Ugrás a tartalomhoz Lépj a menübe

Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: The Commune /4


Szügy, May 11th.

Since I left Szügy the almond trees have blossomed ; so beauty came to meet me, and my heart lost some of its wildness and I felt less lonely and sad.

When I reached the bottom of the neglected garden I saw that someone was sitting on the stone seat leaning his elbows on the table and staring towards the sun. For an instant I was taken aback : who was this man ? Then I remembered : he must be one of the officers quartered on us. Abject distress was depicted on his downcast face.

It was despair that drove many patriotic officers through hunger and poverty into the Red army, and among the humiliated they are the worst ; trampled, threatened, insulted, hungry, shivering and watched ; the helpless prey of a typewriter-agent commander-in-chief, of the delegates to the front, of scum.

So the pathless garden has appealed to another unfortunate. He too would like to escape, but cannot ; he too would like to hope, and there is nothing to hope for. What is in store for us ? Every attempt we have made has broken down, our hopes from abroad, our hopes from our own efforts. The Red press is howling for blood.

" Death to the bandits of the Counter-revolution ! "

The greater part of Hungary's aristocracy fled abroad in March : the Hungarian peasantry keeps obstinately silent on its isolated farms, in its sequestered villages. So there are none left for a counter-revolution but those who for a thousand years have borne the weight of our destinies. Once they were the electors of kings, when they were known as the gentry, later as the educated classes, and to-day as the middle classes. They have always been to the fore when death or toil was demanded of them, and always in the background when royal favours and grants were distributed ; but never have they been mediocre in fibre. This class will be for ever the trunk of the oak, the power that supports the tree and stands up against the blows of the axe, yet does not receive the rays of the sun. Now the axe has fallen. Men were wanted who dared to die, and in Budapest the first attempt at a counter-revolution flared up. But somebody betrayed it, and those caught were sentenced to life-long imprisonment and their leaders executed.

Then came the news that the ' Cabinet ' had sent to the Hungarian Legation in Vienna one hundred and forty million crowns to finance a revolution ; whereupon Hajób, the Secretary of the Legation, and the patriotic Hungarian employees stormed the Communist Legation. The money fell into the hands of the counter-revolutionaries.

' The Red Newspaper ' foamed as it reported the matter. Our hopes rose. It was said that over twenty thousand Hungarians, able to bear arms, were in Vienna, and in our imagination the right bank of the Danube was already aflame. People whispered : " the Hungarians of Vienna have started, it is only a question of days and they will knock over the Dictatorship. " Then one night about fifty officers crossed the frontier and were disarmed by the Austrian frontier guards.

Still there was hope. The ideals of the Budapest conspiracy survived its martyrs. The thread was not dropped. Brave men began once more to organise. It was decided that the aeroplane which was to give the signal for the rising was to fly over Budapest on the 4th of May at three o'clock in the morning. On the eve of the event a few officers, confident of victory, appeared in a restaurant with white roses and with restored decorations and insignia of rank, and made the gypsy band play the national anthem. This stupid demonstration naturally aroused the attention of spies, and the same night Colonel Dormándy, Captain Horváth and several brave officers and officials were arrested.

When I reached the house a letter was waiting for me from Mrs. Huszár. A clergyman of the reformed church is going to-morrow to his parents who live on the other bank of the river, and he will take me with him. One has only to ford the river and one is safe.


May 12th.

I had a curious dream last night. I dreamt the moon was shining on the manor-house. I had to escape, and was implored to hurry. Somebody hastily pressed a bundle tied up in a handkerchief and a staff into my hand. Then I found myself on the main road along the river, alone in the silvery light of the moon. The water was visible between the trees and sparkled brightly. Then I noticed that the bundle in my hand became heavier and heavier. I looked at it and found that it was all covered with blood ; blood was streaming out of it and running down my staff till it covered the road.

Later I told Mrs. Beniczky my dream. " Don't go, " said she ; " a better opportunity will come. " So I stayed.

In the afternoon the commander of the artillery in the village came to take leave. The Czechs are retiring all along the line, the Reds in pursuit. The Rumanians also have lost the initiative. In Germany the awful conditions of peace have provoked an outburst of Spartacism. The Germans are making an alliance with the Russians. France does not care ; she requires her troops for troubles at home. The domination (such as it was) of the Entente in Hungary has come to an end. The gunner looked down in despair :

" The Soviet is going to rule the world, " said he.

If this is true I shall not escape ; I shall go back to my mother and report myself. One gets tired of being a fugitive.

There was a knock at the door and in came Mrs. Huszár. She too was pale and spoke in whispers :

" Bad news. It is all over, and the town is full of detectives. You mustn't stay any longer ; you must leave here immediately. "

" And your husband ? Supposing it's true that things are going to continue like this for years ? "

" I've just heard from him, " said Mrs. Huszár, " he's hiding in the woods. He's having a bad time of it too, but then he is a man. " She had no thought for herself, only for others. " There's no need for you to stay with us. " So we agreed that I should be informed as soon as the clergyman returned and get ready to start.

The moon was filtering through the trees and in the blue light on the lawn the white fluffy dandelion clocks swayed like tiny Chinese lanterns on the ends of miniature poles. The breeze swept across the grass and extinguished the lanterns. The fluff floated in the moonlight : the image of our torn hopes.


May 13th.

This morning a soldier I had not seen before came in through the garden gate, bringing the officer's dinner in a canteen. He put down the canteen on the steps of the terrace and went into the kitchen. The men have ordered roast veal for their own dinner. When he came back he saw that a dog was licking the officer's food.

" What does it matter ? " said he ; " dogs can feed out of the same trencher. "


May 14th.

The last frost was shimmering on the grass, and machineguns were clattering away as if needles of steel were sewing a shroud in the air.

A cloud rose on the main road, as if raised by a whirlwind : a carriage came racing along at a mad gallop. A young man was driving, giving the horses their head, and as he leant forward I saw that he had a gentlemanly appearance. That was all I could see through the dust ; the carriage passed in a flash.

Shots were fired at it. " Stop him ! " howled a hoarse, thick voice from a cottage.

They are going to arrest him ; already a mounted trooper is galloping after him. But his horse shied at the shooting, rose on its hind legs, and then swerved with his rider into the fields. Meanwhile the carriage had disappeared, and my heart followed it. The fate of the driver is mine, his escape is my escape. I do not know who he was. I could not even see his face clearly, but he is ' wanted, ' so we are friends. It is only thieves and malefactors who are not hounded in Hungary to-day. They are free, they judge, rule, and speak in the name of the country. Those who are hunted are my brethren.


May 16th.

The garden has never attained such supreme beauty ; it seems to open in the morning as for an embrace. Its silence was interrupted this morning, however, by a sound like a giant blue-bottle humming in the distance. It flew fast, came nearer and nearer, its hum became a roar. A motor-car was racing along, a grey, luxurious field car, like the one the King used to have. I looked out between the shrubs. The car stopped near the path, and the driver in his leather coat leant forward, adjusting something near the steering wheel. There were three passengers in the car, the one on the right, lolling back among the cushions, a fat, high-shouldered, short-necked, broad Jew, whose very attitude was unpleasant. Under his flat Soviet cap greasy black hair curled over his neck. His clean-shaven face reminded one of a music-hall artist.

The car started and disappeared in a cloud of dust. I shrank back with disgust. Why had that face come here ? Where had I seen it before ? I shuddered. It was as though a soft slimy toad had suddenly appeared on the surface of a clear sylvan pool. The garden closed over the vision and the flowering lilacs effaced its impression. In the evening I was told that the man in the princely motor, with his suite, was Joseph Pogány.

I suppose I ought to be amused. Here am I, outlawed, sentenced to death, and sleuth-hounds have been let loose upon my tracks. The chauffeur is probably our house-keeper's fiance, the same who was set to spy on our home. And these people who have been searching for me for weeks were standing just now a few paces from me ; they, openly, free, while I was hiding in the bushes. May the same fortune attend their search for others.


May 17th.

Yesterday a newspaper was thrown from the train. The old middle-class newspapers have stopped publication even in their new Communist disguise. Following the Russian example there are now only official papers ; ' The People's Voice, ' ' The Red Newspaper,' ' The Red Soldier,' ' The Young Proletarian ' ; Világ, the old newspaper of the Freemasons, has remained, though it disguises its identity under the name of The Torch and serves as official mouth-piece of the Commissary for Education ; and there is the old capitalistic Pester Lloyd used by the revolutionary Cabinet as its semi-official, German mouthpiece.

