Hungarian and Bulgarian Interwar Revisionism: Part 15
The Two Vienna Awards; Invasion of Yugoslavia; WWII
Hungary was easily manipulated by Germany with promises of territorial revision, and this inevitably went to the heads of the Trianon obsessed Horthyite régime.
After officially regaining control of these areas the Hungarian army would move in, with Horthy personally accompanying the “reconquest.” He ceremoniously rode into such cities as Kassa (Košice in Slovak) and Kolozsvár (Cluj in Romanian) in full Admiral uniform and atop a white horse. However, it must be wondered how proud he actually was to be riding in only because of German arbitration, and not because of any successes of Hungarian foreign policy or any sort of glorious military reoccupation. The aforementioned problem concerning Ruthenia, and Imrédy’s subsequent sacking by Horthy for failure to gain the whole region for Hungary led to the next steps. The campaign to regain Ruthenia began promptly on 16 March 1939, and it’s main goal was to have as long a border with Poland as possible. When Teleki realized that Hitler was planning on attacking Poland, he informed Hitler that Hungary would not be a part of any anti-Polish war in spite of the country’s basic solidarity with Germany. Hungary adopted a policy of armed neutrality concerning Poland. The move that sealed Hungary’s fate was the invasion of Yugoslavia under German pressure and alongside Wehrmacht troops. In April 1941, Hitler wanted to cross Hungarian territory and wanted Hungarian participation in an invasion of Yugoslavia, despite a months old treaty of non-aggression in existence between Hungary and Yugoslavia. The United Kingdom got wind of the plan, and said it would sever ties and declare war on Hungary if it complied with either German demand. Hungarian Foreign Minister Count Pál Teleki found himself in a difficult situation concerning both threats from Germany and Britain at the same time. Teleki committed suicide on the night of 2-3 April, and László Bárdossy was made the new Premier, who gave the Hungarian army the order to accompany the Wehrmacht into Yugoslavia during the 11 April invasion of that country. The tragic death of Teleki was a shock to the Hungarian nation, and proved to be the ultimate form of protest against the route Hungarian alignment was proceeding. Hungary’s invasion of Yugoslavia and re-acquisition of some pre-Trianon territories did not put the country in any more of a powerful position than it was before. In fact, now it was surrounded by other German sponsored states who were all traditional enemies of Hungary. Hungary finally officially entered the war in 1941.
It is still unknown who was responsible for the air raids on the cities of Kassa, Munkács and Rabó. Some believe it actually was the Soviets, whilst others believe that they were Luftwaffe planes with Soviet markings, used to draw Hungary into the war in the belief that they had been attacked by Stalin.
Hungary was getting sucked deeper and deeper into the war. In early 1942 Bárdossy agreed to commit 1/3 of the Hungarian army to help the German war effort. By March of that same year, however, he was replaced as head of government by Miklós Kállay. Bárdossy’s government greatly damaged Hungary’s opportunities to keep peaceful relations with the Allies, as in December 1941 he ill advisedly declared war on both the United States and Great Britain. Though not directly responsible, he was also head of government during the Hungarian invasion of Yugoslavia as mentioned above, and the subsequent massacre of thousands of Serb and Jewish ‘partisans’ in the city of Újvidék (Novi Sad in Serbian). This massacre again placed Hungary in its familiar position as an ostracized and demonized nation. With the Hungarian re-occupation of portions of pre-Trianon Hungary, the nation’s hopes of total revision came to a standstill. The huge defeat of the Hungarian Second Army along the Don River bend in Russia in January 1943, in which around 150,00 of 200,000 troops were either killed, wounded, or taken prisoner, added to Hungarian fears of defeat and feelings of impending doom. Horthy himself tried to make a separate peace with the British and Americans (in hopes of an Anglo-American occupation of the country come defeat, not Soviet) at various stages, but these all failed due to Hungary’s physical distance from the Western front. These details will not be gone into, as they are beyond the scope of this work focusing on revisionism. All that must be known is that Hungary was defeated and occupied by the Red Army, and that during the 1946 Treaty of Paris Hungary lost three more villages to the south of Bratislava in order to give Czechoslovakia a bridgehead over the Danube. Thus Hungary’s 25 year obsession with revising Trianon came to a bitter end, with even more losses. For the next four decades of Communist rule, revisionism and Trianon became an officially taboo subject in that age of supposed ‘brotherhood’ amongst the Soviet satellite states.
- Hungarian and Bulgarian Interwar Revisionism: Part 16
Part 16 of a series that compares and contrasts Hungarian and Bulgarian Revisionism of the interwar years which aimed to regain territories lost by each country at treaties in Paris following World War I.