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What could have caused such a cardinal change in the attitude of the Hungarian Government? I am giving here the most important and decisive factors:

I. It was an open secret that General Henrik Werth, Chief of Staff of the Hungarian General Staff, and our Ambassador to Berlin, Dome Sztojai, had submitted several memorandums whlch stated their opinions on Hungarian participation in the German moves. Their advice to the Hungarian Government was that, in spite of the fact that the Third Reich had not requested


the armed participation of Hungary in the warfare against Soviet Russia, it appeared to be both right and unavoidable that we should elect to do so on our own initiative. They gave several reasons for supporting this recommendation and emphasized that the German Army would vanquish the Red Army in six weeks.

II. At first the Regent and Bardossy were not inclined to take this proposition and advice into consideration. Later, under the influence of an enthusiastic and private letter from Hitler, in which the start of tactical moves on the part of the Wehrmacht was mentioned, the Regent apparently changed his opinion. in the same letter Hitler spoke about a "Crusade" against the Communists. This may have induced the Regent to talk of such a crusade to his Entourage and may consequently have moved Bardossy to look at such an action as a necessity also. The slogan "'Crusade" spread like brush fire all over the country.

III. The Finns, the Italians, and the Rumanians declared war on the Soviet Union and at the same time the Wehrmacht started its attack. Slovakia was soon to follow suit.

IV. On the 26th of June, three Russian airplanes bombed the city of Kassa causing some damage to the city. This air raid may have warranted a declaration of war. I have to mention, however, that Colonel Geza Krudy, the commander of the antiaircraft defense of Kassa, reported on the next day that one of the airplanes shot down bore certain yellow colored markings which would indicate that the airplanes may not have been Russian, but camouflaged German planes. This question was never clarified, and it is a fact that both the Russians and the Germans equally denied the attack. in spite of the lengthy explanations of the press, the Hungarian public opinion still did not see clear whether this provocation was a Russian or a German one.

V. Hungary, because of her geographical location, was in the middle of the German and Russian military moves and thus could not risk being merely a passive on-looker in this armed clash. Such an attitude would have led sooner or later to merciless drastic German actions, similar to those which happened without fail three years later.

VI. Upon evaluating the situation, every thinking man in Hungary was well aware of the fact that the declaration of war on the Soviet Union would lead to a declaration of war on Hungary by both England and the United States. Finding a practical solution to such a possibility seemed, however, to be very futile, even to those who doubted the ultimate victory of the Germans.

No matter how we evaluate these happenings in retrospect, it seems very logical to state that in consideration of the weight and value of the situation, Hungary was not in the position to avoid such a declaration of war. First of all, Hungary was a signatory to the Anti-Commintern Pact and after the Finnish,


Italian, Rumanian, and Slovakian declarations of war, she would have been brought into an impossible foreign political situation with these strong allies. Secondly, she had to take into consideration the immediate actions of the Third Reich, actions of retaliation, against which she was not prepared politicaly or militarily. The nation always carried a traditional hatred against both the Germans and the Russians. But when these feelings were weighed, the scale dipped toward the Russians.

Bardossy, with prior authority from the Regent requested the consent of the Council of Ministers for this declaration of war. This represents a point of contention, however, for the Regent later denied having given Bardossy any such authority. Other personalities, however, maintained that the Regent not only gave "Authority" but direct "Order" to Bardossy. Although the Council of Ministers gave their consent for the declaration of war, their decision was preceded by very heated debate. Vitez Ferenc Keresztes-Fischer, Minister of the Interior, told me himself, he opposed it very vehemently and moved that the Council should adopt an attitude of waiting and of postponement. Bardossy made his announcement in the Parliament with the consent of the Council of Ministers but through this action he should have set aside that stipulation of the Hungarian constitution that all declarations of war be approved by the Hungarian Parliament first. The omission of this very important step was not observed at that time or noticed by anybody, not even by the leaders of the Socialist Opposition Party. Both Houses of Parliament acknowledged the news of the declaration of war with enthusiasm. in the interest of true historical description, I must point out that this enthusiasm was not limited to Parliamentary circles only. The population of the country itself, without any differentiation as to rank or profession was adhering to It. in the course of my visits and my conversations at various political clubs I was able to observe that in Parliamentary circles they debated only one question; To what extent the Hungarian military forces should participate?" Some proposed that the entire Hungarian Army should be sent to the front. Others would have been satisfied with only a mobilization of a few divisions, as a gesture. The press, of course, was overly enthusiastic, which was absolutely unnecessary. In the country the farmers feverishly worked on the harvest and the storing of the same, to enable them to join their units in case such a move was necessitated by the speed up of mobilization. The workers of the war industry and industrial p]ants were performing their duties with no less zeal and diligence. Those few who because of their Communistic or Pan-Slavistic attitudes did not participate in this enthusiasm (according to my observations, there were even such elements in the highest circles of aristocracy in the country) hid their feelings to the public. in the following very grave and burden-some four years, I traveled all over the country as a private


