Magyar-British Relations in the Era of the Two World Wars, 1914 – 44: Part Three – The Crucible of War and the Crisis of Identity.   1 comment

Part Three: The Crucible of War and the Crisis of Identity, 1939-44.

Chapter Four: The Struggle for Independence

020Following the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 23 August 1939, the liquidation of the Baltic republics and the Winter War with Finland of 1939-40, there was considerable anxiety in Budapest about Soviet territorial intentions. In particular, there was concern that Stalin would demand Ruthenia, where the majority of the population was Ukrainian. Diplomatic relations between Budapest and Moscow, broken off early in 1939, where re-established, though Hungary supported Finland with volunteers and by other means. At the same time, there was a clear community of interests between Soviet Russia and Hungary over Transylvania. Werth and his military circles, enthusiastic about German triumphs in the west in the spring of 1940, urged closer co-operation with Germany, including free passage for German troops. However, Teleki was wanted to avoid unreserved commitments, especially as he received warnings through secretly established links with Britain, which still stood as guarantor of Romanian integrity. Nevertheless, at the end of June, following Romania’s agreement to Stalin’s demand to cede territories lost by the USSR in 1918, Teleki explained to Berlin that Hungary would have to resort to force, should Romania refuse to return Transylvania, lost at Trianon. Hitler forced the Romanians to capitulate, and the Second Vienna Award of 30 August 1940, arbitrated by him and Mussolini, returned northern Transylvania to Hungary, together with two and a half million inhabitants, fifty per cent of whom were Hungarian-speaking.

Teleki was therefore unable to resist Hitler’s patronage any longer in his priority of advancing the cause of revisionism. However, while the return of most of Transylvania was greeted with great joy in Hungary, it was disputed by both the US and UK as a dictated measure, and cost the country a further reduction in its independence. On 20 November 1940, Hungary joined the Tripartite Axis Pact of Germany, Italy and Japan. It then signed a treaty with Yugoslavia, which was expected to follow Hungary into the Axis alliance, but the pro-German government in Belgrade was overthrown in a military coup on 27 March 1941.

012During the Spring of 1941, British foreign policy suffered one disastrous set-back after another. In March, the pro-allied Balkan front crumbled when Bulgaria and Romania also joined the Axis powers. Only Turkey still remained neutral. Hitler then decided to eliminate Yugoslavia, and required the Hungarian government to provide passage for his troops and to send its own forces in support. He sweetened the pill by offering the return of the southern Hungarian territories transferred to Yugoslavia at Trianon. Teleki and his government faced an impossible dilemma. On the one hand, they were under considerable pressure to accept the return of a further half million Magyars, a popular demand of the right-wing Arrow Cross Party, which had grown in strength since the release of Szálási and his appointment at its head, thus breaking the recent treaty and risking the wrath of the western powers. On the other hand, they would defy their all-powerful ally, retaining the sympathy of the western Allies, but risking German military occupation. Teleki collapsed under the weight of this political and moral responsibility. Leaving behind a desperate letter to the Regent, he shot himself on 3 April, 1941, having complied with Hitler’s demand, together with Horthy and his other ministers, and with German troops already marching into Hungary to attack the Yugoslavs. Teleki’s action caused an international sensation. Domokos Szent-Iványi described (in a book written after the war) how, upon hearing the news by telephone at 6.45 a.m., he sped across the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, built by a Scot less than a century earlier, to the Sándor Palace, where the black flag was already flying and there was an atmosphere of great sadness and bewilderment:

 Teleki had been loved by all people and, now, everybody felt that with their great leader and personification of all their hopes gone, Hungary was speeding towards a catastrophe.  

