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Chapter 9
Political Assimilation of the Refugees
and the Triumph of Horthy

The refugees from the Successor States played a vital role in the radical politics of 1919. Their presence was conspicuous in every extremist group and, on most issues, they staked out for themselves a position on the right side of the political spectrum. The contribution of these refugees to the development of Hungarian right radicalism is not lessened by the fact that they were less visible as refugees than as extreme nationalists or as members of the old ruling elite. Their effectiveness, in fact, would have been much diminished had they chosen to act always as a refugee group per se, with special goals and special claims upon the rest of Hungarian society. Instead they chose to participate in larger groups, where they could hope to enlist the support of a broader segment of the population for their grievances. In this they were successful. As conditions returned to normal the population of truncated Hungary ceased to look upon them as refugees, they were accepted as bona fide Hungarian citizens.

In Austria and in Szeged these refugees joined hands with those who fled from Communist Hungary. Both refugee groups were dispossessed and displaced. They were radicalized by their experiences. But once the road to return to Hungary was open those who fled from Communist terror ceased to be refugees. They attained their primary objective: they regained their lost properties and their previous position in the state. They returned to their estates or resumed their careers and began to yearn for a return to normalcy. Some of them withdrew from political activities altogether; others, their desire for revenge sated, began to oppose the continuation of the revolution in white.

For the refugees from the Successor States the causes of their radicalization could not be removed so easily. Their lives were still in ruin, their position and status in Hungarian society remained in doubt. For thern, returning to Hungary was only the first step toward regaining their lost positions and properties in their native lands. Thus, they searched for new allies among the other discontented elements in Hungary and aimed to continue the counterrevolution until they either regained the lost areas, or at least until the state had found ways to accommodate or absorb them.

Between November 1919 and June 1920, the focal points of political struggle were the parliamentary elections and the choosing of a new head of state. The refugees, as the most politicized and the single most radical group in the country, threw themselves, with vigor, into the conflict, and ultimately emerged triumphant. Almost without exception they lined up behind the two right-wing parties, the majority of them, though not all, behind the candidacy of Horthy as the regent of the realm. Hence, the victory of the right in the parliamentary elections as well as that of Horthy was also a victory for the refugees, especially for the gentry and gentroid elements.

In November 1919 the question of an open military dictatorship lay heavily on everyone's mind. It did not, however, follow the arrival of Horthy and the National Army into the capital. Contrary to urgings of his officers Horthy chose to exercise some caution. Budapest was still in the stage of latent revolution; its population had to be treated with greater circumspection than the people of the villages. Among the workers there was still present an often-expressed desire and hope for a second Socialist revolution. Although such a revolution was no more than a hope, in reality no one was working for it, the right still feared it.[1 ]Horthy, therefore, was anxious to avoid taking drastic steps which might rekindle the revolutionary fire thereby jeopardizing his own position. A forceful seizure of government, too, would have aroused the opposition of other right-wing groups, mostly represented by KNEP. Their opposition would have endangered the unity of the military forces under Horthy's command, and an open civil war between the various rightwing factions was not an impossibility. Most important, Horthy feared the sanctions of the Western Powers, who, up to this point, expressed full confidence in his abilities and who supported the expansion of his army.[2] In other words, the Clerk mission was only a partial failure. It failed to guarantee reintroduction of genuinely democratic institutions. Nor did it break the power of the National Army. But it did prevent the establishment of an open military dictatorship and forced upon the right a degree of moderation. Concern about Western reaction to terror, to introduction of open military dictatorship, was also responsible for the creation of a dual system of government, where political power was jointly exercised by a constitutionally elected government with a parliamentary system and by a network of hidden organizations, by a parallel civilian and covert military hierarchy.

Instead of open military dictatorship, Horthy chose a less perilous course, which nevertheless safeguarded just as effectively his and the army's carefully constructed central position in Hungary's political life. He did not oppose formation of a coalition government was temporarily satisfied with remaining somewhat in the background. Contrary to his promise during the Clerk negotiations, however, he refused to permit any interference in army affairs or a curtailment of the army's police powers by either the ministry of defense or the ministry of interior. Thus, while retaining control of the army and slowly increasing its strength, he gained additional time to organize a political bloc that was willing to back his candidacy for regent of the state.