citizen and latter as a soldier, nowhere did I find bitter opposition or sabotage actions. On the contrary, I learned of many great sacrifices which were far, far above the duties of a nation at war. Therefore, I am branding a lie all those statements made by certain Hungarian elements which refer to "camouflaged resistance" or "successful sabotage attempts." They are made up tales serving individual egocentric purposes,

There is one episode that should be mentioned, however. in those times an organization called "The Popular Front" was quickly talked about. The members of this organization were recruited from the circles of the intelligentsia and conducted a war against "Dictatorships," "Bloodshed," and "Nationalism," and were talking of "Enlightened Liberalism." They did not cause any disturbance as far as the public was concerned, and little was made of the tact that the Minister of the Interior had some of the loudest members incarcerated. Only many years later in the emigration did we learn that a few Communist agents successfully played a role in this Popular Front organ. These agents came home from Moscow during the periods of Hungarian-Russian fraternization, and they are still playing a role in Hungary's public life.

The Hungarian tactical moves were introduced with an air raid conducted into the territory of Stanislaw. I mentioned previously that on the Carpatho-Ukrainian Frontier our Ranger and Mountaineer divisions took stand, and behind them the Eighth Army Corps of Kassa. This was the so-called "Carpathian Group." The commanding officer was Major General Ferenc Szombathelyi, who also led the tactical moves in the Bacska. The "Carpathian Group" started its' advancing on June 28 against an overpoweringly numerous Soviet Army. I don't think it is necessary to give details here of the tactical moves of the Hungarian armed forces and I am going to mention only those which have a relation to the political happenings. in the course of very heavy fighting the attack in Stanislaw developed into a great success. in the first days of the month of July, our army units had reached and, in some instances, crossed the River Dnyester. Here the Eighth Army Corps, transformed into a quick moving cavalry corps, was Integrated into the Seventeenth German Army. The Ranger and Alpine divisions were thrown into action against enemy units roaming in the occupied territories.

The above mentioned army corps was fighting on the southern wing of the German Army. After heavy losses it reached the River Bug in the first days of August and, crossing it, made its way in the course of the month of September to the River Dnyeper and in October to the Donyec River Region.

In the meantime two important things happened in Budapest. The Regent removed, in the beginning of September, the Chief of Staff, General Werth, from his position and nominated to his place Major General Ferenc Szombathelyi, the commanding officer of the Hungarian Expeditionary Army at the front. The


cause of this very surprising change in command, as explained by well-informed military circles (from whom I obtained my information), was the fact that the Regent felt that the ever increasing military requests of Werth were largely exaggerated. He accepted rather the sound advice which Szombathelyi sent him in form of a memorandum. The report contained evaluation of his experiences on the front, and advised caution and measure in the actions. Also, in the month of September, the Regent, Bardossy, and Szombathelyi traveled to the General Headquarters of Hitler to conduct talks about military questions. There the Hungarians tried to throw light on three very important points arising out of the situation.

First, the Hungarian Honved Army had inadequate equipment and arms and could hardly be used for decisive tactical moves.

The second point was that in the vast territories behind the front, partisan units were active and threatening all lines of supply.

Point three, that the~ Hungarian Army units on the front should be eventually utilized for combating partisan activities.

Although the Germans accepted the Hungarian standpoint they immediately demanded more wheat and oil from Hungary. in the course of the conversation they also touched on the Banat question, but the settlement of this was postponed by Hitler to a later date.

