Ugrás a tartalomhoz Lépj a menübe

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


August 2nd.

The shepherd's flute sounded slowly through the breaking morning. I felt disappointed ; my elation had passed ; my mind was still racked with anxiety. Everything seemed the same in the streets : the red flag was still floating over the county hall, the Red soldiers were leaning out of the guard-room window just as they had done during the victories of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat over the Czechs. A schoolmaster who lived near by was walking in his shabby Sunday coat towards the teachers' Communist school. What has happened ? The gates of the prison are open : are the captives afraid to leave it ?

A little boy took his red, white and green toy flag from above his bed and waved it out of the window. A man in the street shouted at him threateningly.

About noon the wife of a neighbour came, bearing alarming news : they want to arrest Aladár Huszár. He went to the teachers' Communist school and distributed ribbons with the national colours and made a speech to the teachers. When Comrade Weiss, the examining Commissary, arrived, the National Anthem was filling the place. In his fury Comrade Weiss tore up all the teachers' certificates. The Jewish teachers stood by him, while the Hungarians left the place with Huszár, singing the National Anthem. Outside Red guards met them and tore the national colours off all of them.


So when Aladár Huszár came home we hoisted a huge red, white and green flag on the house.

The drum ! What has the Town Crier to say now ?...

" It is forbidden to wear or exhibit any emblems... " Presently two hooligans invaded us and tore down our flag, but we don't care. The whole village is in a ferment. Patrol followed patrol. A man feverishly pasted pink posters on the walls, displaying the telegram of the Secretariat of the Socialist-Communist Party.

" As the result of an agreement with the Entente, a


formed by the trade unions has assumed power. The officials of the existing workmen's organisations will continue to act without interference... The strictest martial law is to be proclaimed. "

Green posters were then stuck up beside the pink ones all along the street, containing the text of the new Crovernment's telegram. They called themselves a Workmen's Government instead of a Revolutionary Cabinet, Ministers instead of Commissaries. President : Peidl ; Interior : Peyer ; Justice : Garami-Grünfeld ; then followed three of Béla Kún's Commissaries : Agoston-Augenstein for Foreign Affairs, Haubrich for War and Dovcsák for Commerce ; at the end of the list the former President of the Soviet, Garbai. Minister for Education.

I remembered the conversation I had overheard yesterday : " Let us lead it into other channels... " Moritz Kolm has arranged his fraudulent bankruptcy and suddenly Mrs. Moritz Kohn's name appears above the shop. But what is the National Army doing ?

The Dictatorship of the Soviet collapsed with the Red army ; its position became hopeless on the 31st of July when it became known that the Rumanians would not stop a second time at the Tisza. Béla Kún had hurriedly convoked the Workers' and Soldiers' Council of Five Hundred yesterday afternoon. And in the great hall of the new town hall, where on the 21st of March a handful of men had proclaimed the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, Béla Kún resigned in a halting, tearful voice. During the night he fled with the other Commissaries and their families to Austria, finding protection under the wings of their co-religionist Chancellor Renner. With the help of the Peidl Government they made their way to the frontier, protected by an escort supplied by the Italian military mission in Budapest ! It is said that Számuelly has disappeared. But among those who fled with Béla Kún was the blood-thirsty Weiss and so were Schwarz, Vágo and Pogány, and the twenty-stone lawyer, Comrade Landler, the Red Commander-in-Chief. They absconded from their army between the Danube and the Tisza, after having driven it into death and destruction, though they had sworn to stand by it to the last drop of blood.

Without wounds received on the fields of Bolshevik glory, but with many millions of Austro-Hungarian bank-notes, they disappeared into the obscurity from which they had emerged to Hungary's misfortune a few months before. They have gone, as Michael Károlyi did before them. So the country hoisted its tricolour flag once more. But the Government of Peidl, which not only tolerated but abetted and organised the flight of the criminals, would not tolerate such a resurrection ; so it forbade the flag and proclaimed martial law.

Aladár Huszár has been arrested in the street and is in prison. The commander of the Red garrison wants to have him executed for the National Anthem incident, and for wearing ribbons of the national colours, but the chief of the police telephoned to Budapest, asking that he be reprieved. The answer came : " Keep him in custody and let the Terrorists take him to Budapest. " The Terrorists openly declare that they are going to settle with him on the way. Mrs. Huszár wanted to see her husband, but the Terrorists would not let her. " Comrade Szijjgyártó is interrogating him now. " The news spread like wildfire. Machine-guns were mounted in front of the county hall.

Then the whole town began to simmer and even the inhabitants of the red-postered houses came forth—officials, teachers, the whole educated class, the people of no importance coming to protect the unimportant folk's friend. The railway men, the postmen, all of them, clamoured that Huszár should be set free. And suddenly the Red garrison went over to their side.

The drum again :

" Anybody found in the streets after 9 p.m. will be arrested by the Red patrols. " But just then the Red guards sent a message to Comrade Szíjgyártó that if the prisoner was not released by nine they would lay down their arms and refuse to serve any longer.

People were talking excitedly in the streets, saying that the Rumanians were already in Aszód and were coming in our direction. Comrade Szíjgyártó shook his fist with rage : " I ought to have had him hanged at once. " The crowd became more and more threatening and at nine o'clock Aladár Huszár was at home. He was quite calm. Comrade Szíjgyártó had ran at him with raised fists, had pointed a revolver at him, and threatened to shoot him...

Suddenly we heard sobs from the end of the table. It was only then that we noticed the children. With wide open eyes, deadly pale, they were standing there and they had heard everything. When we were as small as they my mother would not allow anyone to tell us gruesome stories ; but in spite of their parents the children of this age live through things which we were not even allowed to be told in fairy tales.


August 3rd.

The town is in the hands of the Terrorists and no news comes from Budapest. The last message came this morning. The delegates of the Entente are negotiating with the new Government and are inclined to recognise it. The Rumanian advance has ceased.

In the streets of Balassagyarmat the Communists, who were trembling yesterday, are again assuming a provocative attitude ; the comrades who were ill recovered suddenly. The propaganda shop has been opened again and the window is full of Communist Declarations. More than two people are not allowed to meet in the street.

The Terrorists wanted to arrest Aladár Huszár again, but he had fled. The door-bell is ringing all day detectives and red guards inquiring for him. And in the village the inhabitants and the railwaymen are arming secretly.


August 4th.

A shot was fired close to the house and this was followed by a regular fusillade. People came running out of the houses and for some minutes there was confusion. The wife of Gregory, the coachman, tumbled in breathlessly : " What goings-on ! the soldiers have barred our street. They are driving the people into the houses at the point of the bayonet. "

I thought at once of Aladár Huszár and hoped they had not arrested him. His wife received many messages not to show herself in the street and naturally we wanted to know what had happened ; so by the irony of fate, it was I who crept out of the house.

The people I met spoke excitedly ; everybody was coming from the direction of the county hall and nobody was going that way. A man said : " Turn back, you cannot go there. A new detachment of Terrorists has arrived and there is a corpse in the street. "

So the trouble was not about Huszár. I thanked him for the warning, but went on. Another running crowd was coming towards me. A servant girl leant against the wall and began to tie her boot laces.

" What's happening there ? "

The girl answered, panting : " They have red caps, goodness only knows what they are, perhaps French, but they are firing furiously. "

The shooting had stopped now. Two schoolboys were peeping out from behind a door : " The Jews have taken up arms, " they said mysteriously. The street leading to the station was absolutely empty and nothing was audible but my steps. Men in leather coats were standing in groups in front of the county hall and round the machine-guns bayonets were glittering in the sun. I looked round rather alarmed, this was the first time I had seen the place and I had pictured it differently. There was no tower on the town hall and not a trace of my imaginary arcades or old pump. It was a pity, but the disillusionment of a dream is always so.