With the establishment of a coalition government legality was maintained. Seemingly all political factions in the country gained representation in the new government. The Christian National Unity Party, claiming to be the largest party in the country, retained five seats in the cabinet; counting its one independent ally, it had six. The interests of the peasantry were to be represented by the two agrarian parties, each holding two seats, and the liberal, urban, and working classes were nominally represented by the Liberal Party, the Democratic Party, and the Social Democratic Party, each receiving one seat.[3] The KNEP, nevertheless, remained all powerful in the cabinet. It retained, for itself, the most important cabinet posts. István Friedrich yielded his office to Károly Huszár, a man without great stature or power base. Most KNEP leaders would have preferred Count Albert Apponyi, who came to Hungary from his Slovak estate just for the purpose of heading the government. He enjoyed the support of most of his fellow refugee nobles and aristocrats from northern Hungary who, jointly with the Catholic aristocracy of inner Hungary, effectively controlled the party. Apponyi's stature as an elder statesman would have been a major asset against Horthy's ambitions, but, for precisely that reason, Horthy's supporters objected to his candidacy. Friedrich took over the ministry of defense, Beniczky retained control of the ministry of interior, and Count József Somssich, a KNEP supporter, though nominally independent, retained the ministry of foreign affairs. The FriedrichBeniczky group believed that, by controlling these key ministries, they would be in effective control of the country, which indeed would have been the case had Horthy kept his promise.

Judged from other surface appearances it also seemed that Hungary was well on the way toward establishing a democratic regime. Only the Communist Party was outlawed. A wide variety of newspapers continued publication including Socialist papers. Democratic elections were decreed; to be held within two months. For the first time in the country's history women were given the right to vote; in fact, no one was denied the right to vote under the new universal franchise law.[4] To assure participation of all classes voting was made mandatory. Even some progressive social reforms were promised along with land reform.

In the rural areas, however, terror continued unabated, with the difference that now it was extended to the region between the Danube and the Tisza Rivers as soon as it was freed from Romanian occupation. The Romanian military already arrested and executed a large number of suspected Communists.[5] After the withdrawal of the Romanians the area was to be combed once again for functionaries of the defunct Béla Kun regime. The arrests, followed the pattern established in Transdanubia. The most extreme case was the" Orgovány Affair." A gendarmerie reserve unit, made up mostly of local counterrevolutionaries operating around the town of Kecskemét, under the command of Iván Héjjas, a friend of Prónay, arrested 26 individuals, dragged out of prison another 36 suspected Communists, and, at Orgovány, slaughtered them all. This mass murder received worldwide attention, and the facts of the case were fully substantiated by both an international investigative commission and by the local police. Other incidents, though on a much lesser scale, were frequent during most of 1920.[6]

[]To intimidate the population Horthy increasingly relied on the army's political section or, as it was called, the " national defense" sector. This was in effect an elaborate spy network crisscrossing the country, reaching all the way down to the village level. Its functions were: supervising all political organizations, reporting on the mood of the people, observing state officials, supervising all publications and their circulation, maintaining clandestine postal censorship, preventing circulation of opposition papers of Budapest in the countryside, and finally, aiding the organization and operation of Gömbös's MOVE. A similar though less extensive spy network was already established by the government, which at the time tried to counter the effectiveness of the army propaganda officers.[7]

[]The judiciary was also under intense pressure from both the government and the army to participate in the reprisals, in the process of intimidation. The regular judicial process was suspended, the rights of the accused greatly curtailed, the appeals procedure was made difficult. According to Gratz, through regular judicial procedures 97 Communists were found guilty and sentenced to death, 68 of them executed.[8 ]Thousands of others were sentenced to lesser punishment.