Szent-Iványi went on to describe how, not wanting to talk to anyone or see anybody, he drove up Hármashatár Hill with its commanding view of Budapest. Leaving the car with a pair of field glasses, he climbed to the summit and directed the binoculars onto the main highway leading to Austria and the Reich:

006Right there on the highway a formidable steel snake, the head of which had already passed Budapest with its tail still somewhere deep in Austria, was proceeding at great speed southward. It was an impressive, unique but extremely sinister view. That steel monster of immense dimensions was one of the Panzer Armies ordered by Hitler to Romania and Yugoslavia… I stopped watching and began pondering on the present and future. As to the final defeat of Nazi Germany, I had little doubt. I was too much of a geographer to believe in the final defeat of the Axis… I had no illusions as to how long the superiority of the German Luftwaffe would endure. As to the significance of air domination, we were to see the destruction of “Bismarck”, “The Prince of Wales” and other great warships… we already knew that the Luftwaffe had failed in its efforts to break British resistance in 1940 while suffering enormous losses.

 As to Europe, I was still sticking to the views I expressed… in March 1939… A Europe destroyed by aerial attacks and dominated by Russia, a turn of events Churchill himself failed to grasp, and when he did, it was too late.

 … Hungary wouldn’t  fare any better, were she to turn against Germany with her poorly equipped and small army. She would be crushed in no time, and come the final settlement (just as had happened in the case of Poland) the western powers would be unable or unwilling to protect Hungary (and Poland and Czechoslovakia, and Romania and Estonia, and so on) from Russian domination.

 

As for myself, I personally couldn’t  foresee how quickly all the work begun by Teleki and myself would be destroyed and yet I had felt that things would go wrong, sooner or later.

 I looked at my watch, it was already 8.45 a.m. I had been watching the endless Armour for more than an hour and yet, not even a fifth of the army had passed. Its tail was still in Austria.

022Teleki had stuck to his principles of preserving Hungarian sovereignty in its geopolitical relationship with Germany, while at the same time avoiding confrontation with the Allies. His consistency stemmed not only from his fears for Hungary’s independence, but also from his own moral standpoint. He found the policies and the ideology of the Third Reich unacceptable. In his view a final victory for Nazi Germany would mean the end of European moral and spiritual values, and with it the demise of the better European political traditions. Hungary would only continue to exist as a vassal state. When he realised that all other diplomatic options were closed down, and that the country had indeed become the toy of Hitler’s imperial goals, he did not resign the Premiership, but committed suicide. This final act of defiance proved that his stance against the values and aspirations of Nazi Germany was grounded in deep moral, spiritual and political convictions. His suicide also sent an important message, understood throughout Europe, pointing out the extent to which the choices of politicians had become severely restricted.

A week after Teleki’s suicide, the new Premier, the former ambassador to Berlin, László Bárdossy, instructed the Hungarian Army to cross the border with the Panzers. The invasion resulted in the acquisition of another eleven thousand square kilometres of territory, with over a million people, thirty per cent of whom were ethnic Hungarians. As a result of Hungary’s participation in Hitler’s war against Yugoslavia, the country became more isolated and more dependent on German goodwill than it had been to date. German troops also invaded Greece, sweeping up the allied troops and trapping ten thousand British troops. Three weeks later, the swastika was flying over the Acropolis. By the end of May, German paratroops had overrun Crete. Rommel had also begun to drive the British out of North Africa. Churchill survived the rout, but Harold Nicolson did not, being forced by the Prime Minister to resign from his role as Parliamentary Secretary. Although he did not declare war on Hungary at this stage, Churchill broke diplomatic ties with Budapest, and President Roosevelt called it an aggressor.

 Chapter Five: War and Occupation

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In June 1941, Hungary had another decision to make; whether to join the German campaign against the Soviet Union. Unlike Italy and Romania, the Hungarian government at first only broke diplomatic relations with Moscow. On 26 June, the city of Kassa (Kosice, formerly and latterly Slovakia) was bombed by unmarked planes which were alleged to have been Russian. It was then that Horthy declared war on the Soviet Union, on the advice of his generals, without the prior agreement of the government or the Hungarian Parliament. Great Britain, after repeated urging from Moscow, declared war on Hungary on 7 December 1941.

