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Part III

An Era of Confrontation

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Chapter 14

Political Changes in Central
and Eastern Europe After
the First World War

The defeat of the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary) and their allies (Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire) precipitated the fall of the governments and regimes they had directed during the war. Meanwhile, leaders of nations suddenly liberated by the defeat of their guardian powers made the most of the circumstances and created their own independent states. Profound political changes were taking place amid a climate of revolutionary agitation and feverish activity; countries were jockeying for positions of leverage at the opening of the peace talks. Among the vanquished peoples, however, political agitation turned to revolution.



From the beginning of autumn, 1918, when the Allies launched their great offensive, there was no longer any doubt that the war was lost for the Central Powers.

The Bulgarian Revolution

The first country affected by the defeat was Bulgaria. On September 1 8, 1918, the Eastern Army, under General Franchet d'Esperey, broke through

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Bulgarian lines and liberated the Serbian territory occupied by Bulgaria since the end of 1915. To avoid being encircled, Bulgarian troops pulled back toward their national territory. News of this retreat caused consternation throughout the country. On September 23, some of the regiments mutinied, and the rebellion spread to nearly all units. The rebels took the city of Radomir where they blocked off the general headquarters of the army. Government leaders in Sofia immediately sent a delegation to the commander of the Allied army at Salonika to conclude an armistice quickly. Simultaneously, they sent the two agrarian leaders, Stambolijski and Daskalov, to Radomir to try and pacify the mutinous soldiers. Stambolijski was immensely popular because he had been arrested toward the end of 1915 for his strong opposition to the war and seemed to be the only man able to halt the rebellion. He gladly accepted this mission, afraid that revolution would further weaken Bulgaria and leave it entirely at the mercy of the Allies. His attempts to calm the rebels were thwarted by Daskalov, who had other ideas. Daskalov had adopted some of the Bolshevik ideas that had been seeping into Bulgaria since the October Revolution and used the occasion to join the rebels, take charge of a Republic of Radomir, and begin a march on the capital. Daskalov's foolish escapade lasted only a few days; he was

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arrested at the gates of Sofia by loyalist troops. The armistice of September 28 brought some relief to the starving civilian population, which had been forced to provide food supplies to the German army of Marshal Makensen stationed in Macedonia and Rumania. Conditions of the armistice included the complete retreat of Bulgarian troops to behind the borders of 1913, the occupation of part of the country and right of passage for the armed forces of the Entente. On the strong advice of the Allies, Czar Ferdinand abdicated on October 3, 1918, in favor of his son, Boris III (1918-1943).

The Bulgarian defeat, along with a range of economic problems, such as rising prices and food shortages, created an atmosphere ripe for revolution among the civilian population. While Stambolijski's Agrarian party and the urban middle-class parties hoped mainly for a more democratic country and for some agrarian reform, others took much more radical positions. The Bulgarian Socialist party adopted Bolshevik tenets and sent their delegates to the Moscow conference that produced the Third International in March, 1919.

King Boris was prudent and let the Agrarians govern, with Stambolijski at their head, in order to prevent a more detrimental party from taking power. The main task for the government was to establish a minimum amount of order in preparation for the problems certain to arise from the signing of a peace treaty.

The Austro-Hungarian Revolution

News of Bulgaria's surrender echoed resoundingly throughout Austria-Hungary, and affected the leadership as much as the common people. On October 1, 1918, the new head of the Austrian government, Baron Hussarek, made an effort to calm the various Austrian nationalities by announcing that Austria was to be restructured along federalist lines to assure the different national groups administrative and political autonomy. At the same time, Baron Burian, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Dual Monarchy, sent President Wilson a diplomatic note aimed at opening peace talks on the basis of Wilson's Fourteen Points. The Allies, not wanting to disassociate the Austro-Hungarian problem from the German problem, delayed their response. Meanwhile, in a manifesto on October 16, Emperor Charles announced to his subjects that "The Empire will become a federal state in which each ethnic group will form its own political community within its own territory..." The measures announced in the Imperial Manifesto applied only to Austria, but they also guaranteed Czechs, Poles, Slovenes and other southern Slavs satisfaction of some, if not all, their requests. The emperor hoped that the leaders in Budapest would have the wisdom to accord their peoples the same rights.