As if I had suddenly been perceived the bayonets turned towards me and the men in the leather coats shouted furiously : " Back ! " Someone looked out of a ground-floor window. The soldiers promptly stuck their bayonets into it. " Bloody bourgeois, in with your head, or I'll knock it off ! " I saw that the Terrorists were coming in my direction, so I thought it was time to turn back.

In the afternoon a detective called. He was one of those whom we call ' radishes, ' Red outside and White within. He inquired after Aladár Huszár and told his wife that the red-caps who had been mistaken for Frenchmen were hussars back from the Tisza front and that the firing was caused by an attempt of the town guards to disarm Comrade Szíjgyártó. He was saved by the Terrorists, who were now masters of the town. Then he looked carefully round : " The Lenin Boys have decided to hold out to the last. They want to revenge the fall of the Dictatorship and intend to plunder to-night. There are a hundred of them. They are out to kill and have marked this house. Be careful ! " He looked round again. " And please don't forget to tell Mr. Huszár when he gets back into office that I am not a Communist. "

Hours passed. The news passed like a shudder through the streets. Many locked their front doors. I buried my papers again and we also hid the money that was in the house. We all packed up our most necessary things. As evening fell, we could bear our isolation no longer. I must try... I will go towards the station ; perhaps I shall hear something by chance. But the streets echoed with emptiness and the station was deserted. Only a workman was sitting on the weighing machine filling his pipe.

" When is the next train for Budapest ? "

" There won't be any train, " the man answered and lit his pipe. Then he closed his eyes.

I went homewards. New posters were showing on the walls :—

" Strict martial law... All gatherings are prohibited and those who do not obey the injunctions of the Red guards will be shot on the spot... Szíjgyártó. County Commander. " Near a paling a short elderly Jew was standing and talking to a woman. Quite coolly, obviously so that I should hear it, he said : " At half -past five the Rumanians entered Budapest. " I stumbled, though my foot had not hit an obstacle, and the blood rushed to my face. The Rumanians ! I could hardly grasp it. The Rumanians ! That is the reason, then, why our people could not come ! That is the reason why the Entente stopped them ! That is why so many of us had to die during the long months of waiting ! The occupation of Budapest was reserved by the Great Powers for the Rumanians so that the city might become their prey and they might still act the role of deliverers.


I felt giddy as I walked home. The blow and the humiliation were so great that everything else became indifferent.

Budapest is in the hands of the Rumanians !

The clock struck nine ; suddenly I heard a violent knocking and furious cursing at the end of the corridor, and a fat, angry man rolled into the room. He had forgotten to take his hat off, and his pipe was in his mouth. It was old Schlegel, a stout old German market gardener from the banks of the Ipoly, a fiery Hungarian patriot, who within the last few months had helped innumerable refugees across the river.

" Donnerwetter ! The devil, why don't you open your door ? I knock the curfew they shoot people down out there. "

Now that he was in safety, he calmed down and put his fat hand on Mrs. Huszár's shoulder : " I just came to tell you you need not be anxious. Your husband is in my house. We have plenty of arms. If the Communists try their slaughtering trick here, I'll come too and shoot them like dogs. " He produced from his pocket a huge rusty revolver and waved it like a mace threateningly above his head. " That is all I had to say. "

I stole to the front door to see if all was clear. The new moon had already set and there was not a soul in the street. I made a sign to the old man and in his gouty way, his right leg always foremost, he passed me into the street. Without a word he touched his hat and with shaky, baby-like steps disappeared at the end of the street between the high stalks of the Indian corn. The electric light went out. The town moved no longer.

Our vigil was illuminated by a single candle, and we kept looking at the clock. It was said that the Terrorists were guarding the streets leading out of town so that nobody should be able to escape. Looting was to begin at midnight. Even if they did their work quickly it would take them half an hour before they came here. This house was said to be marked as their third point of attack.

Somehow I remembered a horror of my childhood. I was quite small. My grandmother Tormay was telling us stories about her Huguenot ancestors. She told us how, before the massacre of Saint Bartholomew, the men of Catherine de Medici had locked all the gates of Paris so that none should be able to escape and then marked with chalk the houses inhabited by Huguenots. " But that happened more than three hundred years ago, " my grandmother said, " when people were still wild and cruel. " The clock struck midnight.

I asked Mrs. Huszár to escape at once with her children into the fields of Indian corn as soon as the shooting started.

We listened. Nothing... only the clock struck again. Half-past twelve. My friend was standing near the window listening, and I thought how often we had sat up through the nights like this during the last few months.

" Do you remember ? That night when we kept saying, ' Now the Czechs have fired ! ' ' Now the Reds ! '" ?

Our fate has not altered. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat is still alive and continues to torture us.

One o'clock ! A hen fluttered up the roof of the house opposite. Under the stars silence pervaded the summer night.

Half-past one !

A dog barked, and all round other dogs responded.

" They are coming ! "

The anxious moments passed. The dogs were silent again and in the cool dawn the first cock crowed, followed at intervals by others. It reminded us of clocks striking the hour in succession.

The sun rose. The Terrorists have not come. Who can say why ? The St. Bartholomew's night of Balassagyarmat has not come off.


August 5th.

This morning we learnt that before starting on their plundering expedition the Terrorists found a supply of champagne in the cellars of one of the hotels. They got so drunk that they could not even stand. So a few hundred bottles of champagne saved the town. Comrade Szíjgyártó was the only man who remained sober. It appears that he received an ambiguous message from the Budapest Workmen's Government and in the course of the night he sent his detectives out to find whither he could escape. When his men returned they reported that the roads to the villages were guarded by armed men, so he was obliged to wait till the Lenin Boys had slept off their drunkenness. But meanwhile the old police of Balassagyarmat had assembled. Now people are talking of the Terrorists' intention to escape by train, but the police will disarm them at the station.

Everybody was out of doors. Here and there a young man in a leather coat, with a brand new hat on his head, appeared, looking innocently at the crows.

Mrs. Huszár noticed it too and we looked at each other. They have changed their garb... "

Suddenly policemen, railwaymen, guards with white flowers, officials, women and boys began rushing towards the station. The whole street was running and its rush was watched from both sides by the posted horrors of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. The Red soldiers, wild sailors, half-naked workmen wading in blood, shapeless female monsters. Yesterday they were all alive ; now, as I passed them quickly they receded on the walls beside me as the phantoms of a terrible past.

A youth came running from the direction of the county hall shouting at the top of his voice.

" The Lenin Boys have escaped ! " While people were waiting for them at the station they fled with their booty from the other end of the town. People swore and angry voices shouted : " Scoundrels ! But they will be caught ! "

In that moment, as if a chain round the town's chest had broken, Balassagyarmat breathed freely again. Men raised their heads, spoke loud and freely, many careworn faces made an attempt to smile. There was talk and laughter under the trees lining the streets. Then a boy started to work and others took it up—arms were raised, sticks and pocket-knives worked feverishly, and in a few minutes, all through the town, the posters of the Dictatorship were hanging in shreds from the walls. Thick layers of paper fell on the pavement, bright coloured scraps covered the cobbles, and were trodden in the dust.

The grape harvest has come in the land of hunchbacks.


August 6th.

Days have passed since the murderers of the country have fallen and fate has not yet done justice to them. Reality has achieved nothing, so it remains for imagination to sit in trial over the criminals.

People tell each other that Michael Károlyi and Béla Kún have been given up by the Czechs and Austrians and that both have been hanged. Between the Danube and the Tisza and in Western Hungary the peasants are arresting the hiding butchers of the Dictatorship and delivering them up to the justice of the crowd, who make them eat the posters scratched from the walls. Then they are executed by those whose father, mother, husband or child they have murdered.

Then comes one authentic piece of news : Tibor Számuelly has committed suicide. He was the first who tried to escape. The Cabinet had not yet resigned when he rushed in his car to the aerodrome, hoping to fly to Russia. But not one of the pilots would undertake the job. Then he started with some of his hangmen on a lorry towards Austria but was arrested on the way, and while unwatched shot himself dead.


