Hungarian Soviet Republic

The Hungarian Soviet Republic, literally the Republic of Councils in Hungary (Hungarian: Magyarországi Tanácsköztársaság)[nb 2] and also known as the Hungarian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (Hungarian: Magyarországi Szocialista Szövetséges Tanácsköztársaság),[nb 3] was a short-lived Socialist–Communist rump state.[2] It was the state of Hungary from 21 March 1919 until 1 August 1919 (133 days), succeeding the First Hungarian Republic.[3] The head of government was Sándor Garbai from the Social Democratic Party of Hungary, but the influence of the foreign minister Béla Kun from the Hungarian Communist Party was much stronger. Unable to reach an agreement with the Triple Entente, which maintained an economic blockade in Hungary, tormented by neighboring countries for territorial disputes, and invested by profound internal social changes, the soviet republic failed in its objectives and was abolished a few months after its existence. The presentation of the Vix Note led to the fall of Mihály Károlyi's government, which was by then devoid of significant support,[4] and the proclamation of the soviet republic the following day, 12 March.[5] Its main figure was the Communist Béla Kun,[3] despite the fact that the majority of the new government was Socialist.[6] Apparently democratic,[7] the new system effectively concentrated power in the governing councils, which exercised it in the name of the working class.[8][nb 4]

Hungarian Soviet Republic
Magyarországi Tanácsköztársaság
March–August 1919
Motto: Világ proletárjai, egyesüljetek!
"Workers of the world, unite!"
Anthem: Internacionálé[1]
"The Internationale"
Map of territory of the former Kingdom of Hungary, May–August 1919
  Controlled by Romania in April 1919
  Controlled by Hungary
  Subsequently controlled by Hungary to establish the Slovak Soviet Republic
  Controlled by French and Yugoslav forces
  Borders of Hungary in 1918
  Borders of Hungary in 1920
47.4833°N 19.0333°E / 47.4833; 19.0333
Common languagesHungarian
GovernmentSoviet socialist republic
De facto leader 
Béla Kun[nb 1]
Chairman of the Central Executive Council 
Sándor Garbai
LegislatureNational Assembly of Soviets
Historical eraInterwar period
21 March 1919
23 June 1919
1 August 1919
CurrencyHungarian korona
Preceded by
Succeeded by
First Hungarian People's Republic
Hungarian Republic (1919–1920)

The new regime failed to reach an agreement with the Triple Entente that would lead to the lifting of the economic blockade, the improvement of the new borders or the recognition of the new government by the victorious powers of World War I.[9] The army was reorganized and attempts were made to recover the lost territories at the hands of neighboring countries, an objective that aroused widespread support from all social classes, not only those more favorable to the newborn regime.[10] For their part, the neighboring countries used the struggle against communism, first against the government of Károlyi and then against the soviet republic, as a justification for their expansionist ambitions.[11] Initially, thanks to patriotic support from conservative officers, the republican forces advanced against the Czechoslovakians in Slovakia,[12] after suffering a defeat in the east at the hands of the Romanian Army in late April, which led to a retreat on the banks of the Tisza.[13] In mid-June, the birth of the Slovak Soviet Republic was proclaimed, which lasted two weeks until the Hungarian withdrawal at the request of the Triple Entente.[12] On 20 July, the soviet republic launched a new attack on the Romanian posts.[14] After a few days in advance, the Romanians managed to stop the offensive,[15] to break through the front and reach Budapest, the Hungarian capital, a few days after the end of the soviet republic, which was abolished on 2 August.[16]

The Hungarian heads of government applied doctrinal measures in both foreign and domestic policy that made them lose the favor of the majority of the population.[11] The attempt of the new executive to profoundly change the lifestyle and the system of values of the population proved to be a resounding failure;[17] the effort to convert Hungary, which still had the aftermath of the Habsburg period, into a socialist society was unsuccessful due to a number of elements, namely lack of time, experienced administrative and organizational staff, as well as inexperience, both political and economic, in some of the maneuvering activities.[17] The attempt to win the sympathies of the peasants met with general indifference, since encouraging agricultural production and supplying the cities at the same time was not a process that could be completed in a short period of time.[18] After the withdrawal from Slovakia, the application of some measures aimed at regaining popular support was ordered, without great success;[19] in particular, the ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages was repealed, the delivery of some plots to peasants was planned without land, and attempts were made to improve the monetary situation and food supply.[19] Unable to apply them, the soviet republic had already lost the support of the majority of the population between June and July, which led, together with military defeats, to its inexorable ruin.[19] The failure of internal reform was joined by that of foreign policy; the political and economic isolation of the Triple Entente, the military failure in the face of neighboring countries and the impossibility of joining forces with the Red Army units contributed to the collapse of the soviet republic.[20] The Socialist–Communist government was succeeded by an exclusively Socialist one on 1 August;[6] the Communists left Budapest and went abroad, [15] while power returned to the feudal and nationalist aristocracy that had held it the previous century.[20]