Unfortunately, the emperor's Manifesto came too late. The emperor

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and his former cabinet chief, Count Polzer-Hoditz, had finished it by the beginning of 1917, but certain Austrian political groups had done everything in their power to delay its publication. When it finally appeared, the time had passed. Leaders of different ethnic groups who saw defeat coming and realized the consequences for those who remained with the Empire, turned down the Manifesto and opted instead for the kind of independence that their national councils in exile had been demanding since 1916.

In Bohemia, Czech delegates to a national council took up the idea of an independent Czechoslovakia, which Masaryk and Benes had advocated since 1916. In a reply to the Imperial Manifesto, drafted at a meeting on October 19, the delegates stated the only solution was total independence. The night before, in Washington, D.C., Masaryk had declared the independence of Czechoslovakia and its complete alliance with the Entente. The Habsburgs had lost Bohemia. A delegation from the National Council, equipped with official passports issued by the Austrian authorities (in itself an example of the usual Austrian liberalism), left Prague for Geneva in order to make contact with Benes and emigrant representatives. On October 28, exuberant crowds rejoiced in the streets of Prague at the proclamation of a republic, and there was no reaction from the authorities even though they had the means to enforce order. Instead, the imperial administrators relinquished power to the provisory authorities in a quasi-official manner. On October 30, a Czech delegation headed by M. Tusar went to Vienna to settle the various formalities for independence.

The example set by Prague was contagious. In Bukovina on the same day, a national council decided to rejoin their province to Rumania. On October 29, the Diet at Zagreb broke all ties linking Croatia to Austria and Hungary, and then reluctantly admitted the possibility of a "common sovereign and national state of Slovenes, Croatians and Serbs." On October 31, the Slovene diet did the same at Ljubljana. Meanwhile, the Polish national council took charge of Galicia without completely breaking with Austria.

In the Hungarian half of the Dual Monarchy, the situation was somewhat different. News of the Bulgarian surrender gave rise to a heated debate in the Hungarian parliament. A deputy from the Independence Party, Marton Lovaszy, publicly declared himself as "a friend of the Entente" and demanded immediate peace. At the instigation of Count Mihaly Karolyi, several members of the bourgeois opposition and of the Independence party, as well as the Socialists, formed a national council to prepare for Hungarian independence on October 25. At that point, however, Karolyi's influence in parliament was weak. Also, the Hungarian people seemed to be largely faithful to the old regime, with the exception of the workers in Budapest who were responsive to pacifist and socialist propaganda. Emperor Charles and

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his wife were counting on this loyalty of the Hungarian people when they decided to go to Hungary. The royal couple stayed in Hungary from October 22 to 27, and had the impression that as far as the people were concerned, nothing had been lost. The sovereign even tried to come to an agreement with Mihaly Karolyi, but the members of the national council wanted a radical change in policy and demanded total independence from Austria. Paradoxically, the national council remained completely deaf to the demands of non-Magyars. The idea of secession catching on among several of the diverse ethnic groups clearly upset the Magyars. Bad news from the front along with the Croatian decision to break with Hungary caused a stir that the national council was quick to exploit. On the front, the Italians had launched a major offensive in the Dolomites on October 24; the Austro-Hungarian troops under the Hungarian general Kovess and the Croatian general Boroevic withstood the attack until October 26, but that day some Hungar- ian units refused to go to the line and asked instead to be returned to defend Hungary under attack from the east. A few days later the front collapsed and negotiations for a truce began.

The news of a truce caused riots in Budapest. On October 28, there were demonstrations in the capital, and police and gendarmery fired into a crowd which was moving toward the parliament. The disturbances doubled in intensity. There were strikes in factories and workshops, and workers, councils, modeled on those of the Russian soviets of 1917, sprang up here and there. Finally, in the evening of October 30th, a large crowd including rebel soldiers took over the official buildings; the governor then relinquished power to the national council. The following day, Karolyi gained two offices. By telephone from Vienna, the Emperor, Charles I, invested him with the power of president of the Hungarian council, and then in Parliament Square the people granted him full powers by acclamation. On the same day, Count Istvan Tisza, who had done all he could to prevent the war in July 1914, was assassinated by rebel soldiers who accused him of causing the war!