The newspaper went from house to house through the village and at last reached us. It proclaims in gigantic type : " Victories of the Proletarian army. Lenin congratulates Béla Kún by wireless on his victories. " So Lenin is speaking once more !

The sun is shining and yet the horizon appears dark and sad. Is it really possible that they should triumph in the end ? Suddenly I laughed : Comrade Landler has published an article in ' The People's Voice, ' telling the story of how he visited a workmen's battalion with Béla Kún and Pogány. To quote him verbatim : " When they saw us they cheered. Then a curious thing happened—our comrades asked for our autographs. We were obliged to give our autographs, not to one, not to ten, but to half a battalion. He who cannot interpret this incident must be afflicted with blindness. An army which is on such a high level of culture that its men, a few miles behind the front, ask for nothing but autographs, an army like that cannot fail to be victorious ! "

The paper was still in my hand when I came to a little plot of land below the garden known by the name of ' the parson's green. ' It used to be glebe land but Mrs. Beniczky has rented it for many years. She has just been informed by the Directorate that this is to be her last year of tenancy. However, they are graciously allowing her corn to grow there. John Kispál, the gardener, a member of the Directorate, was hoeing in it, and behind him a small girl was sowing corn in the furrows. When Master Kispál perceived the newspaper in my hand, he leant on his hoe and sucked at his pipe so violently that he drew his cheeks in. Then he sent the girl for tobacco and looked round cautiously. That is the way people have nowadays when they want to speak openly.

" Tell me, Miss," said he, " what is going to happen ? "

" How should I know ? "

" Well, the gentle folks always know more than we do ; they get it out of their brains. Brains can't be taught. " He gave a long pull at his pipe. " Nowadays they put a man up against the wall if he says what he thinks. Mistress Bakalár has been carried off in chains, because she could not keep her mouth shut. She said that the Reds were greater enemies than the enemy. It was no help to her that she was a first-class Proletarian, rifle-butts played havoc with her head." The gardener looked down pensively. " Even that is not the worst of it. What's worse is that they are forsaking the country. How can any Hungarian do such a thing ? "

" Those in power to-day are not Hungarian."

" What ? You don't mean to say that Béla Kún is not a Hungarian ? "

" Why, his real name is Cohen ! "


Kispál's mouth opened wide. " If that is so, the gentle folk have treated us very unfairly. Why did they allow such a thing ? Believe me, if he had come here under his true name the people would have had none of him. "

When I reached the house the soldiers were making a great noise in the kitchen. They told the maid that an army order had arrived : the 32nd Artillery would have to leave this place. A small battery would come in its place with a hundred and fifty men. But they were not quite sure about obeying this order yet : Sergeant Isidor Grosz has a sweetheart near by, and Katz, the political delegate, does not want a change either. So they have sent to Budapest to ask Béla Kún to change the gunners. They will stay on with the 8 c.m. guns, and if they do not get their way they are going to blow up all the ammunition.

Comrade Pogány was in a temper when he left here. In the morning when he rushed into the commander's office he shouted and did not say " good morning " to anybody.

He asked an officer :

" How many recruits, and what stuff are they made of ? "

" Eighty men, poor fellows, mostly flat-footed."

" Why did they join up ? "

" For pay, clothes and boots, " the officer answered.

" Not for the ideals of the Proletariat ? " Pogány insisted.

" I can't tell. The matter was never mentioned. "

The People's Commissary turned his back on him furiously and ordered the officers to parade in front of the men ; then he asked the latter : " Are you satisfied with the comrade officers ? " After that, though the Red press describes his indomitable courage at the head of storming troops and gushes over his self-sacrificing heroism, he retired to a safe distance behind the front.

And the gunners are going to remain another day because they want to have a dance as a send-off. The men say that Isidor Grosz has come to an arrangement with Béla Kún he came back with his pockets bulging with money, so now he does not mind leaving. It is to be hoped that none of the others will take the thing amiss : there is a lot of ammunition in the woodshed and on the terrace. The gate stands open, and there is nobody to guard it. Even children steal in and break the boxes open, stealing the cartridge cases and the cordite to make fireworks with.

The maid went to the dance to-night. There was a Gypsy band. The soldiers danced and " the Proletarian army, as a sign of its great, self-respecting discipline, " emptied several barrels of wine.


May 19th.

The Red press is shrieking with sarcasm, mixed with hatred : " The parody of a Government in Arad ! " What is it, an opposition Government ? Surely not a Hungarian Government ? But it is. It was formed in Arad on the 5th of May, two weeks ago, and we, living in the same country, have received the news only to-day ! That is how The Terror deals with our news. At last ... ! I read the manifesto of Arad over and over again. " The real leaders of the nation being now in prison or banished, we assume the leadership provisionally. "

A Hungarian voice, after a long silence. It does not boast, it has none of the conceit of the distributors of autographs, it is manly and modest like the man who is at the head of this provisional Government, though for an instant his name repelled me. Károlyi ! Awful memories are connected with that name, and an irremovable curse. After Michael Károlyi comes another Károlyi ; but Count Julius Károlyi's personality stands high above the name, as if in expiation of the crimes which another bearer of it has committed. The Foreign Secretary, Baron Bornemissza, has been for years the leader of the Hungarians whom fate has cast among the Rumanians. The Minister of War is not a typewriter-agent or a second-rate journalist, but a real soldier. And all the names are of this stamp but one : Varjassy has been Károlyi's and Jászi's man. But that matters little now, and the more ' The People's Voice ' fulminates, the greater is my joy. " Who are these nobodies ? " the Communist paper asks. " Hungarians ! " replies the air, replies life, replies morning and night. And hope made golden promises.

Dense masses of soldiers came from the village this afternoon, and the gunners of the 32nd came to harvest in our garden. They are leaving this evening and flowers are required for the train. So they made a dead set at everything that blossomed in this quiet realm of green. Branches cracked, the garden moaned. Within an hour the dreamy little shrubs were changed into scarecrows, the grass was purple with the blossom of lilac. Branches were twisted and cut down to stumps, wounded plants were stripped of twigs and leaves. They have trampled Spring to death. I raged inwardly ; let them have the flowers, but why this mad destruction ? I went into the house : I could not bear the sight of it.


May 20th-2lst.

After the tepid rain in the night the sun has come out from among the clouds, and the ill-treated shrubs look less hopeless, laden as they are with glittering drops. The rain has made the grass raise its head and some forgotten lilacs have opened their blossoms.

Ever since break of day the air has been humming above our heads. Steel moles are mining the clouded sky. They are invisible till they fall with a terrific crash and raise mole-hills on the ground.

The Reds have retaken Miskolcz from the Czechs . Eleven counter-revolutionaries have been arrested in Budapest. In the ' Frankel Leo ' barracks a memorial tablet has been unveiled to the French Communist leader of that name who was born in Old Buda.

In other countries there is peace, there is a future. They awake daily without fear, their dreams are not nightmares ; they have doors they can close, cupboards that are not searched, a hearth which is not shared by uncivilised, spiteful strangers. There one may sing and laugh. One may even speak openly, happily. They have music, pictures, and books, and no one comes to take them from them. Man is allowed to create, their minds produce songs and sculptures and pictures, scholars pursue their studies, and women have not forgotten to smile. And in the stifling fetid atmosphere of ugliness, humiliation, reckless brutality, restraint, slavery, and hatred, I am homesick for an hour's beauty. Just for an hour to have things as they used to be !

Mrs. Beniczky had a visitor to-day, an elderly lady who lived in the village. I escaped quietly to my room, and although the visitor spoke in whispers, now and then she forgot herself and then her voice reached me. Suddenly she became aware that she was raising her voice and pulled herself up.

" I understand that a poor relation of the Huszárs is staying with you, where is she ? " she asked anxiously. " In the next room ? Goodness, then I ought to ... "

" Don't worry," said Mrs. Beniczky, laughing quietly, " she is hard of hearing."

