The Hungarian Revolution of 1919 (ii): The example of Russia 1917 inspires the workers in Hungary

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The example of Russia 1917 inspired the workers in Hungary

In the previous article in this series,[1] we saw how the Social Democratic party, the main rampart of capitalism, carried out a despicable manoeuvre in order to deal with the developing workers' struggle. This manoeuvre aimed at making the communists appear to be responsible for a mysterious attack perpetrated against the editorial board of the Social Democratic paper Népszava. The intention was to criminalise them and so unleash a wave of repression, initially against the communists but then going on to annihilate the new-born workers' councils and destroy any revolutionary spirit in the Hungarian proletariat.

In this second article we will see how this manoeuvre failed and how the revolutionary situation continued to mature so that the Social Democratic party tried another manoeuvre, which was risky but which in the end was a success for capitalism: to ally with the Communist Party, “take power” and organise “the dictatorship of the proletariat”. This blocked the dynamic of rising struggles and the development of proletarian self-organisation and led the revolution into an impasse that resulted in its utter defeat.

March 1919: the crisis of the bourgeois republic

The truth about the attack on the newspaper soon came out. The workers felt that they had been tricked and their indignation grew even more when the torture inflicted upon the communists came to light. The credibility of the Social Democratic party was seriously damaged and this increased the popularity of the Communists. Struggles around specific demands grew in number from the end of February: the peasants seized the land without waiting for the eternal promise of “agrarian reform”,[2] more and more workers flocked to the Budapest workers' council and tumultuous discussions led to bitter criticism of the Social Democratic and union leaders. The bourgeois republic, that had created so many illusions in October 1918, was now a disappointment. The 25,000 soldiers who had been sent home from the front were shut up in their barracks and organised themselves into councils; during the first week of March, not only did the assemblies in the barracks re-elect their representatives – with a significant increase in the number of Communist delegates – they also passed motions stating that, “government orders will not be obeyed unless formerly ratified by the Budapest soldiers' council”.

On 7th March, an extraordinary session of the workers' council of Budapest adopted a resolution which, “demanded the socialisation of all the means of production and that they be placed under the direction of the councils”. Although socialisation without first destroying the bourgeois state apparatus is bound to be a limping measure, this declaration nevertheless expressed the enormous self-confidence of the councils and was a response to two urgent questions: 1) the bosses' sabotage of production, which was completely disorganised by the war effort; 2) the tragic lack of foodstuffs and of goods to satisfy basic needs.

Events took a radical turn. The metal workers' council presented the government with an ultimatum; it gave it five days to hand over power to the proletarian parties.[3] On 19th March, there took place the biggest demonstration seen up to then, which was called by the workers' council of Budapest; the unemployed demanded an allowance and a ration card, as well as the abolition of rents. On 20th, the typographers went on strike; this became generalised from the following day and made two demands: the liberation of the Communist leaders and a “workers' government”.

Although this demonstrates that there was a maturation towards a revolutionary situation, it also shows that the political level was still far below what was necessary for the proletariat to take power. In order to take power and keep it, the proletariat must be able to count on two indispensable factors: the workers' councils and the communist party. In March 1919 the workers' councils in Hungary had just taken their first steps, they had just begun to feel their power and autonomy and they were still trying to free themselves from the stifling control of Social Democracy and the unions. Their two main weaknesses were:

-        their illusions in the possibility of a “workers' government” which would unite the Social Democrats and the Communists. As we will see, this was to be the death knell of a revolutionary development of the situation;

-        they were still organised according to economic sectors: councils of metal workers, of typographers, of textile workers, etc. In Russia, from 1905 onwards, the councils were organised horizontally, regrouping the workers as a whole across divisions of sector, region, nationality, etc; in Hungary there existed both councils based on sector and also horizontal councils within towns, which meant that there was a risk of corporatism and dispersion.

In the first article in this series, we stressed that the Communist Party was still very weak and heterogeneous, that the debate had only just begun to develop within it. It was weakened by the absence of a solid international structure to guide it – the Communist International had only just celebrated its first congress. For these reasons, as we will see, it had enormous weaknesses and an absence of clarity that was to make it an easy victim of the trap that Social Democracy laid for it.