Hungarians who cheered Karolyi on and who expected him to preserve Greater Hungary were overly optimistic. Leaders of the various ethnic groups were coming out in favor of independence. They knew that the conditions for peace would be hard on those who lost and that it was time to take advantage of Hungary's situation. Meeting on October 30 at Turoc-Szent-Marton, the Slovaks declared their independence and their desire to join the Czechs within a federal state. On the following day, the leaders of the National Rumania party at Arad formed a national council that demanded immediate self-determination for the Rumanian people and the rejoining of Transylvania to Rumania, none of which prevented them from simultaneously negotiating with a delegate from Budapest, Oscar Jaszi. Throughout the Rumanian-dominated communities of Transylvania, the Rumanians took

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over local government. In the Vojvodine, the Serbs adopted the same attitude in early November--after the region was occupied by Serbian troops. A local assembly, representing less than half the population, announced at Ujvidek on November 25 that the province would be joined to the kingdom of Serbs, Croatians and Slovenes.

And as in Cisleithania (Austria), the ethnic groups in Transleithania (Hungary) rejected the old structures. The Habsburg Empire was coming apart at the seams. Each nationality had chosen independence and a severing of ties with a centuries-old community. Two fixed points remained, however: the army and the Emperor. In the first days of November, the army withdrew from the scene. In signing the armistice of November 4 and giving the order to halt combat even before the cease-fire, the military commanders marked the end of the Empire. Only the Emperor remained. On November 11, in a message to the delegates of the Assembly of German Austria, which since the beginning of the month had taken charge of plans for the German-speaking provinces, Emperor Charles made known his intention to retire from "all participation in the affairs of state", and then withdrew to the Chateau of Eckartsau. The Republic of German Austria was announced in Vienna on the following day. At the same time in Hungary, Mihaly Karolyi, at the head of a cabinet of socialists, radicals and representatives of the Independence party, was loudly demanding the sovereign's abdication. On November 13, a delegation from the Hungarian parliament led by the primate, Cardinal Csernoch, went to Eckartsau. The sovereign gave the Hungarian delegates a document similar to the one he had given to the representatives of the Austrian parliament two days earlier.

From then on, German Austria and Karolyi's Hungary each had to work alone in erasing the past. The nationalities who had broken away from them had won, and the age of nationalism had begun.


The defeat of the Central Powers and the upsetting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire benefited the peoples and states that had fought against it or had defected in time.

Triumph For the Small Nations: Serbia and Rumania

Serbia had supported the war effort from the beginning and had suffered considerable human and material losses, but ultimately gained from the ordeal. The Austro-Hungarian, German and Bulgarian armed forces evacuated its territory. The Serbian army and allied contingents from the Eastern Army had forced them to retreat in the second half of October. Even better, the Serbians had received permission from the Allied high

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commander to occupy not only Croatian and Slavonic territories, some of whom had shown a desire for union with Serbia, but also the Vojvodine and certain points of southern Hungary with the city of Pecs.

In Belgrade, the Pan Serbian policy of Pashitch gained approval. Tiny Serbia of 1914 had thus gathered together all the southern Slavs under the authority of its sovereign. Even Montenegro, who since 1914 had fought alongside Serbia, decided to join in after a vote of the national assembly on November 13. The old king of Serbia, Peter I, had been ill since the beginning of the war and had entrusted his son, Prince-Regent Alexander, with the leadership of the new state to be called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croatians and Slovenes. It became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1931.

This union of southern Slavs into one state actually owed its existence to a misunderstanding. The Croatian and Slovene representatives who accepted the idea of uniting with the Serbs had imagined this union as an egalitarian federation. That was clear when organization began for the new state. A provisory assembly met in Belgrade on March 1, 1919; it was composed of Serbian deputies elected to the parliament at Belgrade in 1912, most of them radicals who favored a single, centralized state, and of non-elected Croats and Slovenes sent by the various national councils. The national minorities were not invited to send representatives. Even without the German, Hungarian and Albanian national minorities--totaling some two million people--the new state contained a wide diversity of ethnic groups. There were six million Orthodox Serbs living next to over four million Croats and one and a half million Slovenes, all Roman Catholics. These people were brought closer together by language, but were separated by religion, traditions, and by different levels of cultural and economic development. The Yugoslavian borders were not finally drawn until the treaties of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Trianon.

Despite the separate treaty Rumania had been obliged to sign with the Central Powers in March, 1918, it returned to battle on the side of the Entente countries during the Allied army's offensive. For this, Rumania became one of the victors, and its leaders intended to make the most of it. National councils in Russian Bessarabia, in Austrian Bukovina and in Hungarian Transylvania made their desires to join Rumania clear. On December 1, 1918, at Gyulafehervar, the assembly of the National Rumanian party announced that Transylvania had joined Greater Rumania, thus anticipating by a few days the Allied decision authorizing Rumania to occupy most of Transylvania. The borders would not be final until the peace conference, however.