Since I have been in hiding goodness knows how many things I have been. First an escaped teacher, then a nurse, then a poor relation ; now I am deaf. Yet under false names, under all sorts of disguises, almost invariably I have met with kindness. Of course some people naturally tried to impress me with their own importance, and I shall be for ever grateful to them, for they have taught me what it feels like to have to put up with other people's conceit. There was a ' comrade ' officer of the Reds who used to make me feel fearfully smallI was only a ' poor relation. ' He scarcely ever took any notice of me, and when I said anything he looked ostentatiously bored. O poor relations, unwanted superfluities, you have been my teachers, once I was one of you, and when these times are over never shall I forget that I am of your kin.

When the visitor left I sat before the fire and read Petőfi's poems to my hostess. Slowly the day closed in and when the light failed we sat talking quietly in the dusk.

" It was lucky that I did not let you go with the parson, " said Mrs. Beniczky ; " God has preserved you. "

The news had reached us in the afternoon. Although I had refused to go with him, the Reverend Sebastian Kovács had started off to see his parents, but while he was fording the river both the Czechs and the Reds had fired on him from the banks. He threw himself into the water a woman who saw the whole thing recognised him and came to tell us. That was the last that was heard of him.

" If you had been there, if they had arrested you, or... Do you remember your dream the previous night ? "

I shuddered : once more I saw the white moonlit road and the little bloody bundle of my dream. Again I felt the groping hand around me. For two months it has reached out for me, missed me, come closer, missed me again.

" There was no reason why you should go, " said Mrs. Beniczky, " this is a sequestered place, and you are as safe here as if your mother were watching over you. "

Then, all of a sudden, I saw my mother again. She was not visible, yet I could see the poise of her head, her blue eyes, and the wonderful smile on that delicate, narrow face.

Petőfi's book was lying open on my knee : " Mother, our dreams do never lie ... " And in the dark the smile was still present.


May 22nd.

Last night two officers staying in the house came into the dining-room bringing maps which they spread on the table. Their faces were the picture of despair. Their position has daily become more insufferable and orders from General Headquarters have now reached the political agents at the front that all officers are to be watched by ' reliable individuals ' the said reliable individuals being Jews in every case. This routine was begun yesterday, and two soldiers with fixed bayonets are posted in front of every officer's quarters. They take it in turn to follow their officer wherever he goes, they eat at his table, they sleep in his room. This is in strict accordance with the Russian plan, only Trotsky favours Chinese soldiers for the job.

Voices sounded at the door and the officers snatched up their maps. A soldier with his bayonet fixed stood in the doorway. The shade of the hanging lamp cast the light low on the table, so that the soldier's face remained in the dark ; only his repulsive, protruding eyes shone as they passed inquisitively round the room. Then he shouted to the officers : " Come along, comrades ! " So we were left alone once more, and only the roar of guns broke the silence of the night.

At dawn the little village became a swarming camp. A.S.C. carts covered with tarpaulins came clattering from the direction of Balassagyarmat. The banks of the Ipoly are being evacuated and the soldiers are hastily packing. Camp kitchens and mounted troops clatter along the main road. Dust, clouds of dust. Buglers sounding the ' fan- in ' and nobody paying the slightest attention.

Mrs. Beniczky and I held a council this morning. If the Czechs are really going to occupy Balassagyarmnt, nobody would think of looking for me there. What shall I do ? Finally we decided that I could go, and we took leave of each other ; but it was with a heavy heart I left the old house and the garden behind me.

John Kispál, the gardener, a member of the Directorate, proposed to help me reach the town. As we came to the barrier at Szügy an armed soldier barred our road and pointed his bayonet at me. " Where are you going ? Have you got a pass ? No ? Then back you go ! "

" Steady, man, steady ! " said John Kispál with an air of importance. " Don't you see she is with me ? I am a member of the Directorate, and don't you forget it, my boy ! "

The soldier looked at me. " Why are you going into the town ? What have you got in that parcel ? " Then he growled : " Well, you can go to hell if you like, so far as I am concerned. "

John Kispál stepped out proudly and his face showed clearly the satisfaction he felt at being such an influential man that even Red soldiers got out of his way. I couldn't help chuckling : in Soviet Hungary a member of the Directorate uses his influence to help me to escape and carries my bundle on his back. Meanwhile the warrant for my arrest lies on my writing table at home.

" What's going on here ? " John Kispál asked two passing farmers. The men shrugged their shoulders contemptuously : " The Directorate of Balassagyarmat is on the run, " said one of them. " They are afraid of sharing the fate of their colleagues in Fülek. " He made a circle round his neck with his finger and looked upwards.

We had been walking for some time when the gardener suddenly turned to me :

" I should like to ask you, Miss, what you think about it all ? Shall I come to any harm when things come right ? That is always on my mind, because I don't think a man ought to assume that things will always remain as they are. They may, but they may change too. It is wise to arrange matters so that whether things remain as they are or whether they change one may always be nice and snug. "

Guns thundered from the vineyards and a shell shrieked across the Ipoly and fell near the road, raising a cloud up to the sky. Not a single carriage was visible on the road now : the motors of the delegates-to-the-front, the members of the Directorate and the ' reliable individuals ' have all been swept from the landscape by the wind raised by a single shell. In the distance behind us they were tearing along at a wild gallop, off the road whenever possible. I began to feel safe. There is less danger in shells than in Bolsheviks.

Bugle calls could still be heard in the direction of the town, and my pulses began to throb. What if the barriers on the other side were to close and I should have to stay on in my Red prison !

" I haven't any papers, " the gardener said ; " you'll have to go on alone. Go straight through the High Street. " He was pale and obviously afraid. So presently I found myself alone. I jumped over the rails : people were running towards the houses so nobody took any notice of me, and I reached the Huszárs' house in safety. Mrs. Huszár and the children welcomed me with open arms.

A soldier was following me down the street, stopping at every corner to sound the alarm. I noticed that his bugle was ornamented with a huge red tassel which the rising wind blew against his mouth. And as I looked back in the twilight it seemed to me that the bugler was calling blood.


May 23rd.

I had hurried in vain. The Directorate has come back, so I have to remain in my Red prison. The battle last night caused many casualties, and the towns near the front are bewailing their dead. Everything that is Hungarian sorrows. The wheel of Fate is turning in blood, slowly, terribly. It is turned by the Powers, but it is our blood.

Noon came, then afternoon, again the enchanting hour of sunset on the banks of the Ipoly. The sun stands on the hills above the bank and pulls at the golden net which he cast over the valley in the morning. Like a fisherman he pulls the light, glittering net over the fields and crops. The net glides on, fast, without a sound. Now and then its gold is arrested for an instant by a shrub, by the verdure of a poplar, by the aspen of the river banks. Then the net glides on, and the trees, the crops, the water, the meadows, grow dark. The net has reached the horizon. For an instant, like a golden line, it lingers on the blue crest of the hills, then suddenly it dips into the west on the other side and is gone.

I love this light : it has touched the steeples of our churches, the thresholds of our cottages, from one end to the other of our country. For a thousand years it has come to us with dawn, over Transylvania, over the Carpathians, the Great Plain, over the waters of the Tisza and the Danube, over the fields of Banat, over the Carso, over the blue, salt bay of Fiume, over all our ancient, humiliated counties, over Buda and Pest, over Pressburg and Trencsen. All that has been torn asunder is united again in its net. But the catch of the great fisher is scanty now : he carries naught but another Hungarian day, a day of anguish, of blood, and of tears.

Only occasional rifle shots sounded round the house now ; the town was going to rest. The electric light went out early to-night, so Mrs. Huszár and I sat facing each other by candle-light.

Shells screeched through the air above the roof. What is happening to our country ? For days we have had no newspapers. Tribunals of Terror sit at night. Racing motors spread death and Béla Kún speaks of plans for tens of years.

The clock on the wall has stopped ; goodness knows how long we have been sitting like this. Better to do something than sit and think, so I fetched my patience cards. Tiny cards, the coloured toys of an old world. Crowned kings, ermine cloaked, powdered little queens, haughty young knights, they all look as if in their vanity they were leaning over a mirror to see their reflection. When I left home my mother packed these cards in my bag, and they have become my only luxury. Whenever I look at them they tell me something gently, in whispers, of my home. Soothers of worries, prophets, fortune-tellers ! We laid the cards slowly out on the table, collected them, started anew. How thin my hands have grown ...

Over the roof, high up, another shell whines. Then a splintering crash. Now the other side answers ...