Every prison in the country was teeming with political prisoners. Wholesale arrests commenced with Friedrich's seizure of power, but the arrests were intensified after Horthy's arrival. On November 16 alone, the day Horthy marched into the capital, 350 persons were rounded up. By mid-August the jailers were complaining about the intolerable overcrowded conditions in the prisons.[9] The solution to this problem was found in establishment. by the army, of concentration camps, among others at Hajmáskér and Zalaegerszeg. All those prisoners who were considered dangerous but against whom no specific criminal charges could be filed were ordered to be delivered in sealed boxcars to one of these camps.[10]

Precise figures on the exact number of individuals arrested and interned are not available. At the time, the Social Democratic Party claimed that about 60.000 persons were held in custody; no one of the right challenged these figures.[11]

The government issued the internment edict on December 5, 1919. All those individuals who were considered "dangerous" or "suspected to be dangerous," as well as those who were believed to be "damaging to the economy of the country," were ordered to be deported to the villages with all their dependents and kept there under close police surveillance.[l2] But still, the army demanded more arrests; it still feared a second revolution. As one of Horthy's officers bluntly wrote: "The only solution for this problem is a timely mass arrest and internment of the disorderly element. I urgently ask authorization for this! . . . Objections of the Entente must be ignored! A choice must be made between mass arrests and mass internment and a bloodbath and perhaps downfall.. ." [13]

[]In this atmosphere of terror the country was preparing for its first democratic elections. All political parties except the Communist Party were allowed to run their candidates, but, in fact, the election boiled down to a contest between the two major political factions of the right, that is, between KNEP and Horthy supporters.

In spite of the army's strength and political muscle in the electoral competition, Horthy was at a disadvantage. The KNEP already staked out its claim as the principal political party of the right, but the KNEP was not likely to elect Horthy as head of state. The majority of the party's leadership was legitimist, although a significant number of the younger radicals and refugees were not. The leadership s first choice was King Károly (Emperor Karl). Even if he could not have returned to the throne, the KNEP was more likely to turn to a man like Apponyi than to Horthy. Horthy needed an alternative party that was capable of returning a majority to parliament and which was opposed to a Habsburg restoration.

The logical choice was István Nagyatádi Szabó's Smallholders Party. Among the peasantry the House of Habsburg was unpopular, and, consequently, their representatives were not likely to be enthusiastic about the king' s return, but it was a moderate party; it was deeply committed to land reform. Therefore, it had to be transformed from within before it could become a useful instrument for Horthy. On the land reform issue some concessions had to be made to the peasantry. Since the October Revolution no other issue stirred the peasantry so deeply as this. Their hopes were dashed by Mihály Károlyi's timidity and the collectivizing policies of the Hungarian Soviet regime. At the same time it was not possible to promise a far-reaching land reform since that would have alienated many of Horthy's own supporters. It also would have made a subsequent reconciliation with the aristocracy impossible.

The harnessing of the Smallholders Party was achieved through a forced merger with the conservative Agrarian Party, headed by Gyula Rubinek, a gentry politician from Slovakia and President of the OMGE, the association of the Hungarian landed aristocracy. His presence in the Smallholders Party, and at the head of the ministry of agriculture, stilled the fears of aristocracy. At the same time many of Horthy's own supporters, including Gömbös and Horthy's own brother, joined the Smallholders Party and ran as its candidates in the parliamentary elections. Thus the Smallholders Party was transformed into a party leaning strongly toward the right and toward Horthy.

Simultaneously the Horthy group made several attempts at undermining KNEP unity. Leaders who were unalterably opposed to Horthy were attacked and some, such as Friedrich, were isolated through a political smear campaign.[14] Others, who were less committed to the legitimist cause or who were legitimists only in principle but realists in politics, were quietly approached and won over. This task of softening the opposition primarily fell to the various secret societies which suddenly came into prominence during the electoral struggle. Some of these societies played a vital role in the 1920 and in subsequent elections, as well as in elevating Horthy to the regency.

