|Mark Imre Major : American Hungarian Relations 1918-1944|
In September, with 6,000 kilometers of railroads, Hungary had only 4,500 cars available Budapest. which contained one-fifth of the population, required 4.000 a day to feed its people. It was not difficult to imagine the result when winter set in! The rolling stock had been so thoroughly cleaned out that transportation was insufficient for local food and fuel requirements. In October the Rumanian administration had reduced the food reserve to one-third of what it was in September on October 10, two thousand laborers were put out of work when the machinery from the firm of Schmitt and Tarsai was seized and removed In Budapest they looted the Weiss factories to the value of eight million dollars. They desired to loot the National Museum; that they did not was due to the fact that the doors were sealed and signed by Bandholtz. In all towns occupied by Rumanians the Mission found an oppression so great as to make life unbearable. Murder was common; youths and women were flogged and imprisoned without trial, or arrested without reason; theft of personal property went under the name of requisition Bandholtz reported to Paris on October 13: "Conditions prevail which are difficult for Western Europeans to realize, if they had not seen and heard the evidence.-" Experienced Hungarian Directors of Hospitals had been replaced by inexperienced Rumanian doctors. Petitions had to be written in the Rumanian language; one had to employ Rumanian lawyers, who charged enormous fees. At Boros-Sebes, two hundred and fifty Hungarian soldiers were taken prisoner and killed in the most barbarous manner: stripped naked and stabbed with bayonets a lingering death.(24)
The Armistice of August 2 between Rumanian and Hungarian forces provided that after the Hungarian officers should supervise the disarming of their own troops, the officers would then be given freedom with retention of arms, but such was not the
case. After the Hungarian troops were disarmed, officers were required to report daily and in the first week of August, many officers were arrested and sent to Arad. Nearly all so-called prisoners-of-war were arrested and disarmed. During the transfer from the place of arrest to prisons both officers and men were beaten, maltreated, and robbed by Rumanian officers and soldiers; moreover, prisoners female relatives were unsuited when visiting prisoners. The Mission's Committee sent to investigate prisoner of-war camps consisted of Colonel Raymond Sheldon of the American Army doctor Hector Munro of the International Hospital Relief Association, Captain Georges Brunier of the Swiss Army and delegate of the International Red Cross, and First Lieutenant Francesco Braccio of the ltalian Medical Corps. The report of the Committee accused the Rumanian soldiers, and in some instance officers, of stealing the clothes, boots, and private property of the prisoners They found 121 civilian prisoners among the war prisoners. Among the civilians were six women, one evidently an educated woman who had written poetry; four boys, two were thirteen and two were fourteen years of age; and one old man of seventysix. Many were suffering from serious disease. They reported that at present the Rumanian-Hungarian situation was the most serious in Europe. Bandholtz noted in his diary: "It is not possible to describe conditions in a city or country occupied by an enemy, but judging from conditions in Budapest and Hungary, while occupied by the Rumanians, we Americans should promptly take every measure possible to avoid any such catastrophe."(25)
Conditions were going from bad to worse each day. Bandholtz decided to go to Rumania to meet the Rumanian King on behalf of the Hungarians. The meeting took place ill Sinaia in September, 1919. The King went into detail regarding the Rumanian grievances, protesting especially the fact that the Rumanians were considered robbers because they were looting Hungary, whereas the Serbs had looted and had never been called to account.
He also complained that the Serbs had received some of the Danube monitors, whereas Rumania had received nothing. But his main grievance seemed to be due to the 'Minorities Clause" in the Treaty of Peace which Rumania was called upon to sign.