The Birth of the Czechoslovakian State

The national council at Prague had taken over the former kingdom of

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Bohemia on October 28 and quickly announced a republic. The old chief of the opposition, Kramarj, returned from Vienna where he had met with Benes, to set up a provisory government on October 31 . Benes became minister of foreign affairs, and as such went to Paris to take part in the peace conference.

On November 14, the National Provisory Assembly met in Prague. It was made up of 201 Czech deputies and 69 Slovak deputies recruited by co-option. In fact, only the Czech deputies were representative, since they were designated proportionate to the size of the different parties that represented the Czechs at the Reichsrat elected in 1911. The 69 Slovak deputies were chosen arbitrarily, weighted so as to encourage union at the expense of autonomy. There were no representatives from the minority ethnic groups making up 40 percent of the population. At its first seating, the provisory national assembly announced the dethronement of the Habsburgs and appointed Professor Thomas Masaryk, who was at the moment still in the United States, as president of the republic. The assembly then turned to the drafting of a constitution which was finally adopted on February 29, 1920.

Poland's Difficult Renaissance

For some time, there had been agreement both within and without Poland for the need to restore the Polish state and grant it full independence. President Wilson's Thirteenth Point called for the creation of an independent Polish state with access to the sea. Throughout the war, Austro-Hungarian Poles fought under the Polish flag as military units. These legions of volunteers were led by Polish officers under the command of Joseph Pilsudski and generals Haller and Sikorski. The leaders now called on the Poles in Russia to rebel. Polish deputies to the Russian Duma had maintained a loyalist attitude toward Russia since August 8, 1914, but the success of the great Austro-German offensive in summer, 1915, which liberated almost all of Russian Poland, presented the Polish problem in a different light. The Polish Legions liberated Lublin while the Germans were entering Warsaw on August 5, 1915. The Poles sincerely believed that the Central Powers would grant them independence. The Central Powers hesitated to take a stand, however, which provoked the resignation of a disappointed Joseph Pilsudski. Not until the following year, on November 5, 1916, did the German and Austro-Hungarian governments issue a manifesto announcing their intention to create an independent Poland with Russian Polish territories. The Polish Legions were immediately placed at the disposal of a provisory state council with Pilsudski responsible for military matters. The Russian revolution of 1917 slightly altered the attitude of the Poles. As long as the empire of the Czars existed, it remained a danger and an enemy to most Poles, and so the

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Central Powers were their only hope. But Russia in full-scale revolt was no longer a threat to Poland. Germany, however, made no secret of its imperialist ambitions in eastern Europe and intended to keep the Polish territories it had held since the end of the 18th century. Germany had become the more immediate danger. Consequently, the provisory Polish authorities began to resist some of the German occupants, demands. When von Beseler, the governor of Warsaw, tried to place a German officer in charge of the Polish Legions, Pilsudski and most of the Polish officers resigned and were immediately imprisoned.

In Russia, the Poles who had remained in the Duma expected no more from the Central Powers than the little they had expected from the Russian provisory government. Instead, they made contact with the Allies. A Polish national council in exile was even set up in Paris with a National Democrat, Dmowski, as president. It also benefited from the support of Polish Americans rallied to the national cause by the pianist, Ignac Paderewski. Faced with the threat of Poles defecting to the Allied cause, the Central Powers became more understanding of the Polish viewpoint. A regency council was created with Cardinal Kakowski, the archbishop of Warsaw, as president, assisted by some conservative aristocrats. The Polish administra- tion had very limited powers; all important issues were settled by the authorities of the German occupation. The representatives of Prussian and Galician Poles at the parliaments in Berlin and Vienna made no attempt to hide their desire to construct an independent Poland. But they had few opportunities to act before the defeat of the Central Powers appeared certain. Then, on October 7, 1918, the Regency Council declared the country's independence and formed a national government union made up of Socialists and National Democrats. The defense of Polish interests among the Allies was entrusted to the National Council of Paris.