Much had already been heard about these partisan activities in the first five months of the war. I have already mentioned that in Serbia, Royalist and Communist elements were bitterly fighting the Germans and each other. In Rumania, because of the political moves introduced by General Antonescu and the terror actions of the brown shirted "Iron Guard" of Horia Sima the mistrust increased day by day against the Germans. The Germans, however, did not recognize the danger of the "Powder Kegs" of the Balkans and ignored the anti-German feelings and hatred growing in the new Croatian Republic, which was organized under the presidency of Ante Pavelics.

In Slovakia the Germans instigated against the Hungarians but did not notice that large circles were listening to the radio broadcasts of BBC and openly cursing the "Nyemci." A very peculiar situation developed in the former Austrian Galicia which lays north of our Carpathian frontiers. There, Polish and Ukrainian partisans fought the Germans and they quite often drifted into Hungarian territory where they destroyed exclusively German war material and very willingly and enthusiastically supported Hungarian units in their fights against the Russians. Similar was the situation in southern part of the Soviet Empire, in the Ukrainian territories where the population first sympathized greatly with the "liberators" but when the latter introduced senseless measures against the "Ukrainian National Movement" their partisans started to threaten the German supply lines also. These units soon formed partisan bases and cooperated with Russian units.


In compliance with the agreement reached in September at the German Headquarters the Hungarian Cavalry Corps and the two divisions which were sent to its reinforcements were used in fighting partisans in the territories of Reumahtorovka and Brjansk. These tactical moves were developed according to plans in the first part of the year 1942, but in the fatally deteriorating political and military situation, they created tremendous new burdensome problems for Hungary.

Point 1. Already in the last days of November 1941, the British communicated with the Hungarian Government that, if it did not withdraw its troops from the eastern front and if it did not cease tactical moves against Soviet Russia till December 5, Britain was going to consider the English-Hungarian relationship as that of a state of war. We could not comply with the requests of the English and we didn't want to because we considered the fight against the Communists a national interest and a duty over and above our obligations to our allies. Thus we entered a state of war with England. At the same time London declared war on Finland and Rumania.

Point 2. in the first days of December 1941, Hungary heard of the sneak attacks of the Japanese on Pearl Harbor and of the war declared on the United States. This move was immediately followed by a declaration of war by the Third Reich and by Italy. The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs hurried to inform Sztojai, our Ambassador at Berlin, that it was expected that Hungary was going to follow the example. Bardossy was very disagreeably surprised and affected by the expression of such a German "hope" and, as he explained it in confidential circles, he hoped to be able to avoid a direct declaration of war on the United States through merely stating that Hungary was in hostile relationship with that country. The Berlin Government, however, and also, under its pressure, the Italians, referring to our obligations as stipulated in the Tripartite Pacts, demanded a declaration of war stating that Rumania and Bulgaria had already done so. in this precarious and forced situation, Bardossy with the consent of the Council of Ministers communicated in writing to the Charge' d'Affaires of the United States at Budapest, the declaration of war on behalf of Hungary. Again violating the Constitution, he reported this action to the Houses of Parliament after the fact.

Point 3. Also in the month of December Hitler removed General Von Brauchitsch of his chief command of the German Army and reserved this power to himself. The reason for the removal of this outstanding German General was that Von Brauchitsch wanted to annihilate the Russian Soviet Army in decisive tactical moves in the Moscow region, whereas Hitler wanted to occupy, above all, the oil fields beyond the Caucasian Mountains. This strategic aim, as we will see it later, caused the complete loss of the war. The Hungarian Chief Command recognized this fact and the Chief of Staff, Ferenc Szombathelyi


still as the commander of the "Carpathian Group" hinted to such possibility in his memorandum mentioned previously in this t text by stating: "The times of the Blitzkrieg are over". A similar report was written and submitted verbally to the Regent by the Commander of the 2nd Hungarian Army, General Gusztav Jany. At a social gathering he whispered to the writer of these lines: "Absolutely nothing is going well."