During 1919 and 1920 scores and indeed hundreds of semisecret or ultrasecret right-wing organizations mushroomed all over Hungary, though only a few were powerful enough to leave a permanent mark on its history. The most influential were The Twelve Captains, The Blood Alliance of the Apostolic Cross, The Alliance of Etelköz, or EKSz, or merely "X," The Resurrection, better known as the Wolff-group. [15] With the exception of the last-named group the original core membership of each of these societies consisted of officers loyal to Horthy, but gradually the so-called theoretical legitimists and other right-wing factions were also admitted. In effect these organizations formed a closed circle. They shared ideals, purposesfl and often membership. The Twelve Captains, for example, headed by Gömbös, formed in July 1919 in Szeged, were recruited entirely from the most prominent young officers in Horthy's immediate military entourage.[l6] These same officers were also members of the EKSz, as well as of The Blood Alliance. Prónay and several other detachment leaders were also active members in the EKSz and The Blood Alliance. Bishop Ottokár Prohászka, and later even István Bethlen and Pál Teleki, became prominent figures in both the Wolff-group and the EKSz.

The least is known about the makeup and activities of the so-called Wolff-group. Most of its leaders were born in the lost territories, among them Károly Wolff, head of the Christian National League, Counts Bethlen and Teleki, Bishop Prohászka, and the two Protestant bishops, the Transylvanian Calvinist theologian, László Ravasz, and the Lutheran Sándor Raffay. It also embraced some of the top civil servants and jurists in the country. Its size was not impressive, it had no more than perhaps 300 members, but what it lacked in size it made up in political skill and astuteness. Zadravecz claims that this group was even weightier in political matters than the EKSz.[17] Although this may be doubtful, it is true that ultimately the Bethlen-Teleki group triumphed and, through a secret alliance, managed to harness the EKSz for their own purposes.

The largest of all these secret societies was the EKSz. It operated under the legal cover organization of Hungarian Scientific Race Defending Association.[l8] Through its nationwide network of local chapters, with some 5000 members, the EKSz stretched across a broad spectrum of the political right and united the radical elements from various parties, especially those of the Christian Nationalist and Smallholders Parties. It also linked the officer corps with civilian leaders of the right. In addition to the younger officers represented by The Twelve Captains, many of the senior army officers supporting Horthy were EKSz members. Most of the detachment commanders also played a prominent role in the organization, among them Baron Prónay, Ostenburg, Count Jankovich-Besán, Iván Héjjas, and György Hír, along with many of their officers. Among the other members some were prominent clergymen, such as Prohászka, the two radical Franciscans, Bishop of the Army István Zadravecz and Arkangyal Bónis. The aristocracy was represented by the young Archduke Albrecht, whom some of the EKSz leaders wished to elevate to the Hungarian throne, Count Gedeon Ráday, Count Imre Károlyi, Prince Lajos Windischgratz, Prince Károly Odescalchy, and Count Miklós Bánffy, a Transylvanian magnate from Bethlen's inner circle. Some of the Arrow Cross Party's future leaders, men like Ferenc Szálasi and Baron Berchtold Feilitzsch. were also members. Later even Counts Bethlen and Teleki joined this group.[19]

The EKSz was headed by seven chiefs, among them Gömbös and Zadravecz. Each of the chiefs led a tribe. These tribes in turn were subdivided into clans, and the clans into families. The position of Chief of Chiefs was reserved. according to some, for the head of state, that is, for Horthy, although it seems that Horthy refused to assume official control of the society. Still. he was the 'invisible leader." From 1920 the EKSz held its meetings at the national headquarters of MOVE, which occupied the spacious national lodge of the Free Masons. With the physical facilities they also took over much of the ceremonial trappings of the Masons. Zadravecz wrote: "In its organization [the EKSz] kept in view the Free Masons and it wished to save the country using methods the Masons had used to destroy it."[20] New brothers were recruited after careful screening.

In any political equation the decision of the EKSz was a major factor. During its meetings the issues of the day were regularly and hotly debated. Often, the fate of one government or another was decided in these meetings, at least until Bethlen took over direction of the government. A vote of no confidence by the EKSz often amounted to dismissal of a government, especially since many cabinet ministers, as members of the society, were bound by its decisions. The EKSz, while serving Horthy, also had a hold upon him. According to Zadravecz, "the soul and backbone of the Ex was . . . Horthy loyalty."[21] At the same time the members knew that it was largely the EKSz that raised and maintained Horthy in power. Consequently they exploited their considerable political influence for their own benefit and pressed Horthy to adopt policies favored by the EKSz. At times they even sent brisk ultimatums to Horthy, which he had to obey

During elections the society campaigned vigorously for the election of brothers, regardless of their party affiliation. In this they were always highly successful. In 1922, for example, about seventy EKSz members were elected to the National Assembly,[22] that is, the EKSz captured nearly a third of the assembly seats.

