Ugrás a tartalomhoz Lépj a menübe
 


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

CHAPTER XII

June 21st.

I like to listen to the children when they talk about the banks of the Ipoly. The dragonflies have made their appearance over the slow, warm water. The golden maple has withered in the garden. The crops are hot between the furrows. I like to hear that summer has come. The terrible time is passing.

In the name of the Entente, Clemenceau has sent a new ultimatum to the Soviet.

" The Hungarian army fighting on Czecho-Slovak territory must be withdrawn at once behind the frontiers fixed for Hungary... The Rumanian troops will be withdrawn at once as soon as Hungarian troops withdraw from Czecho-Slovakia... If within four days after the 14th of June the Government does not comply with this demand, the Allies will take punitive measures. "

On the other hand the powers of the Entente declare " in the name of peace and justice " that the frontiers to be fixed in a subsequent message will " permanently separate Hungary from Czecho-Slovakia and Rumania and that these Powers will be obliged to withdraw behind the fixed natural frontiers. "

An hour must have passed since we began and we are still reading the names of towns and villages cut off by Clemenceau's line in the name of " peace and justice." The name of every lost town, every little village is a stab. They want to take the sky above our heads, the ground under our feet. They want to take our ancient Hungarian towns, which we have not conquered by arms but which we have built with the sweat of our brow. They want to take the region of Sopron, where the giant of Hungarian music, Francis Liszt, was born ; Czenk, where the builder of modern Hungarian culture, Count Stephen Széchenyi, sleeps his eternal sleep ; Pressburg, the ancient coronation town, whence the cry of Hungarian fidelity " Moriamur pro rege nostro ! " rang out over land and sea.

They take Kassa with the grave of the champion of Hungary's freedom, Francis Rákoczy ; Munkács, the birthplace of our great painter, Munkácsy ; Gyulafehérvár, the resting-place of Europe's saviour, John Hunyady, the scourge of the Turks ; Kolozsvár, where stands the birth-place of the great prince of the Renaissance, Mathias Gorvinus ; the field of Segesvár, the cemetery of our national poet, Petőfi. They want to take Arad where thirteen martyrs of our independence, including Count Leiningen, died within an hour for their country. They want to take Szalonta, John Arany's purely Hungarian birthplace, the district where the oldest and purest Hungarian is spoken. They want to tear from us our brethren the Vends, Ruthenians and millions and millions of Hungarians. They want to take two rivers, the Drava and the Sava, and three mountain ranges, the Tátra, the Mátra and the Fátra, which adorn and form the armorial bearings of Hungary. And all this never belonged to those to whom it is given.

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They want to rob us of our cradles and graves, " in the name of peace and justice... " My God ! " Natural frontiers ... " Are they making fun of our sufferings ? Dare they call the wound cut into the country's body " Natural frontiers ? " Somebody in the room laughed gruesomely.

" Here, we overlooked this : the frontier is only fixed till the conclusion of a definitive peace treaty ... " I clung to the words, supported myself with them as with crutches.

" Of course these frontiers are meant for the Bolsheviks only. They are threats to induce them to surrender ..." Aladár Huszár shook his head sadly : " You will see, all this will remain ..."

........

June 22nd-23rd.

The days when something happens to us are not always the worst. The long dragging hours of eventless days are just as terrible. To stand roped to the mast of a wreck, to wait passively, to gaze at the hopeless horizon and to fancy that every white wave is a sail. To see the lights of phantom vessels, to hear imaginary voices. There is nothing to see, nothing to hear : all this is as much torture as the catastrophe itself.

........

June 24th.

The blossoms of the acacias have faded, but this year I have not seen their beauty. Now they have fallen to the ground and something else is in the air a rich scent which floats through my window. If it had a colour it would be white, if it were visible it would smile the limes are blooming. Somewhere, everywhere.

Books are less heavy to my weary hands, and I can now sit up in bed. The shrill whistle of the trains no longer pierces my brain, and there are many trains running, more and more every day. The troop trains are coming back : something is happening.

The Soviet meeting was suddenly broken up and Budapest is under martial law. The Soviet members of Balassagyarmat have already come home, and judging by their reports the triumphant Soviet must have been a strange gathering. During the proceedings the comrades unfolded their greasy parcels and began to eat, filling the place with the smell of garlic and the litter of food. Notwithstanding prohibition there was a good deal of drinking in the dining-room, and while the comrades in the House of Parliament were gushing about Proletarian happiness, outside, at the entrance to the former House of Lords, the leather- jacketed Lenin Boys were brutalising pale and starving people.

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Béla Kún presided autocratically over the assembly. Whenever anything began to go contrary to his desires a motion of his hand closed the debate. On the last day but one ninety-seven members had put down questions, but he shouted at them that he was fed up with their talk and in twenty-four hours he hustled the Communist Constitution through. The Soviet members of the capital attacked those of the provinces ; they clamoured that it was their fault that the capital was starving, why did they tolerate all the counter-revolutions ? The provincial members, on the other hand, declared that the Communist administration was bankrupt, was worse than any other, and finally left the place as a protest. The wind was already veering and only Béla Kún's terrorism saved the Directorate. The Commissaries were shouting : " We won't stand the preaching of pogroms in the Soviet ! " There was great excitement. William Böhm declared that an anti-Semitic pogrom putsch had been started in Budapest two days ago.

The Commander-in-Chief held forth in gloomy strains : " Though the Red army is gaining victory after victory, the situation is not altogether rosy... " On the 2nd of May, he declared, amidst frenzied applause, the People's Commissaries and the members of the Workers' Council were to proceed to the front. " Our publicity agents have spread the news over the country, yet the comrades still stick tight to Budapest. If Eugene Landler with his twenty stone can climb hills and lie in trenches under fire, surely the others can do their duty too, otherwise the Proletarian soldier will no longer believe in Proletarian equality. " Then the Red Commander shouted in despair : " The reserves have not turned up. If this goes on for another four weeks, Vágo, Landler and Pogány can go into the trenches under my leadership if they like, but there won't be any soldiers left... " I pictured the scene and could not help laughing at its absurdity. I could see the twenty-stone mass of Landler, and Pogány's terrific circumference protruding from the trenches, while Comrade Böhm, the typewriter agent, with his Field Marshal's baton elegantly held to his hip, stands over them, the shadow of his legs throwing an O on the deserted landscape. " A grandiose historical group, " ' The People's Voice ' described it. Just so.

My friends heard me laughing, came into my room, and laughed too. The children, who hadn't seen anybody laugh for a long time, could not understand what had happened to us, so they, too, burst out laughing.

" And this is the gang which rules over us ! " ... The laughter stopped suddenly and there was silence the same silence as yesterday and the days before that. The children stopped laughing too, and shyly left the room...

Another train whistled beyond the trees and a former artillery officer ran in for a moment to see the Huszárs. Strange rumours are flying about : the army is falling to pieces all along the front : the soldiers are threatening to shoot their commanders : Béla Kún promised peace and bread and now they have war and paper money : at Branyiszkó the Székler battalions and workmen-soldiers demanded the national flag to be brought out and others left the front : yesterday a victorious regiment retreated from Léva to Ipolyság : on the Danube the Reds are retiring too, without any cause, dispersing in all directions : the men at the front have sent an ultimatum to Béla Kún demanding that the " comrades should come out into the firing line too, " or they will fight no longer : all the soldiers are saying the same thing : " the Jews swagger about in patent leather boots behind the front while we die. "

It was not the ultimatum of Clemenceau and the Allies that stopped hostilities with the Czechs, it was this attitude of the troops. " Why did we beat the Czechs ? " the soldiers grumbled. " What was the good of shedding all that blood if we have to come back ? "

" Our blood is cheap to the comrades ! " others answered.