He explained that some fifty years ago, as a result of the pogroms in Russia, a great Jewish migration to Rumania had taken place. These immigrants belonged entirely to the commercial class and came into a country where commerce had hitherto been almost nonexistent. In the Treaty of Berlin of 1878 the Powers had imposed upon Rumania certain conditions in regard to the Jews, but when Rumania bought the railroads which had been built by German capital. these restrictions were removed, and Rumania was left as independent as any other nation now she wished to maintain her independence. He added that the Jewish question was not the only one touched by the Minorities Clause Rumania had acquired about one million Hungarians as well as many Bulgarians and Slavs, by their recent acquisition of the territory. He felt it was administratively wrong to have these minorities come into a government when they felt no obligation on their part to assimilate themselves to the new nation but rather felt themselves protected by the strong powers in any (opposition they might make. He considered that no independent and sovereign state could accept the conditions which were being imposed on Rumania. The King stated, furthermore, that he was pleased to have an opportunity to meet an American who would probably have influence with the American government and deplored the fact that the United States was so far away as to be in relative ignorance of Rumania and things Rumanian. He added that Bratianu, the Rumanian Prime Minister, was treated badly by the Americans in Paris and particularly so by Wilson. He added also that it was unfortunate that the American officers sent after the war had been selected from those who had not liked his country.
Bandholtz explained to His Majesty that, of course, the Inter-Allied Military Mission had nothing whatever to do with
any such matters He assured the King that Americans had no ill feeling toward Rumania and that they had nothing to gain financially or otherwise in treating her badly
At breakfast Bandholtz met Her Majesty. the Queen She turned to him and said I didn't know whether I wanted to meet you at all. I have heard many things about you " Bandholtz replied: "Your Majesty. I am not half so bad as I might look nor one quarter so bad as you seem to think I am" The Queen smiled and said that the King had told her that the American General wasn't exactly a heathen during the conversation the Queen said that she felt keenly the fact that Rumania had fought as an ally and was now being treated as an enemy. "I feel that we are perfectly entitled to do what we want to. You may call it stealing if you like, or any other name." The King intruded upon the conversation by saying that at any rate the Rumanians had taken no food stuffs. Bandholtz wrote in his diary: "As it is bad form to call a King a liar, I simply informed His Majesty that he was badly mistaken, and that I could give him exact facts in regard to thousands of carloads of food stuffs that had been taken out of Budapest alone."
After breakfast the Queen said that Bandholtz was a very pleasant gentleman and she desired to give him one of her photographs, so that whenever he felt hard towards the Rumanians. he could look at it and, she hoped, it would make him feel more kindly. Bandholtz remarked in his diary: "Her Majesty certainly seems to think that she can control any man whom she meets and it must be admitted that she has considerable foundation for that opinion. I am inclined to think, however, that she realized that it took more than a signed photograph to cause me to wander from the straight and narrow path of military duty."(26) After the departure of Bandholtz, the Queen explained her true feelings. She told Colonel Poillon that Bandholtz was a Jew, his aides were all Jews, and that everybody in his office was a Jew.(27)
Arriving at Budapest Bandholtz found a telegram from Clemenceau suggesting that the members of the Mission engage in no diplomatic discussions. Apparently the French felt that Rumania came within their sphere of influence and, in anticipation of possible rivals, had done everything possible to make the Rumanians dislike the Americans.(28)
The Rumanian reports to Paris were entirely different from those of the Military Mission. They denied all stories of outrages and looting saying that their victorious march upon an enemy's capital had caused no more casualties than customary in, time of war They stated that all Hungary was clamoring for them, and that 150,000 workers gathered at Budapest to express their thanks to the Rumanian Army for feeding their children and for giving them political liberty. The Supreme Council directed Sir George Clark, the Director of the Oriental Department of the English Foreign Office, to go to Budapest and interview the Mission to determine whether Rumania or the four .Allied Generals were lying. Clark was sent to Budapest on October 23. 1919, as a special diplomatic representative of the Supreme Council to deliver the ultimatum to the Rumanians and to bring about the formation of a coalition cabinet in which all the responsible parties of Hungary would be represented. From General Bandholtz account, it would appear that Clark was at first decidedly prejudiced against the Hungarians and inclined to favor the Rumanians The latter gave him a tremendous dinner at the Hotel Hungaria, during which there was much playing of "God Save the King" and much talking about Great Britain as the greatest power on earth, and much champagne flowed. Gradually. however, Clark modified his viewpont, strongly influenced. no doubt, by the statements of General Bandholtz and Gorton.(29)
The situation in Hungary required immediate decisions by the Supreme Council in order to re-establish the normal conditions
necessary for the security of central Europe. Clark came to Budapest with a proposition of the Supreme Council to send into Hungary two divisions as an army of occupation under Inter Allied officers - one division of Czechoslovaks and one division of Yugoslavs to replace the Rumanians. Against this proposition the Inter-Allied Military Mission unanimously protested that such procedure would stir Hungary into revolution and would destroy all prospects for an early solution of the Hungarian question. It was furthermore urged that the Rumanians, the Yugoslavs, and the Czechoslovaks all be required to retire at once behind their respective lines of demarcation.(30) Bandholtz, too, sent a personal message to Polk by Captain Richardson, one of his subordinates, who was in charge of the American Organization for feeding chidren in Hungary. The effect of these messages was that the Supreme Council gave up its original plan and sent its final ultimatum to Rumania of November 7, giving her eight days for reply. In general Rumania was invited to obey without discussion, reservation, or conditions, the following resolutions:
To entirely evacuate Hungarian territory as defined by the Conference.
