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One of the most influential regional organizations was the Székely National Council formed in Budapest by such Transylvanian politicians as Count István Bethlen, Gábor Ugron, and Count Pál Teleki. Their aim was to mobilize public support for the defense of Transylvania, to gather supplies and military equipment for the Székely Division, to aid Transylvanian refugees, and to organize them into a powerful political pressure group. The Károlyi government sympathized with some of their objectives and gave financial aid to promote the work of the organization.[18] After the victory of the counterrevolution the Székely National Council concentrated most of its effort on political education of the nation and on propaganda, at home and abroad, on behalf of Hungarians in Transylvania and for the restoration of the province to Hungary. Its publications and propaganda were, perhaps, the most scholarly and intelligent that the right produced. A number of organizations also emerged from the Székely National Council. For example, the National Refugee Office (OMH) arose from the Transylvanian Refugee Office of this organization; it always remained under the control of the most numerous and politically most active Transylvanian refugees. The Székely National Council also provided the leaders of most subsequent revisionist associations. For example, Emil Petrichevich Horváth led the Transylvanian Alliance, Pál Teleki was head of the Foreign Affairs Association and of the League for the Defense [of Hungarian Territory]* and József Szörtsey, a Transylvanian landowner, was head of the Attila Alliance.

The Hungarian Christian Cultural League, the parent organization of the National Christian Unity Party, or KNEP, which was to becorne one of the most important counterrevolutionary groups in 1919 and during the early 1920s, was also originally brought to life by the Transylvanian refugees. It emerged from the Transylvanian Propaganda Committee, which was formed toward the end of 1918 by a few dozen enthusiastic young Transylvanian refugees, who took a solemn oath to defend the territorial integrity of Hungary.[19] Its original name, however, was abandoned in favor of Hungarian Christian Cultural League, when its leaders, Bethlen, Szörtsey, and Zsigmond Perényi, decided to shift the organization's priorities away from immediate military action against the Romanians to the support of purely counterrevolutionary activities.

Presence of the refugees was also strongly felt in the organization called the Hungarian National Defense League, or MOVE, which was formed on November 30, 1918, with membership open to all officers and noncommissioned officers of the old imperial army. Budapest was crowded with unemployed officers. At the end of the war 8000 career and 40,000 reserve officers were on active duty. By the end of December only 2700 career and 4200 reserve officers were kept on the payroll.[20] Many of the unemployed officers were destitute, especially those who found themselves cut off from their homes by the Czech, Romanian, or Serbian occupation forces. Originally MOVE was to be a nonpolitical organization. Its aims were, at first, limited to providing economic aid to refugees, impoverished, or homeless officers, and to organize their social activities.[21] The sharp turn to the right within MOVE was engineered by an alliance of rightists, mostly gentry officers from inner Hungary and the large number of Transylvanian officers in the organization. On January 19, 1919 Gyula Gömbös, captain in the Imperial General Staff and the future prime minister of Hungary, was elected as the president of MOVE; he quickly politicized and transformed the organization into a potent counterrevolutionary force. With Gömbös as president a new group of officers took over MOVE; they were men who were to play prominent roles in the next quarter-century as leaders of the political right. Gömbös came to the leadership of MOVE with ready plans. His basic aim was to create a nationwide network of officers who would rally all opponents of the Károlyi regime. He planned. first, to seize control of the countryside and, then, to isolate and thereby paralyze revolutionary Budapest. He wished to use the Székely National Council as the political center and the Székely Division as the military core of the planned counterrevolution.22

The regime was aware of the counterrevolutionary organizational activities. After January 19 the right openly attacked the moderate center. On that day the Transylvanian soldiers held a large demonstration and the Association of the Awakening Hungarians (EME) made its violent debut. The latter organization was made up of extreme right-wing university students, refugees, gentry officers, and civil servants. The Social Democrats counterattacked with a demand for banning these organizations. In a speech on February 7, 1919, József Pogány demanded active defense of the achievements of the revolution against the rapidly growing forces of counterrevolution made up of notaries, officials, gendarmes, officers, and "Székelys and pseudoSzékelys.''[23] The government decided to attack in two directions: arresting Communist leaders and banning both the Communist Party and, on February 22, MOVE. The organization, however, was not dissolved; it merely went underground. On February 25 Gömbös fled to Vienna, which soon became the new center for the counterrevolution.