" That is not fair," said a farmer, " he ought to have been strung up on a dung-heap."

" He deserved the torture chamber, not a bullet ! " And the people curse the scoundrel furiously for having escaped human justice.

But once again our elation is stifled by sorrow, for we are receiving more and more unexpected names of the victims of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. In the last hours, during its agony, the reign of terror has snatched the lives of Oscar Fery and his faithful companions, Menkina and Borhy.

Oscar Fery, the organiser of the Hungarian county police, was the heroic soul of the Counter-revolution. He was a brave soldier, who, notwithstanding that he was a Lieutenant-General, stayed in Budapest during the Commune so that in case of need he might be on the spot to lead his police. The Dictators were afraid of him—he did not run away ! A few days ago, he was dragged from his home at night and with two faithful officers was taken to the Terrorists' barracks. When the fall of the Dictatorship was unavoidable, the prisoners were killed in the cellars one after the other. Oscar Fery was the last, and as he was being taken to the cellar he fell over the mutilated bodies of his companions. There was an awful storm that night, the roaring of the wind dominated every sound. Yet for hours one could hear the screams of the victims in the cellar of the barracks.

The murderers have escaped, but their saviours continue to rule over Hungary while the Entente negotiates with them. And the Rumanians are in Budapest.

" One can't go on living like this. We would much rather be killed. " I have seen weeping men to-day.


August 7th.

There are no trains yet from Budapest and the town is surrounded by a ring. Nobody can get out of it ; no passengers, no newspapers come to us. The Workmen's Government has cancelled all the orders of the Dictatorship, and no fresh orders have come through yet. Only a part of the troops from the Tisza front could be disarmed. The soldiers have over-run the country and many are robbing and plundering.

A doubtful rumour spread yesterday evening. It was said that an opposition Government had been formed in the capital. Is it true ? Or, as so often before, is it only an invention arising from our hope ? Yet hope is rising. " You sit down and write an article in remembrance of Balassagyarmat, " said Aladár Huszár. " The old patriotic newspaper has reappeared. "

For months I have been writing only for my own self and the idea of publicity came disturbingly to me, as if someone were watching my pen over my shoulder. " Resurrection ... " I chose that title for my article and I signed my name the first time since the events of March.

As I wrote it many thoughts passed through my mind. The name of Elisabeth Földváry, my companion and protector during the sad days, has fallen off me as a cloak. I return it to those who have a right to it and I hope they will forgive me for using it. I give it back but not with a light heart. The cloak, worn for so many months, has practically grown on me, and refuses to part from me. I must seek a road that leads me back to my own self. And while seeking it, two individualities collided within me : my own, which has to fight and work, and the other, the poor, tired, shy, retiring one, which has realised the pleasures of obscurity and the peace of quiet irresponsibility. Suddenly I feel frightened. Will that which life has left me be enough for what life expects from me ?

The door flew open as if torn by a hurricane :

" Come, come, all of you ! " shouted Aladár Huszár, holding a paper in his hand. " Great news. A proclamation... "

" Why ? What ? Whence ? "

He read, deeply moved :

" To the Hungarian people ! Inspired by the everlasting love with which I cling to the Hungarian people, looking back on the sufferings we have gone through together in the last five years, I give way to the request addressed to me from all quarters and will attempt to solve the present impossible situation ! "

We no longer asked any questions, we knew who it was who for five years had suffered in common with us, he who loves the Hungarian people with everlasting devotion, the people forsaken by everybody, whom nobody loves. The Archduke Joseph !

After all the hatred—everlasting love ! A tear ran down my cheek ; I did not wipe it away but left it there to wash off the traces of so many sufferings.

A Government has been formed and its members are Hungarians, not foreigners. Stephen Friedrich is Prime Minister.

There was a time when Friedrich had been misled by Michael Károlyi. He took his part in the October Revolution though in the course of the winter he had opened negotiations with the Counter-revolution. He too is responsible for those events, but he is the only one who has shown contrition and has redeemed his fault. After the closing of the darkest and most humiliating pages of Hungary's history he has written his name on the first clean page.

The sun was shining and on the roof of the county hall the red, white and green flag was being hoisted. The eyes of a whole town filled with tears.

On October 31st the hands of traitors drew the flag into the Revolution as a snare. Then, in tragical disgrace, it was made to float over the country which its enemies occupied and tore to pieces. The sight of it became a torture, my soul revolted against it, and I turned away from it that I might not see it ; it became unclean and was besmirched. And when everything that it stood for had been crushed and dissipated, they tore it down with derision. From that moment it became ours again : it was persecuted like ourselves. It was sentenced to death, stood before the Revolutionary Tribunals ; prison and the gallows were in store for those who harboured it. The flag became a martyr. Because innocent Hungarian blood has been shed for it, because it has been consecrated with blood, and blood has brought it back to us and raised it above us God have mercy on him who dares to touch it ! Its tricoloured folds are now unfurled under the sky. And beneath it, on the walls of Balassagyarmat, there stand the letters of the Palatine's message : " ... with ever-lasting love... "

Peasants, gentlemen, workmen, and Red soldiers of yesterday gathered in front of the proclamation and read it, deeply moved. I stood there too. The sun had set and yet it seemed that some mysterious afterglow lit up the faces...


August 8th.

The day has come. The terrible spell is broken. Hungary again takes her fate in her own hands. And to-day I am to see my mother again.

Life returns to the groove whence it was torn some months ago. Through the breach in the walls which have encircled us the horizon is widening, the first train to the capital is starting. And I take leave of the house which has given me a home, I take leave of the people, the children, of my little corner near the window and of the shady palings of the back garden, of everything that has been kind to me in my misfortune, of all the unforgettable things...

Through the windows of the train the station buildings were already receding. Then the last little houses disappeared, the waters of the Ipoly, the poplars on its banks, the glittering heights of the distant Fatra. Then everything became small and distant. The green trees gathered close together, the roofs sank in the distance, and the flag above the county hall seemed to rise higher and higher. Its staff had become invisible, only its folds were floating like a huge, tricoloured bird which had stopped in its flight above the town. And winding like a thread of silver between its swampy meadows the Ipoly kept me company for a time. Then parched fields came towards me, a sad, dry country. In the fields of Indian corn the empty, straggling stalks rustled in the wind raised by the train. And this rattling noise is heard everywhere in Hungary to-day, for everything has been burnt.

Somebody in our compartment whispered : " It was for to-day that Számuelly had fixed the massacre of the bourgeoisie... It was to have begun in Budapest. Then all over the country... Lenin and Trotsky had ordered a stricter Dictatorship. "

' Lenin speaking ! ' The awful words dissolved like rotten things in the air. He speaks no longer here ! Nor does Számuelly ; but there are voices from gallows-pits, from the graves and from the unburied dead.

The track curved, and from the direction of the old castle of Nográd we could see a storm racing towards us. In a few moments the sky was black. The train threw itself against the hurricane, then was compelled to stop. The heavy carriages trembled ; the trees slanted and the dust rose in dark clouds. The wind moaned like a monster organ. Such a wind preceded the world-war. To prevent premonitions I said quickly : " If we stick to each other and do not forget... In one year, in two, or ten or even a hundred years, Hungary will arise again, for there is a little speck of earth which belongs to us. Six foot of ground at the foot of Golgotha was enough to bring the Resurrection... "

The storm passed to the west and the spires and cupolas of chastened Budapest appeared again in sunshine above the plain and the hills.

I took leave of my companions at the station and then a carriage carried me off. I was alone. Flags were floating above me on all the houses—curious flags, that had been cut in half when the terror was requisitioning them ; for an auto-da-fé. On the walls the orders of Rumanian generals were posted—on white paper. Like ambulant ruins, the electric trams with smashed windows crawled along their rails. They were still closed and between the blinds shops one could see that the windows were empty. The dusty glass showed traces of removed posters. After the robberies of Communism, life had not yet returned to the town.

