmayer to the Regents residence where Horthy had been taken under an armed guard to pack certain things for travel.
When the two gentlemen explained to the Regent the contents of the document, his only question was, "What is going to happen to my son?" Upon this Veesenmayer answered, "I obtained orders from the highest place that he is going to be taken tomorrow to Vienna and set free." Upon this the Regent signed the document emphasizing that he was doing such only under duress and it could not be regarded as legally valid. The document was addressed to the presidents of the two Houses of Parliament and contained approximately the following: "I am abdicated from my office of Regent and of my rights as Regent and designate Ferenc Szalasi to form a united national government. Dated October 16, 1944." The signing of the document happened at 8 :15 in the morning and the document was taken over for safe keeping by Veesenmayer.
In the afternoon hours Miklos Horthy was escorted by the
henchmen of Skorzeny to the railroad station of Kelenfold where he was joined by his family consisting of his wife, his daughter-in-law, his grandson, and the Generals Vattay and Brunswick. The Regent and his family were placed under rigid guard in the Castle of Hirschberg near the Bavarian city of Weilheim. Miklos Horthy Jr. did not join the family at Vienna nor at Linz. The Germans, not keeping their promises, placed him in the concentration camp of Mauthausen after he recuperated from his wounds, and later transferred him to Dachau. Later Vattay and Brunswick were also interned somewhere.
Here I would like to mention two important characteristic happenings which illustrate the situation in Hungary. Bela Miklos, commanding general of the First Hungarian Army, was ordered to appear at the headquarters of General Heinritzi, commander of the German Army Group, on October 16. Miklos, suspicious of an eventual arrest, defected through the Hungarian front with one of his aides and two sergeants to the Soviet Russians who after his apprehension escorted him to Lisko, near Prsemysl, to their general headquarters where he arrived in the morning of October 17. In compliance with the requests of the Soviet Russians, he spoke on the radio and asked the commanding officers of his Army that they come over to the Soviet Russians with their units, for the Russians would rearm the Hungarian prisoners of war and out of them they would form a liberation army. With the exception of only one regimental commander who was arrested by the Germans and immediately executed, nobody followed the petition of Miklos. A few days later emissaries were sent to negotiate with Miklos about the formation of a Hungarian counter-Government, but without any results. His counter-Government was formed only in 1945 in Debrecen. On October 21 he again spoke by radio to the Hungarian soldiers telling them they should defect to the Soviet Russians. This resulted in several persons defecting their units, however, not to the Russians but simply returning to their homelands.
At this time the Moscow radio started to call Janos Voros, Chief of the General Staff, advising him to defect to the Soviet Russians because the Germans were going to hang him. Voros defected to the Russians on October 31 at Szeged, and later spoke over the radio from Moscow to the Hungarian nation and asked them to surrender.
I do not want to talk about the political and military happenings during the six months rule of the Szalasi Government. The only decisive factor was that with his fo-reign methods, foreign principles, and service of foreign interests, he was unable to stop the tragic fate of Hungary.
|G. Baross: Hungary and Hitler|