The period between the world wars was an unprecedented experience for Hungary. She had become one of the small "succession" states which replaced the Hapsburg Empire. For the first time in modern history, no great power existed in the Danubian region, and the new era found Hungary in a most precarious predicament. The Treaty of Trianon attached more than three million Hungarians to neighboring states.1 Moreover, it generated a whole series of economic difficulties. Most of the factories and industrial areas remaining in Hungary were deprived of their markets and were cut off from their sources of raw materials within its newly created neighbors. These and numerous related issues generated a strong desire in Hungary for revision of the status quo, the maintenance of which was the chief aim of her neighbors. Revisionism persisted throughout the interwar period and made impossible a sensible compromise and cooperation between Hungary and her Danubian and Balkan neighbors. Revisionism and antiBolshevism became the leitmotiv of Hungarian foreign policy. In the 1930's, a pro-Axis orientation was almost inevitable.
On the eve of the second World War Hungary, however, followed a cautious policy. Her desire for a rapprochement with the Little Entente became manifest through the Bled Agreement of August 23, 1938. The turn of European events nonetheless defeated this conciliatory course, and the Munich Conference made it clear that the Western democracies intended to remain aloof from Central European affairs. The subsequent Hitler-Stalin deal of August 1939 caught the whole Danubian area between the upper and nether millstones.
With the outbreak of hostilities, Prime Minister Paul Teleki sought to maintain a nonbelligerent status and some measure of independence
Note: We wish to thank Stephen D. Kertesz and the University of Notre Dame Press for granting permission to reprint this shortened version of the chapter "Hungary" from the publication, Stephen Kertesz (editor), The Fate of East Central Europe: Hopes and Failures of American Foreign Policy ( Notre Dame, 1956).