015The true dimensions of the Hungarian disaster on the Eastern Front by January 1943 were played down by the Hungarian government and became known only through the Hungarian broadcasts of the BBC. The arrival of the remnants of the army at the end of April destroyed whatever enthusiasm there still was for the war among the general public. The Kállay government, while refusing Hitler’s demand to send another army to the eastern front, stepped up its efforts to pull out of the war negotiating an armistice with the western powers. Kállay’s envoys sought contacts with British and American diplomats in the neutral capitals: Madrid, Lisbon, Istanbul and Stockholm. They offered, in the event of British and American forces reaching Hungary, surrender and a change of allegiances. At the same time, while it was emphasised that Hungary expected at least to retain the territories re-annexed to it between 1938 and 1941, all other aspects of the inter-war regime were intended to remain unchanged by Horthy and Kállay, who not only repudiated any communication with the Soviets, but were also unwilling to co-operate with the representatives of the democratic alternative that started to take shape in Hungary by then.

The western powers, while not averse to a reasonable redressing of Hungary’s Trianon grievances based on ethnic principles, were not only opposed to the restoration of historic borders, and the Hungarian ascendancy in the Danube region which it implied, but also would have preferred to deal with a thoroughly reformed Hungarian popular front government of Liberals, Smallholders and Social Democrats. They passed on, through Istanbul, a preliminary armistice agreement to the Kállay government on 9 September 1943, requiring Hungary to diminish its contribution to the German war effort, to withdraw its troops from Soviet territory, and to surrender unconditionally as soon as the Allies reached the Hungarian frontier.

 

 

004Kállay accepted these terms, but the failure of the practicalities on which they depended, soon made them worthless. At the Tehran meeting of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin in late November 1943, it was decided that the Allied landing would take place in France, and that the struggle against the Axis in Eastern Europe would become the task of the Red Army. Hitler also prevented the withdrawal of Hungarian troops from the Russian front. German intelligence was also receiving details of Kállay’s peace overtures from as early as April 1943. Hitler demanded that Horthy remove his Premier, which he refused to do, so the Germans prepared a parliamentary coup by Imrédy’s National Socialist Party Alliance. This failed, but from September 1943 plans for the military occupation of Hungary were worked out in Berlin. The Germans prepared for these plans to be put into operation in March 1944.

On 1 October, the Archduke Otto von Habsburg was in Washington, making overtures to Roosevelt on Horthy’s behalf. The President told him that if Hungary changed sides and Romania remained with the Axis, the US would support Hungary’s retention of southern Transylvania, rather than allowing it to fall into the Russian share of influence after the war. The Kállay government sent a message to Lisbon, where the Hungarian-American Ferenc Deák had been sent to act as an intermediary, agreeing to this. In January, the Hungarian government authorised Otto Habsburg to act officially on its behalf. The diplomatic focus then moved to Bern, and an American military mission was dropped by parachute into western Hungary on 14 March. The mission’s guidelines called for Horthy to announce a surrender, which would be followed by twenty thousand Allied troops being parachuted into Hungary, and the Hungarian Army would then join the fight against the Germans. However, German intelligence cracked the communications code and, when Hitler heard of the Hungarian plans to surrender, Horthy was ordered to a meeting in Klessheim. Though the Regent refused, at first, to make an official request for German troops to enter Hungary, he finally agreed when threatened with occupation by Romanian and Slovak troops. The German troops were received as friends on 19 March 1944. Three days later, the Regent replaced Kállay with Döme Stójay, former ambassador to Berlin, who formed a government composed entirely of extreme right-wingers. Any pretence of Hungarian independence was now extinguished.