With steel helmets and fixed bayonets a Rumanian patrol came round a corner. The blood rushed to my face, and then I noticed something else : in ramshackle cabs Rumanian officers with painted cheeks and rouged lips were sitting with young Jewesses. How quickly they have made friends ! And how happy they seem !

A motor lorry was standing in front of a house from which Rumanian soldiers were removing typewriters. War contribution everything is war contribution. With mighty swings they threw the delicate machines one on top of the other. A thud, a crash that was the end of them ! Rumania is acquiring the tools of Western culture. But instead of broken typewriters it might have acquired capital in the shape of hundreds of years of Hungarian gratitude, if it had been content to leave the little that was left to a ransacked people.

Over the bridge flags were playing in the breeze. Suddenly I saw them no more. There, above the hill, sadly, stood the royal castle. Opposite, on the shore of Pest, the House of Parliament was standing with its darkened stones. The building seemed quite young a year ago. How suddenly it has aged, how tragic have become its bloodstained cellars, its bullet-marked walls, the square where the rabble watched the executions, the stairs leading to the river !

On the side of Buda the flags were floating too, on the bridgehead, on the houses. Towards the end of the town the palings showed now and then the traces of torn-off red posters.

Then I came in sight of our hills. But since I had last been here the forest has disappeared. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat has exterminated that too.

Now I was going up the hill ; nobody was waiting for me, nobody knew I was coming. All the way along I was smiling to myself.

The high, double roof of our house showed up bright against the blue sky. The gate was open, the pebbles crunched under my feet, I opened the front door.

A white wall, an oaken staircase, flowers on my mother's table. And I stood there, irresolute. Steps were approaching, peculiar steps, as if one foot were slightly dragged behind the other. Blessed steps, beloved steps, I ran to meet them ! My mother stood in the door.

I felt that I turned pale. Already the flame was dying within her and she was preparing for the long journey. But I will keep her back, she must stay with me. She opened her arms and I felt her, who had always been taller than I, so small, so elusive, against my heart. I will keep her back, will make her stay.

And in her arms my outlawry died. I was home again.







Councillor in the Royal Hungarian Ministry of Justice.

Lenins's well-known axiom to the effect that in revolutions for every honest-minded man (unfortunately) are to be found hundreds of criminals, can scarcely be applied to Hungarian Bolshevism, for among the notorious exponents of the same even the lamp of Diogenes would hardly have enabled us to detect one honest-minded man. Criminalists of long standing who lived through the horrors of the Red Regime in Hungary, which lasted from March 21 to the end of July, 1919, could testify, even without the decisions of the court of laws, that the leading spirits of the ' Soviet Republic ' (with the exception of a few fanatics) consisted of common criminals, to the greater part of whom might be applied with perfect aptness the definition of Anatole France, ' encore bête et déjà un homme. '

Every revolution has its idealistic champions, its enthusiasts who inflame the masses with a fiery passion and are themselves ready to endure all the suffering of Calvary in the service of the creed which they profess. Fanatic apostles of high aims may be sympathetic even in their fatal errors ; and there is always something sublimely tragical in their fall. Who would doubt the unselfish enthusiasm of Camille Desmoulins, of Jourde, or of Louise Michel for their ideals, for which they were content to suffer and die ?

In our moral judgment we distinguish between political and other criminals ; a similar sharp distinction is made by the general conceptions of criminal law, for political agitators are liable to confinement as first-class misdemeanants, while thieves are imprisoned in common jails and murderers are condemned to the gallows.

Revolution, as a movement of the masses aiming at the violent overthrow of the existing system of law, from the standpoint of criminal law is a single cumulative criminal act ; committed against the community as a whole,—a movement called into being by the co-operation of individuals grouped into a mass in which individual actions are merely insignificant episodes. The masses, however, cannot be called to account under the criminal law ; the judgment on them is pronounced by the nation and by history. The work of the judge is to investigate the individual guilt of the persons taking part ; in this manner he finds himself dealing with numberless varieties of revolutionary acts—from agitation, riot, through destruction of movable property and numerous other offences, to murder,—the series comprising practically all the acts known to the criminal code. But of all these offences the only ones which may be classified as political crimes are those unlawful attacks against the aims of the State and the realization of the same which are of a political character by virtue alike of their objects and their nature (e.g., incitement against the constitution or against the binding force of the law) ; in cases where only the tendency or motive is of such character, while the means employed are base, as is true of most revolutionary offences, for without violence and dangerous threats there can be no revolution, we are confronted, not with political, but with common crimes. The incendiaries of Paris who set fire to the Tuilleries were common criminals, though they acted from a political motive.

And those who, clothing themselves in the red cloak of revolution, with Phrygian caps on their heads, ' work for their own enrichment, ' are not revolutionists at all merely criminals.

Bolshevism, the wildest form of Marxian Communism, which annihilates capital under the pretext of making property public, destroys or distributes among its own votaries the private possessions of others, abolishes the right of choice of labour, subverts the thousand-years old system of production and, in order to effect all these things, ruins all the institutions of an historic State, concentrates the proletarians in the ' council ' system with the object of exercising dictatorial power over the bourgeois classes, persecutes religion and national sentiment, places physical labour above intellectual work, transforms the common seaman into an admiral, employing the real admiral as a scavenger, this suppression of the common liberties, more tyrannical in character than the despotism of any Caesar, could not have maintained itself for even the briefest space of time without resorting to the means of extreme terrorism. Therefore, having disarmed the bourgeois classes, and rendering them defenceless, it placed King Mob on the throne and used the same to keep the other members of the community in constant fear and trembling.

In our country the Dictatorship of the Proletariat was nothing more or less than an organized rule of the mob, under the demoniacal direction of Belial, the spirit of destruction of Jewish mythology.

But what were the elements composing this mob ?

So long as the State power is the expression of the common will of the people and has at its command disciplined physical force, the authority of the State and the moral constraint involved suffice to hold in check those criminal propensities and hidden instincts which are latent in the masses. Under such circumstances the expression ' mob ' is restricted to vagabonds, professional criminals, the denizens of the common haunts of crime who are a public danger. But, the moment the rule of law is overthrown and the respect for authority vanishes, the lid of the box of Pandora flies open, and the criminal or unhealthy instincts hitherto kept in check rush unimpeded from their secret hiding-places, and the mob is recruited by men who have so far been peaceful and industrious day-labourers, factory hands, students, tradesmen or officials. And those degenerate individuals who are criminally inclined are only too eager to join any movement which enables them to give free vent to their inclinations. During the opening weeks of the Bolshevik regime Budapest became the gathering-place of international adventurers flocking thither from all quarters of the globe, ' Spartacus ' Germans, Russian Jews, Austrian, Rumanian, Bulgarian, and Italian communists hastened thither in the hope of finding rich booty under the aegis of the Soviet Government. At a mass meeting held in the suburbs, speeches were delivered by demagogues in six different languages.

But more foreign still to this country than the rabble of strangers were the leading People's Commissioners themselves, though all were born on Hungarian soil. They hated, not merely the bourgeoisie, but the whole Hungarian people, with whom they never had anything in common. Their hatred was most violent against the agricultural peasant class, which forms the bulk of the nation, whereas the industrial labourers represent barely more than five per cent, of the whole population. While at Petrograd, in the service of Lenin, Béla Kún had had Hungarian prisoners of war, officers and privates alike, shot en masse with machine-guns, for refusing to join the Russian Red Army.