As the Central Powers crumbled, the process of setting up an independent Polish state accelerated. In Galicia, the Poles took over all administrative offices, and on October 7 at Lublin a socialist, Daszyniski, became head of a provisory government of the Republic of Poland. Daszyniski appointed Joseph Pilsudski, still a prisoner of the Germans in the fortress of Magdebourg, as his minister of war. Several days later in Warsaw, the Regency Council conferred the command of all Polish forces to Pilsudski, who by then had been liberated. Pilsudski thus found himself supreme commander of an army made up of such disparate elements that in the course of the war they had worn different uniforms and had fought on opposing sides. In addition to his military responsibilities, Pilsudski was appointed chief of state and given full powers by both the Regency Council and the government at Lublin.

Pilsudski's task was by no means easy. Poland thus far existed only on

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paper. There were no fixed borders, no single currency, no common laws. The country was threatened on the west by the German Corps Francs who were trying to retain the Reich's eastern provinces, and also on the east by Soviet Russia who had not completely renounced the territory it had lost in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Pilsudski first set about laying the foundation for his administration, and in particular for a national army with what remained of the Legions and the army that General Haller had put together in France. He then organized elections by universal suffrage on November 28 for a constituent assembly. Wishing to devote himself entirely to his military duties, Pilsudski on January 16, 1919, made Paderewski, back from the United States, leader of a Cabinet-council for national union and sent Roman Dmowski to represent Poland at the peace conference.

Several days later, the assembly met and adopted a provisory constitution, and also retained Pilsudski as chief of state and commander of the armed forces. After 130 years of obliteration, the Polish state was reborn from territory which had often served as a battlefield during the long war--a war which ended in the defeat and ruin of the three countries that had partitioned Poland in 1772.

Albania's Struggle For Freedom

On the eve of World War I, Albania had just obtained its independence, and on March 7, 1914, its new sovereign, the German Prince Wilhem of Wied, had arrived on Albanian soil. Several months later, war broke out and the prince, who had been incessantly caught up in a revolt of Moslem peasants who resented a Christian ruler, left the country on September 3. The young Albanian state, though neutral, quickly became the object of Greek, Italian and Serbian attention. After the Serbian defeats in the winter of 1915-1916, Albania was occupied in the south by the Italians who controlled the Vlora, and by the French who controlled Korca, while in the north and center, the country was held by the Austro-Hungarian armies. Immediately after the Bulgarian armistice was declared, French, Italian and Serbian troops took the place of the departing Austro-Hungarians.

The various occupations left deep wounds; though a non-belligerent people, over 70,000 Albanians were killed in the course of the war and their country devastated. At the end of the war, a national congress was held in the Italian zone at Durres. The result was a provisional government led by Turhan Pacha and supported by Albanian emigrants living in the United States. Turhan Pacha immediately went to Paris to plead the case of his country, which had been divided up between Italy and Serbia by the Treaty of London in April, 1915. The Italians were aggressive, trying to make Albania into a protectorate, but the Albanians reacted with a wave of patriotism; anti-Italian riots took place in Valona in November, 1919. On January 21 ,

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1920, a group of leading citizens met and renounced the Durres government, judged to be too accommodating to the Italians. Asserting Albanian's desire for independence, a regency council composed of representatives of the different communities began to govern from Tirana. But the country remained under occupation until the end of 1920. The Albania with borders of 1913 did not become an independent and sovereign state until its admission to the League of Nations on December 27, 1920.


Since the October revolution of 1917, Russia had been governed by a council of commissars, a small elite group of the Bolshevik party presided over by Lenin. Soviet Russia's new leaders, Trotsky in particular, made known their intention to export their brand of political philosophy to other countries. Prisoners of war from the Central Powers watched the revolutionary events unroll before their eyes and often took part in it themselves. Then after they were freed by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, most of them returned to their own countries. Deeply impressed by what they had seen in Russia in October, 1917, some of them began to spread Bolshevik ideas. Since the end of the war, all European socialist parties had been wrestling with the problem of what stance to take on the Bolshevik revolution: should they continue to remain loyal to the tradition of parliamentary reform, or follow Russia to work toward revolution to install a dictatorship of the proletariat? Supporters of the Bolshevik model met with Lenin in Moscow on March 2, 19l9, and laid the foundation for the Third Socialist International. Socialists from countries ruined and defeated by the war were the most receptive to the Bolshevik solutions, and tried to adapt them to their own situations.