The soldiers who are passing through the station talk about marching on Budapest : they are going to brain the People's Commissaries ! Huge inscriptions are chalked up all along the trains : " To death with Béla Kún ! " " Kill the Jews ! " A poster has been stuck up opposite our house : it represents a Red soldier with Semitic features holding a rifle ; his raised hand points in front of him and his mouth is open as though he were pronouncing the inscription : " You ! Counter-revolutionaries, lurking in the dark, spreading false reports, Tremble ! "

' The Red Newspaper ' shouts in the same bloodthirsty strain : " We demand martial law against the Counter-revolution ! We demand that the administration of martial law should be placed in the hands of the only man fit for the position Comrade Tibor Számuelly. Tibor Számuelly is a brave and energetic man, who dares to be ruthless for the sake of the Revolution... With ten men he crushed the Counter-revolution in Western Hungary... All honour to him who, in the interests of the Revolution, recoils from nothing, who has enough culture and courage to choose with energy and revolutionary faith the only path that is possible, the path that is inevitable, the path trod by Saint-Juste and Marat. The right system for every emergency, the right man for every job ! Martial law for the degraded Counter-revolution. Tibor Számuelly for the suppression of the Counter-revolution ! " To-day's ' People's Voice ' reports that martial law has already been proclaimed ; its administrator, however, will not be Számuelly but Commissary Joseph Haubrich, the Red Military Commander of Budapest, who is a Christian. But it is obvious why the choice fell on Haubrich and not on Számuelly. The Jewish race is short-sighted where the lessons of history are concerned, though it is not lacking in prescience. Számuelly's gallows, set up in the Hungarian villages, are not discernible in Paris and Rome, but foreign countries have their eyes on Budapest. So as far as Budapest is concerned let it be a Christian who sheds the blood of the Christians that rise against Jewish tyranny. The Red press proves this assumption to be correct. Számuelly's slaughters were passed over in silence, but the first execution under martial law in Budapest is announced in huge type : " COUNTER-RE VOLUTIONARY SENTENCED TO DEATH ! "

In Budapest and in the provinces small hand-written and typed handbills are now being circulated, marked " Copy this and pass it on ! " These handbills set forth the aims of the foreign race which, under the aegis of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, has come into power, and appeal to the Hungarian people to be patriotic. Among others who undertook the distribution of these leaflets was Géza Herczeg, a young man of the clerical class. He was caught and " On Monday night the Revolutionary Tribunal sentenced him to be shot. "

So a Hungarian has died because he distributed bills inciting his compatriots to rebel against the Jewish terror. On the feast of Corpus Christi a young Jew spat on the Host, another fired at the altar, and in another place a volley was fired at the procession. Számuelly favours the proximity of churches for his executions, but in Béla Kún's Soviet Republic there has been no conviction for persecuting Christians. The cup has now overflowed, the millions are beginning to see. The eyes of the soldiery have been opened by the useless deaths of their fellows and by the acts of the champagne-drinking delegates-to-the-front. Recruiting is announced to begin in our county to-morrow, but village after village is sending messages to the Directorate that it will not permit it. The peasantry is fairly aflame. ' Comrade ' nowadays means Jew in the minds of the peasants.

On the other bank of the Ipoly they have beaten the political delegate to death ; his name was Ignace Singer. I remember seeing the red-haired Ignace Singer, the torturer of Balassagyarmat, and the rest of the Directorate bolting in coaches from the Czechs ; it was he who, after the defeat of the local Counter-revolution, shouted from the balcony of the county hall : " Slaughter the bourgeois and don't spare their women and children ! " His voice will be heard no more nor will that of his friend, Comrade Riechmann, who has chosen the wiser part and has absconded with five million crowns in cash.

One more storm and the fury of the betrayed people will break through the dams. The people has recovered its memory ; it remembers who exploited it during the war, who enriched himself by Hungary's disaster, who dragged it into the terrible peace, into civil war and death. The air is resonant with this new consciousness, conceived in blood. In the great plain one can hear metallic clicks which bode danger : with set teeth the Hungarian peasantry is sharpening its scythes ; and the edge is not meant for the crops, for the peasant looks towards Budapest.

The news has been spreading for days. In the county of Pest counter-revolution has flared up. Aszód and Pécel have risen, Cumania and the whole length of the banks of the Danube are in ferment. It started on the 19th of June, on the feast of Corpus Christi, and the tocsin carried the news from village to village along the banks of the Danube. The peasants took their scythes, tore up the railways and cut the telephone wires. The Directorate took to flight and the Red Guards surrendered and ran for their lives.

Kalocsa, Dunapataj, Dömsöd, Tas, Lacháza ... names that sound like ancient Hungarian music. They are ringing with the sound of Hungarian hopes ... Hungarian scythes.

........

June 25th.

It was long after midnight when I heard steps coming from the direction of the railway station. A voice said in the street : " There will be no trains for Budapest to-morrow. " The news spread in the morning nobody knew who had brought it, it just came suddenly. The Counter-revolution has broken out in Budapest ! Imagination supplied the rest.

The Hungarians working for us in Vienna ... a railway strike ... the names of villages and counties ... all along the Danube ... the whole of Western Hungary, Szeged ... The Whites are marching with fifty thousand men from Szeged towards Budapest.

Stories inspired by hope.

Then somebody came from Vácz, bringing news. Yesterday at four o'clock in the afternoon four cannon-shots were heard in the direction of Budapest. The cannonade increased. People ran down to the banks of the Danube and listened with their ears to the ground. Many stuck ribbons of the national colours in their coats. There is a counter-revolution in Budapest ! The barracks rose against the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, and most of the factories joined in. The monitors on the Danube shelled and destroyed the Hotel Hungaria, which had become Soviet House. The ships hoisted the national flag, and white flags are floating from the castle, from Mount Gellert, from the houses of Buda.

A fierce joy seized me and I wanted to get out of bed. I felt ill no longer. Then ... nothing especial happened and yet things began to lose their brightness. Evening came. We laughed no more and suspense became pain.

No newspapers arrived. The train was very late ; there was a passenger from Budapest—Comrade Frank, Dictator of the County, and once again he talked loudly under the porch, and he wore a red tie. A gentleman passed with a white handkerchief protruding from his pocket. " Remove that counter-revolutionary badge ! " shouted Frank. My friends sat around me in silence, none of us dared speak of plans. Hope dried up in our hearts. Then the door was cautiously opened and somebody came in. It was a railwayman they always have the latest news. The Counter-revolution in Budapest has been defeated, and those who were caught are to be hanged !

In Budapest everybody knew about it beforehand, people talked openly in the streets. The signal was expected for three o'clock, when the monitors would open fire. The moving spirits of the rising were Captain Lemberkovics and a military chaplain, Julius Zákány. Haubrich, the Red commander of the garrison, appeared to side with the rising and declared that in case of success he would assume the military dictatorship ; in case of failure, however, he would deal mercilessly with the organisers. He also informed the credulous counter-revolutionaries that the Soviet had ordered him to declare martial law. He had managed to postpone it till the 26th, but could hold out no longer. Let them therefore have the rising on the 24th, on Tuesday. Thus it was Haubrich himself who fixed the date and on Tuesday morning his posters appeared on the wall. Martial law ! The carrying out of the Counter-revolution was entrusted to a Red brigade of Hungarian soldiers composed of about three thousand men, and they had thirty guns and a few armoured cars. Haubrich knew of this, and just before the rising he despatched the brigade to the Northern front.

From that moment the Counter-revolution was reduced to a forlorn attempt, supported by the men of the artillery barracks, the monitors, the military academy and the patriotic workmen of a factory in Ujpest.

When the signal was given in the harbour of Old Buda, the three monitors came forth under the national flag and began to shell Soviet House. Fifty pupils of the military academy occupied a telephone exchange and meanwhile people were gathering at the appointed places. Officers 170 citizens, students and policemen met under doorways. The workmen, however, forsook the rising at the last moment. Many of the officers were late. In places where four or five thousand armed men were expected, only ten or twenty appeared, and of the twenty thousand hoped for only a few hundreds turned up.