To cease her requisitions and restore all goods taken in the requisitions made in Hungary since the beginning of the Rumanian occupation.
To sign the Austrian Treaty and the Minorities Treaty under the conditions indicated by the note of the Supreme Council of October 12, 1919.(31)
In conclusion, the ultimatum of the Supreme Council stated as follows:
Should the reply not be satisfactory to the Supreme Council of the Allies, the latter has decided to notify Rumania that she has separated herself from them. They shall invite her to recall immediately her delegates to the Peace Conference, and they will also withdraw their diplomatic missions at Bucharest As the questions concerning the settlement of boundaries are still to be made, Rumania will thus by her own action deprive herself of all title to the support of the Powers as well as to the recognition of her rights by the Conference. It would be with the profoundest regret that the Supreme Council of the Allies should see itself forced to sever relations with Rumania, but it is confident that it has been patient to the very last degree.
The ultimatum of the Supreme Council also noted that:
The Rumanian Government has continued for the last three and one half months to negotiate with the Conference from Power to Power, taking into consideration no other rights or interests than her own and refusing to accept the charges of solidarity although she wishes to enjoy the benefits of them. The Conference wishes to make a last appeal to the wisdom of the Rumanian Government and of the Rumanian people before taking the grave resolution of severing all relations with Rumania. Their right to dictate rests essentially on the fact that Rumania owed the priceless service of having reconstituted her national unity in doubling her territory and population to the victory of the Allies. Without the enormous sacrifices consented to by them, at the present time Rumania would be ruined and in bondage without any possible hope. Rumania entered the struggle at the end of the second year of the war, making her own conditions. It is true she made great sacrifices
and suffered heavy losses, but she finally consented to treat separately with the enemy and to submit to his law. She owes her liberty and her victory, as well as her future, to the Allies. How can such a situation be lost sight of and so soon forgotten by the Rumanian statesmen.(32)
Rumania understood that it was bad policy for her to force the Supreme Council into this position. She accepted this last ultimatum. She signed the treaties with Austria and Bulgaria on December 10, 1919, containing the obnoxious Minority Clauses. She evacuated Hungary, first west from the Tisza River, and later the eastern part of the country. For the requisitions and of, other calamities in Hungary she accused her own Generals General Mardarescu, Commander-in-Chief of the Rumanian Army, and General Holban, in Budapest. The Rumanian Government resigned. Mardarescu did the same. General Holban committed suicide on the eve of the investigation ordered by the new government after Sir George Clark had come to look into the situation.
Admiral Horthy's Nationalist army entered Budapest on November 16, 1919. The bells began to ring in the early morning to indicate the arrival of the troops.(33) There was a big public Mass in front of the Parliament Building and a huge celebration at the Opera house. But the work of the Inter-Allied Military Mission was not yet over. It had to prevent the atrocities which could arise from the new situation. Bandholtz as early as October 29 explained to Horthy that Hungary was about to appear
before a jury of all the nations; she was to a certain extent discredited on account of having allowed Bolshevism to exist within her borders for over three months. Should any disorders result after the Rumanian evacuation, her standing with the Allied Powers would be practically nil. On the other hand, if she conducted herself with the dignity of a civilized nation and permitted no serious disorders to ensue, she would raise herself highly in the estimation of the Entente. Bandholtz explained to Horthy that there would undoubtedly be some young hot-heads in the Hungarian Army who would be anxious to shoot a Rumanian or hang a Jew, and that one or two such incidents could bring discredit upon the whole country. He further explained that the workmen of Budapest feared the so-called "White Army" and that Horthy therefore should show that his army was not made up of a gang of "White Terrorists" but was a well discipliped and organized National Hungarian Army. The Admiral said that he had his forces absolutely in hand and would guarantee no disturbances. The Admiral promised Bandholtz that it would be his constant and earnest endeavor to prevent any and all excesses on the part of his countrymen that would affect the situation.