" The Reds ... "

" That one came from the Czechs. "


" There's another Red. "

We spoke mechanically, for by now we had got to know the voices of the guns. Meanwhile the little queens and kings on the table came and went by the light of the candle.

" The Czechs ... "

Three weeks ! For three weeks it has been like this. Yesterday, to-day, to-morrow it is always the same. There are no longer nights and days : there is nothing but monotonous, continuous explosions.

What if it is to be always like this ? What if this is to continue for ever ! The very air seemed to shudder. From the opposite side of the table a pair of wide-open, fixed eyes stared at me.

" The Czechs ... "

Machine-guns were rattling somewhere near the Ipoly, and the dogs barked. Another bullet struck the wall.

" The Reds ... "

Again the windows shook with the detonation. At the end of the room the door opened by itself, making room for hopeless despair, which entered and sat down to keep us company.


May 24th-25th.

If after the bloody battles of the war the victorious generals had occupied our country their conquest would have put an end to the slaughter. But Hungary was occupied without fighting by twenty-four Jews. The state of war has become permanent, the slaughter continues, and worst of all misfortunes for months there have been continuous executions. Sentence of death is everywhere. Some take a long time to realise it, but it is there none the less.

Dreadful news reaches us from Budapest : the city is starving ; and in answer to this, Béla Kún declared at a meeting of the Workers' Council : " There are enough supplies to prevent the Proletariat of Budapest from going hungry. " He forbore to speak of the inhabitants of the city, only of the privileged Proletarians, which for him means the Jewish intellectuals and, possibly, those who profess to be Red Proletarians. They will not go hungry. If Hungarians do ... Béla Kún shrugs his shoulders.

The cruel ingenuity of the People's Commissaries is inexhaustible. Whatever they do not dare to do themselves is done by the Workers' and Soldiers' Council, and as a silent means for wholesale executions food tickets have been introduced. The inhabitants are divided into classes, one class receives bread, the other is denied it. Those who receive red tickets the workmen performing manual labour, Red soldiers and all the Red élite will still be able to eat their fill. The recipients of blue tickets officials, teachers, widows, pensioners may continue hungry. Those who receive no food tickets will have to die of starvation. Thus it is possible to carry out executions merely by the use of coloured scraps of paper.

" The classification of the head of the household will apply to all those members of the family who live with him." This order reveals the intended extermination of a class : the children of the Hungarian educated classes are to be exterminated with their parents. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, which carries its class war into everything, even into its administration of justice, its ' First Reader ' and the nursery schools, uses daily bread as a weapon of war. Never has cruelty been displayed with such cynicism.

Not only does the Dictatorship of the Proletariat make a distinction between adults, but it extends its favouritism to the children. It distributes food with discrimination, the children of the ruling class enjoying a preference. Let the miserable little ones who had the misfortune to be born in the grey, modest homes of officials or other intellectuals instead of having seen the light of the world as offspring of labourers or Red soldiers, let those poor little children starve and perish. Since Herod nothing so wantonly cruel has been known in human history.


May 26th-29th.

For two months the blood-reeking news has been coming. At first we shook our heads incredulously. Rubbish ! Visions of a distracted mind. Terror inspires mad tales. Then the news died down, and now, all of a sudden, it has returned with proofs and names.

It was at the beginning of April that I heard that a sailor in Budapest was recruiting a band of terrorists among freed convicts and Russian Jews. Next we heard that these people had occupied the palaces of Counts Batthyany and Hunyady. On the first of May they hung out a huge sign over the palaces : THE LENIN BOYS, and ever since then they have been known by that name. The Lenin Boys, armed to the teeth, clad in leather coats, appear at night in the streets of Budapest or in those provincial towns where the miserable population dares to show signs of dissatisfaction. The other day they carried off the organisers of the Counter-revolution, Colonel Dormándy and Victor Horváth, who are said to have been tortured atrociously. They were tied up in the cellars of the Batthyany palace, burning cigars were stuffed into their mouths, water was forced in enormous quantities down their throats, and nails were driven under their finger-nails. Whether they still live no one knows ; there are others too. Last week we heard that a counter-revolution had been attempted at Makó and that the former President of the House of Commons, Louis Naváy, had been killed. We could not believe it : all his life he had been an advanced Liberal who had fought for universal suffrage, and he was a gentle scholar and philanthropist ; moreover after the Revolution began he retired from all public affairs.

But the news persisted : the terrorists had gone down to Makó to take hostages and amongst others they had arrested Louis Naváy, his nephew Iván and the mayor of the town, and had taken them by rail to Budapest. When the train stopped at the station the terrorists shouted into the compartment where the prisoners were : " Let the Counts and Barons step forward ! " Nobody moved, then a man who as an orphan had been brought up by the kindness of the Návays shouted : " This one's a Right Honourable and that one's an Honourable, take these." The Lenin Boys dragged them from the train and forced them to dig their graves at the bottom of the embankment. There was no time for a tribunal, so they fired at them without any preliminaries, stabbed them repeatedly with their bayonets, and crammed them into the half-dug graves. One of them was not quite dead when they were buried, and his poor protruding hand waved feebly for a time. The picture of it haunted me for many nights. It was impossible ! Incredible ! But the news was repeated and proved to be true. Other news followed.


A young ensign named Nicholas Dobsa, eighteen years old, suddenly disappeared in Budapest. He was asked by the Terror Boys for his identity papers, and he laughed. He said nothing, just laughed. Poor boy, he disappeared behind the door of the Batthyany palace never to reappear. Others disappeared too, and more pools of blood were found in secluded places. Many other violent deaths were reported, though rumour could not give the names.

Meanwhile Számuelly's special train is on the move all the time, and wherever it stops there are executions. It started at Szoboszló, a long distance from here, and the news came to us by an eye-witness, Antony Szatmáry, a railway man. It happened on the 23rd of April, when the Red front was at Debreczen. During the morning a hussar suddenly stepped out of the ranks and shouted : " Let us run, the Rumanians are coming ! " So the International Battalion started off at once. The remnants of the army fled on the last train to Szoboszló, and my informant, Szatmáry, was pressed in to act as stoker. An armoured train, advancing cautiously, met them, and a black-haired, red-nosed young man leant out of the window : " What news, comrade ? " " We are the last to leave, " the stoker answered.

The young man was Számuelly, and when he stopped at Szoboszló he was mad with rage. He ordered the station master to be flogged, as well as some workmen, and when his train reached the signal-box and saw that a white flag had been hoisted on the church spire he ordered the train back and ran into the town with his terrorists, accompanied by a fair-haired, blue-eyed woman on horseback. He arrested three men at random, Körner a mill- owner, Joseph Tokay a police officer, and Ladislaus Fekete the mayor, and had them hanged on trees in front of a chemist's shop. " Be quick ! " he said, and cleaned his nails while the execution was being carried out. Then he boarded his train again and went on. In Kaba he had the curate, the notary and the magistrate hurriedly tortured, and moved on again, because the Rumanians were coming. Thence he went to Szolnok, where he took hostages and had them hanged. One hundred and fifty were executed. They were all Hungarians and Christians ...


Steps approached the house and Mrs. Huszár exclaimed in alarm : " The parson ! "

The Reformed minister, Sebastian Kováks, looked frightfully thin in his black coat. His face was ashen and fresh furrows played round his mouth. He spoke pantingly, as if he had been running hard, and turned to me.

" God protected you that you did not come with me. When I reached the Ipoly both Reds and Czechs came rushing towards me. I had no choice, so ran into the river and threw myself into the water, which was simply swept around me by bullets. The Reds fired volleys after me. "

That was the history of the journey I should have had to share.

" You would undoubtedly have been shot or arrested, " the minister went on. " The Czechs wanted to intern me, and the Reds were hunting for me. For three days I hid among the crops before I dared to come home. I hear that a Czech shell struck the church ; we had arms hidden under the roof. "

Bullets were again whistling in the street. The minister shuddered and looked anxiously round, then he smiled, embarrassed : " Since then my nerves won't stand it. I had rather too much of it. " He sat down almost in a state of collapse, and although he was a young man he looked very old.


May 30th-31st.

The banks of the river were unusually silent this evening. Just as it was getting dark the soldiers rolled a hogshead into the museum garden—the museum serves as a barracks. We heard one of them saying under our window that there was going to be a distribution of rum. What does that mean?