Since the Szeged days the program of the radical right changed little; it still consisted of only two points. The first goal was the destruction of Communist and Free Mason, that is liberal, influence in the country; the second, reconquest of the lost territories. By early 1920 the first goal was achieved and, therefore, the attention of most radicals increasingly shifted to the second objective. These secret societies stood at the center

Of the irredentist movement; in fact, several of them were brought to life precisely for that reason. This was especially true of The Blood Alliance of the Apostolic Cross. It was formed in Szeged and headed by an officer of the Székely Division, Major, later Colonel, Tihamér Siménfalvy. Its sole function was to organize a clandestine army, the so-called Free Troops, which could be used against domestic enemies but especially as guerrilla forces in Slovakia and Transylvania. The leaders of The Blood Alliance assumed that such an army, composed mostly of dedicated refugees familiar with the terrain of the lost provinces, would be able to penetrate Czechoslovakia and Romania undetected, and, then, acting as dissatisfied members of the Hungarian minority, organize and lead an uprising. The plan was to attack Slovakia first; when the situation became intolerable. the regular Hungarian Army would have to be sent in to protect the minorities against retaliation by the Czechs and restore order.[23] The Felvidéki Liga, or the Upland League, was established for the same purpose. It carried out propaganda and made strenuous efforts to organize a Slovak Legion from separatist Slovaks.[24]

[]Understandably, to the refugees from the Successor States, these societies were tremendously appealing and, indeed, they were fully represented both in the leadership and among the members. Through these societies the refugees formed an alliance with the ultranationalist right of inner Hungary or, perhaps more accurately, they maintained the old alliance that was forged at Szeged and Vienna, in order to assure that the question of their return to the lost territories would never be removed from the public agenda and, at the same time, to ensure that the economic plight of their fellow refugees would not be lost from sight. Most of the irredentist groups maintained close ties with the EKSz and the other groups.

In addition to the army and the secret societies, the presence of the refugees was also strongly felt in virtually every other right-wing radical association. The refugees who joined these were less prominent, the forgotten refugees. They were those whom the economic collapse of the country hit most severely, who, therefore, were ready for radical action.

Conditions of life since the middle of 1919 failed to improve. On the contrary, in many areas the situation had drastically deteriorated. Unemployment reached the critical point in most parts of Hungary. Entire industries came to a halt owing to coal and raw material shortages, to the long Allied blockade, or to wholesale looting by the retiring Romanian Army, which carted away at times whole factories.[25] Food shortages were noticeable everywhere in the country, but especially in the larger cities, where the distribution system was in a constant danger of collapse. A report by the ministry of food supplies of January 4, 1920 illustrates the magnitude of the problem. According to this report, Budapest was without flour reserves and the limited supplies that were still arriving were totally inadequate to meet the city's needs. The daily food allotment under the system of rationing was reduced to about four ounces of bread (12 dkgs.), but even this could not be satisfied. For weeks no potatoes were available, since the limited supply arriving, in the city barely sufficed to satisfy the needs of the hospitals and the army. There was absolutely no fat available, no meat, no sugar. The milk supply was insufficient even to provide for the needs of hospitals and infants.[26] The city command on January 17 reported:

Everyday after the curfew hour, sad and dangerous events occur. Already at 8 o'clock in the evening somber crowds begin to line up before the bakeries . . . so that in the morning, around 7 or 8 o'clock, they would be able to buy some bread. Amongst humanly unimaginable sufferings, want and cold, they wait for arrival of the bread shipment. The human mass, which grows into the thousands, often stretches to the third and fourth street. They wait sadly and silently, they shiver, they are cold, and with truly Christian patience stand the frightful rains, snow, and winds of the nights of these days.[27]


