Revolutions and interventions in Hungary (1918–20)

Revolutions and Interventions in Hungary
Part of the aftermath of World War I and the Revolutions of 1917–23

Heltai's sailors, supporters of the Hungarian revolution
Date1918 - 1920
LocationHungarian Democratic Republic, Hungarian Republic of Councils
Result Hungarian defeat, Collapse of the
Hungarian Republic of Councils,
Partial Romanian occupation of Hungary

Hungarian Democratic Republic
Hungarian Republic of Councils
Slovak Soviet Republic

Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Russian SFSR [1]

Romania Kingdom of Romania
 Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
Republic of Prekmurje
Kingdom of Hungary

Commanders and leaders
Hungarian People's Republic (1918–19) Mihály Károlyi
Béla Kun
Antonín Janoušek
Czechoslovakia Tomáš Masaryk,
Romania Ferdinand I,
Kingdom of Yugoslavia Peter I
Hungary: 10,000—80,000 Czechoslovakia: 20,000
Romania: 10,000—96,000
Casualties and losses
Hungary: unknown Czechoslovakia: 1,000
Romania: 11,666

There was a period of revolutions and interventions in Hungary between 1918 and 1920. The Hungarian Democratic Republic was founded by Mihály Károlyi during the Aster Revolution in 1918. In March 1919, the republic was overturned by another revolution, and the Hungarian Republic of Councils (also known as Hungarian Soviet Republic) was created. The unresolved conflicts led to wars between Hungary and its neighbor states (Kingdom of Romania,[2] Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes[3][4] and the evolving Czechoslovakia[2]) in 1919. The Hungarian Soviet Republic ceased to exist after the Romanian occupation. The Treaty of Trianon in Versailles chilled the conflicts and beneficiaries for this event were Romania, the newly formed states of Czechoslovakia, and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.


With the volatile and politically unstable atmosphere of Central Europe in the inter-war years, the establishment of independent governments of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire in November 1918 would see the struggle to regain territories of the former empire. However, Hungarian President for Hungarian Democratic Republic Mihály Károlyi resigned within four months (on March 20, 1919) in favor of Béla Kun, a pro-Bolshevik who had been sent by Lenin, quickly seizing power and establishing a dictatorship.

Military conflicts

During the war, the Hungarian red army fought separate battles against troops from Czechoslovakia and Romania, while France was also highly involved[5] diplomatically in the conflicts, too. By its final stage, more than 120,000 troops on both sides were involved.

Appealing to Hungarians with promises of regaining the land lost until then to neighboring countries within a week of his rise to power, Kun declared war upon Czechoslovakia as Hungarian forces invaded the former province of Slovakia on May 20, capturing southern Slovakia within weeks. In the face of advancing Hungarian troops, the Allies began to put pressure on the Hungarian government and, within three weeks with Kun's assurances of Russian support failing to materialize, Hungary was forced to withdraw from Slovakia after given an ultimatum from France together with a guarantee that Romanian forces would retreat from Tiszántúl.

The Romanians disregarded the guarantees of the French leadership and remained on the eastern banks of the Tisza river. The Hungarian government claiming to impose the will of the Allies on Romania, and seeing that diplomatic solutions would not compel them, resolved to clear the threat by military force once and for all. They planned to throw the Romanians out of Tiszántúl, destroy the Romanian army and even retake Transylvania. However, the Hungarian offensive was defeated by the Romanian army, and despite all previous pledges, agreements and guarantees, the Romanians crossed the river Tisza and quickly advanced towards Budapest. The Hungarian capital fell on August 4, only three days before Kun's escape to Vienna. The destruction of the Hungarian Soviet Republic and the Romanian occupation of parts of Hungary proper, including its capital Budapest in August 1919, ended the war. Romanian troops withdrew from Hungary in March 1920, after seizing large amounts of goods from Hungary, which they regarded as war reparations, while the Hungarian opinion was that this was looting.[6][7][8]


Romanian artillery marching through Budapest

Due to the Hungarian-Romanian war the country was totally defeated. In the name of what they considered to be war reparations, the Romanians claimed the delivery of 50% of the country's rolling stock, 30 percent of its livestock, twenty thousands carloads of fodder and even assessed payment for their expenditures. By the beginning of 1920, they took extensive booty, including food, trucks, locomotives and railroad cars, factory equipment, even the telephones and typewriters from the government office,[9] The Hungarians regarded the Romanian seizures as looting.[9] The Romanian pillage lasted for nearly six months.[10] After the Romanian occupation the "White Terror" by Horthy revenged the previous "Red Terror". The Hungarians had to cede all war materials, excepting those weapons necessary for the troops under Horthy's command.

See also


  2. 1 2 David Parker, Revolutions and the revolutionary tradition in the West, 1560-1991, Routledge, 2000, p. 170.
  3. Priscilla Mary Roberts, World War I: A Student Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO, 2005, p. 1824
  4. Miklós Lojkó, Meddling in Middle Europe: Britain and the 'Lands Between, 1919-1925, Central European University Press, 2006, p. 13
  5. Michael Brecher, Jonathan Wilkenfeld (2000). "Hungarian War". A Study of Crisis. University of Michigan Press. p. 575.
  6. Federal Research Division (2004). "Greater Romania and the Occupation of Budapest". Romania: A Country Study. Kessinger Publishing. p. 73.
  7. Louise Chipley Slavicek (2010). "The Peacemakers and Germany's Allies". The Treaty of Versailles. Infobase Publishing. p. 84.
  8. George W. White (2000). "The Core: The Tenacity Factor". Nationalism and Territory: Constructing Group Identity in Southeastern Europe. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 99.
  9. 1 2 Cecil D. Eby, Hungary at war: civilians and soldiers in World War II, Penn State Press, 2007, p. 4
  10. Louise Chipley Slavicek, The Treaty of Versailles, Infobase Publishing, 2010, p. 84

External links

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