The patrol passed. Then the strains of a Gypsy band filtered through the night. Silence followed. It must have been about two in the morning when a voice mingled with my dreams. I woke, but could not at once grasp its meaning.

"Attack... "

" Who ? "

" The Reds !... "

That was not what we had hoped for ! For an instant my heart stopped beating. Doors were carefully opened and closed. The little girl came into the room and sleepily dragged her pillow behind her, like a white ant carrying a load too heavy for it. She lay down on the couch and fell asleep.

Wild firing was going on, so we opened the window. Suddenly the rifle shots seemed to come much nearer. The dawn was full of explosions and the deadly arpeggios of the machine-guns ran into one another, their staccato notes running in endless sequence up and down the banks of the Ipoly. Someone was playing the dance of death in the grey light. Shells passed so rapidly over the roof that it was impossible to tell which side fired them, and stray bullets thudded against the walls of the houses. Not a soul was visible. The house shook and every sound echoed through it as it does when one is under the arch of a bridge.

This went on for several hours : the vague grey objects regained their outlines, and things assumed their natural colours. The golden sun shone on green trees and on the brown tiles of the roofs. The artillery went on firing, but the rattle of the machine-guns seemed to get further and further away. The fight was now beyond the Ipoly, somewhere among the vineyards. It was not the other bank that had come to break down our prison, it was our prison that had spread to the other side.

A young boy doubled up on a bicycle passed under our window. " The Reds have crossed the river ! " he shouted. " The Czechs are running along the whole line." People began to appear from the houses and a peasant girl stepped aimlessly into the middle of the street. The vineyards became silent ; the Red guns alone went on firing and there was no answer from the other side. But it was not the silence of the living ; it was the silence of death. Under the tension the dam which kept the Red waves in bound has broken, and the wave has spread and flowed over little hamlets, villages, and castles, hitherto untouched. God help the people on the other bank, for they are all Hungarians and their share is suffering and death. The victory remains with Trotsky's agents. The long road of homelessness has become longer in front of me, stretching into the unknown, even beyond the frontiers.

Presently the guns on our bank stopped firing too and on the main road little figures, bent under heavy loads, could be seen approaching. When they got nearer I saw that they were soldiers the victorious Reds returning from the villages on the other bank among the vineyards, laden heavily with loot. They had captured the entire camp of the fleeing Czechs and brought bundles of rice, matches, tobacco, sacks of dried prunes, barrels of rum, wine and honey. A Jewish front delegate had even obtained a carriage, which he had loaded high with plunder, and the soldiers roared with laughter as he drove down the street. Let Béla Kún run after the Czechs himself if he wants to ! They were very merry and some of them very unsteady on their feet.

About noon, however, their merriment was unexpectedly interrupted. Firing broke out suddenly and machine-guns rattled in the vineyards. A soldier without his cap and his face white with fright rushed towards the Museum garden. " The Czechs have come back ! " he shouted, and his voice rang down the street. " They're in the vineyards again and have captured our people ! "

The Czechs had, in fact, returned to the vineyards and caught sixty Reds pilfering there. The buglers sounded the alarm in vain : the Red army was busy cooking rice and drinking rum. Some Proletarian women, who had had no share in the booty, stood there, arms akimbo, and scolded the soldiers : " Of course when there's a distribution of meat or of milk you're always in the front row. Then you shout that you are Reds and steal the milk from the kiddies' mouths. But when it is a question of driving away the Czechs you run home with what you have stolen. You let them take the hill. "

Most of the soldiers were drunk, in fact they had got tipsy before the attack began, for while they were falling in Gypsies played to them and rum was distributed.

" Mental degradation by means of alcohol was one of the weapons of the bourgeois, " shouts the Red press. " Alcohol is the Proletariat's greatest foe, " is posted by the Communists on all the walls. Yet the Dictatorship of the Proletariat makes the class-conscious Red army drunk whenever it wants to drive it to face unnecessary death.


May 31st.

What hast thou done, Michael Károlyi ?

When morning came the Czechs had stealthily, quietly evaporated from the hills, fleeing before a miserable handful of Reds. They are the same Czechs who five months ago descended from the mountains of Zólyom and took undisputed possession of Pressburg and Kassa, impregnable Komárom, a third of our country. How they would have run if they had had to face the hussars of Limanova and the territorials of Gorlice ! But Károlyi 's minister of war did not want to see any soldiers, the same Linder who recently, at a review, exclaimed to comrades Böhm, Pogány and Landler in front of their armed servants : " You see we had to break up the old army to create this. "

Two towns and all the heights above them have been taken by the Reds, who have captured machine-guns and two heavy guns. The Czechs were surprised in their sleep and fled half-naked, all the prisoners being taken in their night clothes. Peasants' carts laden with Czech uniforms and boots rattled over the bridges all night. I could not sleep : I thought of the people on the other bank of the Ipoly, whom I do not know and yet for whom I fear. When they wake they will find the train of the plunderers which brings the awful Red epidemic of tyranny and terrorist tribunals. And when it comes back it will carry away hostages...

The clock struck. Half-past one... A long train whistle ; buffers knocking together ; coupling-chains clanging in the dark. Fetters and skeleton keys...

May the Lord have mercy on us all !

June 1st.

A drum is being beaten in the village and the sound echoes from street to street. The Revolutionary Cabinet has decreed general conscription, and a small minority of alien race disposes of the nation's blood by simple decree. I shuddered. Henceforth they are going to force everybody to take up arms for them against himself.

An aeroplane flew over us. " An Italian machine, " said someone in front of the house. The airman was reconnoitring the Ipoly valley eyes from another world looking down on us, indifferently, without sympathy. To him we appear only as black spots, swarming ants. Does he know that the ants are suffering, that the ant-hill has been kicked to pieces and that strange vermin have invaded it ? He flew on—a dragonfly passing across the prisoner's window.

The catafalque of the fallen Red soldiers has been erected in front of the county hall ; red flowers, a red cross. (Why the cross ?) Red shrouds showed under the lids of the red coffins. Only the little son of Stefanovic was not among them—the only child of a counter-revolutionary railway man. He was the best pupil of his school, a fervent little patriot, but was called up and had to go. He was wounded under the vineyards and implored the soldiers in vain to take him back to Balassagyarmat. They had no time—they were carrying rice. So the boy dragged himself to a field of oats and when the Czechs came back they found him and clubbed him to death with the butts of their rifles—" the little red vermin. " His parents brought the corpse back, and the Directorate sent them a red coffin. " That is enough," said his father, " he shall never be buried with such tomfoolery. "

Among the dead Reds there are many little Stefanovics. Passers-by stop reverently at their graves, for they hated the Directorship of the Proletariat and loved their country.

Two soldiers came into the yard, two sad-faced boys, and asked for red flowers and red ribbons for their comrades. Out there, unmarked graves ; in here, propaganda funerals.

In front of the county hall Comrade Singer pronounced the valedictory discourse :

" We take leave of you with the promise that we will fight with merciless hatred against the bourgeoisie, and, should we perish, the very blades of grass will continue the fight, animated by our hatred. "

In the cemetery the minister spoke :

" My brethren in the Lord, standing at these open graves, let your last word be that of love ... "

In these two speeches Christ and those who had crucified him met.


June 2nd.

Sometimes the candle flares up before it goes out. So with the news to-day. In this morning's paper we read : " Szeged is in the hands of the counter-revolutionaries.

The opposition Government has removed from Arad to Szeged and is in communication with the Hungarian counter-revolutionaries of Vienna. Western Hungary is organising and in Szeged Hungarian White Guards are being formed under French protection ... "

It is actually in the Red papers ! Have the Entente Powers stopped the Rumanians on the banks of the Tisza to give us a chance of saving ourselves by our own efforts ? That would at least be human justice. A nation, deadly humiliated, could thus regain its self-respect. If only this were the case ! Then we could bless our two months' sufferings. Not Rumanians but Hungarians would retake Budapest from the Red tyrant.

I noticed this morning that the soles of my boots were worn through. What a shock ! What shall I do if they give way ? We had frozen, black potatoes for supper and when we rose from the table Mrs. Huszár told a story about some bread and butter. The little girl began to cry : she was hungry after her supper and wanted some bread and butter.

Torn boots, black potatoes, what do they matter ? There are Hungarian soldiers in Szeged !


June 3rd.

I've got a fever of some kind and it frightens me it would be terrible to be ill at such a time and in a strange house. I must try to keep going, but oh ! how I long to go to bed.