Under these economic conditions, the plight and desperation of the masses of refugees is understandable. Families without prominent names, influential friends, or without ties to the officers' detachments, were often on the point of starvation. The housing shortage had already reached the critical point during the first part of 1919. Yet refugees continued to pour into the country, and especially into the capital area. During the months following the Romanian troops' evacuation from Budapest and the Danube-Tisza regions, the rate of their flow even accelerated. The refugee influx reached its peak around mid-1920, when, after imposition of several government restrictions, it gradually began to decline. The number of officially registered refugees by the end of 1919 was about 170,000. During the next twelve months an additional 32,000 arrived from Slovakia, about 71,000 from Transylvania, and over 10,000 from Yugoslavia, that is, their numbers had increased to a minimum of 280.000,[28] and according to our calculations close to 350,000.

The worst conditions prevailed in the Budapest area, yet about half of the refugees were still heading for that city. It may be estimated that by the end of 1920 there were in Budapest proper, excluding its suburbs where some of the shanty towns were located, around 125,000 refugees. That is, at least one out of every seven residents of the city was a refugee.[29]

[]The new arrivals were no longer the affluent Hungarians. A large number of them were students from the closed gymnasiums and universities of Slovakia and Transylvania. For example, a majority of the Hungarian students and faculty from the universities of Kolozsvár, Nagyvárad, Pozsony, and Eperjes decided after their old institutions lost their Hungarian character to continue their studies or teaching careers in Budapest. A majority of new refugees came from the ranks of the lower state civil service, of the lesser county officials, teachers, and other groups, who exclusively depended upon their salaries. Some held out even after their dismissal in a vain hope of some sudden reversal of events. By 1920, however, their economic situation became hopeless. Thus, their departure was no longer politically motivated, it was a simple matter of survival.

The refugees, situation was critical; the solutions they demanded were radical. Understandably, soon after their arrival they were drawn into the ultraradical right-wing politics of the city, which afforded them an opportunity to vent their outrage against the miserable conditions of their lives. They had little patience with the constant political squabbles between the various parties, which deflected the energies of the nation from its true national goals. They demanded unity and wished to silence all opposition. Many preferred the order promised by a military dictatorship to the chaos offered by the even limited political freedom. The most radical of these refugees, and especially the students and the Protestant Transylvanians, supported the army and Horthy, who seemed to possess all the right qualifications, held the right attitudes required as the leader of the country. Like most eastern refugees Horthy was a Protestant. He also stood in the way of a Habsburg restoration. He was a man who was seemingly determined to establish a strong authoritarian rule and who also had the stature to lead the nation to a military reconquest of the lost territories.

Right-wing organizations in which the radical refugees had a prominent voice usually lined up behind the army and Horthy. Such were MOVE and the Awakening Hungarians, or EME. MOVE became the principal political association of the officers, which was originally brought to life to aid the refugee officers. On December 13, 1919, Horthy virtually ordered all army officers to join MOVE.[30] Subsequently state, city, and local officials were also recruited. In 1920, MOVE claimed to have had about 100,000 members--certainly an inflated figure; nevertheless, the organization did wield considerable power. Its leader, Gyula Gömbös, boasted vis-a-vis Italian and German fascists that MOVE was the first fascist organization in Europe. In 1920, in reference to contacts with Hitler and Ludendorff, he stated: "In other countries, following our example, the Christian renaissance also began." And later courting Italian fascist favors, he said: "We also have fascist organizations. First of all. the MOVE is such . . . also the EME and the TESZ.,"[3l] MOVE established a nationwide spy network and a far-reaching propaganda system. It continued to aid families of refugee officers, organized escapes of officers and their families from the lost territories and promoted their irredentist cause.[32] MOVE's extensive organizational activities led to charges in the National Assembly that it was becoming a state within a state, which used its network of officers to supervise and pressure the regular government agencies. In January 1920, Gömbös, in a letter to Horthy, offered MOVE's help in the upcoming elections. He wrote: "We will achieve our goals not with catchy slogans but through genuine organization, stubborn persistence and if necessary through the murderous tools of the 'Narodna Obrana.'" Moreover, he suggested to Horthy that MOVE should be entrusted with the execution of all those domestic tasks which, for whatever reason, the office of the Commander-in-Chief could not carry out [33]