The men in the artillery barracks were restrained by Communist orators, who appeared suddenly and informed them that the Counter-revolution had already been defeated everywhere, and made them arrest their officers.

The monitors gave up their useless cannonade and fled down the Danube to the south. The workmen of the factory were persuaded to surrender to a band of terrorists who had hurried to the spot. Shots were exchanged between Buda and Pest. The colours on the masts of the ships on the Danube and on the soldiers' caps changed from red, white and green to red as events took this turn.

Terror Boys on lorries with machine guns raced through the empty streets, shooting into the windows and firing volleys at the houses, occasionally breaking into houses and carrying the occupants off. They tore down the national colours wherever they found them, and corpses began to strew the pavements. When evening came the unfortunate town knew that it had not yet freed itself from the tyrant and that there was seemingly no hope left. By its organisation the Red power had swept away in a few hours the rising of the barracks, the monitors and the factories. The whole thing crumbled away in blood, misfortune and retreat. Everything was lost.

Not everything ! In the general collapse a handful of Hungarian boys kept the flag flying. The forsaken cadets of the military academy held out. Till next morning these boys in white uniforms defended the telephone exchange which had been entrusted to them against the assaults and machine-guns of the Reds. They also defended the building of their academy, besieged by a whole regiment. The attacking Reds were reinforced in the morning, artillery was brought up, and Haubrich sent a message to the effect that if they did not surrender he would have the whole place blown to pieces. Then only did the gate open and the heroes of the Counter-revolution lay down their arms. Soldiers with fixed bayonets drove a group of boys in white uniforms to the condemned cells.

Everything is lost. Yet there has been this ray of light in a town wrapped in darkness and shame. Our honour, which the men could not defend, was saved by a few boys ; and through our despair there appeared a vision of a new generation worthier than the old. What will be their fate ? The nights are nights of terror and nobody sleeps ; some fight with horrors, others hope and pray.

Poor boys ! I think of them and their mothers, of unknown, pale, sleepless women, strangers to me yet closely kin. I, too, have a mother.

........

June 26th.

The Red press rhapsodizes to-day. " The Counter- revolutionary plot has failed. Capitalism attempted to regain its power. It was led on by a tricolour flag. The mean, cowardly bourgeois mob of priests, bankers, aristocrats, officers, Jew boys, has crept out of its lairs to incite pogroms. "

This is a cunning attempt to twist the truth. The persecution of the Christians must be screened, and as there is none to contradict it, Béla Kún's press boldly calls executed Christians ' Jews ' so as to persuade the grumbling people that the Dictators do not protect their own race. And it accuses the Jewish bankers of sympathy for the Counter-revolution so as to throw sand in the eyes of the peasantry led to the scaffold. Géza Herczeg, to whom they allude, was a Hungarian, and the Jewish bankers have nothing in common with Hungary's struggles.

I have it on the authority of one of the noblest figures of the Counter-revolution, a friend of mine, that when in desperation the organisers of the Counter-revolution asked for a loan from the Hungarian Jewish bankers abroad, and the Hungarian aristocracy, for the present deprived of all its means, offered to guarantee it, they refused with derision ; for although the Dictatorship of the Proletariat is causing them temporary losses, they are ready to sacrifice themselves for the final triumph of their race and declare proudly that " this Béla Kún is, after all, a wonderful fellow ! " The written materials for the history which is to be compiled to-morrow is already being intentionally falsified by the newspapers of to-day. The Counter-revolution was not a fight of Capitalism against the Proletariat, it was a fight of the Hungarian nation against the foreign race.

Its victims are not bankers and capitalists, but the poor Hungarian middle-class, starving intellectuals, struggling manufacturers, poverty-stricken officials, and artisans, while its butchers are not Proletarians but Számuellys, Joseph Pogánys, George Lukács and Béla Kúns.

" Bad news ... "

It is cold. The door rattles and the wind comes in at every crevice. Out of doors under a leaden sky the trees are blown nearly to the ground.

Someone says in a whisper :

" There is an old saying that when there is a wind like this in June it means that the gallows are busy. "

They are hanging Hungarians everywhere. Brave Captain Lembrovics and his friend, Lieutenant Filipec, have been killed. They have hanged the leaders of the factory workers, Ladislaus Orszy and foreman Martinovics. Other factory workers and bourgeois have been shot in front of the factory by terrorists.

' The People's Voice ' reports the news with satisfaction : " The Court martial has sentenced Stephen Kiss, Joseph Grasse and Ladislaus Szabó, former officers, and Zoltán Oszváth, a captain on the active list, Antony Waldsteinbrecht, a former lieutenant of the reserve, and Francis Imrey, a former captain, to death by hanging. "

The Terror tribunal is now trying the pupils of the military academy. And who will count the corpses thrown into the Danube, the dead bodies lying in the streets ? Now and then one hears a name from among the many. Madarász, a young medical student, was beaten to death because he had the temerity to study with a candle burning in his room. To the shame of humanity they have also murdered Dr. Nicholas Berend, the famous children's specialist.

Comrade Haubrich proclaims proudly : " Order reigns in Budapest, " and has the following proclamation posted up:

" After June 26th the doors of all houses must be closed at 8 p.m. No one is allowed in the streets after 10 p.m. More than three people must not be together in the street. All theatres and places of amusement are to be closed. "

And the Dictators order the city, distracted with sorrow, to hoist red flags on its houses. The walls are covered with orders.

" Any counter-revolutionary attempt, or offence, will be punished by hanging. Any counter-revolutionaries caught armed will be shot on the spot.

Budapest. June 25th, 1919.

Joseph Haubrich, Béla Kún,

Commander of the Garrison. Deputy Commander-in-Chief. "

They give orders, sentence and murder undisturbed. The wind is howling. Trees are blown nearly to the ground. And all over Hungary there are hangings.

........

June 27th.

Now that it has passed we begin to realise that even in our despair we had still hopes. It is no good to tell us we were wrong, we persisted in believing in the success of the heroic inhabitants of the banks of the Danube. That is over too, for there also the Counter-revolution has been defeated. A political delegate boasted loudly in front of the county hall of Balassagyarmat : " We have settled the whole lot. While Béla Kúm and Haubrich worked in Budapest, Számuelly dipped the peasants' rising in red. He took his revenge on the farmers. Any village that had injured the Jews was simply exterminated. "

People are fleeing from those parts, coming in our direction, and escaping over the Ipoly into the hills, where the Czechs are. The Czechs take our people to Olmütz if they are officers and to Pressburg if they are civilians. The fugitives know the fate in store for them, yet they go there ; anything is better than the gallows.

People escaping from sentence of death are continually ringing at the door, seeking Aladár Huszár. Somehow those who are in trouble know his name, and they come to him pale and exhausted, even as I came. Often they cannot speak, yet he understands them as he understood me. The Directorate keeps an eye on him and his house is watched detectives swarm around it. But he manages frequently, when night has come, to conduct anxious shadows through the quiet streets of the town to the living bridge across the Ipoly. Meanwhile the Red sentry loafs at the corner and glares at our windows. Hours pass. Mrs. Huszár walks quietly up and down in the next room. She stops suddenly, resumes her walk, then stops again. The whole house shares her vigil. Then the small gate opens ... so he has come home at last. The wind covers the tracks of the fugitives, the news of blood alone remains.

The banks of the Danube are one continuous death rattle : for a whole week Számuelly has been hanging. The Revolutionary Cabinet despatched him and he arrived with his terrorists at Kunszentmiklós the day after the rising. With him came his two Russian Jew hangmen, Itzigovic and Osserovic, and, dressed in black and with leggings, a little Jew hangman called Kohn-Kerekes. The latter was overheard having an argument with Gustav Nick, a freed murderer and terrorist, as to whether one could hang two or three within five minutes.

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Számuelly toyed with his elegant chamois gloves. He wore patent leather boots, a Soviet cap, and on the breast of his Russian blouse a red Soviet star. Ignace Fekete, a telegraph operator, was dragged before him. Számuelly inquired why his orders had not been obeyed ? " Hang him ! " Somebody told him that Fekete was a Jew. He made a sign to Kohn-Kerekes : " Let him go ! " Jews are only hanged by mistake.

