Mihály Károlyi became prime minister of Hungary in the nationalist revolution that saw the country break free of the Habsburg Empire late last year. The early promise of that revolution has however failed to materialise, with Károlyi struggling in the face of Hungary’s myriad problems. National minorities have succeeded in detaching large swathes of territory from the country, with the support of the Allies, who appear to see Hungary as a defeated enemy rather than a newly liberated friend. Further trouble is emerging on the frontier with the Romanians, who are keen to annex Transylvania. The Allies again appear to be taking the Romanians’ side, putting intolerable strain on Károlyi’s government.
Károlyi’s government is also threatened from within. Conservative elements in the country resent both its forced concessions to the Allies and its attempts at progressive reforms. Communists, led by Béla Kun, want to replace Károlyi’s government with one modelled on Soviet Russia.
Béla Kun and other leading Communists have been under arrest since disturbances in February. Now however they experience a spectacular reversal of fortune. Károlyi’s government collapses over its inability to deal with the Romanians. Béla Kun is released from jail and invited to head a government in coalition with the Social Democrats. Kun quickly moves to sideline his more moderate allies and today he proclaims Hungary to be a Soviet Republic and calls for revolutionaries in Bavaria and Austria to follow his example.
As news of Béla Kun’s revolution spreads it causes a sensation. Now there is a second communist-ruled country in the world. Bolshevism is no longer being contained in Russia and may be about to sweep across Europe and the world.
Béla Kun (Wikipedia: Béla Kun)
Revolutionaries in Budapest (Wikipedia: Hungarian Soviet Republic)