007The Allied bombing of Budapest and other Hungarian cities began in April 1944, the same month as a Hungarian Council was established in Britain by organisations of émigré Hungarian democrats under the leadership of Mihályi Károlyi with the goal of working for an independent and democratic Hungary on equal terms with its neighbours after the war, but it had little impact on developments within Hungary, which were far from independent or democratic in nature. Up until this point, Hungary had, despite its own anti-Jewish laws, been a relatively safe haven for Jews fleeing Nazi persecution in Germany and elsewhere in occupied central-eastern Europe. However, Adolf Eichmann now began to organise the deportation of Hungary’s entire Jewish population to Auschwitz. For most of Hungary’s Jews, this brought about the horrible reality of the Endlösung. Officially, the Jews were to be rounded up by the Hungarian gendarmerie and handed over to Eichmann’s Judenkommando in order to augment Germany’s labour supply. In fact, there was little doubt that Auschwitz, where the trains were headed, was an extermination camp, and the Allies had known this since 1942. About 440,000 of them were deported in less than ten weeks, by the end of June, of whom 320,000 never returned. Between thirty to fifty thousand Roma shared their fate. King George VI made protests, among many other heads of state, concerning the deportations of the Hungarian Jews and Roma. When news of the deportations reached British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, he wrote in a letter to his Foreign Secretary dated July 11, 1944:

There is no doubt that this persecution of Jews in Hungary and their expulsion from enemy territory is probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world….

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The idea that any member of the Hungarian government, including the President, or Regent, was unaware of the scale and nature of the deportations is fanciful, to say the least, as is the idea that Horthy was responsible for stopping the deportations from the countryside and/ or the capital. This is a myth, which has allowed the successor and current Hungarian states to continue to pretend that the deportations were imposed on its predecessor by German Nazi invaders. It has been repeated in Kontler’s recent book:

Horthy stopped the deportations in early July which, for the time being, saved the lives of the 200,000 Jews of Budapest.

The impact of further German military defeats following the Allied landings in Normandy in June, certainly helped to stop the scheduled deportations from Budapest in July.It is also true that Admiral Horthy ordered the suspension of all deportations on July 6, but by then the Regent was virtually powerless.  This is demonstrated by the fact that another 45,000 Jews were deported from the Trans-Danubian region and the outskirts of Budapest to Auschwitz after this day. The Sztójay government continued to ignore the Regent and rescheduled the date of deportation of the Jews of Budapest to Auschwitz to August 27th. What then prevented this was that the Romanians switched sides on 23 August, 1944, causing huge problems for the German military, and it was on Himmler’s orders that the cancellation of further deportations from Hungary was enacted on 25 August.

 

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Many issues remain in debate about the Hungarian Holocaust. One of them is whether the Allies ought to have bombed Auschwitz. It was logistically possible even before the deportations from Hungary began in March 1944. The USAAF and the RAF were able to bomb Hungary from bases in Italy in April, and they also supplied the Polish Home Army by air during the Warsaw Uprising that summer. They had known about the camp since 1942, and that it was being used for the systematic extermination of Polish Jews and other Poles. While it was true that the unmarked underground gas chambers might well have escaped, it would have been possible to bomb the railway lines to and from the camp, and would anyway have been worth the attempt. French railway lines, stations, depots, sidings and marshalling yards were principal targets during the pre-D-Day bombing operation. On 26 June, the US War Department replied to a request from American Jewish organisations for the bombing of the Kassa (Kosice)-Preskov railway line between Hungary and Auschwitz by saying that whilst it fully appreciated the humanitarian importance of the suggested operation it considered that the most effective relief to the victims was the early defeat of the Axis. By the time they had given due consideration to the problem the ‘window of opportunity’ to save the remainder of Hungary’s provincial Jewish population was only open for another fortnight, since all the deportations from the countryside were over by 9 July.