In Tass he had two men hanged on a mulberry tree in front of the town hall because they carried sticks. " Where did you buy those sticks ? " " Somewhere, " the men answered haughtily. " Hang them ! " ordered Számuelly. In Solt he had the notary and the innkeeper hanged. He spat on Lieutenant Azily when he was already on the gallows. And on he went with his hangmen. Csengöd, Öregcsertö ... everywhere he hanged.

In Dunapataj he met with resistance, so he attacked the peasants, who had only scythes, with guns. Yet they stood their ground for five hours. Hundreds and hundreds perished. In to-day's ' Red Newspaper ' Számuelly reports in Dunapataj alone three hundred counter-revolutionaries killed. When his Terror Boys got possession of the village he had sixty men, old and young, hanged and shot without questioning them. He himself fixed the rope round several of the victims' necks and kicked the corpses with his patent leather boots. In Dunaföldvár also the trees were turned into gallows. After a desperate battle Kalocsa was forced to surrender. Számuelly erected his gallows in front of the house of the Jesuits. During the execution a priest in full canonicals, with a crucifix raised high, appeared in one of the windows and from a distance gave absolution to the martyrs. Poor Hungarian peasants, unknown yesterday, now immortal ! They were thrown naked into pits the Directorates did not even register their names. Számuelly, with disgusting callousness, certified ' suffocation ' as the cause of death.

A single gesture on the part of humanity would have been sufficient to save us from all this shedding of Hungarian blood. Instead, the victorious powers encircled us and pointed us out to their own working-men as an example of the blessings of practical Marxism. They talked of ' peace ' in Paris. And to satisfy the more sensitive their citizens their representatives in Budapest now and then entered a formal protest against the shedding of blood.

A traveller came with the evening train from Budapest and he brought news. The Revolutionary Council had fixed Thursday for the executions, which were to take place in public, in one of the finest squares of the town, the Octogon. All preparations were made : the military cordon was posted early in the afternoon : the Lenin Boys were there. The whole town was trembling with excitement and a crowd of some ten thousand people assembled, waiting and murmuring. There were no gallows it was intended to hang the counter-revolutionaries on the lamp-posts. The carts for the corpses arrived, and the excitement of the crowd increased. Six o'clock struck. Somebody shouted : " They are bringing the condemned ! " Then it was given out that the hanging would not take place. At the last moment Colonel Romanelli, the head of the Italian Military Mission, had sent a note of protest to Béla Kún, which was reported in the newspapers :

" I address to you the demand that you respect without exception the lives of all the hostages and political prisoners who have fallen into your hands in consequence of the late events, including those who were taken after armed resistance. I warn you and every member of your Government that you will be called jointly and severally to account if you execute the sentences mentioned above."

Béla Kún answered as follows :—

" The Hungarian Soviet repudiates all threats which render the members of the Government responsible for events which are the internal affairs of the country. " He appealed to the " friendly feelings testified by Italy towards the Soviet " and expressed his doubt whether Italy could be the protector of " gangs of assassins who, in the interest of the Counter-revolution had intended to murder women and children and exterminate the Jews " and who had been sentenced by judges of the Soviet " according to their own laws. "

Számuelly goes on hanging people in the provinces, but in Budapest the execution on the Octogon was prevented by the manly and determined attitude of the colonel. But while Italy saves a few lives with one hand, what action does she take with the other ? Why does Italy refuse to know who Béla Kún is and what it means in the eyes of Hungary that he can boast of his friendship with Italy and that the Red army can proclaim " We are smashing the Counter-revolution with Italian guns and Italian arms ? " It is said that the pearls from the lovely white necks of Hungarian women go abroad, and that fine thoroughbreds are driven from the Hungarian prairies in exchange for guns sent to exterminate us.

If this is true, there will be no blessing on the exchange. Spilt blood will ooze out from under the pearls and from under the hoofs of the horses.


CHAPTER XIII

June 28th.

The Counter-revolution has been beaten everywhere. The power of the Dictators seems never to have been greater.

When they first came they had to share their power with the trade-unions, the Soldiers' Council, the ' confidential men, ' the Peasants' and Workers' Councils and later on with the National Soviet. Within three months they have freed themselves of all these. First of all the peasants disappeared as a deciding factor. They were followed by the ' confidential men ' and these by the Soldiers' Council. The Workmen's Council was reduced to a shadow, the trade-unions were transformed and subdued, the Soviet was sent home, and of the remnant of these three they made a dummy, the ' Economic Council, ' in whose hands the new constitution was placed. The beginning and the end of this Constitution is the domination of their race over the ruins of the destroyed power of the State. The edifice of tyranny has been perfected. All means and all power are in its hands. It has absolute sway over life and death. Law-giver, executive, judge, gaoler and executioner, all in one.

The red flags of victory are floating over seas of Hungarian blood. The Dictators are revelling. Complimentary addresses and telegrams are pouring in. Among the first, Comrade Frank pays his homage to the Cabinet in the name of the Directorate of Balassagyarmat. The County of Nográd ! Its people bite their lips with shame and hatred. At the recruiting meeting of Balassagyarmat not a single man presented himself for enlistment, so the meeting had to be closed, and the Directorate asked the Government for Terror troops, so that violence and rifle butts may be used to force men into the army.

Meanwhile the Red press reports a sequence of congratulatory addresses. The women raise their voices too. What may they have to say ? In the name of the national organisation of Communist women, Sarah Goldstein, Mrs. Elias Brandstein, Maria Csorba-Goszthony, Ida Josipovich and Vera Singer, the women whom the unfortunate inhabitants of Budapest called ' Lenin Girls ' after the defeat of the Counter-revolution, " greet with love Comrade Haubrich and request him to present their heartfelt gratitude to the others. " Meanwhile demented mothers and sisters weep for the captive pupils of the military academy and the shadows of horrified women roam under the acacias on the banks of the Danube.

" The country honours the victors of the Counter-revolution. " So the comrades of the Frank type swear to fight to the last breath for the victory of the Revolution, and Sarah Goldstein and those of her kin send their " loving thanks, " their warm gratitude. Otherwise there is silence. Awful silence. And the summary tribunals of the Revolution are sitting permanently.

Colonel Romanelli prevented the executions at the Octogon, but hostages are strangled secretly, quietly, on out-of-the-way building plots, in the deep recesses of dark yards. There are frequent executions in Parliament Square : the rabble hangs about there for hours on end ; women sit on the kerb and wait.

" What are you waiting for ? " someone asked. " For an execution, " a surly woman answered.

It is so simple, the Entente sees nothing of this. Soldiers with fixed bayonets bring a victim. The hearse follows. The crowd turns to the steps. A volley is fired. The stones beneath the lions are battered with bullet marks. The hearse goes off slowly and the square becomes empty. There is nothing more to be seen.

In the House of Parliament, on the side reserved for the Peers, are officers of the Political Investigation Department, modelled on the Russian Cheka, and Otto Korvin-Klein sits there in judgment. Since the representatives of the Entente have invited Béla Kún to disband the terror detachments, the Lenin Boys have transferred their quarters from the Batthyány palace to this place.

In the adjoining houses people only sleep in the daytime : at night they look trembling towards the House of Parliament from behind their darkened windows. Above the entrance of the House of Lords shines a huge arc lamp. Motors pass incessantly. This is the time when the terrorists collect the hostages, the material for Korvin-Klein. The cars stop under the lamp. The light shows leather-coated men dragging along their miserable victims, whom they push into the entrance. Now and then a scream filters through the walls of the House of Parliament. Then, as if by word of command, the engines of the motors begin to purr, the horns are blown to drown every groan, every death-rattle. Armed Lenin Boys emerge from the gate, dragging a form with them. The group proceeds to the lower quay. Arms clatter, the steps die away in the distance. There is a splash. Then the black group returns, but there is no longer anyone in their midst. Romanelli has protested against public executions. But near the House of Parliament people cannot sleep at night.

