|Peter Pastor: Hungary Between Wilson and Lenin...|
To forestall this, the Minister of Defense, Bela Linder, contacted the German Consul in Budapest, Count von Furstenberg, on the morning of November 5, and demanded the immediate withdrawal of German troops. [1.] His initiative was given more urgency by the fact that the Czechoslovaks had cut Hungary off from its sources of coal in Silesia on the pretext that it was permitting the passage of supplies to the German forces on its territory. The Commissioner of Coal, Jeno Vazsonyi, had already warned the government that rail traffic must be reduced because coal stocks were enough to keep the trains running only a day and a half more. When the Ministerial Council met on the same day, Linder suggested that Germany should be given a twenty-four-hour ultimatum to evacuate its troops. [2.] His bellicose posture was nothing if not shortsighted, for Lender's orders to disarm had left Hungary with no military force to back up the ultimatum.
The Hungarian government's worries were compounded by the fact that the previous day Marshal Foch had taken over supreme command on all fronts. Italy's important military role was at an end. [3.] The Hungarians foresaw a collision between the Italian and French Allies. Captain Francesco Carbone, an officer of the Italian High Command, had already offered Karolyi to occupy Hungary with Italian troops sympathetic to the new government. [4.] With hostilities over, Italy seemed to have a common cause with Hungary to curb the territorial aspirations of Serbia. [5.] Italy saw Serbian ambitions as a threat to the promises it had received under the 1915 Treaty of London. In this contest, France supported Serbia. French policy makers wanted to win over Serbia and prevent Italy from making the Adriatic an Italian lake.
Italy's interest in Hungary was inspired by the fact that the Adriatic port of Fiume, desired by both Italy and the Serbs, was Hungarian. The Italians were hoping to make a deal with the Hungarians. Hungary's willingness to support Italy's claim to Fiume at the Peace Conference would have been repaid by Italian help in preventing the South Slavs from taking territory from Hungary. [6.]
The Karolyi government was undecided as to what course to take. Above all, it was anxious to sign some kind of military agreement with an Allied party. Such an agreement would amount to de facto Allied recognition. The Hungarians' delemma was whom to approach. Should Karolyi treat with the Italian, Diaz, at Padua, or with Franchet d'Esperey, whose forces were already at Hungary's border? The recent appointment of Foch as Supreme Commander on all fronts persuaded the Hungarians to approach the French. The government decided to make representations to Franchet d'Esperey to have him order the responsible national councils south of Hungary's borders to respect its territorial integrity. Rather than seizing Hungarian territory by force, the councils should present their demands for settlement at the Peace Conference. Little did the Hungarian government realize that the Croat Narodno Vijece had already sent delegates to solicit the French general's support in its behalf. Franchet d'Esperey was sympathetic toward their cause and, apparently on his own authority, had promised to lend his backing to the council. [7.]
As the Hungarian government set about forming a delegation to send to Franchet d'Esperey, the question of who was to lead it posed something of a problem. Karolyi's moderate ministers advised him to head it himself. This, they reasoned, would ease Magyar apprehension. The socialists, supported by Ja'szi, objected to Karolyi as chief delegate, lest the embassy's failure weaken the government's position at home. The moderate position finally prevailed. The delegation included Oszkar Jaszi and the noted publicist, Baron Lajos Hatvany, representative of the National Council. To prove the democratic character of the new Hungary, a representative of the Soldiers, Council, Captain lmre Csermak, was also appointed as a delegate along with the President of the Workers, Council Dezso' Bokanyi.
The delegation's aim was to prevent further Allied incursions into Hungary, and if the French would not agree, to urge that any occupation forces should not include troops from the successor states. The Hungarians left Budapest on November 6 to meet Franchet d'Esperey in Belgrade. [8.]
The news of the Padua Armistice brought doubt into the mind of Franchet d'Esperey. He was not sure if it were still appropriate to negotiate with the Hungarians. Orders from Paris, however, made it clear that he was to apply the stipulations of the Armistice to a military convention with Hungary. [9.]