Hitler in the beginning of January 1942, sent a private letter to Horthy, in which he requested an increase in the number of Hungarian Honvedseg at tile battlefields, and it is quite obvious that this was a consequence of the ever deteriorating situation at the front. A few days later, Ribbentropp, Participating at a hunting party, stated that a "general mobilization" would be desirable. In the last days of the same month, General Keitl, the Chief of Staff of the German General Staff, arrived at Budapest with a numerous suite and demanded directly the utilization of the entire Hungarian Army. The negotiations, according to news fragments reaching the outside world, were very stormy. The Hungarians, referring to the inadequate equipment and training of the army, the unreliability of their neighbors, and the fact that a reserve had to be kept for the defense of the country proper, at first refused any increase in the number of the Expeditionary Army. After difficult and lengthy negotiations, an agreement 'was reached according to which the Hungarian Government was going to mobilize the Third Army Corps of Szombathelyi, the Fourth Corps of Pecs, and the Seventh Corps of Miskolc. These units, after being adequately equipped by the Germans and having received training were to be turned over to the disposition of the German High Command. These became the. Second Hungarian Army, the commandership of which was entrusted by the Regent to General Gusztav Jany. It has to be mentioned that this renewed sacrifice brought by the Hungarians was not rewarded at this time either by the settlement of the question of the return of the Banat territory. The Fifth Army Corps of Szeged, the Sixth Corps of Debrecen and the Ninth Corps of Kolozsvar remained in the country as defensive reserve.

Only five weeks later, a very important happening influenced Hungarian internal and foreign policy in a decisive manner. The Regent relieved Laszlo Bardossy of his position as Minister President and entrusted the Prime Minister's task to Miklos Kallay. To this day the reasons for the removal of Bardossy are not quite clear. Some are of the opinion that the question of the substitution of the temporarily ailing Regent may have been the cause. Well-informed Parliamentary circles and persons usually reliable agreed that a substitution of the Head of State in such critical times was eminently important and had to be provided for. The consensus was that this was a constitutional question to be regulated in form of a law and that the son of the Regent, Istvan Horthy, should be nominated for the position of Deputy Regent, to be elected by the Houses of Parliament.



The opinions diverged only on one point; whether in the law there should be a provision for a Deputy Regent or for Deputy Regent and Successor. Bardossy originally wanted to submit a proposition to the Houses of parliament to elect a Deputy and not a Successor. With this stand he invited the ire of the Regent, and many saw this removal as an outcome of this. On the other hand, other well-informed circles felt that the Regent was very critical of the rather weak attitudes of Bardossy against the ever more powerful extremist right wing movements. There were others, like myself, who thought that be acquired many enemies by his abrupt and sometimes very rude manners. Officially he resigned because of his conditions of health.

The appointment of Kallay was a great surprise because many thought him not capable of answering the requirements of a Minister Presidential position. In the eyes of the general public he was a "Gentry from Szabolcs County," a friendly, very witty gentleman, without experience, scientific background, or the decisive power necessary to cope with the rather responsible tasks of a Prime Minister. Kallay took over his office in the first days of March of the year 1942 and temporarily reserved for himself the portfolio of the Minister of Foreign Affairs also. Not until July of the year 1943 did he relinquish this latter position to the Deputy Foreign Minister, Jeno Ghiczy. The political era which began with his entry into office was stamped by the satirists after a Hungarian folk dance, the "Kallay Double." Kallay originated from an ancient Hungarian family, 'a family which came into the country a thousand years ago at its occupation. As a member of such a clan, his hatred towards the Germans was obvious, as well as his great sympathy towards the English and his disinterested attitude in social questions. Political circles looked with interest and great anxiety at his next moves in setting these factors to work in the rather entangled situation of the internal and external political life of the country.

Kallay started his internal political activities by inviting the attention of the public through all information media to the fact that he was a Minister of Agriculture under Gombos and that he was going to follow with unshaken loyalty those political trends. He also made it clear that he was linked to Bardossy with a warm friendship, that their opinions were common, and that his political trends were going to be characterized by relentless national feelings. In a brilliant introductory speech at the meeting of the Government Party be gave details about his future plans emphasizing his firm adherence to the policies of the "Axis". Unquestionably the statements of Kallay made a very great impression on the country especially since their honesty was supported by the nomination of several strongly nationalist personalities to positions of confidence. In foreign political respects, his beginning was much less auspicious. The German news media received him with rather icy disinterest.


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