The streets are dark and empty. In the whole town there is but one other doorway lit up : under a red canopy an arc lamp burns above the door of Soviet House. Beside it is a small trench mortar and terrorists stand on the pavement in front of it. On the balcony a huge red flag hides the machine-guns, and the entrance is vividly illuminated. The People's Commissaries arrive in motor- cars. The terrorists line up. Present arms ! Mrs. Béla Kún receives the same honours. And within the walls of Soviet House the comrades insist on being called ' Excellencies.' A country gentleman told me about this ; ignorant of the change he went straight from the station to the Hungaria Hotel. The guards mistook him for somebody belonging to the place, and only when he wanted to pay his bill did they discover that he was an outsider. Afraid of being punished, the frightened servants smuggled him out and the news of the orgies in Soviet House escaped with him. Michael Károlyi and his wife spend an evening there now and then.

For a long time I had not heard of them. In the first week of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat Michael Károlyi stood as an invisible power above the Revolutionary Cabinet. The People's Commissaries treated him with respect. But after the Soviet elections, when Béla Kún and his followers had obtained full control, Károlyi was thrust into the background. They wanted to send him to Gödöllő, the former royal residence, as Commissary of Production, and later they placed their former protector with a Communistic co-operative society. For appearances' sake Károlyi pays occasional visits to his office, but he does no work whatever. He has had a gramophone installed in his office. Detectives guard the peace of his villa in the hills of Buda, while motor lorries pass between the starving houses to carry food and ice to him. But the hospitals have no ice for their patients. His wife is often seen in a glaring red hat, driving through the quiet streets in the car of the People's Commissaries. At night they partake of the festivities of Soviet House behind locked doors, in company with Béla Kún, Comrade Dovcsak, Pogány, Landler and their womenfolk. The Gipsies who play to them spread the tale. The revels go on and the music never stops. Disregarding prohibition, French champagne flows freely. Tibor Számuelly pours some into Countess Károlyi's glass, pouring it with the hand that fixes the rope round his victims' necks. They drink to the eternal prosperity of the Soviet, and costly banquets are consumed in illuminated halls while the dark town is starving. The evening ends in voluptuous dancing. Then the music dies away...

........

July 2nd.

People are being stopped in the street.

" Your purse ! "

The 91st order of the Revolutionary Cabinet is being put into execution :

" The banknotes of the Austro-Hungarian Bank, of the denomination of 50, 100, 1000, and 10,000 crowns, are withdrawn from circulation on the 1st of July of this year.

Anyone using them after that date for payment, accepting or proffering them or exchanging them, will be charged before a revolutionary tribunal. Besides the punishment, all notes found in the possession of the culprit will be confiscated. The informer shall receive half the value of the confiscated amount. " Detectives are about and the Red soldiers are confiscating on their own account. They present their bayonets :

" Your purse ! Get it out of your pocket ! Blue money is prohibited ! " and they take the notes of the Austro-Hungarian Bank. Some of them keep the purse too as a souvenir. But the white-backed Soviet money is returned with derision to the owner. Red posters on the walls proclaim : " Social production is the source of prosperity ! " The Soviet system, after despoiling the treasury, the safe deposits and private dwellings, has now started to ' produce ' from people's pockets.

Just as Marxism was incapable of realising its political conception, so it is incapable of realising its economic ideals. In its attempt to alleviate the want of small change the Cabinet ordered six locksmiths' shops in Budapest to manufacture twopenny iron coins. The cost of production of each of these coins was over a shilling. The Marxian pamphlet theory has collapsed in the light of the sun ; its political application has resulted in unheard-of tyranny and slaughter, and its economic application in bankruptcy and robbery.

The Jews have been spreading the news for days that the ' blue ' money of the Austro-Hungarian Bank is going to be valueless. This morning at dawn their wives went to the bridge over the Ipoly and stopped the peasant women who were bringing their baskets to town. An old woman from the other side came into the yard and told us that the Jewesses were, after all, kind to the poor people. They read out at the bridge the new law about the ' blue ' money. Those who did not turn back at the news had theirs exchanged by the Jewesses, out of sheer kindness, so as to save them from the Revolutionary Tribunal. For three two-hundred-crown bank-notes they had given her a thousand-crown Soviet note. Of course it was a ' white ' note and her husband would not have such things in the house, but in any case the soldiers would have taken the blue notes and the white ones are better than nothing.

Aladár Huszár came in.

" What has happened ? Anything wrong ? "

" No, nothing. " He was looking for his wife. They talked for some time, then came back. I felt that they had read the anxiety in my eyes.

" A reliable carriage has come from the other side of the Ipoly. You can escape by that." So we need worry no longer. Fate has decided.

" We have no right to detain you. You are safer there. " And tears stood in their eyes too.

Aladár Huszár went to bring the carriage to the door while I packed my meagre belongings. It was slow work ; every trifle reminded me of something and every movement reminded me that I was still convalescent. Where shall I rest to-night ? To part from good friends to go on the road again, further from home, to knock again at strangers' doors ? To ask the Czechs for protection ! I shuddered.

When I had finished packing I sat down on a chair and held my breath. I wanted to think hard what I should have to do. I had little money and my boots were worn. Yet, somehow I must get to Nyitra, whence I could escape to Vienna. If I got well I might find some work. Or perhaps at Szeged... It tired me out to think of it.

Noon came, then afternoon : Aladár Huszár came in with great glee, a smile in his eyes. " You've got to stay with us ! The carriage has gone, I could not find it. Fate has decided. "

" You stay at home with us, " his wife said softly.

Fate's carriage had gone. Goodness knows where it is now. It may be a good omen, it may mean that these things will not last much longer.

" We have lived through bad days together, " said Aladár Huszár. " We will share the good ones that are coming as well. " We smiled at each other. We know by now that sufferings unite people more than joys.

........

July 5th.

Everybody says that Balassagyarmat will be in the neutral zone. Its military evacuation is expected for to-day and people are so excited they hardly know what to do with themselves. They stroll about in the street with their hands in their pockets. There is no work, no food ; the shops, even the chemists, are empty. Women gather at the street corners. And from the other bank there comes an uninterrupted stream of heavily-laden carts. Fine old furniture, bedding, mattresses, old family portraits, are heaped pell-mell on them. On one, amidst torn silk curtains, on empty bags, I caught sight of a beautiful bracket clock, the jolts of the car making its soul hum.

" The famous Balassa clock from Kékkő Castle," said Aladár Huszár.

There came a flock of sheep, followed by a troop of singing soldiers, then a herd of pigs, and some cattle. Valuable Swiss milch cows with huge udders were being driven to the slaughter-house.

The people glared gloomily at the plunderers.

" The main roads are littered with books, " a young man said in front of the window. " Everything you see has been stolen. " The loafers shook their heads and swore. " The whole of the highlands is ruined. They did not rob the gentry only ! "

" Who is all this going to belong to ? " an old peasant inquired.

" Who ? " said a frightfully shabby man with a gentlemanly appearance. " Listen to this ! It tells you who : ' The Red soldiers' Ten Commandments. 10th commandment : Don't take rich people's houses, cattle, land or jewellery. Leave those to the Soviet. ' "

........

July 6th.

They are coming ! Somebody said so and the news ran through the town and blossomed out in every little house.

They are coming ! How often have we said these words with horror within the last terrible nine months. The soldiers are coming from the front and are no longer defending our frontiers. The French, the Czechs, the Rumanians, the Serbians, are coming. The Communists, the Red soldiers, the searchers, the detectives, are coming. They are coming, the terrorists. Then again we said, ' the Rumanians are coming. '

And now the words are in our mouths again and they sound joyful and great. Hungarians are coming ! From Szeged ! Everybody says so. It is simply a question of days.