In the meantime almost the whole country was clamoring against the Jews, who were being beaten and maltreated in Budapest while some were killed in the countryside. Report from western Hungary indicated all sorts of atrocities on the part of the Hungarians who were torturing the Jews. Colonel Nathan Horowitz, a Jewish member of the American Military Mission in Budapest, was sent by the Inter-Allied Military Mission to visit western Hungary, and, in his report concerning the general conditions there, he stated that in his opinion, Admiral Horthy's army had done everything within reason to prevent any such persecutions. He added that no more atrocities had been committed than would ordinarily happen under the stress of such circumstances.
He stated that a great many "rascally" Jews under the cloak of religion had committed crimes, that there realy was a great deal of anti-Semitic feeling on account of so many Jews having been Bolshevists, but as to there being a real White Terror, there was nothing of the kind - this danger was a figment of the imagination of politicians. He affirmed that Jews and Gentiles alike united in maintaining order and was absolutely sure there was no danger from the Hungarian National Army.(34)
Before World War I there existed no anti-Semitic movement in Hungary. The large percentage of Jews felt as strongly Hungarians as the German Jews felt German. In contrast to their racial brothers in Rumania and Russia, Hungarian Jews did not suffer from persecution or exceptional legal treatment.(35) But a disproportionate number of Jews helped to establish Bolshevism in Hungary and were its most cruel exponents. Ninety-five percent of the Communist leaders were Jewish; and, of the twenty-six Commissars, eighteen were Jews, though there were only one and a half million Jews among the twenty-one million inhabitants in Hungary. Furthermore, all the leaders of the Red Terror Corps were Jews, among them Tibor Szamuely, Cserney, and Korvin. A very large number of Jewish Bolshevik leaders had only recently emigrated into Hungary and could not be called Hungarians in any sense. The conservative and national Jewish-Hungarian element despised these foreigners as did their Christian compatriots. It is deplorable but quite natural that the reaction against the Red Terror was accompanied by excesses and persecution of the Jews, though the account of it is generally greatly exaggerated.(36)
Perhaps there were fanatics who committed atrocities. According to Bandholtz, a Catholic priest at a public meeting on November 30 in Budapest said:
The Bible tells us we must forgive our enemies. I say we can personally forgive our enemies as Christians, but not as Hungarians. The Hungarian people must never forget and the Jews must be punished. They say it is shameful to have pogroms, but we say it is just as shameful to have communism in the twentieth century, and we had it!(37)
The second speaker was a professor by the name of Zarkany, who, after giving some left-handed compliments to the Entente, stated: "The Jewish question is a natural one for the Hungarian people to settle, and we will settle it."(38)
Editorials in Budapest papers strongly advocated progroms and persecution of the Jews.(39) On December 10 a Jewish printing office was wrecked by a mob. Four days earlier a couple of young Jewish boys, who had been beaten by Hungarian soldiers, were brought to Bandholtz' office at the Railroad station. Bandholtz sent for General Soos, Hungarian Chief of Staff, and told him that he was "damned sick" of such conduct. Although he could understand that Hungarians naturally felt resentful because of the fact that most of the Bolshevist leaders had been Jews, nevertheless, neither America nor England could tolerate such barbaric conduct. One of England's greatest Prime Ministers, Benjamin Disraeli, he continued, had been a Jew, and the present Chairman of the Military Committee in the American House of Representatives, Julius Kahn of California, was a Jew. If reports got out that Hungarians were lapsing into the same form of barbarism as the Russians, it would seriously affect their whole future. Bandholtz wanted the Hungarian captain punished. He also informed the General that other reports had come to him from outlying districts where pogroms were openly advocated. General Soos promised that he would take immediate and drastic action to cut short this growing evil.