The details of the deportations from Hungary reveal that a bombing of the Kassa railway station, through which all the trains to Auschwitz were scheduled, would, at the very least, have seriously disrupted and delayed the deportations. Certainly, there were no fewer than seven separate railway lines feeding the Lvov-Auschwitz route, but the speed of the Eichmann’s carefully ‘choreographed’ operation between the Hungarian forces and the Germans was entirely dependent on passage to the east of the Danube bend and through German-controlled Slovakia into Poland (see map above). Rubenstein’s assertion that the Jews would simply have been transported over a different route belies the geographical reality that re-routing the deportations further east would have been far from simple. All roads may, indeed, have led to Auschwitz within Poland, but only one railway line out of Hungary could have deported 400,000 Jews so rapidly out of the country. The Allies also discussed the possibility of dropping arms to the internees in the hope of an uprising, or even landing paratroops, in July 1944.

The real reason for the decision not to bomb the railway lines was, as the US War Department’s reply reveals, that the Allied Chiefs of Staff were completely focused on the aftermath of the Normandy landings. Caen did not fall until 9 July. Nonetheless, the internees themselves desperately wanted the camps to be bombed, even though many of them would have lost their lives. It was not until 8 November that the War Refugee Board officially called for the bombing of Auschwitz, drawing a comparison with the RAF Mosquito precision bombing of Amiens prison in February, during which 258 inmates had escaped, despite a hundred deaths. However, by November it was too late, as the last gassing in the camp took place at the end of the month.   Although official USAAF historians have dismissed the post-war suggestion that Mosquito bombers could have attacked Auschwitz, they assume that the route taken would have involved flying over German air defenses and the northern Alps, whereas the route from bases in Italy would have taken them over the southern Alps and over western Hungary.

It has been claimed that what might well have happened was that the gas chambers would have survived, whereas thousands in the nearby huts would have perished. For this reason, some Jewish groups in Britain and America specifically opposed the bombing of the camps. Aerial photographs of Auschwitz published over the past four decades, taken by aircrew on 25 August, show that Allied air forces could have destroyed the facilities with relative ease. However, the first of these was printed only in 1978 with enlargement technology that was not available at that time. In August 1945, it would have been impossible to interpret the photograph with the detailed precision available today, but the published photographs do show the targeting that might have been possible had a raid been ordered. However, the Foreign Office was opposed to operations that would cost British lives and aircraft to no purpose. To be fair, the supply of the Warsaw Uprising in August had been costly for the RAF, with 181 planes lost in twenty-two missions. Nonetheless, the latent and prevalent anti-Semitism in the Foreign Office, which even Harold Nicolson sometimes betrayed in his writings, also played a role. One official wrote a revealing note on a file on the Red Army’s treatment of Romanian Jews in September, suggesting that a disproportionate amount of the time of the Office is wasted on dealing with these wailing Jews. This was not an isolated example.

011With the German high command preoccupied elsewhere, Horthy regained sufficient authority to finally dismiss Prime Minister Sztójay on 29 August. He was replaced by General Géza Lakatos, who wasted weeks by waiting for the arrival of western forces rather than opening negotiations with the Soviets. The fate of Transylvania was still in the balance in the summer of 1944, with everything depending on who would liberate the contested territories from the Germans. When Royal Romania had succeeded in pulling out of the Axis alliance and declared war on Germany, the Soviet and Romanian forces combined forces began a joint attack and the weakened Hungarian Army was unable to contain them in southern Transylvania. They were soon sweeping across the Great Plain.

By September 1944 the war aims of the Horthy régime, the restoration of Hungary to its pre-Trianon status, were in tatters. The First and Second Awards and the acquisitions by force of arms would mean nothing after the defeat which now seemed inevitable. The preliminary armistice signed on 11 October required Hungary to give up the territories re-annexed since 1938 and to declare war on Germany. When Horthy tried to broadcast these terms on 15 October, the Germans were ready to launch a putsch against him. He was forced to stand down as Regent the following day, appointing Szalási as his successor as head of state. Eichmann returned to Budapest, and the murderous campaign against Budapest’s Jews resumed, now carried out, without let up or hindrance through the bitter winter of 1944-5, by the Arrow Cross paramilitaries.