The merger with the Social Democratic party and the proclamation of the Soviet Republic

Colonel Vix, the representative of the Entente,[4] issued an ultimatum, which stipulated that there be created a demilitarised zone within Hungarian territory, to be governed directly by allied command. It was to be 200 kilometres wide, which meant that it would occupy a third of the country.

The bourgeoisie never confronts the proletariat openly. History teaches us that it tries to trap it between two fronts, the left and the right. Here we see the right opening fire with the threat of military occupation; this was to be concretised from April onwards with a full-blown invasion. For its part, the left went into action immediately afterwards with a pathetic declaration by President Karolyi: “Our homeland is in danger. The most serious moment in our history is upon us. (...) The time has come for the Hungarian working class to use its force - the only organised force in the country - and its international relations to save its homeland from anarchy and dismemberment. I therefore propose that a Social Democratic government be formed that will confront the imperialists. The stakes of this struggle are the fate of our country. In order to wage such a struggle it is indispensable that the working class recover its unity and that the agitation and disorder brought about by the extremists, cease. With this in mind, the Social Democrats must find common ground for an agreement with the Communists”.[5]

This crossfire in which the working class was caught up; the right with its military occupation, and the left with the appeal for national defence, converged on the same aim: to save capitalist domination. The military occupation – the worst affront that can be inflicted on a nation state – was really intended to crush the revolutionary tendencies of the Hungarian proletariat. In addition, it enabled the left to drive the workers towards the defence of the fatherland. This kind of trap had been used before; in Russia in October 1917, when the Russian bourgeoisie realised that it was unable to crush the proletariat, it preferred to let German troops occupy Petrograd; at the time the working class parried this manoeuvre well by embarking on the seizure of power. The right-wing Social Democrat Garami revealed the strategy that was to follow in the wake of Count Karolyi's appeal: “entrust the government to the Communists, await the total failure that will be theirs and then, and only then, when rid of these dregs of society, can we form an homogenous government”.[6] The centrist wing of the party[7] adopted the following policy: “As Hungary has essentially been sacrificed by the Entente, which has obviously decided to annihilate the revolution, it would seem that the only tools that the latter has at its disposal are Soviet Russia and the Red Army. To win the support of the latter, the Hungarian working class must essentially wield power and Hungary must become a real popular and soviet republic.” adding that “in order to ensure that the Communists do not abuse this power, it would be better to wield it with them![8]

The left wing of the Social Democratic party defended a proletarian position and tended to evolve towards the Communists. Garami's right-wingers and Garbai's centrists manoeuvred cleverly against them. Garami resigned from all of his responsibilities. The right wing agreed to be sacrificed in favour of the centrist wing which, “declaring its agreement with the communist programme” positioned itself to seduce the left.[9]

Following this U-turn, the new centrist leadership proposed the immediate merger with the Communist Party and nothing less than the seizure of power! A delegation of the Social Democratic Party went to meet Bela Kun in prison and made the proposal to unite the two parties, to form a “workers' party”, to exclude all  “bourgeois parties” and to form an alliance with Russia. The talks took place in the space of one day, at the end of which Bela Kun draw up a six-point statement which, among other things, underlines, “The directive committees of the Hungarian Social Democratic party and of the Hungarian Communist Party have decided in favour of the total and immediate unification of their respective organisations. The name of the new organisation is to be Unified Socialist Party of Hungary (PSUH). (...) The PSUH will immediately take power in the name of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This dictatorship is to be exercised by the councils of workers, peasants and soldiers. There will be no more National Assembly (...). A military and political alliance will be concluded with Russia as completely as is possible.[10]

President Karolyi, who followed these negotiations closely, handed in his resignation and made a declaration addressed “to the world proletariat to obtain help and justice. I resign and hand over power to the proletariat of the Hungarian people.”[11]

