With the Red Army's rapid advance westward in 1944-1945, the situation in the eastern part of Central Europe was undergoing dramatic change. The possibilities open to the political forces of the small Central European countries -- which were ultimately circumscribed by their dependence on the belligerents -- were increasingly limited in the course of military operations. After the war, the fates of these countries would be determined by a whole complex of external factors and by the victorious powers -- among them, the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, as the war drew to a close, the leaders of Romania and Czechoslovakia attempted to exert influence on the Great Powers in order to ensure their national interests and determine their relations with postwar Hungary.
In August 1944, Romanian troops joined German forces to prevent the Hungarian government, headed by Géza Lakatos, from withdrawing from hostilities. Subsequently, the Romanian government severed ties with its former ally and turn its forces (which were already fighting on the side of the Red Army) against the German occupiers in the Northern Transylvania region. Thanks to this wily maneuver on the part of the Romanians, the Soviets supported Romania's claim to "Transylvania or its major part" when the USSR and Romania concluded an armistice agreement. 1 This issue became a serious bone of contention between Romania and Hungary, since there were 2.5 million Hungarians inhabiting the designated area. Moreover, in establishing