The Red press splutters with rage. It foams with vulgar, coarse words against the Entente and Count Stephen Bethlen, because it has heard that even in occupied territory Hungarian White Guards are allowed to be enlisted. But, according to ' The People's Voice ' : " The comic-opera Government of Szeged has not strength enough to organise the rabble of the bourgeoisie, it has not even the power to form an armed force from its hooligans, cut-throats and gutter mob, for the realisation of its sinister projects. "

We really know nothing at all, we do not even know whence the news came, yet we keep saying to each other : " They are coming ... "

When darkness fell I took a walk in the little back garden. Suddenly somebody rose from among the shrubs, it was the wife of Gregory, the coachman :

" Do tell me, please, Miss, what is happening ? "

The question came suddenly and I answered instinctively : " Our own people are coming ! The Hungarians have started from Szeged ! "

The old woman looked me straight in the eyes, as though seeking confirmation. It was obvious that she had something to say. Then she folded her shrivelled old hands, and, in a devout, humble attitude, which words cannot express, her voice rose through the silent night :

" Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name ! "

........

July 7th-10th.

The fleeing Directorates from the Highlands are flocking in and requisitioning houses for themselves. Female detectives have come from Budapest. The escaped Directorate of Losoncz has quartered itself on Balassagyarmat. Its chief, Comrade Szigyártó, terrorises and issues orders right and left. He wants to dismiss all the officials who had been left in their places and threatens that he will not allow any bourgeois family more than one room whatever be the number of its members. He commandeers whatever he wants—take everything from the bourgeois ! They are taking even from the poor. Orders have been received that sixty head of cattle have to be sent to Budapest ; they will not even leave the milch cows.

There is no food : the Government has stopped all supplies for Balassagyarmat, it being in the neutral zone. For days the bakers have baked no bread, nobody will cart wood, and there is no salt. A peasant offered four chickens for two pounds of salt, although he would not sell them for two hundred and forty crowns. One cannot buy anything for money. Our Sunday dinner cost us a towel and a sheet : everything is done by barter, money has disappeared from circulation.

In vain has the Cabinet decreed under the pain of severe penalties that the ' blue ' money (of the Austro-Hungarian Bank) must be exchanged within nine days for their own ' white ' banknotes. At ' The People's Bank ' of Balassagyarmat the people of the whole county have so far exchanged twenty crowns. The peasants hide their money and say : " What good is it to pay it into the bank if it is worthless ? Let the worthless things remain in our trunks. " The other day a soldier stuck the white money he had received for pay on the wall. It has no purchasing value.

The peasants laugh among themselves. They are hiding their crops, they did not enlist, and they will not give their money to Béla Kún. As for the propaganda speakers, they say : " We sent them back to the Government in blankets. " Since things have taken this turn, the three hundred crowns daily wage fails to revive the enthusiasm of the Jewish agitators engaged by the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. The Commissary for Education has now decreed that henceforth the teachers will have to speak to the people in the villages.

........

Voices in the next room. Railwaymen, postmen, simple citizens now frequently slip in by the back door ; they come for advice and bring the news.

The Czechs have again entered Kassa, but the Rumanians have not withdrawn from the Tisza, whatever Clemeneeau may have promised. The heroic pupils of the military academy escaped death at the last moment : the Terror tribunal sentenced them to hard labour. This is to Romanelli's credit. It is said that it was he who delivered Baron Perényi and his patriotic companions from gaol whither the Counter-revolution of June 24th had brought them.

A deep sad voice spoke : " Fourteen counter-revolutionaries have been sentenced to death in Budapest... " I strolled out into the little back garden but even there I could not breathe. The trees did not move. The soil was hot and above it the air trembled like leaves above an open fire.

........

July 12th.

They came slowly round the corner, talking with an air of importance. Then they stopped, as though quarrelling. They had Soviet caps on their heads and were dressed, regardless of the heat, in leather coats and black leggings. Then I noticed the hand grenades in their belts. They had a bestial look about them, with faces that betrayed a familiarity with gaol. The hand of one was covered with black hair and he had a costly ring on his finger. Where did he get it from ? I shuddered.

They have been coming for days, their number has increased since the Entente insisted on the evacuation of Balassagyarmat. The forsaken town listens trembling at night when their nailed boots clatter along the pavement and stares at them with horror from under doorways, from behind drawn curtains. They laugh, boisterously, their mouths wide open...

I looked after them. As they lifted their feet I saw the heavy nails on their heels. How many human faces have they crushed ?

The Lenin Boys, escaped convicts, miscreants ready for any mischief—these are the props of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. These are the men who take hostages. These are the judges presiding over the terrorist tribunals of Bolshevism. They judge and hang when and where they like. They can do as they like. Their commander is a sailor called Cserny who was a leather-worker before the war. His car is constantly racing through the streets of Budapest. Several people have described him to me. He always wears a cap drawn deeply over his face and goes about in a leather waistcoat with long sleeves, a red scarf round his neck. His face is clean-shaven and his eyes are animated by the soft, greedy expression which is characteristic of a bloodthirsty feline playing with its prey. There are many rings on his red hands and he uses scent. His appearance is that of a footman dressed in his master's clothes. His decisions are rapid, he does not waste time on his victims, and when he has finished with them he spends hours looking at the artistic frescoes of the House of Parliament. He is sentimental and without mercy. He purrs and claws.

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It is said that this man got to know Károlyi when the sailors mutinied in Cattaro. After the mutiny he fled to Budapest. He was given money by his friends and sent on a tour of instruction to Bolshevist Russia, where he made the acquaintance of Számuelly in a school for agitators in Moscow. Soon after the October revolution he came to Budapest and during the whole Károlyi regime he agitated undisturbed among the sailors. On the night of March 21st he commanded the plunderers.

And since then this brigand[5] is the absolute master of the nights of Budapest.

........

July 13th.

If bread runs short in a town the Revolutionary Cabinet at once despatches a propaganda speaker to the place.

Comrade Soma Vass has arrived.

The people taking their Sunday walk stopped in front of the town hall. Comrade Vass (Weiss is his real name) appeared suddenly on the balcony, near the red flag. But he wasted his time with his threats and incitements, the public remained cool and indifferent.

A labourer shouted to him : " Give us bread ! "

The speaker waxed hot : " That is not the question to-day. The question now is the preservation of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. We will not tolerate the Counter-revolution !"

" Is bread a counter-revolution ? " the labourer heckled.

" Don't interrupt, comrade ! We shall crush the Counter-revolution. We shall exterminate it. We shall hang every bourgeois. If there are not enough gallows in this Soviet Hungary, we will grow them. Yes, comrades, we will grow them ! "

The heckler swore. One man lit a cigarette and several cried, " Shut up, " but Comrade Soma Vass went on talking. Nobody paid any attention to him, the people chatting among themselves. " He will grow gallows ... a nursery of them ... grow them, shape them... Well, at least he has a programme of a sort."

And thus, after all the destruction, Béla Kún's spokesman has nailed down the only creative policy of Hungary's Socialist production. They are going to grow gallows.

........

July 14th-20th.

Béla Kún has sent a note to Clemenceau asking for the evacuation of the Tisza as promised in compensation for the abandoned offensive against the Czechs ; he received the following answer :

" Béla Kún, Budapest. In answer to your wireless which you sent on the 11th inst. to the President, the Peace Conference declares that it cannot negotiate with you as long as you fail to observe the conditions of the armistice. "

For a time I stared at the text of the telegram. How much blood, shame and suffering would have been spared to humanity if the victorious powers, instead of sending propositions through General Smuts to Béla Kún's band of murderers and dangling before the Soviet's eyes the possibility of its admission to the Peace Conference, had sent from the start a reply to this effect. Let the spilt blood and the inhuman tortures fall on the heads of those who wanted to bargain when conscience, honour and charity forbade any bargaining.

It is all clear now. The victorious Great Powers did not enter into negotiations with Béla Kún because they were pressed to do so by their own Proletariat, for that pressure would still exist, but simply because he made light of the integrity of the country to which he had not the slightest title. This shame can never be wiped out. The frigid, tardy note cannot restore the lowered dignity of the victorious States.