During the demonstration of 22nd March, “the ex-Regent, Archduke Franz-Joseph, Philippe-Egalité himself, he too came to take his place at the side of the workers at the demonstration.”[12] The new government, formed the day before with Bela Kun and other Communist leaders, who had been recently freed, was presided over by the centrist Social Democrat Garbai.[13] It had a centrist majority with two places reserved for the left wing and two others for the Communists, one of whom was Bela Kun. So there began a very risky operation which consisted in holding the Communists hostage to Social Democratic policies and in sabotaging the newly formed workers' councils by means of the poisoned framework of the “seizure of power”. The Social Democrats left the leading role to Bela Kun who – completely caught in the trap – became the spokesman and the guarantor for a series of measures that could only destroy his credibility.[14]

“Unity” creates division within the revolutionary forces

The declaration of the “unified” party managed in the first place to halt the regroupment of the left Social Democrats with the Communists, who had been cleverly seduced by the radicalisation of the centrists. But the worst thing was that there was opened up a Pandora's box among the Communists, who split up into various tendencies. The majority, around Bela Kun, became hostage to the Social Democrats; another tendency, formed around Szamuelly, remained within the party but tried to carry out an independent policy; the majority of the anarchists split to form the Anarchist Union, which still supported the government but with an oppositional stance.[15]

The Party, that had been formed only a few months previously and had only just begun to develop its organisation and intervention, dissolved completely. Debate became impossible and its old members were in permanent opposition to one another. They did not have the support of a framework of principles or independent analysis, but were constantly dragged onwards by the evolution of events and the subtle manoeuvres of the centrist Social Democrats.

The disorientation about what was really happening in Hungary even affected Lenin, a militant with considerable experience and lucidity. In his complete works there is a transcription of the discussions with Bela Kun on 22nd and 23rd March 1919.[16] Lenin asks Bela Kun: “Please inform us what real guarantees you have that the new Hungarian government will actually be a communist, and not simply a socialist, government, i.e. one of the traitor-socialists. Have the Communists a majority in the government? When will the Congress of Soviets take place? What does the socialists’ recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat really amount to?” Lenin asks the right basic questions. However, as everything depends on personal contact and not on collective international debate, Lenin concludes: “Comrade Bela Kun's reply was quite satisfactory and dispelled all our doubts. It appears that the Left Socialists had visited Bela Kun in prison to consult him about forming a government. And it was only these Left Socialists, who sympathised with the Communists, and also people from the Centre who formed the new government, while the Right Socialists, the traitor-socialists, the irreconcilables and incorrigibles, so to speak, left the Party and not a single worker followed them.” We can see from this that Lenin was at least badly informed or else he did not evaluate the situation correctly, because the Social Democratic centre was in the majority in the government and the left Social Democrats were in the hands of their centrist “friends”.

Carried away by a debilitating optimism, Lenin concludes: “The bourgeoisie itself has handed over power to the Communists in Hungary. The bourgeoisie has shown to the whole world that when there is a serious crisis, when the nation is in danger, it is unable to govern. The only power that the people really want is the power of the councils of worker, soldier and peasant deputies.

Once hoisted to power, the workers' councils are sabotaged

In reality this power existed only on paper. In the first place, it was the Unified Socialist Party that took power without any participation whatsoever on the part of the Budapest council or any other council in the country.[17]  Although the government formally declared itself to be “subordinate” to the Workers' Council of Budapest, in fact it was the one who issued decrees, orders and decisions of every kind, as the facts attest, and the Council had no more than a relative right of veto. The workers' councils were tied up in the straitjacket of parliamentary practice. “Proletarian affairs continued to be administered – or more precisely sabotaged – by the old bureaucracy and not by the workers' councils themselves, which therefore never managed to become active organisms.[18]

The most brutal blow against the councils was the government's call for elections in order to form a “National Assembly of Workers' Councils”. The electoral system imposed by the government was to concentrate the elections on two dates (7th and 14th April 1919), “following the modalities of formal democracy (vote using electoral lists, with cubicles, etc)[19]. This is a reproduction of the mechanism typical of bourgeois elections, which simply sabotages the very essence of the workers' councils. Whereas in the case of bourgeois democracy the elected organs are the result of a vote made by a sum of atomised individuals who are completely separated one from another, the Workers' Councils are based on a radically new and different concept of political action: decisions and action to be taken are thought out and discussed during debates in which a huge and organised mass participates and the latter do not just make the decisions but they themselves carry them out.