A man came in from the village this morning and reported that when the Reds made their advance on Friday morning the houses of all Jews were at once surrounded by Jewish Red soldiers with fixed bayonets to prevent them from being looted. This was corroborated by one of the owners of the protected houses himself.

Thus even after the abolition of private property the Dictatorship officially protects all Jews' belongings. Beyond the Ipoly Red soldiers have plundered Sztregova, the ancient castle where Imre Madách wrote The Tragedy of Man ; but the Jewish Red soldiers protected the bouse of Fischer, the land agent of Leszeny...


June 7th.

I've had to give in : I can hardly distinguish things and am unable to move.

Baron Alexander Jeszensky came to see me, bringing messages from Bercel. Charles Kiss is with the Kállays and is coming to fetch me in a couple of days. He has made all preparations for my escape to Vienna.


June 8th.

The Reds have retaken Kassa from the Czechs. Poor City. It received the victors with red, white and green flags, thinking they were Hungarians. Orders promptly came that the flags were to be removed.

Two days ago someone knocked at our window late at night. Anxiety spread through the house ; men's voices were audible from the corridor. Aladár Huszár had come home ! He looked like an apparition, a man of the woods, for his dress was torn, his shirt was in shreds, and his beard and hair had grown inordinately long. For six weeks he had been hiding with his friend George Pongrácz in the wild hills of Börzsöny.

They, too, were expecting the fall of the Dictatorship and were waiting for the intervention of the Entente. Then came the offensive of the Reds. As the battle was progressing northwards they concluded that the Reds were winning and that there was no escape ; and as they could not ask for asylum from the Czechs, whom they had formerly helped to drive out, what was the good of waiting any longer ? " So we came home, " said Huszár, and despair was in his eyes. " We shall give ourselves up to the Directorate and stand our trial. " The Directorate had ordered proceedings to be taken against them, but miraculously had failed to arrest them.


The doctor came to see me this morning—I've got rheumatic fever, and in the afternoon the children brought me some forget-me-nots from the river. Dusk came, then darkness. When I woke up a candle was burning in the room and Charles Kiss was sitting at my bedside. He brought me news of my mother, after all this time ; she is alive and well, but fretting about me as she has not heard from me for weeks. She was questioned many times by the Red agents and they forced her to swear that as soon as she knew where I was she would report to them. Once a detective said to her : " How must you have brought up your daughter for her to behave like this ? " " I brought her up as a Hungarian, " my mother replied simply. Whereupon the detective hung his head and then said, as if ashamed : " I, too, am Hungarian, " and he kissed my mother's hand. Since then there have been no more inquiry agents to see her.

Then Charles Kiss talked about himself. Most of the time he has been hiding in Western Hungary, where the whole region is in a ferment, counter-revolutions breaking out here and there. But as soon as ever there is news of one Számuelly makes a sudden appearance. In Devecser he had the counter-revolutionaries hanged round the church ; with the exception of a young teacher they were all peasants. He forced the women to look on. In Nagygenes he had a farmer hanged in front of his children. The farmer did not die at once and when he was in his coffin he sat up. The wife and children ran to him sobbing. But the Terror Boys know no pity : they finished him off in his coffin.

Charles Kiss is going to escape to Vienna. To do this he has to go through Budapest—a long way round. I watched his face anxiously, afraid he might say that I should have to take the same road, but to my relief he said nothing. I raised my arm to shake hands with him when he went, and had to clench my teeth to restrain a cry of pain. Then I lay for hours motionless, and all through the night made preparations. In the morning I was as tired as if I had wandered along endless roads.


June 11th.

The newspapers are howling victory the delivery of Kassa. The Internationale is played and the Red Guard of Honour (?) cheers as Garbai and Béla Kún pass before it.

Far away I seem to hear wild Kuruc songs ... and see the Kuruc horsemen waving their caps to their prince[3] ... Our lovely town, longing for deliverance from Czech captivity. What a different home-coming you must have expected !

And this is how (according to the reporters) Béla Kún held forth :

" Dear comrades ! Now, comrades, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat is a fine thing, is it not ? You have scarcely tasted it, but you will soon see what a beautiful, good and reasonable thing the Dictatorship of the Proletariat is, from the workers' point of view. The Proletarian who labours, who was oppressed, cannot understand how anyone can want anything else but the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. It is so simple. We do not mind what language a labouring brother Proletarian speaks, we have but one enemy the bourgeoisie, whatever language it may speak... "

Above the words of Béla Kún and the other ' comrades ' I seem to hear a thundering voice rising from the depths of the Cathedral crypt : " Why did you bring me home ? I listened in peace to the murmur of the sea ... "


June 12th.

It has been rumoured for days and now it turns out to be true : Clemenceau is negotiating with Béla Kún in the name of the Peace Conference. His Note came by wireless from Paris to Budapest " to the Hungarian Government. "

This Note, which declares to the Hungarian Government that it has just been decided to summon its delegates, calls upon it to stop its attack against Czechoslovakia, otherwise the Governments of the Allied and Associated Powers will take the firmest measures to force Hungary to do so. The Note reminds Béla Kún of the gratitude which he owes to the Allied Powers because : " on two occasions they have stopped the advance of the Rumanian armies which had crossed the frontiers fixed by the armistice, and had prevented them from advancing on Budapest, and had stopped the Serbian and French armies on the southern front of Hungary. "

Clemenceau, the President of the Peace Conference, is ready to sit down at a table with Béla Kún. His blind hatred is ready for anything so long as it leads to the poisoning of the open wound in the side of poor Hungary, fallen in a gallant fight. And we, poor fools, expected human charity from the victors, who by this very document certify that for months they have been responsible for the prolongation of Bolshevik misrule in Hungary ! Béla Kún, the Communist of 1919, thus answered M. Clemenceau, the Communist of 1871 : "

Monsieur Clemenceau, President of the Peace Conference. Paris.

" The Hungarian Soviet Government has observed with pleasure the intention of the Allied and Associated Powers to convoke Hungary to the Paris Peace Conference. The Hungarian Soviet Republic has no hostile intention towards any people in the world, it desires to live in friendship and peace with all of them, all the more as it does not insist on territorial integrity. " Then he goes on sarcastically :

" We are delighted to hear that the Allied Powers have ordered the Czecho-Slovak republic, the kingdoms of Rumania and Yugo Slavia to stop their attacks, but we are forced to emphasise the fact that the States in question have paid no heed to the orders of the Allies. " Finally he offers the help of the Red army " to enforce the orders of the Allies. "


June 13th.

We only heard of it to-day, although it happened at the beginning of the month : the Directorates of Szombathely and Celldömölk had attempted to use the military to enforce the enlistment of railwaymen of military age in the Red army. They, however, decided to stop work and overthrow the Dictatorship of the Proletariat by a strike. All honest railwaymen joined the rising one after the other, and on the 2nd of June all trains between the Austrian frontier and the Danube stopped. The train of Számuelly with its Lenin Boys alone was running. As Budapest had refused to join in, the railwaymen did not succeed in stopping the traffic throughout the country, and after a struggle of six days they returned to work. The trains started from gallows-trees and with them the halting circulation of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat was restored. Another hope gone. Then followed the fulfilment of Béla Kún's promise : " I shall hang a few railwaymen in every station and then order will be restored. I have done the trick before in Russia. "

But meanwhile the smouldering fuse had again blazed up and counter-revolution broke out in Sopron. Other towns followed, but it did not last long, for in a few hours the Reds came in from all sides. In Csorna the Terrorists of Györ collected the counter-revolutionaries and crammed one hundred and fifty into a small cell, then closed the iron shutters to suffocate them.

Then Számuelly arrived in the town. In front of him armed guards ran shouting : " Into the houses ! " and those who did not manage to get out of the way in time were shot. When Számuelly with his Lenin Boys actually entered the town the streets had been cleared, so the black hyena in his armoured car raced amidst a deathly silence to sit in judgment.

A table was placed in the open, and the prisoners were led before Számuelly one after another. He examined nobody and only asked who was possessed of property. Then he ordered some to the left and some to the right. No witnesses were called : Számuelly alone represented the tribunal. " To death ! " he shouted to those on the left, and eighty started for the square in front of the church.

