THE YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT AND THE COUNTERREVOLUTION IN HUNGARY

,
1919-1920
Vujica Kovatev
News of the proclamation of the Soviet Republic in Hungary on March 21, 1919 was
received in Yugoslavia with surprise not only in official political circles but also by the
Social Democratic parties which were at the time busy trying to unite into a single party.
As a preventive measure againstthe events in Hungary, the Serb Supreme Military
Command organized greater control along the demarcation line.They even went so far as to
dismantle railway lines between Yugoslavia and Hungary and to sever all telephone and
telegraph communication between the two states. Matters became clearer only at the end
of March after the arrival of Lieutenant-Colonel Fernand Vix and the Allied Military Mission
in Belgrade and Vix's statement about the situation in Hungary. The proclamation of a
Soviet Republic in a neighboring country posed new problems for the Yugoslav
government which had, a little earlier on, at the beginning of January 1919, sent a
representative delegation to Paris backed by a group of the country's most distinguished
economists, lawyers, historians, ethnologists, geographers, and others, to prepare
Yugoslavia's demands and to hold negotiations on Yugoslavia's future definite frontiers.
What had now happened was that a new danger had appeared in her immediate vicinitythat of Bolshevism, which threatened to spread to Yugoslavia. Although the proclamation of
the Soviet Republic meant less danger of a restoration of the Habsburg monarchy in
Hungary, something that Yugoslavia's politicians had been fervently fighting against after
the war, the danger of Communist propaganda was also present because the ideas from
Russia were also popular with Yugoslavian workers.
The newly created situation in Hungary led to numerous crossings across the
demarkation line by sympathizers of the ancien regime who rallied in Serboccupied Baranya county and particularly in the town of Pecs which was something that the
Yugoslav military authorities did not take kindly to; in fact, they tried to have them
transferred as quickly as possible to Arad or Szeged where the French military command
took them under its wing. Some French military circles directly encouraged their efforts to
rally and organize, hoping that they would be useful to them for the intervention in Hungary.
And so, under the protection of these officers, a counterrevolutionary
government under Count Gyula Karolyi was formed in Arad on May 5, with direct
encouragement and assistance from General Henri Leopold Gondrecourt and Captain
Saint Laumer.1 The number-one task in the government's program was the overthrow
of Soviet rule in Hungary along with help from the Entente and the formation of a
national army. At the end of May, this government had transfered its headquarters to
the town of Szeged where it intensified its action to rally reactionary officers and to create
its own military detachments. But, the French command was also made up of officers like
General Paul de Lobit who did not foster any particular sympathies for the Hungarian
aristocracy and counterrevolutionaries, and although they did not allow them to hold
their military demonstrations along the demarka- tion line, they did not directly prevent
them from rallying in the town of Szeged.2
After the proclamation of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, the Yugoslav government
did not wish to have any contacts, not even diplomatic ties, with the Hungarians, and to begin
with, it only had an unofficial representative in Budapest who was in charge of consular

The talks were not particularly successful but they were informed of Protic's message that the Yugoslav army would not intervene in Hungary. as officers. The negotiations were subsequently conducted in Szeged. the American envoy.5 Meanwhile. arrived in Belgrade at the beginning of April and was followed by the representative of the Viennese Anti-Bolshevik Committee. two representatives were sent. Archduke Jozsef made another attempt to come into contact with the Yugoslav government by sending two of his officers to Belgrade where nobody wanted to talk to them. who went to the Foreign Affairs Ministry for talks on the formation of White Hungarian detachments in the town of Baja and Baranya.6 At the end of April.7 At the beginning of June. the French envoy. also informed his government about the matter. His choice was Viktor Balas. The proposal was. his plenipotentiary. Archduke Jozsef himself wanted to make a personal appearance in Belgrade to negotiate joint action for the restoration of the old order in Hungary but the Yugoslav government most emphatically rejected the offer. categorically rejected by the Yugoslav side because the formation of the units would present a latent danger to Yugoslavia itself. Captain Gyula Gombos. Fontenay. Miklos Horthy and Count Pal Teleki were sent to Belgrade from June 20- . His prime task was to follow the work of the Yugoslav Communist organization in Hungary and to report back to the responsible organs in Yugoslavia on their activites. Jozsef DinerDenes. a state Official of high rank. Bela Kun. however. reported it to the French government. there was a great deal more traffic by the emissaries of various Hungarian counterrevolutionary political circles who sought contacts with the Yugoslav government and its military organs. Count Istvan Bethlen also decided to send someone from Vienna to Belgrade in April. assessing it as Hungarian tactics to stall matters until military aid was forthcoming from Soviet Russia. The majority of these envoys were armed with recommendations from high-ranking French officers. He too fared no better and was quickly banished to Austria. Both conducted talks on the possibility of organizing White units in Baranya. An attempt was made by the Hungarian side to establish closer relations between the two countries. He had already been to Belgrade several times as the confident of Count Mihaly Karolyi.affairs . in return offering political concessions once the old regime had been restored in Hungary. And since they too achieved nothing. the most active among them being Louis Franchet d'Esperey. Count Gyorgy Pallavicini. This surprise visit was recorded in the Yugoslav press and was also known in the diplomatic circles. an engineer. to Belgrade at the beginning of April 1919. to Belgrade for negotiations. although none of these missions had any visible success in negotiating with the Yugoslav authorities. that Hungary recognized the existing borders and had no territorial pretensions on Yugoslavia. Kun sent his envoy.3 At the time.4 Henry Percival Dodge. Wishing to ensure lasting peace on the southern demarkation line. The military authorities were thus ordered to escort them. and Aleksandar Jovanovic. to a prisoners of war camp in Pozarevac. in Soviet Hungary. by the Szeged government.Their mission was also connected with the formation of counterrevolutionary units in the territory of Yugoslavia. the statements made by Commissar for Foreign Affairs. Hence. had a soothing effect on the Yugoslav government. Prime Minister Stojan Protic did not wish to meet them but they were received by an official in the Foreign Affairs Ministry by the name of Mihailo Gavrilovic with whom they discussed relations between the two countries.