Béla Kún answered, his reply couched in provocative, ironical terms. He made little attempt to disguise the doubt he had of Clemenceau's veracity and derided his impotence to impose his will on the Rumanians and Czechs.

Orders for mobilisation are again covering the walls of the town, and the village criers are walking the streets and beating their drums. Huge posters have made their appearance, representing the running figure of a sailor, his mouth wide open. His head is about two feet long, his arms about three yards. Above his head he stretches a red cloth inscribed with the words : TO ARMS ! And while this frightful poster-sailor overruns poor, truncated little Hungary, deprived of its seashore, Béla Kún puts out his tongue at the peace conference. At the meeting of the ' Committee of 150 ' he rang the tocsin with one hand : " The Proletariat in Hungary is going through its crisis ! " The other he waved in triumph : " To-day the Hungarian Soviet is an important factor in international affairs, more important than old Hungary ever was ! This is proven by Clemenceau's last despatch. ... " He had a word for everybody, but through his boasting one could hear the chattering of his teeth. The Bavarian Soviet has died, the Austrian Soviet was never born, the armies of the Russian Soviet did not come to the rescue. And throughout Hungary his enemy Counter-revolution raises its head. It is there on the edge of the scythe as the stone sharpens it, it is in the glaring emptiness of the recruiting offices, at the idle writing desks of the offices, in the movement which hides the blue banknotes and refuses the white ones, in the stroke of every oar that crosses the Tisza at Szeged.

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The Dictatorship is groping about, seeking something to cling to. As a last hope it is clinging to the phantasmagoria of world-revolution, which, after all, was from the beginning the foundation of its politics. So the Soviet Cabinet has addressed an appeal to the Proletariat of the world, calling on it to demonstrate in favour of the Hungarian and Russian Soviets and to proclaim world- revolution on July 20-21st.


CHAPTER XIV

July 21st.

People call revolutions ' youth ' and ' dawn. ' But revolutions are not daybreaks, nor are they the chaos out of which comes the beginning of all things. They are not the first hour of a new age, but the last decaying hours of a senile age in which the features of the times have become distorted.

This is not dawn ! Revolution is the midnight agony of a passing age, when the vision of the future appears only through the blood and sweat of the dying. The senile age dies in the revolution. And when the disorder of dawn has passed and morning breaks, man becomes a child again and an autocratic power takes it by the hand and leads it back to order, to law, to church, to early Mass, into the presence of God. Then comes the youth of the age, the period of dreaming idealism, of fights for freedom, of Art. This age gathers flowers, ploughs and reaps, sings and follows the footsteps of the beloved. Then comes the age of manhood. It creates industry and commerce, it goes on board ship, weighs anchor and brings treasures from beyond the seas. The treasures increase, the superfluities accumulate and flow into a few hands, the reign of gold raises its head above the misery of millions.

The evening comes over a pale world of ill omen. The nauseous scent of faded flowers pervades the air. In saturnalian revelries the cups are emptied to the dregs. These are the hours of wild, dissolute orgies, old faces painted to look young, derisive laughter. The bells of the churches only mark time, law is only respected by the simple and regarded no better than stupid, traditional nursery tales by the cunning. The tired incapable crowd is ruled by degenerates, hereditary wrecks, criminals and lunatics. Respect disappears, the hand that worked drops its tools and the hour of midnight approaches.

Then comes the agony of the senile age. Blood is shed, flames rise to the sky and between fire and blood the age dies. Revolutions are not mornings. They are the death-struggles of the midnight hour. And we poor Hungarians have been for months the witnesses of such an artificially provoked agony. It ends the age, but, above my sufferings, I feel that the real dawn is coming towards us.

........

July 22nd.

The day of the heralded world-revolution has passed. The Red press gushes over the strikes in other countries, but reports that the Dictatorship will summon before the Revolutionary Tribunal any Hungarian workman who dares to stop work. In a fortunate country like Soviet Hungary there is no longer any need for strikes. In Russia, where happiness has been attained to an even higher degree, workmen who strike are executed. None the less there is no work being done in town to-day. Nor is there any on other days. Why work ? For forged bank-notes ? World-revolution ! That is the word which is being whispered to-day at street corners. A mad hallucination ! Yet, if it were to come ? What if man's evil spirits were powerful enough to send millions in the same hour to the assault of their God, their country, their home and humanity ? Or if Béla Kún's word is just successful enough to induce the Proletariat of the Western Powers to tie their Governments' hands so that things may continue here as they are for months and years, till the fire has burnt out ?

A solitary figure came through the silence, came quickly, with an elastic gait, though the bag on his back seemed heavy. He turned his head constantly to right and left, and his eyes, widely opened, had a stare in them which reminded one of the demented. He looked round, then again started quickly towards the Ipoly. Then he disappeared.

This stranger passes here frequently nowadays, though he is not always the same. Sometimes he is young, sometimes old. He is fleeing from gaol and death, and dreams of Szeged. Two friends of my brother Geza escaped this way, across the river. They came to the house, on their way to Szeged. They had no idea I was here, but they brought news of my brother. He is hiding in the hills of Buda, like the others who have not escaped abroad and are not yet in prison.

They also told us that Stephania Türr had been in Budapest in June, looking for Count Stephen Bethlen and me, to take us to Italy.

One evening there was a knock at our gate at an unusual hour and a newcomer stood in front of us like a shadow—Count Stephen Keglevich, fleeing from his property in Abony. His wife and children are coming to us too, they have had to flee separately, so as not to attract attention.

They were driven out by hunger and the children were on the verge of starvation, for the only food they could obtain was what the peasants succeeded in bringing them by stealth from Count Keglevich 's own farm. Since May, when Számuelly suppressed the Counter-revolution in Abony, that region has been like a mortuary, and now war is beginning again there. So they are escaping to Ipolykürt, beyond the Ipoly, to the plundered castle. There they will, at any rate, be able to sleep on the bare ground—the one thing the Reds and the Czechs could not take away.

The patriotic Counter-revolution of the faithful Vends in Western Hungary has been defeated by the Reds and the Vends have fled into Austria. They have been interned in Feldbach and many Hungarian officers have joined them. Baron Lehar is their commander. In Szeged the legendary hero of Novara, Nicolas Horthy, is Minister of War. Paul Teleki is Foreign Secretary. General Soós and Gömbös are organising the national army. When I took leave of the latter in March, I knew that I should hear of him if I lived.

It is said that Colonel Julier, the new Chief of Staff, who was forced to take Stromfeld's place at the point of the revolver, will be Red only till he has crossed the Tisza. It is also said that whole battalions of the Red army are deserting to Szeged. In our imagination that town, like a mirage, is floating amidst national coloured flags on the banks of the Tisza, above the Great Plain. We see the three colours, we hear the National Anthem whenever we think of the town. Our proscribed flag, our proscribed hymn ! I am a beggar, for the property of the dead and the condemned reverts to the Soviet. But when my imagination sees the three colours floating against the sky, when the great prayer of my race echoes in my mind, I am the richest woman in Hungary.

A hand has put ' The Red Newspaper ' on the table : big type again :— " Revolutionary outbreaks in Paris, Berlin and Turin. Demonstrations of the foreign Proletariat in favour of the world-revolution. " Then, set in small type, a short notice :— " Kiel ... The demonstrations have passed without the slightest disturbance. "

That is the history of the world-revolution. It is finished and the door is still open.

........

July 23rd.

The news is in everybody's mouth : the Reds have won a decisive victory on the Tisza and the members of the Directorate have regained their confidence. It is from the attitude of these people that the town reads the position of the Dictatorship. Their star is in the ascendant and the Proletarians treat us with more rudeness than ever. Red colour has again blossomed out on the soldiers' caps, but they do not feel too sure about it, and instead of ribbons they wear geraniums. That generally means that the position is doubtful : a ribbon cannot be removed suddenly, a flower is quickly torn off.