The Hungarian Soviet Republic and Its Failure (March-August, 1919)

Hungary was the first eastern European state to attempt the Bolshevik experiment at any length. The bourgeois revolution of October 31, 1918, had instated Count Mihaly Karolyi at the head of a government supported by a coalition of liberal bourgeois, Kossuthist nationalists, and socialists.

The government quickly ran up against several problems. The economic situation was disastrous and getting worse every day. High inflation was weakening the currency and an influx of bureaucrats and private citizens from territories occupied by neighboring countries did nothing to ease the task for the new leadership. Social tensions set the stage for extremists grouped around Bela Kun, a socialist journalist and an ex-prisoner of war in Russia. Though liberated by the February revolution, he remained in Russia until April, 1918, to participate in Bolshevik activities. Many socialists

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disappointed in the ineffective Karolyi government turned to Bela Kun, and with them he organized the Hungarian Communist party on November 24, 1918. In January, 1919, hoping to repeat what had been so successful at Petrograd, Bela Kun tried to incite the Budapest garrison to revolt and seize power. The attempt failed, and he was arrested. But Karolyi's cumulative problems allowed Bela Kun to regain lost ground. Czech and Rumanian troops, impatient to take over territory promised them by the Allies, shattered Karolyi's attempts to foster a favorable image. Karolyi was expected to be able to save the country through his supposedly good relations with the French leadership. As the Hungarian government grew weaker, however, Allied demands increased. On March 20, 1919, President Karolyi received an ultimatum from Lieutenant Colonel Vyx, the Allied representative in Budapest, demanding that the Hungarians evacuate more territory than agreed upon in the terms of the armistice. Karolyi resigned in protest on March 21 , leaving power "in the hands of the Hungarian proletariat.". Was his action a result of blackmail on the part of the Allies, or the last gesture of a disappointed patriot? Whatever the reason, it left Bela Kun and his supporters in charge of the country.

The Hungarian Soviet Republic was born. A commissariat of the people made up of communists and left-wing socialists with Eugene Landler, Matyas Rakosi, Tibor Szamuelly, and Jozef Pogany was formed under the presidency of Bela Kun. They decreed a radical agrarian reform, the nationalization of banks and industries, and the separation of church and state. Opponents of the regime were systematically eliminated by the Hungarian Czeka, or "Lenin's Boys". Hundreds of summary executions took place. The main victims were the wealthy public figures, the priests and the peasants who resisted the forceful takeovers. Anxious to protect the revolution from foreign enemies and to guard national territory against invasion, Bela Kun appealed to the patriotic sentiment of the people. With help from officers of the former imperial and royal army under the command of General Aurel Stromfeld, Bela Kun created a Red Army that successfully fought off the Czechs, retook some Czech-occupied sites and sponsored a short-lived Slovak Soviet Republic in the Presov region.

The Rumanians were responsible for striking the decisive blows during this period of Communist experimentation in Hungary. With the tacit support of Clemenceau, and in spite of the terms of the armistice, Rumanian troops invaded what was left of Hungary, systematically pillaging the countryside. At the same time in June of 1919, a counter-revolutionary government was formed in the south of the country in the French-occupied city of Szeged. Under Admiral Horthy, former commander of the Austro-Hungarian fleet, several thousand former soldiers gathered into a National Army. The Rumanian march on Budapest led to the departure of

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Bela Kun and most of his Bolshevik followers on August 1, 1919, after 133 days of rule. Two days later, the Rumanians occupied the Hungarian capital, and a counter-revolutionary government was formed in conjunction with the government of Szeged. But Hungary's condition was catastrophic. The economy was in ruins and food stocks and fuel were alarmingly low due to neighboring countries, economic blockades. In addition, national territory was divided de facto into two zones: the Rumanians controlled the east and the center, including Budapest, and Horthy's national army held the south and west. Finally, a third zone, the far south, was occupied by French and Serbian troops. Firm Allied protest led to Rumania's evacuation of Budapest and the rest of the country in early November, and Admiral Horthy's troops entered the capital on November 16. The counter-revolution was victorious, but the country was in ruins.