None of the various designs of these rightist groups to overthrow the Károlyi regime passed beyond the planning stage. It was the Communist Party, not the radical right, that capitalized on the weaknesses of the Károlyi regime and took control of the government in alliance with the Socialists. The right failed where the left triumphed, and not because of the Communist Party's size or ability to attract a larger number of active members; in fact, the Communist Party had no more than seven to ten thousand members, whereas the combined strength of the right was many times greater. It failed because, unlike the left, the right was incapable of generating broad popular support for its cause; its program appealed only to a narrow group of officers, refugees, and other beneficiaries of the old regime. It failed, too, in another very important respect: again unlike the left, it was unable to organize a disciplined party of its own, with a united leadership, and a membership dedicated to action.

The reasons for the failures of the counterrevolutionary organizations lay in the social origins and psychological state of their members. When they did join counterrevolutionary groups, they did so not in search for a new leader who would lead them to victory. In fact, an individual with strong leadership qualities was often looked upon with suspicion, as one who represented a potential danger to the independence and authority of the other members of the group. As gentlemen of the old order, its privileged elite, they were accustomed to give rather than to take orders. Nor does ideological opposition to the new regime account wholly for their motivation in joining right-wing groups. For the right was far from united ideologically: there was a general agreement on the desirability of destruction of the Károlyi regime and on the demand for a restoration of the prewar Hungarian frontiers. No agreement, however, existed on the political future of the country or on the social order that was to be established. They gravitated toward those organizations because they were deeply traumatized by the destruction of their old authority and the social structure which was its guarantee. Counterrevolutionary groups were attractive to the prewar elite, and especially to the refugees, because they offered certain psychological reassurances that their leadership was still needed by society, that their personal authority was still undiminished, and that their previous social status was still recognized by some individuals. Participation in these groups in other words, affirmed what they wished to believe: their old identity was still functioning, even though, temporarily, the nobility was pushed into the background. In the group their sense of isolation and loneliness was replaced by a sense of security, of collective protection.

Because of the self-image of these men it was important to them not only to participate in organizations which planned the restoration of their previous social and political authority, but it was equally important to occupy a leading position in these groups. Thus they preferred to be independent generals or even lieutenants of a small group, ineffective as it might have been, rather than to be a disciplined silent soldier in a large, potent counterrevolutionary army. Comradeship of a few equals was preferable to subordination to a larger group. For similar reasons in those few organizations which nevertheless managed to attract a sizable membership discipline was impossible to enforce. Every counterrevolutionary group was wracked by constant petty personal jealousies, by a fierce competition among members for more illustrious and heroic roles. To gain personal recognition of their past social position, rank in society or army, and to protect signs and symbols of these seemed to be more important to many than the ultimate success of the counterrevolutionary enterprise. Thus many groups were not much more than political clubs, or gentlemen' s casinos. Their meetings resembled more the chaotic noisy atmosphere of coffee houses, where indeed some of them were held than gatherings of a determined army of conspirators. Violent threats and impassioned patriotic pathos of these groups actually represented no real danger: rather they masked the passivity of the members. Incapable of galvanizing themselves into action, they hid behind make-believe preparations for action of these organizations. Baron Pál Prónay, who later commanded the most notorious officers' detachment. wrote the following about his own experience with those would-be counterrevolutionary groups: '.Organizational activity went on only on paper, or not even on that. For if the authorities only as much as scared one or another individual, immediately they burnt their papers and fled to Austria.... These gatherings did not lead anywhere, only empty chatter flowed freely; everyone proposed some impossible plan, to be carried out in the most fantastic form, but which had no practical value whatsoever."[24] Little wonder, the right was neither able to overthrow, nor even to endanger the Károlyi regime, let alone prevent transfer of power to a coalition of Social Democrats and Communists.