001Meanwhile, on 9 October 1944, Churchill had met Stalin at the Kremlin and had produced what he had referred to as a ‘naughty’ document. This has become an infamous moment in the history of the war. As he took the paper out, Churchill told Stalin that the Americans would be shocked if they saw how crudely he had put it. However, he added, Marshal Stalin was a realist. The handwritten document contained a series of percentages, outlining how much influence ‘Russia’ and other countries should have over specific European territories at the end of the war. While Britain was to have ninety per cent control over Greece, Russia was to have the same control over Romania. Britain and Russia would share equal control over Yugoslavia, and Hungary would also be fifty-fifty. Stalin agreed to these percentages, insisting only on a ninety per cent ‘stake’ in Bulgaria, rather than the seventy-five suggested by Churchill. The next day, the two foreign ministers, Eden and Molotov, continued to swap percentage figures. Molotov asked if they could now agree to Bulgaria, Hungary and Yugoslavia, 75/25 per cent each. While Molotov accepted that Yugoslavia could be 60/40, he insisted that Bulgaria and Hungary must be divided as he suggested. As British historian, Laurence Rees has commented,

Given that much of eastern Europe was to suffer under Soviet domination for most of the second half of the twentieth century, it is not hard to condemn the British for talking in such apparently heartless terms. But we must remember that Churchill and Eden could not be sure how matters would turn out. Moreover, there was enormous pressure on the British to get on with Stalin.

As Churchill talked with Stalin… Soviet forces were about to liberate and then occupy Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria. So given this hard reality, Churchill must have thought he had to try to salvage something from the Red Army’s rush into Europe. Gaining any immediate Western influence over these countries represented an advance on the current situation.

002Whatever the justifications, Churchill effectively surrendered Hungarian independence on behalf of the western powers, at this meeting. Hungary was to come almost completely a Soviet satellite state, as soon as it was ‘liberated’ from Nazi domination. At Tehran Roosevelt had told the other two Allied leaders that, in the event of any future threat to peace in Europe, the USA would only send planes and ships. It would not put American GI boots on the continent again. In the context of this lukewarm commitment, it was left again to the British to determine the shape of the post-war settlement of Europe, in concert with the Soviet Union. In the space of a little over thirty years, as a result of two world wars, Hungary had effectively ceased to exist as an independent country, whereas twice-belligerent and twice-defeated Austria was to recover its status.

As the Big Three now prepared for what would become the most famous conference of the war, at Yalta in the Crimea in February 1945, the Battle for Budapest began in Hungary. By the autumn of 1944 it had become clear to most Hungarians that Hungary had backed the wrong side in its desire to recover the territories lost in the Paris Peace ‘Settlement’ of 1919-20. On 2 October 1944, a week before Churchill met him in Moscow, and two weeks before Horthy was replaced by Ferenc Szálasias head of state, Stalin ordered Rodion Malinovsky, his commander of the second Ukrainian Front, to take the Hungarian capital in the next few days. When his general replied that he would need five days for the task, Stalin replied,

There is no point in being stubborn. You obviously don’t understand the political necessity of an immediate strike against Budapest.

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By this, he was probably referring to his forthcoming meeting with Churchill in advance of the Yalta meeting of the Big Three. Needless to say, the Soviets did not take Budapest in the next few days and, given the fierceness of German and Hungarian resistance, it was ridiculous of Stalin to expect this. It was not until Christmas that the Soviets were able to launch their final assault on the city. On the Pest side of the Danube, the Soviets made good progress through the flat terrain and wide streets. Meanwhile, they also established a bridgehead over the Danube to the south of the capital on 24 November. On the left bank, the Buda side, the hills made the task much harder, but on Christmas Eve, the Red Army managed to capture the high ground overlooking the whole city. By Boxing Day the city was encircled, but Hitler had ordered a fight to the last, that there must be no surrender. Seventy thousand soldiers (roughly equal numbers of Germans and Hungarians) prepared to ‘defend’ the city.