When the future People's Commissioners, laden with Russian gold, emerged from obscurity, they pushed into the background the former leaders of the working classes. In their incendiary speeches and newspaper articles could be heard the hissing of the vipers of hatred. The terrible trials of the four and a hahf years' war, its demoralising effect, the exorbitant demands advanced after the defeat by soldiers embittered by battle and grown accustomed to a distaste for a life of work, the unemployment caused by the shortage of raw materials, and the discontent of the industrial labourers that had long been lurking beneath the surface, all these circumstances in a few months ripened the seeds sown by the wicked and unscrupulous agitation of the adventurers. Their adherents consisted, besides a few educated persons of disordered intellect[7] or greedy of profit, of a small fraction of socialist labourers (who terrorized the rest of their fellows) and the mob described above.

Were these men really capable of believing in the incredible, of believing that the results of a social evolution of a thousand years could be changed in a single night by the help of bands of terrorists ? Did they believe that they could violate human nature by means of their peremptory ' orders ' (edicts), or that the world-revolution with which, as an inevitable certainty, they constantly sought to cajole their partisans would really hasten to their assistance ? Did they honestly desire to ' redeem ' the working classes, which, in fact, they ruined, with their devilish system ? And is the bestiality of their instruments the only charge that can be laid at their doors ? There were evidently some men among them who cherished such a belief and such a desire ; but it would be extremely difficult to draw such a conclusion from the nature of their deeds. On the contrary, it is certain that almost all of them were actuated by the hope of personal aggrandizement, by a morbid and unbridled desire of omnipotence ; they desired to seize for themselves everything that seemed of any value to them in the country and to destroy everything that stood in their way. An exceptionally favourable opportunity for the realization of their aims was afforded them by the desperate situation of the country and the lethargy of the exhausted bourgeois classes ; and to this end they hastened to exploit the infatuation of the masses.

Pre-eminent among them, alike for ability and for skill in the application of Bolshevik ideology, was the People's Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, the keen-witted, astute and extraordinarily active Béla Kún,[8] who remained to the end the soul and leading spirit of the Red regime. Already during his activity as a provincial journalist, this lizard-faced, well-fed agitator had shown the greatest contempt for the morals in general acceptance among the middle classes and had consequently been only too ready to sell his pen as a means to hush up delinquencies committed by the bourgeoisie. He had been compelled, in consequence of petty embezzlements committed at the expense of the proletariat, to resign his post in the office of the Kolozsvár Workmen's Insurance Institute. Earlier in life he had been a votary of night orgies ; and during the ' lean ' days of the Soviet regime he did not abstain from sumptuous banqueting, while everywhere the masses intoned the refrain of the Internationale, ' Rise, starving proletarians, rise ! ' As People's Commissioner, he took up his quarters in a fashionable hotel on the Danube Embankment, under the protection of a body-guard armed with hand grenades. His inflammatory speeches, in which he employed all the hackneyed casuistry of the demagogue, at first exercised a suggestive influence even on the more sober-minded section of the working classes. He preached the necessity of an inexorable application of the dictatorship ; and he himself ignoring his own revolutionary tribunals gave orders for the perpetration of secret murders committed in the dark. It was in this way that he got terrorists to kill two Ukranian officers who had come here to repatriate Russian prisoners of war and whom he suspected of implication in a plot against his person. In a similarly secret manner he provided for the murder, among others, of Francis Mildner, captain in the Artillery, for having (as he, Béla Kún, declared) encouraged the pupils of the Ludovica Military Academy to ' stick to their guns ' during the Counter-revolution in the month of June. Moreover, he gave Joseph Cserny, the formidable ' commander ' of the ' terror-troops, ' a general authorization for the perpetration, by means of his underlings, of similar murders.

The only one of his associates who surpassed him in bloodthirsty cruelty was Tiberius Szamuelly,[9] a horrible figure who was the object of universal abhorrence, even among the working classes,—a man who experienced a perverse enjoyment in the destruction of human life. This degenerate successor of Marat and Hébert was a sharp-featured, narrow-chested Jewish youth of low stature ; according to medical men who knew him, his blood was tainted, and he was consumptive. Prior to the war, he acted as reporter—without talent indeed, but never without a monocle—to a clerical news agency ; during the war he was an officer in the reserve ; and, at the age of twenty-eight, his hatred of mankind and his experiences in Russia qualified him for appointment as a People's Commissioner. He was a type of humanity of the lowest kind, degenerate alike physically and mentally. In the Governing Council he came into conflict even with Béla Kún, because the latter declined to comply with his delightful suggestion that the mob should be allowed at least three days' free pillage immediately after the proclamation of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. It was he who, at the meeting of the Budapest Workers' Council, raised the cry of ' Death to the Bourgeoisie ! ' and the following day the seething crowd swarming along the boulevards echoed his cry ' Death to the Bourgeoisie ! ' In April he was authorized to exercise in person, in the rear of the Red Army and in places where there was any counter-revolutionary movement, the rights of the revolutionary courts-martial. And, indeed, he accomplished his task thoroughly ; those whom the members of the local Workers' Councils branded as ' white ' he had hanged, without even the formality of a trial, on the nearest pear or apple tree. As a rule, his manner of sentencing to death the victims brought before him, was by a motion of the hand or by secret ' cue ' ; though sometimes he pronounced formal sentence in the words— ' Step under the tree ! ' These words were enough for his hangmen. He condemned to death persons ' taken up ' at random against whom there was not even the shadow of a suspicion,—mostly for the simple reason that they belonged to the detested peasant class. At Duna-pataj he ordered his underlings to bury a wounded peasant, whom he saw being treated by a surgeon, alive in a grave together with the dead. At Sopron-Kövesd he had an old railway booking-clerk of the name of Schmidt hanged, and compelled his son to watch the dying father's convulsions for twenty-five minutes, and then hanged the son on the same tree by the side of the father. A short time previous to the overthrow of the Commune, he endeavoured to establish a military dictatorship ; and his particular adherents had drafted a list of the State officials, police officers and aristocrats who had been selected as doomed to be slaughtered within three short hours.

A dwarf in comparison with this monster was the red-handed, black-souled Joseph Pogány,[10] one of Count Stephen Tisza's murderers and the demon of demoralization of our former army. From being a socialist journalist, he became President of the Soldiers' Council, later People's Commissioner for Public Education, and finally Commander of an Army Corps. He was the son of a Jewish ' corpse-washer ' of the name of Schwarz ; and, though endowed with but mediocre ability, was incredibly ambitious. In his maniacal endeavour for self-assertion, the comic elements were overshadowed only by the depravity of the means he employed. Grotesquely adipose in figure, he loved to ape the poses and gestures of Napoleon, and revelled greedily in the delights of power. He travelled without exception in a Pullman car or in an automobile ; and at one of the health resorts on the shores of Lake Balaton, when the misery of the country was at its height, he arranged horse-races in which his Red Hussars took part,—for his own distraction and in his own honour. At the first news of the approach of the Rumanian army, he warned the entire population of Budapest that they must consider themselves as the hostages of the Soviet Republic. (It was at the same juncture that ' Comrade ' Surek, inspired with noble zeal, proposed at the Central Soviet meeting that all hostages should be butchered at once and mountains raised of bourgeois corpses !)

Hardly had the men of the Soviet seized the reins of government, when the homo delinquens commenced his revels ; every base and filthy impulse was let loose, greed and bloodthirstiness held a bacchanalian feast. When the old order was restored it was found necessary, as a result of the denunciations received, to institute proceedings in no less than 15,000 criminal cases ; and the number of persona kept in detention by the Public Prosecutor in the metropolis alone exceeded three thousand : on the occasion of their arrest, almost all of the latter were found to be in the possession of stolen money or other stolen valuables.