The triumph of the electoral manoeuvre was due to the clever manoeuvres of the Social Democrats, who exploited the confusions existing not only within the masses but also within the majority of its Communist militants and especially in Bela Kun's group. Years of participation in elections and in parliament – activities that were necessary for proletarian groups during the ascendant period of capitalism – had produced habits and a vision belonging to a past that had decisively ended and which impeded a clear reply to the new situation; one that necessitated a complete break with parliamentarism and electoralism.

The electoral mechanism and the demand for discipline to the “unified” party meant that, as Szanto put it, “in presenting the candidates for election to the councils, the Communists were obliged to defend the Social Democratic cause and even so, many of them were not elected”; and he adds that this enabled the Social Democrats to give vent to “a revolutionary and communist verbiage that made them seem more revolutionary than the Communists![20]

This policy produced lively resistance. The April elections were contested in the 8th district of Budapest and Szamuelly managed to get the official list of his own party annulled (!) and to impose elections based on debate at mass assemblies. This gave the victory to a coalition of dissidents from the PSUH and to the anarchists, regrouped around Szamuelly.

Other attempts to bring to life real workers' councils took place in mid-April. A movement of the district councils managed to hold a Conference of District Councils in Budapest, which harshly criticised the “soviet government” and put forward a series of proposals regarding provisioning, the counter-revolutionary repression, the relationship with the peasantry, the continuation of the war; and it proposed – just one month after the elections! - new elections to the councils. Held hostage to the Social Democrats, Bela Kun made an appearance at the last session of the conference in the role of duty fireman and with a speech brimming with demagogy: “We are already so far to the left that it is impossible to go further. To veer still further to the left could only be counter-revolution.[21]

Economic re-organisation based on the unions against the councils

The attempt at revolution came up against economic chaos, scarcity and the sabotage of the bosses. Although it is true that the proletarian revolution's centre of gravity is the political power of the councils, this does not in any way mean that it can afford to neglect the control of production. Just because it is impossible to begin the revolutionary transformation of production towards communism until the revolution is victorious internationally, we should not conclude that the proletariat does not need to carry out an economic policy from the very beginning of the revolution. This has to deal with two main issues in particular: the first is to adopt all possible measures to reduce the exploitation of the workers and to guarantee them the maximum free time so that they can devote their energy to the active participation in the workers’ councils. With this in mind, under pressure from the Workers' Council of Budapest, the government took measures such as eliminating piecework and reducing the working day, with the aim of “enabling the workers to participate in the political and cultural life of the revolution.[22]  The second issue is the struggle to guarantee supplies and prevent sabotage in order to prevent hunger and the inevitable economic chaos from sounding the death knell of the revolution. In the face of this problem, from January 1919 the workers formed factory councils and councils by sector; and, as we saw in the first article in this series, the Budapest Council adopted an audacious plan to control supplies satisfying basic needs. But the government, which should have been supporting them, carried out a systematic policy of taking production and supplies out of their hands and handing it over increasingly to the unions. Bela Kun made serious mistakes here. In May 1919, he declared: “Our industrial apparatus is based on the unions. The latter must be emancipated and transformed into powerful corporations that encompass first the majority and then all of the individuals in a given branch of industry. The unions participate in technical management and their activity tends to gradually take on the task of management as a whole. In this way they guarantee that the main economic organs of the regime and the working population pull together and that the workers get used to conducting economic life.[23] Roland Bardy criticises this analysis: “Imprisoned in an abstract framework, Bela Kun was unable to realise that the logic of his position led to handing back to the socialists the power that had been gradually taken from them (...) For a long period the unions would be the bastion of reformist Social Democracy and would constantly come into direct competition with the soviets.”[24]