Some of the refugees did drift to the radical left. They joined the various Communist-sponsored political organizations, such as the Association of the Unemployed, and later joined some of the terrorist groups. As Rudolf Tökes put it: "They had nothing to lose but the unheated freightcar compartments that served as temporary shelter in one of the suburban freight yards. Communist recruiters found many eager converts among these unfortunates who were desperate enough to carry out any assignment in return for a bowl of soup."[25]

[]For a moment Béla Kun was able to capitalize on both social and national discontent of the population and on those of the refugees to take over the reins of government from Károlyi.[26] The Hungarian Soviet Republic's call to arms against the imperialist Romanians had a strong appeal to all strata of refugees, although the appeal was not uniform. For the working class refugees service in the new Red Army involved no contradiction; their national and class loyalties were in harmony with the aims of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, and their flight or expulsion from the occupied territories helped them to focus their anger on the Romanians and the Czechs.

A clearer indication of the radicalizing effects of the refugee experience is given in the case of refugee peasants. Workers in all parts of the country responded with equal enthusiasm to the recruiting efforts of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, so that the readiness of refugee workers to serve cannot be attributed solely to their refugee status. There was a sharp difference, however, between the attitude toward the Red Army of the peasantry of inner Hungary and that of refugee peasants. The former group, true to the suspicious and conservative nature of the peasantry generally turned a deaf ear to all appeals, whereas the refugee peasants formed a notable exception. They joined in large numbers; in fact, a majority of the peasant soldiers who served in the Red Army was recruited from the ranks of the refugee peasants. Most came from the Bánát and from the region just east of the Tisza River. It was a simple choice for them to join the Red Army. which promised to regain for them their lost homes and their lands, lying often just behind the Romanian front lines. To regain those lands radical steps had to be taken, and the sacrifices demanded of the peasants seemed meaningful to them.[27]

[]Somewhat more surprising was the participation in the Red Army of a significant number of officers and middle-class refugees. They served in spite of their ideological antipathy to the regime, for, in it, they saw replacement of a foreign policy based on pacifism with one of national resistance, even if Communist. In May and June 1919, during the highly successful northern offensive of the Red Army, these refugees fought with enthusiasm, not to save the regime but to regain the lost territories. When, under the pressures of Clemenceau, orders to evacuate Slovakia were issued, their reason and justification for a continued association with the Communist regime ceased to exist. Many of the refugees and officers suddenly discovered the dangers in their flirtation with the Béla Kun government and, to save their collective necks, deserted the Red Army for one of the counterrevolutionary organizations, the National Army, or some of the special officers' detachments.

In fact, the Hungarian Soviet Republic quickly squandered much of the popular support it gained through its firmness in foreign policy and boldness in military affairs. Withdrawal from the reconquered terryTories of Upper Hungary, however, was only partly responsible for the declining popularity of the regime. Some of its domestic measures and especially the introduction of a dictatorship of the proletariat contrib.Ted equally. Under the leadership of a group of former prisoners of war who participated in the Russian Revolution, the Hungarian Soviet Republic closely followed both the Russian model and method of revolution. As Tibor Szamuely said: "From the first step we followed the road of Soviet Russia. A ready plan, a ready example stood before us."[28] The goal of the Communist Party was a nearly instantaneous socialist transformation of society. To achieve that, in spite of the war against the Successor States, the regime also saw fit to unleash a class war against all opponents of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Such policies as nationalization of the banks and industries were far less injurous to the popularity of the Soviet Republic than the excessive zeal of enforcement of some of its ill-conceived and naive social reforms. For example, though well intentioned, forced requisition of apartments and furnishings or ban on alcohol consumption caused widespread confusion and resentment without eliminating the underlying causes of social ills.

Fear of a counterrevolution led the government to treat all but the active radical minority as class enemies. To assure the population's submission the government embarked on a policy of taking hostages. In fact, according to József Pogány every single member of the bourgeoisie was considered to be a hostage. Some even demanded the expulsion of the entire bourgeoisie from the capital. The newly established Political Investigation Bureau within the Ministry of Interior, and under the direction of Ottó Korvin, conducted widespread arrests and interrogations of potential enemies of the state. It also introduced undercover surveillance of the populace in public places, coffee houses, sporting events, even in churches as well as through the use of informants. The bureau indeed discovered a number of secret political organizations; to deter others, some of the leading conspirators were executed.

Armed bands also contributed to the atmosphere of terror. Of those the activities of the Cserny detachment, under the command of József Cserny, a swashbuckling sailor, became the most notorious. His group of 180-200 men, made up of dedicated Communists, irresponsible sailors, opportunists and criminals, operated independently, without accountability. Cserny's men used their power to blackmail wealthy individuals, or simply to expropriate their property as well as to enforce the will of the dictatorship. The group took hostages, murdered at least eight to ten, and was responsible for the disappearance of an undetermined number of people.