There was an alleged attempted Bolshevik uprising in January, 1920, in the Ganz-Danubia Works at Budapest in the suppression of which twenty Bolsheviks were supposedly killed. Rumor has it that Bolshevism had reigned for a few hours in Szolnok on the Tisza River about forty miles east of Budapest, but that it was vigorously and thoroughly suppressed by Horthy's troops, who killed several hundred Bolsheviks while only four of his officers were killed. Some days later these reports proved to be untrue. The persistent rumors of Bolshevik uprisings and killings in Hungary were due to unfriendly propaganda, but it was difficult to find out who spread them.
The Communists had a well-organized organization in Vienna which had become the center of their activities for East-Central Europe. Four Communists. who had infiltrated Hungary from Austria, endeavored to blow up the Gellert Hotel in Budapest where Admiral Horthy had his headquarters, the Royal Palace occupied by General Gorton and General Bandholtz, the Prime Minister's residence, and other Government buildings, the Coronation Cathedral, and the Opera House. Fortunately they were discovered before they did any damage, and one of them was captured. Moreover, they confessed Moscow's plan to have general uprisings on Thursday, January 22, 1920, in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Italy, and gave evidence showing Vienna to be the center of Communist operations in Europe.(40)
As a result of this confession, fourteen Bolsheviks were hanged in Budapest. The government itself had in December authorized the internment of any person who, even if not guilty of an indictable offense, might present a danger to the public order. Under this ordinance many thousands had been interned, including nearly all the more prominent Social Democrats who had not escaped abroad. This action presaged the "White Terror" to come. Outside Hungary, many people thought this area of the Inter-Allied Military Mission's work was a failure, a question we will discuss later.
On November 19, 1919, the United States Senate definitely rejected the Treaty of Versailles, and the American Commission left Paris. Bandholtz remained in Budapest as the United States representative in Hungary until the arrival of Ulysses Grant Smith, whom the Department of State sent to replace him. Grant Smith arrived on January 22, 1920. He had worked in Vienna in the diplomatic service for a number of years, and Hungary warmly welcomed him.
The Inter-Allied Mission held its last meeting on January 21, 1920. The Chairman that day was General Reginald St. George Gorton, Head of the English Military Mission. The members had decided to send a telegram to the Supreme Council informing that honorable body that it was their opinion that the Mission had been treated with superciliousness and contempt from the beginning and proceeded to give concrete cases in which telegram after telegram containing inquires and requests for decisions addressed to the Council had never been even acknowledged. The Mission considered that its duty was to dissolve. Major General Harry Hill Bandholtz left Hungary with the Hungarian Peace Delegation on February 10, 1920, for Paris.(41)
24 Further details on the looting of Hungary by the Rumanians can be found in U. S., For. Rel., Paris Peace Conference, VII, 774-75, 836-39, et passim. Also see Bandholtz, Diary, pp. 151-155 (on requisition), pp. 187-89 (on Rumanian brutalities), et passim.
25 Bandholtz, Diary, p. 18.
26 Ibid., pr. 65ff.
27 Ibid., p. 320.
28 U. S., For. Rel., Paris Peace Conference, VIII, 135.
29 lbid., p. 147.
30 Bandholtz, Diary, p. 204.
31 U. S., For. Rel., Paris Peace Conference, VIII, 269.
32 Ibid., pp. 27-71.
33 A good biography of Admiral Horthy Is in English: O. Rutter, Regent ot Hungary (London: Rich and Cowan, 1939). Also there is a good detail about Horthy and the whole Hungarian political situation in John F. Montgomery, Hungary: The Unwilling Satellite ( New York: Devin-Adair Co., 1947). As a scholarly work see C. A. Macartney, October Fifteenth: A History of Modern Hungary, 1929-1945 (2 vols.; Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 1961 ).
34 Bandholtz, Diary p. 120.
35 For further details see Macartney, October Fifteenth: A History of Modern Hungary 1929-1945.
36 Ibid., I, 29.
37 Bandholtz, Diary. p. 257.
38 Ibid., p. 256.
39 Ibid., p. 274.
40 Ibid., p. 284
41 Ibid., p. 341.
|Mark Imre Major : American Hungarian Relations 1918-1944|