The government managed to ensure that only the unionised workers and peasants had access to the co-operatives and to the stewardship of consumption. This gave the unions an essential lever of control. Bela Kun theorised this: “the communist regime is that of an organised society. Anyone who wants to live and to be successful must belong to an organisation, so the unions should not place obstacles to membership.[25] As Bardy points out: “Opening up the unions to everyone was the best way to destroy the proletarian majority within them and, in the long term, make it possible to 'democratically' re-establish class society” in fact, “the old bosses, investors and their powerful valets, did not actively participate in production (industry and agriculture) but rather in the administration or in the legal institutions. By enlarging this sector it was possible for the old bourgeoisie to survive as a parasitic class and to have access to the distribution of produce, without even being actively integrated into the productive process.[26] This system favoured speculation and the black market, without ever managing to resolve the problems of famine and scarcity, which caused such suffering to the workers in the large cities.

The government encouraged the formation of large-scale agricultural exploitation directed by a system of “collectivisation”. This was a big swindle. “Commissars of production” were placed at the head of the collective farms. When they were not arrogant bureaucrats, these were...the old landowners! The latter continued to occupy their properties and insisted that the peasants continue to call them “master”.

The collective farms were supposed to spread the revolution to the countryside and guarantee supplies but they did neither. The day workers and poor peasants were profoundly disappointed by the reality of the collective farms and took an increasing distance from the regime. Their managers demanded a deal that the government was unable to guarantee: to supply agricultural products in exchange for fertiliser, tractors and machines. So they sold their produce to speculators and hoarders with the result that hunger and scarcity reached such levels that, in desperation, the Workers' Council of Budapest organised the transformation of parks and gardens into zones for agricultural production.

The evolution of the international revolutionary struggle and the situation in Hungary

The only hope for the Hungarian proletariat to break out of the trap in which it was caught lay in the development of the international proletarian struggle. There was great hope in the period from March to June 1919 in spite of the massive blow represented by the crushing of the Berlin insurrection in January.[27] In March 1919 the Communist International was formed, April saw the proclamation of the Republic of Bavarian Councils, which was tragically crushed by the Social Democratic government. Revolutionary agitation in Austria, where workers' councils were strengthened, was also aborted by the manoeuvring of a provocateur, Bettenheim, who incited the young Communist Party to a premature insurrection that was easily crushed (May 1919). In Great Britain the huge strike of the Clyde shipbuilders broke out. Workers' councils were formed and this gave rise to mutinies in the army. Strike movements took place in Holland, Norway, Sweden, Yugoslavia, Rumania, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Italy and even in the United States. But these movements were still too immature. This situation also gave a significant margin for manoeuvre to the French and British army, which remained mobilised at the end of the world war and were now charged with the dirty work of policemen to crush the revolutionary nuclei. Their intervention was concentrated on Russia (1919-20) and Hungary (from April 1919). When the first mutinies broke out in the army and in the face of campaigns against the war being waged against revolutionary Russia, these troops were rapidly replaced by colonial troops that were much more resilient when used against the proletariat.

As regards Hungary, the French command drew the lessons of the soldiers' refusal to repress the Szeged insurrection. France took a back seat and encouraged the neighbouring states to move against Hungary: Rumania and Czechoslovakia were to be the spearhead of these operations. These states combined the job of policeman with the conquest of territory at the experience of the Hungarian state.

Soviet Russia was under siege and unable to supply any military support. The attempt of the Red Army and Nestor Makhno’s guerrillas to launch a western offensive in June 1919 in order to open up a communication route with Hungary, came to nothing because of General Denikin's violent counter-attack.

But the main problem was that the proletariat's enemy was inside its own house.[28] On 30th March, the government of the “workers' dictatorship” pompously created the Red Army. It was the same old army under a new name. All the posts in the command structure remained in the hands of the old generals, who were supervised by a body of political commissars dominated by the Social Democrats and from which the Communists were excluded.

The government rejected a proposal from the Communists to dissolve the police force. The workers, however, took it upon themselves to disarm the guards; several Budapest factories passed resolutions on this point and they were immediately put into action: “So, only the Social Democrats were allowed to give permission but they did not authorise their disarmament. It was only after a long period of resistance that they agreed to sack the police and the security guards.[29] The formation of the Red Army was then decreed, integrating into its ranks the sacked police officers!