One of the men sentenced, a journeyman bootmaker, collapsed on the way and was left there. The others were beaten with rifle butts and spat upon by their hangmen. The eye-glasses of Lieut. Takács were thrust into his eyes until the eyeball was forced out of its socket, and while he walked on they even tore his handkerchief away so that his eyeball hung on his cheek. They boxed the ears of Gyula Akics, a mill-owner, while he stood under the gallows, and then Stephen Tárcsay, Louis Laffer, Gyula Németh and Francis Glaser were hanged. No doctor was present at the execution. Before the corpses were cold the Lenin Boys stripped them and made the other prisoners bury them. Számuelly watched the execution and made jokes.

Next day he went to Kapuvár and entered the place with a band of a hundred and fifty Terrorists armed with machine-guns and hand grenades. All he asked the prisoners was their name. " Hang them ! " he cried. The mayor, the police sergeant and three others were led in front of the Catholic Church. He reprieved one of them on the way, because he was told he was the president of the Jewish congregation. In this place, too, the prisoners were beaten on their way to execution. The rope broke when police sergeant Pinter was hanged. His two little children ran up and implored mercy, but Számuelly would not relent. He then imposed a fine of millions on the town, and all the cattle he could lay hands on were driven away. Then he went on, without remorse, calmly, in his princely special train.

This death train passes through Hungary day and night, and wherever it stops men are hanged on the trees and blood is spilt on the pavements. Along its track people often find naked and mutilated corpses. In the Pullman car Számuelly sits in judgment. I heard this from a reliable man, who had gone over with the Socialist party to the Communists to save his own skin. He had to report to Számuelly in Szolnok, and it was then that he saw the train.

Számuelly lives permanently in this train, and even in Budapest he sleeps in it, being surrounded by thirty selected Terrorist guards. His special executioner travels with him. The train consists of two parlour cars, two first-class carriages in which the Terrorists travel, and two third-class carriages for the victims. The executions take place in these, and the floors of the cars are covered with blood-stains. The corpses are thrown out of the windows, while Számuelly sits in his Pullman car surrounded by tapestry walls, bevelled mirrors, and fragile gilt Louis XVI. furniture covered with pink brocade, and seated before his delicate, feminine writing table, he disposes of people's lives.

Through every action of practical Marxism, through all its ordinances and institutions, even through the communication of its news, there grins cruelty—the repulsive, morbid cruelty of sensuality.

The brave kill, the cowards torture. The Hungarian people can be wild, ruthless, coarse and even vindictive, but through all its history it has never been cruel. It is not a sensual race. It expresses sensuality neither in its ancestral religion, nor in the conception of its gods of pagan times, nor in its legends, stories, folk-songs, humour or art. The cruelty of the Bolsheviks, on the other hand, is imbued with the sensuality of pathological aberration.

Its origin is neither Slav nor Turanian, but of another race living in our midst. The history of the Hebrews, the Covenant, the Talmud and the Jewish literature of the various languages of the world, everything that originates with Jews, is overflowingly sensual. Cruelty finds its fantasy and energy in sensuality. The bloody invasion of the Turks, the merciless oppression of the Austrians, were incomparably milder than the cruelty of the Bolsheviks.

Számuelly's train races on without a stop, past trembling little guards' houses, through torpid, insignificant stations, through plains and over hills. It rushes through the country from end to end, to forge, with the cruelty of the conquering race, permanent shackles round our ruined country. No other sound is heard throughout the land ; just the shriek of a train.



June 14th.

The town was smothered in a stifling white heat. Under the window the little street basked lifelessly in the sun. As far as I could see from my pillow nothing was happening. Our fate was as stifling and as motionless as the street.

The first national congress of Soviets is meeting to-day in Budapest. On the previous two days the Communist party held meetings in the Hungarian House of Parliament. I began to read the report : " There was a red shine in the eyes ... " Then I stopped : a grimy old wall in Budapest came to my mind, a glaring red poster sticking to it ... And under a blue sky a giant labourer was furiously painting the House of Parliament red with a brush that dripped...

I continued to read the account of the Communists' general meeting. The reporter, with the traditional rapture for everything that is new, gushed over the aspect of the altered assembly room in the House of Parliament. The old frescoes have disappeared, and instead of the sacred crown above the chairman's seat, " a fierce-looking labourer with a Phrygian cap is contemplating the place, with the Soviet's five-pointed star above his heart. On the wall there are no longer pictures of ' historical celebrities, ' nor of ' glorious battles, ' new strokes of the brush have transformed them into symbolical, grandiose decorations. " How they hurry to cover and efface everything that was ours ! Yet even while they are painting their ordinances with our blood, every successive beat of the country's heart is louder and louder, more and more threatening.

" What have you done with our country ? With our language, our honour, the purity of our children, the memory of our greatness ? The throbbing of the Hungarian blood bodes ill, but they hear it not, though the anger of a deeply insulted nation is boiling up around them. They will not hear, they plunder and murder as before and hold meetings in the stolen house of our stolen country. Their newspaper chroniclers record with satisfied racial self-consciousness the arrival of the delegates : " They entered without the slightest embarrassment, without emotion, without fuss. "

The strength and misfortune of the Jewish race are that it is surprised by nothing and does not believe in the aims which it professes.

I thought of the great hall where once the noble figure of Stephen Tisza dominated so many storms, and I thought also of those who could never have invaded the place had they not passed over his dead body. They do not know it, but they are going to their ordeal, for even as they speak the blood begins to ooze out of the country's open wound.[4]

" As they passed before the red draperies their faces showed up against the red background. " Many of the People's Commissaries have escaped from gaols and lunatic asylums : is the background of these faces a fitting place for the Hungarian labourer, painted above the presidential stand with a Phrygian cap and a Soviet star ? If this labourer could articulate, his cry would sound the knell of this ' assembly.' I have spoken with many real Hungarian labourers during the last few weeks, on shaky, springless carts, near railway embankments, in the fields, near the hills, on the main roads, and how many of them have cursed those who deliberate this day over our ruins. But they were not there in the great hall among the speakers. It was Béla Kohn, Richard Schwarz, and William Böhm who spoke. The committee is composed of : Moritz Heller, Rabinovits, Vera Singer, William Lefkovits, Elias Brandstein, and Arpád Schwarz.

What did they discuss during the two days ? Did they raise the question whether it was fitting to shed blood in order to accomplish their universal brotherhood or whether they should attain their aim by starvation ? Did they mention that round the green table in Paris foreign hands are squeezing our thousand-years-old frontier, while others are standing by eager to tear off such parts as have not yet been distributed ?

Not they ! The Dictators discussed a proposed change of name of their party and debated the expediency of tightening or relaxing the pressure of the Dictatorship. In this the hand of Lenin appears, for a few days ago the Russian tyrants sent a message to their Budapest branch that henceforth it must call itself ' the United Communist party of Hungary. ' Many members obeyed, but the more cunning ones advocated the advantages of the ' Socialist ' sign. They look ahead and hope that should Communism collapse somehow in Hungary it might be possible to save the Jewish domination by returning to the old conditions. That is the only thing that matters to them ; everything else is of secondary importance the school books, the gallows, the prisons, the keys of the safe-deposits, the fresh soldiers' graves, the new casualties, the recent mutilations. Henceforth it will be unnecessary to characterise the Dictatorship and its tyrants ; their deliberations have disclosed their nature.

" The power of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat is now in the hands of an active minority, " said Béla Kún. In giving the list of the delegates' names ' The Red Newspaper ' and ' The People's Voice ' show what this active minority is. Practically every member of it belongs to the foreign race. In his programme, Béla Kún clamours for the application of merciless violence. " The quotation of pacificism has suffered a slump, and the quotation, not of the imperialistic war but of the revolutionary class war, is soaring... The army is nothing but the armed Proletariat. It is a class army ... this does not mean that we intend to limit our recruiting to the industrial Proletariat of the towns. It would be rank folly to expose to the risk of death none but the élite of the Proletariat. The self-conscious Proletarians must be distributed among the Proletarians who possess self-consciousness in a lesser degree. We must be sparing with the class-conscious Proletarians. "

This is meant for the educated classes, the manufacturers and agriculturists. Never have words contained more calculated iniquity. The Israelites have redeemed their blood with that of the Canaanites. Let him bear the cross who is about to be crucified on it.

