Hungary in Revolution, 1918-19: Nine Essays

By Iván Völgyes | Go to book overview

Soviet Hungary and the Paris Peace Conference

Alfred D. Low

On March 21, 1919, at a moment of national crisis, a soviet government came into existence in Budapest. The new Communist-dominated government was considered a serious threat both by the neighboring countries and the Western powers because of its revolutionary and sociopolitical character as well as its territorial claims and national aspirations.

The proletarian revolution in Hungary had peculiar characteristics. It was, as the Vienna Social Democratic daily, the Arbeiterzeitung, quickly pointed out, not so much a revolution against her own bourgeoisie as one against the Entente bourgeoisie. The Hungarian bourgeoisie had made "the desperate decision to abdicate temporarily, to leave the state power to workers and peasants without a struggle.... Thus, the proletariat, without meeting resistance, seized power. The social revolution served the defense of the country against the external enemy."1Izvestiia's evaluation of the political turnover in Hungary and of the soviet government serving the purposes of national defense, followed virtually the same lines.2

The first impact of the news of the birth of the soviet republic in Hungary upon the Allied representatives gathered in Paris and the peace conference was tremendous. The British delegate Harold Nicolson considered it a "very serious" event, though it had been "foreseen," and anticipated correctly that due to their quick demobilization during the past months the Allies were in no position to enforce their terms.3 And the American General Tasker H. Bliss, a member of the American delegation in Paris, wondered whether the "whole world" was not "going Bolshevik."4

The Hungarian coup d'état which shocked the West and the Paris Peace Conference, in turn delighted Soviet Russia and gave great encouragement to the Communist International, which at that very moment was holding its founding congress in Moscow. Lenin, though soon warning that Hungary was only a small country, and that it could be easily strangled, stressed, on the other hand, the great revolutionary significance of the Hungarian turn of events and extolled its stirring example.5

The author is indebted to the American Philosophical Society for the permission given to make use of portions of his study The Soviet Hungarian Republic and the Paris Peace Conference, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society ( Philadelphia, 1963).

____________________
1
Ungarn und wir, Arbelterzeitung ( fVienna), 23 March 1919.
2
Izvestiia, 25 March 1919; similarly Pravda of the same day.
3
Harold Nicolson, Peacemaking, 1919 ( London: Constable & Co., 1933), p. 287.
4
Frederick Palmer, Bliss, Peacemaker ( New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1934), p. 379.
5
V. I. Lenin, Sochineniia, 3rd ed., 35 vols. ( Moscow: Institut Marksa-Engelsa-Lenina, 1941-50), 24:261, also 178.

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