In this way, the army and the police, the backbone of the bourgeois state, remained intact thanks to these little manoeuvres. So it is not surprising that the Red Army disintegrated so easily in the face of the April offensive launched by Rumanian and Czech troops. Several regiments even went over to the enemy.

On 30th April, when invading troops were at the gates of Budapest, the mobilisation of the workers managed to reverse the situation. The anarchists and Szamuelly's group carried out powerful agitation. The 1st May demonstration was a massive success, there were slogans demanding “the armament of the people” and Szamuelly's group called for “all power to the workers' councils”. On 2nd May there was a huge meeting demanding the voluntary mobilisation of the workers. Within a few days in Budapest alone 40,000 of them had enrolled in the Red Army.

The Red Army, reinforced by the incorporation of masses of workers and by the arrival of international brigades of French and Russian volunteers, launched a huge offensive which obtained a series of victories over the Rumanian, Serbian and particularly over the Czech troops, which suffered an enormous defeat and whose soldiers deserted en masse. In Slovakia the actions of the workers and rebel soldiers led to the formation of a workers' council which, supported by the Red Army, proclaimed the Slovak Republic of Councils (16th June). The Council concluded an alliance with the Hungarian Republic and published a Manifesto addressed to all Czech workers.

This success alerted the world bourgeoisie: “On 8th June, the Paris Peace Conference, alarmed by the success of the Red Army, issued another ultimatum to Budapest, in which it demanded that the Red Army stop advancing and invited the Hungarian government to Paris to 'discuss Hungary's borders'. There was a second ultimatum, in which the use of force was threatened if the ultimatum was not respected.[30]

The Social Democrat Bohm, with the support of Bela Kun, began negotiations “at any cost” with the French state, which demanded that the first step be to abandon the Slovak Republic of Councils: this was accepted on 24th June. This Republic was crushed on 28th of the same month and all its known militants were hanged the day after.

At this point the Entente changed tactic. The demands of the Rumanian troops and their territorial pretensions had acted as a spur to tighten up the ranks of the Red Army, which had contributed to its May victories. A provisional Hungarian government was hastily formed around two brothers of the former president Karolyi, which was based in the zone occupied by the Rumanians, but it was then forced to withdraw reluctantly in order to give the impression of an “independent government”. At this point the right wing of Social Democracy re-appeared, giving its open support to this government.

On 24th January there was an attempted uprising in Budapest, organised by the right wing social democrats. The government negotiated with the insurgents and gave way to its demand to ban Lenin's Boys, the international brigades and the regiments controlled by the anarchists. This repression precipitated the disintegration of the Red Army: violent confrontations broke out within its ranks and desertions and mutinies became increasingly frequent.

The final defeat and brutal repression

The working population of Budapest was utterly demoralised. Many workers fled the city with their families. In the countryside the peasant revolts against the government increased. Rumania made a new push in its military offensive. From the middle of June the Social Democrats re-united and demanded that Bela Kun resign and that a new government be formed without the participation of the Communists. On 20th July, Bela Kun launched a desperate military offensive against the Rumanian troops with what was left of the Red Army, which finally surrendered on 23rd. On 31st July, Bela Kun at last resigned and a new government of Social Democrats and unions was formed, which unleashed a brutal repression against the communists, the anarchists and every militant worker who was unable to flee. Szamuelly was assassinated on 2nd August.

On 6th August this government was in its turn overthrown by a handful of army officers who did not come up against any resistance. Rumanian troops entered Budapest. The prisoners were subjected to forms of torture worthy of the Middle Ages, before being murdered. Wounded soldiers were thrown out of the hospitals and dragged onto the streets, where they were subjected to all kinds of humiliation before being killed. In the villages, the troops forced the peasants to organise trials against their neighbours who were under suspicion, and to torture and kill them. Any refusal was punished by setting fire to their houses with the occupants inside.