On the evening of November 8, the Hungarian delegation was received in Belgrade by the French commander. The envoys, who had expected a warm welcome, were greeted coldly. As Karolyi began to introduce his entourage, the delegates were deeply shocked by the fact that the general made no attempt to disguise his anti-Semitic prejudices toward Baron Hatvany. [10.]
Profoundly hurt by the episode, Hatvany commented on it in 1938 when Franchet d'Esperey was elected to the ranks of the forty "immortals" of the French Academy along with two other anti-Semites, Jean Tharaud and Charles Maurras. "I suspect my humiliation was in part responsible for the consecration of this French Ludendorff among the forty immortals," he said. [11.]
The presentation of the representative of the Soldiers' Council, who was wearing a revolutionary uniform he had designed himself rather than the former lmperial dress, irritated the general further. No doubt scenting Bolshevism, he became very agitated and exclaimed in horror: "Vous etes tombes si bas!'' [12.] The socialist Garami later commented:
We committed a mistake in the composition of the delegation due to our naive belief that the Soldiers' Council, which symbolized the destruction of Austro-Hungarian militarism, would be as happy news to the French leader as it was to us. It turned out that the general identified himself more with the despised Austro-Hungarian generals than with the democratic military organization that was responsible for the revolution among the belligerents. [13.]
In his memorandum to the general, Karolyi emphasized that his government was following the traditions set by Kossuth--an ideology that had been silenced by the old monarchy responsible for the war. Karolyi then asked for fair treatment for his government which, he told Franchet d'Esperey, was the true representative of the Hungarian people. At this point Franchet d'Esperey interrupted him, saying that Karolyi was not the representative of the Hungarians but of the Magyars. lt was a clear indication that the Hungarians were not going to find much sympathy for their demands for territorial integrity before the Peace Conference made a decision in their favor. Realizing the Frenchman's attitude, Karolyi attempted to remind him of the Wilsonian principles, but Franchet d'Esperey dismissed the American President with a contemptuous wave of his hand. Karolyi pointed out that since November I Hungary had been neutral, resolutely opposed to the old Central Powers, alliance, and an enthusiastic supporter of the concept of the League of Nations. ln view of this, Karolyi said, he wanted Franchet d'Esperey to impress upon the Czechs the need to suspend their blockade, for the lack of coal was crippling Hungarian industry and causing hardship among the civilians at the approach of winter. He further asked the general to occupy Hungary, if it was necessary, only with French, Italian or American troops.
At most of the delegation's requests Franchet d'Esperey shook his head. When the poor lighting in the room made Karolyi stumble in reading his prepared text, the general ruefully reminded the Hungarians that their German allies were responsible for the shaky electricity supply in Belgrade.
Before reading his written response, Franchet d'Esperey sarcastically asked the Hungarians if they all understood French. Noting nods of assent, he turned to the President of the Workers' Council and asked: "Even the Socialist?,' He went out of his way to remark that this was significant since it would be the fate of the poor to have to accept whatever the new situation was in Hungary; while the dissatisfied rich (an allusion to Ka'rolyi) could always move to Switzerland. [14.] Satisfied that his quips about the members of the mission had found their marks, he went on to praise the Francophile Hungarians of the past, such as Prince Rakoczi and Kossuth. However, he reminded the Hungarians, since 1867 their country had been an accomplice of Germany and had supported her "lust for power.', For this reason, Franchet d'Esperey said, Hungary could expect stiff penalties. He blamed the Hungarians for suppressing the Czechs, Rumanians, Slovaks and South Slavs and warned the delegates that he could order them to destroy Hungary completely. He added that over the years the Hungarian press had also insulted the honor of France.
At this Ja'szi could contain himself no longer and in nervous indignation explained that only the chauvinistic press could be accused of impugning French honor. The Frenchman cut Jaszi short with a sharp "Enough,, and announced that it was too late for the Hungarians to ask for favors. He considered Hungary not a neutral country but a defeated power, he said. He told the mesmerized delegates that the only reason why he was willing to talk to them was out of respect for Karolyi whom he had come to know as an honest man during the war. He urged the delegates to support Karolyi as Hungary's only hope, the only man who could improve the nation's lot. He commended them for coming to see him rather than General Diaz because, he said, it was he alone who had the right to suspend hostilities in his sector.