Typical criminals were placed in possession of all our public institutions, with the exception of the jails and convict prisons, from which, indeed, individuals apparently harmless to the proletariat State were released en masse (those discharged from the convict prison at Sopron, for instance, included a gipsy condemned for robbery and murder) to make room for respectable men, hostages and political prisoners. The former convicts were wanted to recruit the ranks of the ' political terror-troops ' and the Red Guard, as well as to furnish functionaries to do the more important work of the administration of justice.[11]

Hitherto it had been the sole ambition of journeymen in general to be able to set up for themselves as independent masters of their respective trades : now, they were informed by the Voros Ujsag (Red Journal) that masters were without exception dishonest extortioners, since they employed workmen for wages : so they came to despise, not only their masters, but their handicrafts, too, and ended by joining the Red Guards or some other band of pillagers.

During four months and a hahf all Budapest wore the appearance of one vast condemned cell. The night visits of savage Red Guards and drunken terrorists, domiciliary visits (the most convenient pretexts for the ' official organs ' to plunder flats), the ' commandeering ' of food and dwellings, compulsory recruiting, the taking of hostages, the arrest and torture of innocent persons, and the glaring posters with their gruesome threats,—kept the inhabitants, stripped of everything and nearly all suffering the pangs of hunger, in a state of nervous tension, while suicides of embittered fathers were every-day occurrences. Those who had hitherto been held in check by the authorities, had now become the authorities themselves ; and, to the citizen accustomed to a disciplined mode of life, nothing can be more disheartening than the knowledge that the ' authorities ' are the greatest enemies to the security of life and property.

When, under the pretext of ' nationalization, ' the Soviet authorities proceeded vigorously to confiscate property, thirty-four banks were occupied by armed forces and placed under Communist management. The entire stock of money and securities was seized, as well as the jewellery, gold coins and foreign currency deposited in the safes. From the Austro-Hungarian Bank (Budapest branch) two hundred million crowns were taken and conveyed to Vienna for propaganda purposes ; while foreign currency of the value of at least forty to fifty million crowns was distributed among the immediate adherents (male and female alike) of the new masters of the country. Of the foreign securities seized several millions' worth were sold ; while the Sacred Crown, the most jealously guarded of all the nation's treasures, was offered for sale. (The crown adorning the dome of the royal palace was covered with a red cap.)

The salaries of the persons employed by the new bureaucracy and the wages of the workmen were raised so enormously that there could be no doubt as to the probability of a speedy bankruptcy of the State. A prison warder was paid wages amounting to about 30,000 crowns a year. The Exchequer was soon empty ; and there was a shortage of the means of payment. At this juncture Julius Lengyel, People's Commissioner for Finance, declared to a meeting of the ' trustees ' (Vertrauensmänner) of the officials of the bank of issue that ' there are excellent foreign and native forgers able to make perfect counterfeits of the Austro-Hungarian banknotes. ' The services of these ' excellent forgers ' were actually requisitioned ; and they made an enormous number of forged Austro-Hungarian banknotes, of 200, 25 and 2 crowns respectively. Thus the workers' delight at the rise of wages became converted into bitter disappointment, for they were paid in forged notes which possessed a very trifling purchasing value. The country folk refused to have anything to do with money forged under the aegis of ' authorities ' whose term of power was so problematical, and in consequence ceased to supply the capital with food.

Meanwhile Terror was working at high pressure, not sparing even the better-disposed among the working classes. Its appointed instruments—the Detective Department of the Ministry of the Interior, with the blood-thirsty Otto Korvin-Klein at its head, the Revolutionary Tribunals, and the Political ' Terror Troops '—never for a single moment lapsed from the level of their respective callings.

Otto Korvin (Klein), a hunch-backed, clean-shaven gnome of twenty-five years, was a well-paid official of a joint-stock company when he was called upon to join the ranks of the red, blood-stained knights of hate. It was he who issued orders for the seizure as hostages of the notabilities of our public life,—politicians, judges, bishops, writers, manufacturers, generals ; he who was known as ornamentum civitatis,—the former Prime Minister, Alexander Wekerle, a man of seventy years,—the former Ministers of War (Home Defence), Hazay and Szurmay, the Speaker (President of the House of Deputies), Charles Szasz, the most distinguished of Hungarian publicists, Eugéne Rakosi, Bishop Mikes, etc.,—all these men now became the inmates of a common jail. But in many cases, the instruments of Korvin's vindictiveness—the terrorists and detectives—did not even trouble to convey the hostages to prison ; dragging the victims out of bed and away from their homes in the dead of night, they simply murdered them and robbed their corpses. Alexander Hollan, Secretary of State, and his aged father were shot on the Chain Bridge, their bodies, bound together, being thrown into the Danube. Louis Navay, a former speaker of the Lower House, together with his younger brother and a local magistrate, while being conveyed from Mako to Budapest, were dragged from the train at Félegyhaza, placed on the brink of a grave dug in the neighbourhood of the railway-station, and then shot and stabbed with bayonets until they were dead ; on the same occasion, the Soviet mercenaries, as they proceeded on their journey, shot three more hostages in the train and seven at the railway-station of Hodmezovasarhely.


Maybe these unfortunate men had a happier fate than was that of some of the political prisoners whom Korvin subjected to his diabolical inquisition in the cellars beneath the Houses of Parliament. What was enacted there, in defiance of all human feeling, surpasses the utmost limits of bestiality. Some had the soles of their feet beaten with rubber sticks or their bare backs belaboured with belts or straps ; others had their ribs or arms broken, or tacks driven in under their nails ; some were compelled to drink three litres of water at a draught, or had rulers stuck down their throats, to force them to make disclosures. By the side of a certain lieutenant-colonel Korvin placed a guard with a hand grenade, ordering the latter to kill the unfortunate officer, if he dared to open his mouth ; another prisoner he threatened to shoot unless he spoke immediately. A lieutenant was found wearing on his breast an image of the Blessed Virgin : ' hang the thing up as an ornament for his gallows, ' shrieked the inquisitor in a paroxysm of fury. A prisoner named Balogh, who refused to confess, was dragged by the terrorists—his hands tied behind his back—up to the scaffold erected in the cellar and left hanging there with the blood running from his mouth and nose. For intimidation, the inquisitors showed the accused persons a heap of noses, tongues, and ears that had been cut off corpses. One of Korvin's hangmen, a Russian Jew, with a limp, and curly hair, named Gerson Itzkovitch, laughingly vaunted that he was in the habit of gouging out a bourgeois' eye with a single turn of his Cossack knife, ' like the stone from a peach. ' Those who were tortured to death in the course of the inquisition were generally thrown from the stairs of the Houses of Parliament into the Danube ; the actor Andrew Szocs was thrown down from the third floor into the courtyard, where his body was left to decompose for several days.

In order to prevent the wailings and death-cries of the victims being heard by outsiders, a grinning chauffeur was told off to keep the motor of his automobile incessantly whirring in front of the ventilation holes of the cellars.

These frenzied blood-orgies betray all the symptoms characteristic of that perversion which manifests itself in a perverse and fiendish delight in the shedding of blood, in shrieks of pain, and in maddening tortures.

Korvin's female typist, Manci Hollos, endeavoured to comfort an imprisoned lawyer in these terms : ' You will make a handsome corpse ; it will be a pleasure to gouge out your eyes and kick your broken ribs. '

Hysterical women, too, were given a plentiful scope of activity by Bolshevism, which induced women to wear short hair, in order to be more like men, whereas the men wore long, flowing hair, after the Russian fashion. Elizabeth Sipos, the notorious agitator with whom Korvin contracted a marriage during the Dictatorship, devoted her energy to spying out the counter-revolutionary plans of army officers. Margaret Romanyi agitated in favour of Bolshevism among the telephone operators ; while Gizella Adler, in her capacity as political commissary, armed with a revolver, herself delivered to the custody of the Red Guards such persons as seemed to her to be suspicious. Mrs. John Peczkai,[12] a woman doctor, took pleasure in assisting at executions ; her hobby was to be allowed to determine whether death had ensued, and she showed a particular eagerness in making inquiries as to when and where the next execution was to take place. Ethel Sari (a notorious pickpocket, who later on became Secretary to the People's Commissioner, Vago) took part, with her husband, the gorilla-headed terrorist, Andrew Annocskay, in the butchery at Maká, in the meantime methodically pursuing her usual occupation of professional pickpocket.