Béla Kún continued to outline his programme. He had but a few words for the land question : " That my programme does not say much about it is quite natural. It is a question concerning which we are still groping in the dark. I admit that. "

They will talk about it later, when the peasant has paid the blood tax. Till that is done, let him live in the illusion that his land is his own and is not appropriated by the Co-operatives of Production belonging to the Government.

" The Dictatorship must apply stricter measures ! " Pogány exclaimed. He spoke of the Counter-revolution in West Hungary. " There is only one road open for us : Forward, to the left ! "

Comrade Horváth, of whom it is common knowledge that he has stolen his clothes from Count Joseph Károlyi's castle, declared that the prestige of the Dictatorship ought to be improved and expressed himself disparagingly of the Soviet delegates : " I declare and am ready to prove that in Székesfehérvár one evening there were sixty political delegates in the coffee-house whose Polish-Jewish origin was unmistakably written on their faces."

Vágó-Weiss, a People's Delegate, interrupted : " How dare you talk like that ? " and Számuelly banged his desk with his fist. How hurt they are if we touch anything belonging to them ; but if we express pain when they destroy our God and our country they hang us.

All references to gallows, all threatening and blood-thirsty speeches were suppressed by the newspapers, out of consideration for foreign countries. The meeting was concluded by a speech by Béla Kún in which Hungary's Dictator furnished some further characteristic details about himself and his order.

" First of all I want to deal with Comrade Schwarz's interruption, " the Commissary for Foreign Affairs said, and then proceeded to answer the comrade who had proposed : " if our party's old programme contained the abolition of capital punishment, its present programme ought to contain it too. " In his answer Béla Kún made some humorous remarks concerning capital punishment and said that the old Socialist programme had claimed the right for everyone to install and operate small stills (loud laughter). Richard Schwarz interrupted : " I was not joking ! " Béla Kún continued : " I know full well that Comrade Schwarz was not joking, for he is not a humorous man (laughter), and yet there was some unconscious humour in his proposal (hear, hear). When a programme like ours is under consideration ... a programme which forms the foundation of the Dictatorship ... it is unseemly to discuss such trifles. This settles, as far as I am concerned, the proposal made by Comrade Schwarz, and I propose its rejection. (Signs of approval.) "

Finally, to complete his self-characterisation, he expressed his ideas on intellectual production :

" It is in the nature of things that the Dictatorship is not over-favourable for the development of personal liberties, it is not propitious to the assertion of individuality ; but if our intellectual life has declined, bear in mind that it is not our intellectual life but the remnant of the bourgeoisie's organisation of physical tyranny which it was pleased to call literature. "

(Shades of Goethe, Arany, Shelley, Andersen, Flaubert, Dostoyevski, masters of your art, know you all that you are naught but that part of the bourgeois organisation of physical tyranny which is called literature.')

The window near my bed is open. The birds twitter and I can hear the concert of frogs by the Ipoly. A dog barks. Birds, frogs and dogs all speak their own language : why do not the Budapest Communists debate in Hebrew ?


June. 16th.

The Soviet assembled yesterday in Budapest and meetings were held from morning till night. The national delegates of our county's Soviet attended. The Red newspapers this morning are bursting with pride, with ecstasy over the opening festivities.

" The labouring people of Hungary have gone to Budapest to lay the foundations of a new Constitution which will create a new atmosphere and bring happiness in its wake. "

As a matter of fact the labourers of Balassagyarmat are indifferent and miserable. Nobody bothers about the Soviets. They have no part in it. The whole thing is strange and distant to them.

" The will of the millions, " say the newspapers. And there it meets, this curious assembly, elected by orders of the People's Commissaries, by the privileged fraction of the population, with lists prepared in advance, under the supervision of soldiers with fixed bayonets.

A theatre was the scene of the opening ceremony. The First National Assembly of Hungarian Soviets met in a suburban theatre in the neighbourhood of the old clothes' market. " Red walls and wreaths, arranged by inspiring, artistic hands, " the Red chronicler reports. " Silence dominates the audience of thousands, the crowded boxes, when the curtain is raised. " On the stage there is a red tribune ornamented with artificial red flowers and a long table where the People's Commissaries assemble. " A historical, grandiose gathering, " says the reporter of ' The People's Voice. ' " The stage is inundated with a flood of light. The strains of the Internationale rise. Everyone feels that this is the beginning of the second thousand of Hungary's historical years. " (A pity it's begun on the stage, though.) " You are burying to-day this country's thousand-years-old Constitution, " said Alexander Garbai, the President of the Council, in his opening speech. But a People's Constitution grows from its soil, like the crops, and no executioners can kill the soil. To-day the soil is suffering in silence : it is the apotheosis of Béla Kún. " The Congress rose for him and applauded him madly for several minutes. " His will is done. He imposes the ' Constitution ' he likes, and the Soviet joins the Third International. Its leader then produced a message from Red Russia's leader :

" Every Proletarian will fight like a tiger ; we shall win or die ! " The factory workers swore fidelity : " We will be the pillars of the Soviet Republic. "

Steps came along the quiet street and somebody said " good day " : it was Mrs. Huszár speaking through the window. The local schoolmaster was outside and wanted to borrow a copy of Marx's works. He has to give a lecture on the Communist Declaration. He doesn't want to, but what is he to do ? He will get two hundred crowns for it, and if he disobeys he will be dismissed ; besides, he has so many children ...

I remembered a tale of the country where the hunchbacks lived. Once upon a time there was a country which was inhabited exclusively by hunchbacks. If by any chance anyone with a straight back happened to enter the country he was at once put to death. Everything went on all right till one day it pleased God to give an exceptional year for wine. Hills and vales resounded with the music of the grape harvest, and it so happened that many people got drunk on the new wine. In the land of hunchbacks the ground was shaking with dancing and the air was filled with songs. Then it happened that a drunken young fellow snatched the hump from his back and waved it with joyful shouts above his head. Others imitated him all had regained their courage. So they shook their false humps from their backs and finally it turned out that there was only one genuine hunchback in the whole of the hunchbacks' country.

The steps receded from the window : the teacher went off with Marx's writings under his arm.

Wait till the grape harvest, land of Hunchbacks !


June 19th.

This is Corpus Christi but I know it only by the distant sound of the bells. Now the procession is passing with doffed hats, gravely, silently, under the church banners. The villagers have come to town, there is a sea of people and the organ sounds in the distance. In a cloud of incense the Host is floating down the church, out under the open sky, and it glitters in the sun. As it passes the people kneel. Christ walks among His people. He walks everywhere in the country and they dare not interfere with him. Only when the procession had returned to church did little Jew boys rush up and throw thousands of handbills among the people. One of them flew to me through the window.

" Proletarians of the world, unite ! Read this and pass it on ! The Revolution cannot indulge in sentimentality and must not know pity. Gallows or bullets ! It will be wise for the bourgeois and hooligans not to try to attack the Revolution, because at the first attempt iron fists will stifle their souls in them with unrelenting deadliness. The Revolution is prepared for everything, all means will be employed by her to preserve her glorious purity as an eternal purity. Woe to those who attack her treacherously !


June 20th.

In Budapest, too, the victors made preparations for Corpus Christi day.

It happened in Buda, in front of St. Matthias' church during the procession. I have it from an eyewitness. Round the banners thousands of children were thronging, among crowds of their elders. A motor-car came racing down Tarnok Street, a Commissary's car, the son of a political delegate sitting in it. His sweetheart, a waitress, stood in front of a shop and waved her hand to him. The young Jew wanted to show off his power, so he shouted to the chauffeur : " Run them down ! " The car made straight for the procession, which fled in panic. When the car reached the Host the Jew boy spat on It. The crowd raised a shout and would have lynched the blasphemous wretch if Red soldiers had not rescued him, dragging him under a doorway. The crowd attacked the door, but before the Terror Boys could arrive the soldiers themselves had settled the aggressors with their bayonets.

And at the same time a similar incident took place at the bottom of the castle hill near St. Christina's church. A Jew drove through the multitude and before he could be prevented spat on the Host. In this case the crowd fell on him and beat him to death. Later on shots were fired into the church. News of this kind comes from all quarters.

Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: The Commune /1

Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: The Commune /2

Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: The Commune /3

Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: The Commune /4

Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: The Commune /5

Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: The Commune /6

Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: The Commune – Original – PDF

Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: The Commune – Book Format – PDF

Part One: An Outlaw's Diary: Revolution