Franchet d'Esperey's stern and antagonistic tone softened only when he inquired about the well-being of "the unfortunate young king." Aware of the general's royalist sympathies, Karolyi made a general reply that carefully avoided the fact that the government was on the verge of dethroning King Charles and declaring a People's Republic. In response the general sighed and exclaimed: "Oh, ce pauvre jeune homme!"
The general audience at an end, Franchet d,Esperey then invited Karolyi and Jaszi to follow him into his study next door, leaving the rest of the flabbergasted delegates to themselves. The first to recover from the momentary shock was Dezso' Bokanyi, who blazed at his colleagues that during the war he had been imprisoned by men whose principles were similar to the general's. Foreseeing a need to stop Franchet d'Esperey's plans by armed force, Bokanyi turned to Csermak and told him that under the circumstances the Soldiers, Council was an impossible institution. Soldiers would have to remain soldiers, he acclaimed, and not become civilians as was maintained by that "idiot Linder.'' [15.] Hatvany was equally confounded by the brusque treatment and complained that they had been treated not as representatives of a civilized nation but like envoys from a primitive tribe of natives in darkest Africa. [16.]
Meanwhile Franchet d'Esperey was presenting his terms to Karolyi and Jaszi. His purpose was twofold. Primarily, he was determined to carry through Clemenceau's order and to march in the direction of Munich. For this reason he demanded that all strategic points in Hungary should be occupied and all means of communication secured. The secondary purpose of his terms that was also Clemenceau's wish, established a demarcation line that served Serbia's military and political interests. Karolyi and Jaszi were handed a map of the Balkans and Hungary with a red line drawn across it. The area that was to come under Allied occupation included the Hungarian territory of the Banat. On the advice of his Serbian aides, Franchet d,Esperey planned to have Serbian troops occupy the area. [17.] Clause 17 of the terms, however, guaranteed that the kingdom of Hungary would be under Hungarian jurisdiction. Since it was established that territorial rearrangements could be decided only by the Peace Conference, the sole clause that caused Karolyi and Jaszi concern was one stipulating that, in case of disorder, the Allies had the right to take the areas of disturbance under their own administration. The Hungarians feared that their neighbors might use provocateurs to force disputed areas to be transferred into their own control. Karolyi and Jaszi pointed out that the Hungarian government was anticipating unrest and possible outbreaks of violence among the people as a result of the deterioration of economic conditions caused by the coal shortage. Franchet d,Esperey asked what industries in Hungary required coal. Jaszi said that among others there were the mills, whereupon the general suggested that Hungary should turn back to using windmills. [18.] Despite the sarcasm of his answer, the general deleted the controversial clause about occupation in case of disorders.
Once the terms had been agreed upon, the Hungarians insisted on telegraphing the Supreme Council in Versailles to signal their acceptance of the military convention on condition that, pending the signature of a peace treaty, the frontiers of Hungary, excluding Croatia and Slavonia, were to be respected by the Allies, and that, in case of a German attack, the interests of Hungary would be protected as well.
So, in spite of Franchet d'Esperey's hectoring, the Hungarians were offered reasonably fair terms and provisionally accepted them. The delegation then returned to the Hungarian capital to await the Supreme Council's answer and to have the convention ratified by the National Council. On November 12, Franchet d,Esperey forwarded to the Hungarian government the Supreme Council's reply. Signed by Clemenceau, it declared that Franchet d'Esperey could discuss only military questions with Karolyi, so that the Convention of Belgrade was of a purely military character. [19.]
Upon his return, Karolyi was faced with a new military threat by the Czechoslovaks. Profiting from Hungarian disarmament, Slovak leaders with General Milan Stefanik, Minister for National Defense of the Prague government, occupied some districts in western Hungary that were claimed by the Slovak National Council. Accompanied first only by a few legionaires, the Czechoslovak troops met little resistance. As a result of the violation of the armistice agreement the pacifist Minister of Defense, Bela Linder resigned on November 9. The Czechoslovak attempt to impose a military solution on the dispute over territory pointed up the need to reorganize the Hungarian army and to rearm. The execution of such policy was put in the hands of the new Minister of Defense, Albert Bartha. To spare the government the embarrassment of changing cabinet, Linder was named minister without portfolio and ambassador at large. His first duty as ambassador was the official acceptance of Franchet d'Esperey's terms on November 13 in Belgrade. [20.]