Those whom Korvin's accomplices or the Red Guards brought direct to the revolutionary tribunals, might have congratulated themselves on at least escaping the cellars of torture of the Houses of Parliament ; but mutilation, starvation and intimidation were the order of the day in the prisons. In the prison attached to the Budapest Central Court of Justice alone 1,461 persons were held in custody, persons arrested as politicians, and not charged with any criminal act. The tribunals, composed of untrained individuals (industrial labourers and persons ' with a past '), were not bound by any regular rules of procedure and passed sentence with a rapidity of courts-martial under military law. The Budapest Revolutionary Tribunal sentenced to ' confinement in an asylum ' an accused person who evinced symptoms of dull-wittedness ; and against this sentence there was no appeal.

The Governing Council appointed the lawyer Dr. Eugene László political commissary for all the revolutionary tribunals. This man was the offspring of a marriage between cousins, and his mother died insane ; his fellow-lawyers and journalists (for previously he had been law reporter to a daily with a wide circulation) spoke of him among themselves as ' mad László ' ; yet he was one of the most fanatical of Communists and in his degeneracy was quite the equal of the more calculating Korvin and the more ignorant Számuelly. These qualities were amply sufficient to fit him to act as super-reviser of all judgments passed by the revolutionary tribunals ; and his legal training enabled him to do his work by simply ordering the members of the tribunals to pass the sentences dictated by him. In the case of Dr. John Stenczel and his associates, who were charged with being counter-revolutionists, acting in touching agreement with Otto Korvin, László conferred the dignity of judge on Joseph Cserny, directing him to sentence all the accused but one to death. As President of the Tribunal, after ten minutes' hearing of the case, which was a mere parody of the administration of justice, Cserny pronounced sentence of death on eight men and then, by way of motive for the sentence, whistled between his fingers ; of the men condemned in this manner, three were shot, while the others were graciously reprieved and sentenced to imprisonment for life. (One member of this tribunal was Francis Gombos, a worker in the cartridge factory, who was known to be ever ready to agree to a sentence of death ; he ' despised human life,'—though, it would appear only in the case of others, for, when at a later date the Court of Law sentenced him to death, he broke into sobs and implored mercy.)

This same Eugéne László, who, during the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, had no fewer than four flats in Budapest, was far less severe in respect of the standard of morality applied to his own actions, for as appears from the evidence of his own officials he stole from the Budapest mansion of Baron Ulmann clothes, silver cigarette-cases and other portable articles, which he then sold at a high price, Joseph Cserny having bought from him, among other things, caps for 100 crowns. These individuals also made a practice of arresting as hostages rich merchants, whom they then released from prison as a proof of their magnanimity in return for money and rice !

A quite different type one might almost say a true type of Apache—was ' Comrade ' Joseph Cserny,[13] the broad-shouldered and big-limbed sailor whom Béa Kún himself entrusted with the organisation of the ' terror troops. ' He was of a very powerful physique and possessed remarkable muscular strength ; and he was possessed with the conviction that in the general upheaval he was called upon to play a pre-eminent part and must to that end be a ruthless murderer. Not even Béla Kún himself was suffered to contradict him on this point ; and when, under the pressure of the Entente Missions and of the workers, it was proposed to disband his troops, he forthwith conceived the idea of offering his services to the counter-revolutionists. From among the volunteers who applied to him for ' a job '—these persons were the very scum of society he selected—men of the lowest repute, dare-devils ' with a past ' ready to perpetrate any crime,—the criminals known as ' Lenin Boys, ' more than 400 in number, whose special vocation was to stifle any counter-revolutionary movement. What they really had to do, however, was not to take part in any open fighting or in regular military operations, but to inspire terror in districts where any counter-revolutionary movement had already been suppressed by the Red Army,—by murder, torture and pillaging. We know now, from the sentences of the courts of law, that this ' institution ' was ' a gang organized for common wholesale murder ' and robbery, re-assured in advance by Ernest Seidler, People's Commissioner for Police, who said : ' You may put out of the way as many " bourgeois " as you like ; I will see that everything is hushed up ! '

The ' Lenin Boys ' took possession of Count Batthyanyi's mansion in the Theresa Boulevard, which was transformed into a veritable fortress ; in the cellars were amassed enormous quantities of ammunition, while the ' garrison ' had at their disposal field guns, minenwerfers, and twenty- four machine guns. The pavement in front of the house was barricaded, while before the gate heavy motor-lorries armed with machine-guns were kept constantly in readiness.

Each ' Lenin Boy ' was armed to the teeth with revolvers, a bowie knife and hand grenades. The whole town knew the ' Lenin Boys ' by their leather coats and flat caps with bag-like flaps at the back. (Cserny himself carried a long, sharp hunting knife stuck in one of his yellow top-boots.) To their fortress-mansion the ' Boys ' conveyed by motor- lorries enormous quantities of ' commandeered ' clothes, food, wine, jewellery and ladies, who, after being forced to take part in their wild orgies, were boxed on the ears and ' chucked out.' These bandits had a peculiar slang of their own to express their methods of assassination,—viz., ' to send to Gades,' ' to refrigerate,' ' to send floating,' ' to send home ' ; their torture and flogging might be ' under-done ' or ' well-done ' (slang phrases adopted from the kitchen jargon). Whenever Korvin or Gabriel Schon (the political commissary attached to the District Commander of the Red Guard) telephoned to Cserny, saying—' I am sending you a man ; send him to Gades, ' the person in question was dead by the following morning, and his corpse ' sent floating ' on the Danube.

From among these ruffians were selected the Soviet House Guards, as well as the Számuelly Detachment, which was quartered in the leaders' special train, and was always kept in readiness to travel away.[14]

Cserny's spy, a boy of fourteen years from Nagyvarad, of the name of Nicholas Gelbert, was able to obtain an entrance everywhere as an unsuspected child, and indeed carried on his trade with astonishing zeal ; on one occasion he himself shot a captain, for which act he is said to have received from Béla Kún a reward of 10,000 crowns.

When the ' terrorists ' were temporarily disbanded, forty of the ' most trustworthy ' were transferred to the detective section operating in the Parliament building ; later on, however, the gang was again organized and took up its quarters in Buda, in the Mozdony-utca school.

These brigands ' despatched ' a host of persons without the formality of a trial, either by the orders of their superiors or on their own initiative, in the latter case either to humour their cynical lust of blood or with intent to rob. One day an ensign of hussars, Nicholas Dobsa, having lost his certificate of identity, went to the Soviet House to procure a new one ; in consequence he was brought before Gabriel Schán, the Political Commissary, twenty-three years old, who had formerly been a law student and had become one of the most blackguardly desperadoes of the Red regime. The ensign smiled when speaking to his inquisitor ; this was reason enough for Gabriel Schán to have him despatched as a ' saucy youth ' to Cserny in the Batthyanyi mansion. Two ' terrorists ' (Géza Groo and John Nyakas) seized the unfortunate young man, dragged him to the cellar, and beat him unmercifully, fracturing his lower jaw and one of his arms ; then they dug a grave for him and shot him. Merely because he had smiled when speaking to Gabriel Schán !

Dr. Nicholas Berend, a University professor, on the day of the counter-revolution in June waved a white handkerchief at the gunboats which bombarded the Soviet House ; he was shot and his body robbed by terrorists, who took his money, watch, clothes and shoes (in a word, everything), and then threw his corpse into the Danube. This was how this notorious ' political institution ' showed its respect for the medical profession. In the evening of the same day, a medical student named Béla Madarasz, who, preparing for an examination, remained absorbed in his books in his garret room, and kept a light burning beyond the prescribed hour, was dragged by the terrorists into the street, where one of them gave him a blow on the head, while another stabbed him in the abdomen ; after his gold watch had been taken from him, he was thrown into a dust-cart and ' sent floating ' in the Danube.