The Szalási government and the Arrow Cross senselessly prolonged the siege until February of the next year. One of the main reasons for this was their irrational desire to complete the extermination of Budapest’s Jewish population by nightly shooting them into the Danube. Unlike the Allies, Hitler saw ‘the Jewish Question’ as one of his primary war aims, so that the worsening situation on the Eastern Front as requiring the intensification of his ‘final solution’, rather than a winding down. As Saul Friedlander has written,

Whipping up anti-Jewish frenzy was, in Hitler’s imagination… one of the best ways to hasten the falling apart of the enemy alliance… the Jews were the hidden link that kept Capitalism and Bolshevism together.

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Above Right:

The Arrow Cross takeover on 16 October, 1944. Szálasi’s supporters enter Buda Castle. Ferenc Szálsi is shown surrounded by Hungarian officers who joined up with the German Storm Troopers observing the scene in the background.

Below Right:

Soviet soldiers in the Battle of Budapest on 14 January, 1945. This photograph was taken four days before the liberation of Pest was completed.

By m005id-January, the Arrow Cross had succeeded in killing about half of Budapest’s 200,000 Jews. Finally, On 17 January 1945, German and Hungarian troops withdrew across the Danube from Pest into Buda, blowing up the five bridges linking the two halves of the city. The following day, the Soviets liberated the main ghetto in Pest, and the siege of the major part of the city was over. Intense fighting continued around the central fortress in Buda, which was defended by SS troops. Eventually, worn out by the sheer force of the Red Army attack, the Germans attempted to break out, and all but a few thousand were killed or captured.

The Szálasi government finally surrendered on 13 February. It had taken the Red Army over a hundred days to complete its conquest of the entire capital. The frustrations of the Red Army besiegers were taken out on the women of Budapest, with repeated acts of rape over the following weeks.

Hitler continued to defend the oilfields in Zala County, near Lake Balaton, accounting for seven of the eighteen Panzer divisions still available to him. The sixth Panzer Army halted the Soviet advance down the Hungarian valleys into Austria for as long as fuel could last out during March 1945, and German forces ceased hostilities on Hungarian territory on 12 April. Finally, General Malinovsky took Vienna on 13 April.

At the conclusion of the Yalta Conference in February 1945, the US, Great Britain and the USSR issued the Declaration on Liberated Europe, in which they committed themselves to helping the people in liberated states establish democratic interim governments and hold free elections. At Potsdam in August, the Big Three agreed that the Council of Foreign Ministers would prepare peace treaties for the defeated allies of the Third Reich, including Hungary.

In a statement that became legendary in Hungary on account of its fallaciousness, László Nemeth said at the Balatonszárszzó Conference in August 1943 that the end of the Second World War would find Hungary in a far better condition than was the case at the end of the First. At that time, this was an accurate assessment of the situation. In August 1944, it was far from accurate, and in August 1945 it looked ridiculous. It was left under a foreign occupying power, led by a power-crazed dictator, with devastated resources, a broken conscience and an identity crisis worse than that which followed the Treaty of Trianon.

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Sources:

Andrew Roberts (2009), The Storm of War. London: Penguin Books

Marc J Susser (2007), Paths of Diplomacy: The United States and Hungary. Washington: US Department of State

László Kontler (2009), A History of Hungary. Budapest: Atlantisz Publishing

Norman Rose (2005), Harold Nicolson. London: Jonathan Cape

Gyula Kodolányi (ed.) (2013), Hungarian Review. Vol IV., No. 6. Budapest: Danube Institute

Richard Overy (1996), Historical Atlas of the Third Reich. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books

Laurence Rees (2008), World War Two Behind Closed Doors. London: BBC Books

András Bereznay (1994), The Times Atlas of European History. London: Times Books

 

 

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Posted April 4, 2014 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

One response to “Magyar-British Relations in the Era of the Two World Wars, 1914 – 44: Part Three – The Crucible of War and the Crisis of Identity.

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  1. Reblogged this on hungarywolf and commented:

    My latest blogpost on Magyar-British Relations, 1914-44.

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