Published: October 02 2023
Communism in Hungary traces its origins all the way back to the end of World War I, when a revolutionary wave swept across Europe. The man credited with starting communism in Hungary is Bella Kun. A charismatic leader with a passionate vision, Kun was influential in establishing the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic.
Origins of Hungarian Communism
While Hungary's flirtation with communism began in earnest in 1919, the ideological seeds were actually planted years earlier. A series of socioeconomic upheavals, political instabilities, and the trauma of World War I combined to produce a volatile environment ripe for radical change. This was a tipping point in Hungarian history, a time when many Hungarians were dissatisfied with the political and economic status quo.
The Role of Béla Kun
At the forefront of this revolutionary wave was Béla Kun. Born in 1886 in Leva, Kun was a committed socialist and a member of the Social Democratic Party of Hungary. During World War I, he was captured as a prisoner of war in Russia. While in captivity, he was influenced by the burgeoning Bolshevik movement and became a diligent advocate of the communist ideology.
Upon his return to Hungary in 1918, Kun immediately began organizing like-minded revolutionaries around the communist cause. The Hungarian Communist Party was founded in November 1918, with Kun as its first Secretary General.
The Hungarian Soviet Republic
Kun's vigorous campaign for communism culminated in the proclamation of the Hungarian Soviet Republic on 21 March 1919. This was technically the second socialist state in the world to be established, following closely behind the October Revolution in Russia.
However, the Hungarian Soviet Republic was short-lived. It lasted only 133 days, beset by difficulties from the start. These included diplomatic isolation, the opposition of the peasantry, economic viability issues, and military opposition from Romania and Czechoslovakia. The Republic collapsed on 1 August 1919, leading to a reactionary backlash spearheaded by Admiral Miklós Horthy.
Legacy of Kun and Hungarian Communism
Despite the failure of Kun's initial experiment with communism, the ideological seeds he planted continued to ripple through Hungarian politics throughout the 20th century. The Hungarian Communist Party was reestablished under a new name, the Hungarian Working People's Party, in 1948 and ruled the country as a socialist state until the Revolution of 1989.
In summary, Béla Kun is the man who started communism in Hungary. He was a defining figure in the establishment of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, leaving an indelible mark on the course of Hungarian history. Despite his relatively short reign, his influence echoed through the subsequent decades of Hungarian politics.