The Association of the Awakening Hungarians united the most unruly and desperate extreme right-wing elements of the country with the equally desperate refugees. Most of the Awakening Hungarians were young, many of them ex-officers and university students. Its president until 1921 was the irrepressible György Szmrecsányi; he was then replaced by István Pálóczy Horváth. The other prominent figures in the organization were about equally divided between the radical refugees and those from inner Hungary.[34] Among the Transylvanian Awakening Hungarians we find some of the most impulsive members of the First National Assembly, such as the young radical lawyer, Ferenc Ulain, János Koródi Katona from Nagybánya, the Székely Menyhért Kiss, László Budaváry from Ugocsa County, Vilmos Pröhle, a professor from the University of Kolozsvár, and one of the founders of EKSz, Tibor Eckhardt, a former Transylvanian county official of Tordaaranyos .[35] Károly Wolff and some of his followers were also members. From inner Hungary some of the most notorious radicals were likewise members of the EME, among them Iván Héjjas, György Hir, István Lendvai. Fittingly, in 1920, Prónay also became a member.

The Awakening Hungarians maintained a nationwide organization of local chapters; members were enrolled in its paramilitary companies. These groups were ready to participate in any radical or wild adventure or in intimidation of the population. According to its leadership, it had about one-million members, a grossly exaggerated figure. Even if it had only a tenth of that number as active members it was a large and a politically influential organization with great powers.

A main part of the hoped-for national awakening was irredentism. The leader and many of the so-called Free Troops (Szabad csapatok) and Ragged Guard (Rongyos gárda) who rose against the Treaty of Trianon during 1921 and fought in Burgenland under the command of Prónay, came from the ranks of the Awakening Hungarians. The companies of Awakening Hungarians were also instrumental in saving Horthy during the second legitimist putsch, when a large segment of the army deserted him or at least could not be trusted. In 1923, however, they formally broke with Horthy, who, they believed, abandoned their radical cause and postponed a military reconquest of the lost provinces in favor of a compromise with the aristocracy and the Jewish bourgeoisie. At that point much of EME moved into opposition in alliance with the Race Protecting Party (Fajvédö Párt), headed by Gömbös. Ulain, Hir, Lendvai, and Héjjas became the principal leaders of this party and won seats in the National Assembly.

The refugees from the Successor States also established their own organizations. Such were the Felvidéki Liga (Upland League), Délvidéki Liga (Southland League), Erdélyi Magyar-Székely Szövetség (Transylvanian Hungarian-Székely Alliance). Various regional groups were brought together in the organization called Magyarország Területi Epségének Védelmi Ligája or Területvédö Liga, or TEVEL (League for the Defense of Hungary's Territorial Integrity). Another umbrella organization was the Menekülteket Védö Szövetség (Alliance for Refugee Defense), established in April 1920 under the sponsorship of Archduke Joseph and the Prince Primate, Cardinal József Csernoch. Similar organizations representing smaller groups were the Székely Hadosztály Egyesület (Association of Székely Division) and the Bocskay Szövetség (Bocskay Alliance). In the 1920, and subsequent. elections these and similar organizations worked to guarantee that only candidates sympathetic to their cause would be elected; in general, to assure their influence on the country's foreign policy. Before signing the Treaty of Trianon some of these organizations actively promoted the creation of a massive army drawn first and foremost from the refugees to reconquer the lost areas. After the signing of the treaty their main goal was to make certain that the nation did not drift into complacency, return to normalcy, and, in the process, acquiesce in the partition of the country. Especially the more radical refugees placed great emphasis on the preservation of a sense of national crisis. Only in such an atmosphere could the militarization and ultranationalistic reeducation of the country, and especially of the youth, take place.[36 ]Bishop of the Army István Zadravecz summed up this view in 1922 when he said:" Only a fanatic can be irredentist. An irredentist country does not recognize a .legal order. The irredentists should not be held back; it is not legal order but a sin to protect from their rage those who endanger the nation.[37]

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