. The courier service was usually operated by young officers.11 . satisfied with the territory it had grasped. Romania. in fact. and Romanians who wanted to appropriate some of the territories that had come under Belgrade's control.000 men. On this occasion. At the end of July. to prevent these units from actually taking part in the operations. The first initiative at rallying the interventionist forces came from the French politicians as early as the beginning of April and was furthered by the Greek Foreign Minister Nikola Politis who made a proposal in Paris to the representatives of Yugoslavia.10 A few days later. Bulgarians. and Poland. and asked that military equipment be supplied for the units. During June.9 The initiative to collect the military materiel necessary to overthrow the revolutionary government in Hungary was taken by French politicians and military commanders. Similarly. the Yugoslav military authorities made a concession and instead of dispatching them to a prisoner of war camp as they had done on previous occasions. the Yugoslav government was ready to engage in an intervention provided the big powers made certain concessions in return and gave guarantees that there would be no attacks from neighboring states. contacts between the counterrevolutionaries from Soviet Hungary and those in Szeged had to pass along illegal channels across Yugoslav-controlled territory. the government of Italy was itself not prepared to allow its soldiers to take part in the expedition. both of an internal nature and threats from outside from the Italians. Under pressure from France. the Yugoslav government sanctioned the participation of its Danube Division which numbered 16. but it did its best. 8 Because the attitude of the Yugoslav government and the military mission towards the Hungarian White emigres in their endeavors to become militarily organized in the town of Szeged was not particularly friendly. who were poorly equipped and exhausted from a long war. All these demands were once again turned down and the Supreme Command of the Yugoslav Army forbade the arrival of White officers for the purpose of soliciting soldiers. Count Teleki made another attempt at convincing the Yugoslav government to allow the mobilization of the Hungarian population in Szabadka (Subotica) Baja.Czechoslovakia. He also asked for the necessary military equipment in order to prepare for battle. however. meet with enthusiastic support from the governments of the United States and Great Britain which were reluctant to engage their armies and were in favor of having matters solved peacefully. to enter into the adventure of intervention. it also had numerous problems to contend with.11 Chief-ofStaff of the Supreme Command Zivojin MiSic informed General. de Lobit of the conditions of such an involvement and asked that the units be used only for the purpose of an offensive and not for that of holding Hungarian territory under occupation. It did not. a large number of Hungarian officers fled to Yugoslavia. to launch a broader drive against Soviet Hungary. Thus. It was. Yugoslavia which was engaged in a struggle to establish definitive state boundaries did not want its soldiers.25 for talks on the same issue but Prime Minister Protic categorically rejected their demands. and Baranya. a meeting of these representatives took place at which the details of a military intervention were discussed. they conducted them to Szeged and handed them over to the Hungarian authorities there. at the same time.

there was no need for the French.13 In the meantime. the Czech offensive on the Northern Front started on April 27. after Georges Clemen-ceau's notes and the withdrawal of the Red Army from Slovakia. It was attended by the representatives of Romania. Czechoslovakia. . Yugoslav. This set off a wave of sharp protest. His statement led to anxiety in Belgrade. lamenting the combinations that were being made to bring a Habsburg to the Hungarian throne. to discuss the intervention in Hungary. and other troops to engage in battle. on April 16. bad feelings were fanned by a statement made by General Franchet d'Esperey who believed that once the Commune was overthrown. and Yugoslavia. Moreover. with the participation of the French. Taking advantage of the confusion in Hungary. A top-level conference was called in Paris on July 1 1. the fighting spirit of Hungarian soldiers suffered a serious blow which led to a general decline in their fighting power. a full-scale offensive had been launched by the Romanian army on the Eastern Front in which the Romanians managed to break down the Hungarian defense and to advance unhampered towards Tisza. As the Romanian and Czech troops achieved what they had set out to do by their offensive. in June. Archduke Jozsef should assume the throne. was feeling the effects of counterrevolutionary plots and revolts. and the Yugoslav representatives at the Peace Conference in Paris lodged a sharp protest note with the French government on April 19. However. the great successes scored by the reorganized Hungarian Red Army in the operations against the Czechoslovak army in the May-June offensive obliged Entente forces to undertake more serious preparations for the final overthrow of Soviet Hungary. Its aim was to reach an agreement over the collection of military material. which.In the midst of preparations for the offensive. and it too was successful.