The final terms of the Military Convention were added as an appendix to the Diaz armistice agreements. [21.] The convention required the demobilization of all Hungarian forces with the exception of six infantry divisions and two cavalry divisions destined to preserve internal order. The prescribed demarcation line followed the upper valley of the Szamos, (Somes) river, went through Beszterce (Bistrita) and Marosvasarhely (Tirgu Mures,) to the Maros (Mures,) river, along it to its union with the Tisza river through Beja, Pecs and along the Drava river, following the border of Croatia-Slavonia. The area south of the demarcation line was to be evacuated by Hungarian troops within eight days and occupied by the Allies even though it was to remain under Hungarian administration. The Allies retained the right to occupy all points and localities deemed necessary by the Commander in Chief. The convention further stipulated the evacuation of German troops from Hungary and the severance of diplomatic relations with Berlin. ln Article 17 the Allies agreed not to interfere in the internal affairs of Hungary, while Article 19, the last, declared an end to all hostilities between the Allies and Hungary. [22.]
Since the Belgrade Convention was signed two days after the armistice with Germany, many of its terms were already obsolete. The peace with Germany was a bitter blow to Franchet d'Esperey, whose dream of being the conqueror of Berlin had been dashed. His diary for November 12 clearly showed his unsatisfied yearning for glory. In it he complained that he had been neither advised nor consulted about the Allied-German armistice negotiations, even though his troops were already in Hungary and he had managed the unique achievement of occupying two enemy capitals: Sofia and Constantinople. [23.] ln his encounter, he claimed to have impressed upon Karolyi that the Magyars must "renounce their hegemony over the nationalities," though he had had some difficulty in getting the point over to Karolyi's entourage. In a letter to a friend, the Academician Charles Freycinet, d'Esperey indicated his distrust of Karolyi's followers but felt that it was a wise decision for Karolyi to be Hungary's foreign minister. [24.]
Newspaper reports in Budapest described the Hungarian delegation's discourteous reception in Belgrade, but the press regarded Karolyi's mission as successful in view of the fact that the convention did not curtail the administrative powers of the Hungarian state, thus preserving its integrity for the time being. News of the Belgrade parley was received by the neighbors of Hungary with indignation. The occupation of the entire Banat by Serbian troops was criticized by the Rumanians, while Hungarian sovereignty over the occupied area displeased the Yugoslavs. [25.] The Czechoslovaks were not less hostile to the Belgrade treaty. Even during the negotiations, the Czechoslovak Foreign Minister, Benes, had attempted to ensure that Czechoslovak interests would not be hurt. As he was in Paris, he immediately contacted Foch, Pichon and Clemenceau to remonstrate against having Franchet d'Esperey discuss political questions.
On November 12, Clemenceau informed the Czechoslovak minister of the content of the telegram sent to Franchet d'Esperey. Learning that the Belgrade agreements had no political significance, Benes was much relieved--especially of his concern that Hungary might have been granted its existing northern border as permanent political frontier. Apparently, Clemenceau failed to inform Benes that the telegram to Franchet d,Esperey had been sent at the Hungarians, request and for this reason the Czechoslovak minister counted the nonpolitical character of the Belgrade treaty as a personal triumph. [26.]
While in Paris, Benes sought support for Czechoslovak aims by exploiting the reputation of the Czechs as convinced anti-Bolsheviks. He claimed that in Central Europe the Czechs were the only people able to stop the spread of Bolshevism, the threat of which was "for special reasons" greatest in Budapest. He claimed that Bolshevism would not triumph in Czechoslovakia because the Czechs had made preparations to ensure a smooth transfer of all military, administrative and economic functions in their country. Benes also claimed that Czechoslovakia was suffering from no shortages that could facilitate the growth of communism. [27.] The paradox of the Czech arguments vis a vis Hungary was evident. The Czechs presented themselves as champions of anticommunism, but by cutting off coal supplies to Hungary they encouraged the development of discontent there, which could in turn breed communism.