The policy of intimidation failed to strengthen the regime. On the contrary, it helped only to alienate the middle classes and to erode support even among the industrial workers. For example, on July 10, when the workers of a large shipyard decided to vote on the form of government all but 27 voted to end the dictatorship of the proletariat.[29]

After the establishment of the Hungarian Soviet Republic the radical right was temporarily thrown into confusion. Some right-wing groups disappeared forever; others with greatly reduced membership were driven underground. Most of the leaders, fearing for their personal safety, departed in great haste either to Austria or to Szeged, where the French occupying forces offered a safe haven for them. Lesser figures of those groups melted into the crowds of Budapest or disappeared in the countryside. Many of the nobles simply withdrew from political activity and retired to their country estates. This last option was, of course, not open to refugees, who felt politically compromised; they either had to go into hiding or to flee to areas beyond the reach of the Communist government.

For the refugees it was easier to decide on a sudden second departure they had already abandoned material possessions, homes and estates. and relatives and friends. Consequently, in the counterrevolutionary groups, which were formed in Vienna and Szeged, there was again a preponderance of the refugees from the lost territories. At the same time, as a result of the exodus of thousands of refugees and nobles from Communist-controlled territories, the makeup of the leadership of the clandestine counterrevolutionary groups within Hungary underwent some important changes. Aristocrats almost completely disappeared from the leadership: the proportion of the refugee leaders with gentry background was also greatly reduced. Their places were taken by army and police officers, by right-wing bourgeois elements and professionals, by doctors, engineers, lawyers, bureaucrats, mostly of non-noble origins, often from the assimilated German population.[30] At the same time among the rank-and-file membership the number of refugees from the Successor States still remained substantial.

Neither the bourgeoisie nor the military opponents of the Hungarian Soviet Republic were able to organize a mass following, which would have been necessary if they were to challenge the government with any hope of success. Civilian counterrevolutionary groups, though numerous, remained small in size and were isolated from each other. They were able to maintain only the most casual contacts with each other, with the counterrevolutionary cells in the army, and with the Vienna and Szeged groups. Isolation of these groups prevented or at least made coordination of their activities exceedingly difficult.

Even the officers still on the active list remained poorly organized. Counterrevolutionary headquarters were established at Székesfehérvár, but officers, effectiveness in mobilizing an army for the overthrow of the regime was at best minimal.[31] Most officers remained isolated at their posts; they were watched with suspicion and were frequently questioned about their associations and communications by Communist political officers. They could trust only their fellow officers, some subalterns, and virtually none of the soldiers. Many of them were arrested or held as hostages, and even a larger number were forced to flee across the border to Austria, or over the southern line of demarcation.

The first open counterrevolutionary attack against the Soviet Republic, in fact, came not from the radical right, but from the peasantry and some of the workers. The peasants, who in March 1919 greeted the new regime with an indifferent or suspicious silence at most, had by May and June begun to show signs of hostility toward the government. Once more disappointed in their hopes for land reform. incensed by the forced requisitions of their food reserves and draught animals, by the occasional senseless desecration of their churches, by the insults or arrests of their priests, and by the introduction of a new, virtually worthless paper currency (called white money since it was printed on white paper), the peasantry in many places reached the point of rebellion.

Already in April and early May violence had flared up in widely scattered parts of the country. Especially hard hit was the Tisza region along the demarcation line. In late May and June rebellion was rampant, a situation made even worse by a widespread rail and postal strike. The most intense fighting took place in Pest county, around the town of Kalocsa and in the region directly adjacent to the Austrian border. The rail strike paralyzed virtually the countrys entire communication system and largely isolated Budapest from the rest of the country. It was triggered by certain economic demands of the workers and by their resentment over being drafted wholesale into the Red Army. In addition to draft exemption, the workers also demanded the resignation of the Communist-dominated government and the establishment of an all Socialist cabinet. [32] These demands, coming on the heels of major Romanian victories on the eastern front, led to the spread of not entirely unfounded rumors about the resignation or near collapse of the Kun government and the possible Romanian occupation of Budapest. The Romanian advance, in fact, was halted on April 27, and the regime not only survived but was even able to go on the offensive. Nevertheless, the peasantry responded to the rumors with a series of spontaneous risings.