Whereas 129 counter-revolutionaries were executed during the 133 days that the Soviet Republic lasted, more than 5,000 people were assassinated between 15th and 31st August. There were 75,000 arrests. Mass trials began in October; 15,000 workers were tried by military tribunals, which gave out the death penalty and hard labour.

Between 1920 and 1944, the vicious dictatorship of Admiral Horty was supported by democrats in the west, in spite of his fascist sympathies, in gratitude for services rendered against the proletariat.

C.Mir 4/9/10


Part 1

[2]. By means of a co-ordinated action, the peasant committees seized the land from the highest aristocrat in the country, Count Esterhazy.

[3]. This shows the growing politicisation of the workers' movement but also its weaknesses in terms of consciousness because they were demanding a government composed of the Social Democratic traitors together with the Communists, who had been imprisoned thanks to the manoeuvres of the former.

[4]. During the First World War, the Entente regrouped the imperialist camp composed of Great Britain, France and Russia, at least up until the October Revolution.

[5]. Roland Bardy, 1919, the Commune of Budapest, p.83. Most of the information used in this article is taken from the French edition of this work, which contains copious documentation.

[6]. Ibid.

[7]. The centrist wing of the Hungarian party was composed of cadres that were as reactionary as those of the right wing but they were much more cunning and able to adapt to the situation.

[8]. Roland Bardy, op. cit., p.84.

[9]. Bela Szanto, in his book The Hungarian Revolution of 1919, p 88 of the Spanish edition, chapter entitled, “With whom should the communists have united?”, quotes a Social Democrat, Buchinger, who admits that “uniting with the Communists on the basis of their programme as a whole was done without the slightest conviction”.

[10]. Roland Bardy, op. cit., p.85.

[11]. Ibid., p.86.

[12]. Ibid., p.99.

[13]. In February 1919, this individual declared: “the Communists should be sent before a firing squad” and in July 1919 he stated: “I am unable to take my place in the mental universe on which the dictatorship of the proletariat is based” (Szanto, op. cit., p.99).

[14]. Bela Szanto (op. cit., p 82 of the Spanish version) reports that on the following day, Bela Kun admitted to his party comrades: “Things are going too well. I couldn't sleep, I kept wondering all night how they could trip us up”, chapter entitled, “ Forward towards the dictatorship of the proletariat”.

[15]. Within the Anarchist Union there was a tendency organised autonomously, which called itself Lenin's Boys and which called for the “defence of the power of the workers' councils”. It was to play a significant role in the military actions in defence of the revolution.

[16]. Volume 29 of the English edition, p. 227 and p. 242. The documents are entitled “Record of wireless message to Bela Kun, March 23, 1919” and “Communication on the wireless negotiations with Bela Kun”.

[17]. The Workers' Council of Szeged – a town in the “demilitarised” zone although it was in fact occupied by 16,000 French soldiers – took revolutionary action. On 21st March, the Council organised the insurrection and occupied all strategic points. The French soldiers refused to fight against them and so their army command decided to retreat. On 23rd the council elected a governing council composed of a glass worker, a building worker and a lawyer. On 24th it contacted the new government of Budapest.

[18]. Szanto, op. cit., p.106, chapter entitled, “Contradictions in theory and practice and their consequences”.

[19]. Roland Bardy, op. cit., p.101.

[20]. Bela Szanto, op. cit., p.91, chapter entitled “With whom should the Communists have united?”

[21]. Roland Bardy, op. cit., p.105.

[22]. Ibid., p.117.

[23]. Ibid., p.111.

[24]. Ibid., p.112.

[25]. Ibid., p.127.

[26]. Ibid., p.126.

[27]. See the fourth article in our series on the German Revolution in International Review, n°. 136.

[28]. Bela Szanto, op. cit., p 146: “The counter-revolution was so strong that in its magazines and pamphlets it was able to claim as its own, men who were at the head of the workers' movement or who held important positions in the dictatorship of the councils.

[29]. Idem, p.104, chapter entitled “Contradiction in theory and in practice and their consequences”.

[30]. Alan Woods, The Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919, the Forgotten Revolution.


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