Benes seemed bent on reformulating the concepts of the Bohemian patriot, Frantisek Palacky. The leader of the 1848 Austro-Slav Congress had favored the retention of a multinational Austria to serve as a barrier against German expansion into Central Europe. Palacky believed that, if Austria had not existed to fill this role, it would have been the duty "of mankind to endeavor to create it as fast as possible." [28.] ln 1918 Benes justified the creation of a multinational Czechoslovak state to replace Austria as a barrier against the onslaught of Bolshevism. It came to be believed by many that, if no Czechoslovak state existed, it would have to be invented as a bulwark against communism.
On November 1, Stovall transmitted to Washington a memorandum that endorsed this concept. The memorandum was written by the American expatriate, George D. Herron, a former theology professor who had gained considerable stature and influence from earlier efforts to mediate between the Allies and the Austro-Hungarians. Herron expressed regret that during the war he had neglected the Czechoslovaks and now recommended them warmly to Washington. He felt that the Czechs "are a rock upon which the President and our Allies may safely build--may safely base their lost and even despairing hope for Middle and Eastern Europe." The justification for a Czechoslovak state was the anti-Bolshevik stand of the Czechs, who were fighting for the "redemption of Russia,' and were "holding back the Bolsheviki madness,, that threatened Central Europe and Germany. [29.] This anti-Bolshevik position and support for the extreme claims of the Czechoslovaks eventually spelled the demise of the Karolyi government.
Article 17 of the Belgrade Convention was the biggest thorn in the side of the Czechoslovak leadership. Continuing Hungarian administration of historical Hungary meant that Slovakia was still subject to Budapest. The Czechoslovaks as well as the other successor states feared that their claims to the disputed territories would not be fully satisfied at the Peace Conference, so they were intent on changing the status quo before the conference met.
The Czechoslovaks were the first to embark on military intervention into lands that were under Hungarian sovereignty. When the Czechs moved, Hungarian pacifism went by the board. On November 11 in a major foreign-policy speech Karolyi reported that the Hungarian Army had stopped disarming and was ready to defend the territory of Hungary. He spoke of the threat to the city of Pozsony (Bratislava) posed by armed groups who "act in the name of the Czechoslovak state" with which Hungary was not at war. He said his government's objective was to keep the best possible relations with the "Czech Republic,', thus omitting to recognize a Czech-Slovak state. He spoke of a Hungarian policy toward the Slovaks that was founded on Wilsonian principles--in other words, self-determination through plebiscites. As far as territorial readjustments were concerned, Karolyi expressed his confidence that the Peace Conference would respect Hungarian interests because "her cause was justified.'' The statement was a reiteration of his belief that a democratic Hungary would be able to retain the loyalty of the majority of the nationalities. Karolyi concluded his speech by protesting against the Czech-Slovak military incursions, declaring that the Hungarian government had vowed to defend the country's borders "by military force in order to prevent the occurrence of such attacks, which are not in accord with international law." [30.]
Swift military action quickly repulsed the Czechoslovak forces and Benes had no choice but to ask the French to break the terms of the Belgrade Convention. On November 25 Benes, who remained in Paris in order to exert maximum influence on the Allies, sent a memorandum to the French Foreign Minister, Pichon, asking for French aid. In a closely reasoned letter he argued that, since France recognized Czechoslovakia within its historical boundaries as an Allied belligerent, it surely could not allow Allied territory to be occupied by an enemy power. Pichon replied two days later and assured Benes that Paris would send instructions through the Supreme Council to order the withdrawal of Hungarian troops. [31.] Thus Article 17 of the Belgrade Convention was unilaterally broken.
Since the Convention of Belgrade was signed in the name of the Allies and not by France alone, it seems that Pichon was wary that the Hungarians would protest, creating possible sympathy for their cause among the British and the Americans. To avoid such an eventuality, he instructed his ambassadors in the Allied capitals and in Switzerland to avoid informing their hosts of the French action. Furthermore, the French representatives were asked to generate anti-Magyar feelings by emphasizing the irregularity of Hungary's recent decision to send a woman ambassador to Switzerland. Pichon claimed that this was an impudent and "ultra-democratic" action, camouflaging the Hungarian aim of enslavement of non-Magyar nationalities. Pichon also wanted to tarnish Karolyi's reputation by claiming that he was primarily responsible for the "perfidious act." [32.]