Gustavus Szigeti, a merchant who had been arrested in Veszprem on suspicion of having harboured Count Festetich in his house, was, at the instance of the Political Commissary for Veszprém, who offered a reward of 5,000 crowns, taken bound by the terrorist Gabriel Csomor to a sandbank in Lake Balaton and there stabbed to death by that ruffian, who fastened a piece of a broken grave-stone to the corpse, cut off the tip of the left ear, and sank the body in the lake, afterwards sending the ear-tip to the Commissary as authentic proof that he had killed the victim.

The Soviet rulers indulged a special hatred towards the rigorous chiefs of the former gendarmerie too. A few days prior to the fall of the Soviet Government, Edward Chlepko, Commander-in-Chief of the Red Guard, on the basis of a pre-arranged anonymous denunciation, had Lieutenant-General Oscar Ferry arrested, together with two lieutenant-colonels of the gendarmerie. The political detectives Bonyhati (formerly a lieutenant in the reserve) and Radvanyi—two men whom even Cserny dubbed ' blood- hounds ' conveyed the unfortunate officers to the Terrorists' barracks in Mozdony utca, where, after three days' fruitless inquisition, all three were hanged by the ' Lenin Boys ' on a water-pipe in the cellar. These victims, too, were buried in the Danube.

During the reign of horror in Budapest, Számuelly's ' death -train ' rushed from one end of the country to the other, landing its hellish passengers at the scene of every counter-revolutionary movement. So far as we have hitherto been able to ascertain, the official assassin of the Dictatorship executed thirty persons in Szolnok, twenty in Kalocsa, sixty-one in the small village of Duna-pataj, in addition killing a host of other innocent people in twenty-five different towns and parishes. The most ' eminent ' of the hangmen of this Hungarian Jefferys were Louis Kovacs, Arpad Kerekes (Kohn), and Charles Sturcz, who, at a mere sign of the hand from Számuelly, hanged or shot seventeen, forty-six, and forty-nine persons respectively.

The usual custom of these human brutes was to place the victim on a chair beneath the tree selected for the purpose, then to throw a rope round his neck and order him to kick away the chair ; whenever the victim was unable, owing to his terror of death, to do so, he was beaten with rifle-butts and prodded with knives, until the instinct of escape from this sanguinary torture compelled the writhing victim to comply with the command. These beasts beat grey-haired old men to death ; in some cases they gouged out the victims' eyes before killing them with all the refinement of Bolshevik cruelty. In one case, after hanging a parish notary, they forced his wife, who was approaching confinement, to watch her husband's death agony. They even slapped the faces of the dead and kicked them, using obscene language in their abusive mockery of their victims.

' I could not continue to watch these scenes ' an army surgeon confessed ; ' I broke into a convulsive fit of sobbing,—a thing that never once happened to me during four years of service at the front. '

In comparison with these monsters, the jackal is a mere lamb, the rattlesnake an innocent gold-fish. They walked in human guise ; but the bestial instinct for plunder and butchery latent within them was not restrained by any human feeling or kept within bounds (was, indeed, rather enhanced) by human intelligence.

Yet, undoubtedly, the awful responsibility involved must be borne by those who either directly enjoined or at least watched, tolerated and approved the perpetration of the crimes committed by them.

Each of the responsible leaders knew that by ' Commune ' the criminal means liberty to steal, and by ' terror ' blind butchery.

These leaders were the conscious promoters of a fearful material and moral devastation, and must have known that the very existence of a whole generation of working men was at stake. ' Thus crimes are born, and curses—but not new worlds ! '

With their souls full of hatred, they made boastful promises of earthly bliss to those whom they swept to perdition.

' No greater catastrophe than Bolshevism could have befallen the working classes' says—in one of its manifestoes—the council of the newly-revived Social Democrat Party.

Is it worth our while to inquire whether, amid all this horror and terror, there is to be found anywhere even a spark of that ' holy madness ' which makes the apostle ready to die the death of a martyr for his creed ?

Rigault, the Chief of Police in the French Commune, and one of its blackest figures, waited in Paris for the coming of the troops from Versailles ; when the soldiers thronging into his suburban hotel mistook the proprietor for him and were about to seize him, Rigault hastened towards them with the words ' I am Rigault ! I am neither a brute nor a coward ! ' Ten minutes later, Rigault was dead.

And the Budapest People's Commissioners,—the men who had so often emphasized ' the unparalleled cowardice of the bourgeoisie ' and abused our heroes and our martyrs, when the assassin's dagger slipped from their grasp, packed in feverish haste the foreign currency which they had ' sequestered ' for their own private use from the Austro-Hungarian Bank, and, boarding their special train, fled in a panic to a milder climate, away from this plundered, devastated and unhappy country.[15]


[1] A photograph of St. Stephen's crown (the Holy Hungarian crown) is reproduced at page 162 of Part I of this work.

[2] A portrait of Böhm is reproduced at page 196 of Part I of this book.

[3] Francis Rákoczi, the leader of the Kuruc rising against the Hapsburgs, in the early years of the 18th Century, a national hero, is buried in the Cathedral of Kassa. His body was transferred from Turkey to Kassa in 1907. [Transl.]

[4] It is a common belief in Hungary (and in many other countries) that if a murderer approaches the corpse of his victim the blood will flow from the fatal wound. [Transl.]

[5] For a further account of him see pp. 228-229.

[6] The Publishers of this volume are greatly indebted to Dr. Oscar Szöllősy and to the Editor of The Anglo-Hungarian Review for permission to include this account of some of the chief actors in The Terror.

[7] The People's Commissioner for Public Education, George Lukács, was the son of a wealthy banker, and was persuaded to join the Communists by the crack-brained daughter of an extremely rich Budapest solicitor, who subsequently assisted Béla Kún and his associates to counterfeit bank-notes, till finally she was thrashed publicly (in the street) with a hunting crop by an embittered ' bourgeois. ' A portrait of Lukács is reproduced at page 106 of this volume.

A certain Ministerial Councillor, Stephen Láday, once declared emphatically to the writer of this article that Communism might be very pretty in theory, but was, in his opinion, impossible in practice. Two months later Láday became a Bolshevik People's Commissioner.

[8] For a portrait of Béla Kún, see vol. i., p. 160 of this work, where a further account of him is given.

[9] See pp. 96-98.

[10] See vol. i., p. 70.

[11] A story which is far from improbable, though it certainly sounds like a popular anecdote, runs to the effect that, at a trial of one of the proletarian tribunals, in answer to the ' Public Prosecutor's ' question : ' Where did you take the stolen articles ? ' one of the persons accused of theft said, ' To the woman in Budafok to whom you and I took that bicycle last year ! '

[12] A photograph of her is reproduced at p. 140 of this volume.

[13] See also pp. 185-186

[14] There were similar detachments outside of Budapest, the same being delegated to hold the provincial towns in mortal terror, e.g., the ' Fabik Detachment ' in Székesfehérvár, the ' Gombos Terror Gang ' in Györ, etc.

[15] Béla Kún and a large number of his fellow-Commissioners escaped to Vienna. Our efforts to obtain their extradition by Austria were fruitless ; under the pressure of the Socialists the Austrian Government refused, and subsequently handed them over to the Russian Soviet authorities.

After the re-establishment of law and order, of the revolutionary criminals arrested ninety-six were condemned to death, the rest being sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. Of the persons condemned to death fourteen were reprieved, eighteen (together with 400 other condemned persons) handed over in exchange for Hungarian prisoners of war to the Russian Soviet, while sixty-four were hanged, the latter number including Korvin, László, Schán, and Cserny.

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