The Failure of Bulgarian Bolshevism

In Bulgaria, unrest following the armistice was deftly channeled by King Boris III who had entrusted the agrarian leader, Stambolijski, with the government. But the new head of state inherited some thorny economic problems. Inflation, unemployment, and general confusion among the population had created a climate ripe for revolution. Most Bulgarian socialists chose, in March, 1919, to join the Third Socialist International, and during the congress they held from May 25 to 27, they changed the party into a Bulgarian Communist party with Basil Kolarov as secretary general. The unions, led by Georgi Dimitrov, gave the Communist movement their full support. In the first elections after the war, held in August, 1919, the Communists won 45 seats and polled 20 percent of the vote. After the Soviet Republic failed in Hungary, the Comintern did all it could to support the Bulgarian Communist party so it could make Bulgaria Moscow's outpost in the Balkans. In autumn of 1919, the Communists stirred up a wave of social protest throughout the country, particularly fostering strikes in transport and industry. Starnbolijski, bolstered by support from the king and a sizable agrarian representation in the parliament, decided to call up the reserves. Peasant volunteers were given the responsibility for keeping order and for preventing an eventual general strike. Communist agitation momentarily came to a halt. Here, as in Hungary, the attempt to bolshevize had failed.

The Russo-Polish War

A barely revived Poland had to confront Soviet Russia on the issue of their common border. Here, however, the Bolshevik threat took a different form from that in Bulgaria and Hungary. To begin with, Poland had a common border with Soviet Russia, a border that was still hazy in early 1919.

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Many Poles still cherished the hope of returning to the historical borders of Greater Poland of the 18th century, but in this their interests ran counter to those of the young Baltic states born from the ruins of old Russia. However, as the German troops gradually evacuated Russian and Baltic territories they had occupied in 1915-1916, the Red Army took their place and began attacking the armies of the young Baltic republics and of Poland. From April to August, 1919, General Pilsudski counter-attacked vigorously, retaking Brest-Litovsk, Grodno, Wilno and most of White Russia from the Soviets. The Allies were divided on the question of Poland's eastern borders. The English opted for the Curzon line proposed by a British diplomat. The line generally corresponded to the former eastern edge of the Congress Kingdom, and in January, 1920, Lloyd George strongly advised the Poles to come to an agreement with Moscow. France, on the other hand, feared the encroachment of Bolshevism in eastern Europe, and looked more favorably on Poland's position, advising the leaders in Warsaw to act prudently.

The Red Army's victories in the Russian civil war and the reconquest of the Ukraine were seen by Poles as a direct threat to their country. Trotsky made no secret of his hostility to the new Polish government, and the Polish revolutionary Dzerjinski's presence on the People's Council of the Commissariat was no reassurance to Warsaw. General Pilsudski decided to thwart Russian plans by throwing his support behind the Ukrainian leader, Simon Petliura, who had fled to Poland after the Red Army's victory. On April 25, 1920, Polish troops attacked in the Ukraine and took Kiev on May 6. The Red Army's reaction was overwhelming. On May 30, the Soviets mounted a major offensive, and in a matter of a few days reoccupied all the territory Pilsudski had gained since 1919. Galicia itself was directly threatened.

Given the gravity of the situation, on July 10, 1920, in the presence of both parties, Lloyd George proposed an agreement based on the Curzon line. The Russians rejected the idea of British mediation, but while in Warsaw, they were asked for an armistice by a cabinet-council of national union led by the agrarian Witos. Poland was geographically isolated from its western allies, and only Hungary, who had just experienced a run-in with bolshevism, was willing to help. A French military mission conducted by General Weygand arrived in Poland on July 26. Despite fierce resistance by Polish combat troops, the Soviets continued to advance. In early August, they arrived on the right bank of the Vistula, across from Warsaw. Pilsudski decided to resist. On August 14, he began a counter-offensive in which the Poles made a spectacular comeback. This "miracle of the Vistula" led to a collapse of the Red Army, and the taking of 50,000 prisoners. The Reds retreated and within a few days had given up over 250 miles. The Polish government, now in a position of strength, agreed to negotiate. Talks opened

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on September 18 and resulted in a preliminary agreement on October 12 which was ratified by the Treaty of Riga on March 12, 1921. Historic Poland was nearly restored, although Lithuania as well as the other Baltic states were not included.

Thus, while peace talks were taking place in Paris, a kind of stabilization had begun to take shape in eastern Europe based on the existence of national states. Some of these states, considered losers in the war, had still managed to weather the Bolshevik storm; Austria, Bulgaria and Hungary were examples. Other states, who had been linked to the Allies from the beginning like Serbia and Rumania, or who joined them later like Poland and Czechoslovakia, were on the side of the victors, and expected to profit from the situation when the treaties were settled.

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