It seems, however, that English and American acquiescence to French policy was basically due to their acceptance of the principle of "primary responsibility.,, This allowed any Ally to prevail with its policy in an area where it was solely or predominantly active. [33.] France's domination over East Central Europe was evident to all and French support for Czech interests was so assuring that Tomas Masaryk in his first address to the Czechoslovak cabinet made a point of the need to retain French orientation: "We must have one friend who will always take our side and this will be the French." [34.]
The Serbians were no less eager to break the convention and, as they moved into the Banat, they drove out the Hungarian administrators. The Serbians demanded that Hungarian officials pledge allegiance to Serbia or to the Croat National Council. The Hungarians refused to comply, giving the Serbians a reason for expelling them. The flow of refugee administrators from occupied areas into Budapest reached such proportions that the Minister of the Interior, Tivadar Batthyany, was forced to issue a government edict to curb it. It ordered the administrators, if under duress, to take the required pledge of them. This, in the prevailing situation, would not be considered disloyalty to Hungary and would not compromise their future position in the Hungarian administration. [35.]
The Serbs and Croats looked on the Hungarian government no more kindly than did the Czechs and Slovaks and, like them, would have welcomed its collapse. The Croat National Council's envoy to Budapest, Marko Petrovic, castigated Karolyi in a report to Zagreb. He expressed the opinion that it was in the interest of the Serbs and Croats to see the Hungarian government brought down as soon as possible. If this was difficult, then the Hungarian government's effort to retain its territorial sovereignty until the Peace Conference reached its decisions had to be frustrated. "This can be achieved only by the swiftest occupation of ethnic areas, with care, of course, not to threaten our relations with the Entente," wrote the Croat. [36.]
Hungary's third neighbor was just as hostile as the two foregoing. The Kingdom of Rumania, which had been trounced by the combined German-Austro-Hungarian forces in 1917 and forced to sign the humiliating Treaty of Bucharest, decided to take the field again. On November 9 Rumania declared war on Germany under the pretext that it had violated the Treaty of Bucharest by increasing its army of occupation beyond the agreed strength. [37.] In spite of the fact that the Treaty of Bucharest of 1918 took Rumania out of the Allied camp, Rumanian troops were now sent into Transylvania on the pretext of representing an Allied power.
Rumania's reentry into the war was immediately backed by the French military leaders. The French troops in Rumania were commanded by General Henri Berthelot, who was responsible for the Danube theater, a geographical area that included Rumania, Transylvania and southern Russia. [38.] The Rumanians, like the Czechs, Slovaks and South Slavs, pursued a pro-French policy. When French troops entered Bucharest on November 10, Rumanian officials were so elated that they even forgot that the victorious Alliance included powers other than France. The French Ambassador, the Count of Saint-Aulaire, was forced to remind the Rumanians of their negligence and had to insist that "ispontaneous demonstrations" should be organized in front of the British, American and Italian legations. [39.]
At the time Rumania made its second declaration of war on Germany, it also sent an ultimatum to Hungary with the impossible demand that all German troops should be evacuated from its territory within twentyfour hours. Curiously, the ultimatum was not followed by a Rumanian declaration of war, possibly because the French had given Hungary more than a week to accomplish the selfsame task. On November 13 Hungary received another ultimatum from Rumanian Prime Minister loan Bratianu, this time demanding the withdrawal of Hungarian troops from Transylvania and Hungarian recognition of the annexation of this territory by the Kingdom of Rumania. [40.]
Meanwhile, on November 9, the Rumanian National Council in Arad, representing the Rumanians in Hungary, had notified Budapest that it had assumed control of twenty-three Hungarian counties and partial control of three others. [41.] The Hungarian government immediately dispatched a delegation to present its position to the Rumanian National Council. The delegation was led by Jaszi, who was eager to present his Danubian Confederation project to a Hungarian nationality group. The president of the Workers, Council, Dezso' Bokanyi, was induced in the delegation because it was known that a number of social democrats sat in the Rumanian National Council, which was led by two former deputies to Budapest, Iliu Maniu and Vasile Goldis. Lajos Biro, Secretary of Propaganda in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, suggested to Jaszi that he ought to take along someone who could bargain with money if reasoning failed. Jaszi indignantly rejected such tactic claiming that the era of that kind of diplomacy was past. [42.]