Counterrevolution broke out in about seventy villages. The pattern of rebellion in nearly every village was the same. Upon hearing rumors about an imminent collapse of the Communist regime, the peasants, motivated by fear or aroused by some local grievance, armed themselves, determined to protect their property against one more final exaction, or to defend their village against roving bands of soldiers. They did not intend to march against the towns. It was sufficient for them to gain control of their village; they rarely even attempted to link up with neighboring villages similarly defending what was theirs. After disarming the local Red Guards and arresting members of the local Communist directory the peasants usually adopted a defensive position on the edge of their villages. Generally both the nobility and the officers were absent from the early stages of these uprisings. Peasant counterrevolutionaries were led and organized by more prosperous villagers, or by local priests or other notables. Once it became clear, however, that these uprisings were not isolated incidents but a widespread phenomenon, hundreds of enthusiastic but irresponsible officers appeared on the scene, hoping to exploit the mass disaffection of the peasantry. They succeeded only in stiffening their resistance, but not in bringing down the regime.

Already, on April 21 the government established a Court of Summary Justice under the presidency of Tibor Szamuely. When the rebellions broke out Szamuely rode circuit court, accompanied by his detachment, the "Lenin boys." Most often the peasants surrendered at the first sign of force, but in some places loyal workers' battalions also had to be called out to repress the peasants. In other areas, especially where the officers were most successful in arming and organizing the population, fierce fighting took place before the regime's authority was restored. Officers and other nonpeasant leaders generally succeeded in escaping the consequences of their actions by fleeing to Austria or to Szeged, where they soon joined some of the officers' detachments of the fledgling National Army. The remaining peasants paid the price for rebellion. Of the five to six hundred people who were killed or executed during the Hungarian Soviet Republic, 73 percent were peasants, only 9.9 percent officers, 8.2 percent were members of the bourgeoisie, and 7.8 percent came from the landowning or former ruling stratum. But among all the victims none came from the aristocracy.[33]

[]The only serious attempt at overthrowing the Kun regime which was exclusively organized and carried out by middle-class counterrevolutionary groups, was the ill-fated Budapest coup d'etat of June 24.[34] It was a debacle, just like all the previous attempts in which the right had participated. It failed, owing to basically poor planning, lack of manpower, and lack of coordination among different counterrevolutionary groups. The whole enterprise was doomed to failure from the beginning, because its success was predicated on a synchronized attack with the Social Democrats, who, as it was rumored, were also planning a coup of their own under the leadership of József Haubrich, the commander of the Budapest garrison.[35 ]The counterrevolutionary planners hoped to use the strength of the Social Democrats to overthrow the Soviet government and then to exploit the ensuing chaos to bring about a full-blown counterrevolution. As it turned out, at the appointed hour, in spite of the rumors, Haubrich failed to make a move; by the time his opposition to the counterrevolution became known, the uprising by the right-wing elements could not be called off [36] In the confusion that followed most of the promised help from the different counterrevolutionary groups failed to materialize, partly because some of the leaders promised nothing but their paper armies. Even those groups which could have mobilized some armed men for the coup refused to respond to the opening artillery fire, signaling the beginning of the uprising, until they were assured of Socialist help. Thus, only a few officers, the cadets of the Ludovika military academy, and a few naval vessels on the Danube swung into action and began occupation or bombardment of some key government buildings.[37] Too weak to achieve much they were suppressed within a few hours. Most of those who actively participated in the uprising were quickly rounded up, but some of its leaders, ships with full crews, along with some who felt compromised by the incident managed to escape. In Vienna and Szeged, these new refugees, as all those who had come before them, were welcomed by the counterrevolutionary white government.

In Vienna and Szeged, as we have noted, these two groups, the refugees from the Hungarian Soviet Republic and the refugees from the Successor States, merged into a single counterrevolutionary force. From their refugee experiences a new radical ideology soon emerged. It was based on violent anticommunism of the refugees from the Hungarian Soviet Republic, fused with an extreme form of nationalism and national prejudice of the refugees from the Successor States. These became the cornerstones of the ideology of the Hungarian radical right, which during the Horthy era was proudly called: "The Idea of Szeged."

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