In his opening address to the Arad Council, Jaszi summarized the history of the nationalities. He then offered autonomy to Transylvania and, within this framework, authority to the Rumanian National Council in those areas where, according to statistics, the Rumanians were in a majority. Maniu in turn strongly criticized the statistics adduced by Jaszi, claiming that in Transylvania and the Banat only the government officials were Hungarian while the rest of the inhabitants were Rumanian. The Rumanian side expressed its dislike of Karolyi and complained that in Hungary only the name of the government changed, the system stayed the same. [43.]
With the support of the statistics furnished by Budapest, the Hungarians attempted to prove that the character of the countryside was Magyar. In the heat of the discussion the Hungarian delegates warned the Rumanians that, should they have any intentions of trying to detach any territory from Hungary, they could expect harsh reprisals. Bokanyi, who recognized some Rumanian socialists who had once participated in his Marxist seminars in Budapest, turned against them in indignation and exclaimed: "So you have become chauvinists too! Would you rather have the Rumanian king and boyar rule than a democratic Hungary?" [44.] Like Jaszi he vigorously defended the Hungarian position and threatened to organize the workers of Europe to fight against a union of Transylvania with the "reactionary,, Kingdom of Rumania. [45.]
The Rumanian National Council finally refused to accept Jaszi,s proposition on the ground that it was not empowered to make a decision on which the present and future existence of the Rumanian people depended. It promised to submit the question to the Grand National Assembly which was to meet on December 1 in Alba lulia, but it agreed that, in the interest of public safety, the areas in dispute should remain under Hungarian administration for the time being.
Jaszi was disappointed by these delaying tactics and, after restating his position, warned the Rumanians:
Let us consider the international situation very carefully. One's claims should not be exaggerated under the influence of events. The conclusion of peace depends neither on Foch nor the other generals, such as those whom I saw in Belgrade. None of them differs from the Hindenburgs and Ludendorffs, for all speak with their hands on the sword. Peace will be made by the European Soviet Republic, by the Council of Soldiers and Workers. All the promises made by the various European belligerents will not be binding on this European Republic. The fact that the Hungarian government has just accepted Rakovski as representative of the Russian Soviet Republic is a sign of the times. Rakovski knows better than anyone the situation of the Rumanians and Hungary. [46.]
This speech of Jaszi's was of great significance, for it expounded an opinion that was shared by many Hungarian officials. It indicated that they were expecting the collapse of capitalism and the rise of socialism in the Allied countries, and implied that, in case of a harsh Allied policy toward the Hungarians, the Magyars were already contemplating switching political alliances. Such a policy subsumed a lenient policy toward the national and international communist movements. Jaszi later claimed that his speech was not intended as a threat but was only a prophetic warning that the economic strangulation of Hungary through territorial dismemberment would lead to such chaos as would result in communism. [47.] His explanation in the light of later events seems very tortuous and, if his warning was prophetic, it became self-fulfilling.
Jaszi's pronouncement and Bokanyi's intransigence may also have stirred fears of Bolshevism among the Western diplomats who were the readers of New Europe, for the gist of the version printed in it was far from what Jaszi had intended to convey. The threat of accepting a Russian diplomatic mission in Hungary was highly unconventional at a time when no Western power wanted to recognize Soviet Russia; the establishment of such ties could only indicate Hungarian-Soviet collusion. In reality no Soviet embassy materialized in Hungary during the Karolyi regime, even though the Council of Ministers did accept Rakovsky's credentials on November 12. [48.]
Rather than committing himself to a pro-Soviet policy in November, Karolyi drew a different conclusion from his Belgrade meeting and the Arad encounter. Karolyi's answer to general French hostility and the pro-French policy of the successor states that encircled Hungary was a more urgent attempt to draw closer to Great Britain and, most of all, to the United States.
|Peter Pastor: Hungary Between Wilson and Lenin...|