Goodness only knows how often I have wandered round the little back-garden. If it is really true that the Reds have crossed the Tisza ! Those who have seen their bestial destruction in their own country, and observed them returning with booty stolen from people of their own blood, must falter when they think of their victims.

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" What news ? "

In Huszár's hand the journal's yellow, mean paper rustled. " They have crossed ... " he paused, then went on : " ... On July 20th we crossed the Tisza at various points... From Tokaj to Csongrád we are pursuing the beaten Rumanian troops everywhere... "

So they have won a victory with our blood against our own blood ; for this is not a question of Rumanians. A defeat of the Rumanians, the re-occupation of the torn-off territory, the release of our Hungarian brethren, were not the objects of the Dictatorship's ambition, but a new larder and a new field for robbery, new slaves and new legions. And we cannot even deceive ourselves with the belief that the news is untrue. It is true, it must be true, because Béla Kún, who loses his head when in despair and is impudent after success, has sent to Clemenceau, the President of the Peace Conference, the following ironical, provoking message : " We have been obliged by the Rumanian attack, which was undertaken against the wishes of the Entente, to cross the Tisza, and to enforce the wishes of the Entente against the Rumanians. "

Our thoughts travel wearily to those parts where, behind the receding Rumanian flood, foreign energy will set against each other the few remaining Hungarians. Számuelly's train is under steam, and if it starts it will plant the further shore of the Tisza with gallows.

A tightly-shuttered house has been burning here in Hungary for months. Nobody tried to extinguish it. At last the smoke choked itself, the fire burnt itself out. Who troubled about those who were in the house ? Those outside cared only that the fire should not spread to the adjacent houses. Now the windows of the house on fire have burst, the fire has been revived by the air, the flames lick the palings, spread, flare up, run. What if they were to ignite the Great Plain and unite with the Russian conflagration ?

Evening came. Hours dropped into space. One of us picked up the paper and we now noticed something for the first time. Below the news of the passage of the Tisza, three words darkened the page : " Sentence of death. " At Saint Germain the victors presented their peace treaty to the remnant of Austria.

Our quarrel with Austria has lasted for centuries, and she brought us hard times, yet there is no people on earth to whom her fate causes as much pain to-day as to us. We have fought and fallen together on the battlefield. Now they hang a beggar's satchel round the neck of unfortunate, torn Austria, and out of irony, with devilish cunning, send her to take her share with her own predatory enemies, in the plunder of Hungary. They compensate her with Western Hungary, with a piece of land that promises endless revolts and is meant to act as a living wedge to prevent for ever an understanding between the two despoiled peoples. It is a devilish plan, the most perfidious part of the terrible Peace Treaty. It pretends to be a present, but it is a curse and a disgrace.

A single candle was burning on the table, and by its light we could see a map on the wall the map of Hungary ! That unit of a thousand years which was not created by man but was made into one country by nature. The thing I could never believe, which was always deemed a threat meant only for the Revolutionary Bolshevist Government, the frontier of Hungary as delineated by Clemenceau, has disclosed itself in the Austrian treaty as the real aim of their vengeance. In the name of peoples and nations the men at the Peace Conference are preparing a crime which is only paralleled by the partition of Poland.

Suddenly I see, like a train of misty ghosts, a shackled procession pass before my eyes : the granite walls of the Carpathians ; the mysterious rushes of Lake Fertő ; the sea under the Carso ; the Danube rushing through the Iron gate ; the summits of Transylvania ; the forests of Mármaros all of them under a foreign yoke ! I did not own an inch of that ground, and yet it was all my own. They take it from me, and equally from everyone who is Hungarian. Aladár Huszár has drawn upon the map the frontiers fixed by the Paris Peace Conference. It is as if a knife were passing through our flesh, leaving a line of blood wherever it passes. The ancient frontiers are all left far beyond the line and deep in the country there is an awful gash. The red line proceeds on the map, staggers now and then as though in horror, stumbles, recoils and then goes on, leaving ancient Hungarian cities without, cutting pure Hungarian regions in two, leaving a miserable, truncated body the Hungary of the Peace Conference ! Those who have never leant over the map of their own country, those who have never drawn with weeping eyes new frontiers within the old historical boundaries at the bidding and according to the predatory desires of enemy peoples, those are ignorant of the meaning of torture, of lust for vengeance, of revolt, of hatred, of patriotism.

" We shall take it back ! ... "

Which of us said it ? It matters not. It is not the saying of one person, it is the word of a whole nation. Even in our misery and destruction we had the strength to say it. " We will take it back ! " That is the phrase which all our coming generations will breathe. That is the phrase mothers will teach to their infants. Bride and bridegroom will pledge each other's troth with that phrase before the altar. Those who go will leave this phrase as an inheritance, those who remain will take their oath upon it. We will take it back ! The last clod, the meanest tree, every spring, every blade of grass, every stone.

Nothing moved in the silence of the night. Only the flame of the burnt-out candle flickered.

" Let us go ... we must sleep. This is the last candle in the house... "

........

July 24th-29th.

There is one piece of news to-day that gives us some hope. Even if the ship seems still afloat, it is sinking, for the first rats are leaving it. Michael Károlyi, who proclaimed he would hold out to the last breath, who has betrayed Hungary and has driven her into Bolshevism, has been arrested with his wife and secretary at a Czech frontier post and sent to Prague. Retribution must be near, for he was afraid and fled. It is reported that since the banks refuse to pay more than two thousand crowns to any one individual, he provided himself with several millions of Austro-Hungarian Banknotes and a false passport. He wanted to go through Vienna to Milan, but Italy did not desire his presence. Bavaria refused to admit him, but Prague offered him an asylum. They owed it to him. Without Michael Károlyi the Hungarian Highlands would never have passed into Czech captivity.

He has gone, fled from the nation's just vengeance, but he cannot escape the long arm of God's justice. Millions of Hungarians driven into slavery and homelessness, seas of spilt Hungarian blood, miles of Hungarian land, cry out to heaven against him.

A mean man, a debased politician, and one of the greatest traitors in the world's history.

Iscariot has passed.

........

July 29th-31st.

Sometimes one can learn a town's news by watching its street corners. To-day some soldiers gathered opposite the house. One of them said something, gesticulating, while the others stood and stared at the pavement. There were no red flowers in their caps, though I saw some in the gutter. Shortly afterwards I saw them leave the village with their bundles on their backs and disappear through the corn-fields.

Everybody is talking about the tremendous losses of the Red army. The official papers try to screen them : " Our victorious armies... The whole of Rumania's forces opposing them... We withdrew our troops behind the Tisza, in perfect order, without any losses in men or material ... " " Twenty-eight thousand dead, " says rumour, and ten thousand men are reported drowned in the Tisza. Soma Vass need not plant his nurseries for gallows, the wholesale murder of Hungarians has been successfully accomplished on the banks of the Tisza. And while they died, Comrade Landler, the Commander-in-Chief of the Red army, and other comrades watched them from a safe place through field-glasses. The Rumanian victory and the defeat of the Reds are both paid for in Hungarian blood. Never have Hungarians died a more tragic death.

If this sort of thing lasts much longer there will be no one but lunatics left when the end comes. Every hour brings new tales of terror. In Budapest Tibor Számuelly is gaining more and more power. He wants to become Dictator. Hitherto the Dictatorship has been too lenient, so the terrorists are going over to his side. And their one idea, before they lose their power, is to be revenged on the nation. Already the Directorates have received secret instructions and are drawing up lists. " Számuelly is preparing for a massacre of the citizens. None shall be spared, neither artisans nor peasants.

tc_od2-30

News comes from the other bank that the Czechs are returning. They say they have orders to occupy Vácz on the 3rd. More and more soldiers are disappearing from the village, and Terror Boys are continually flowing in from Budapest to take their place. There are already eighty here.

After the arrival of the evening train people steal in the dark towards the Ipoly. Hitherto it has been Hungarians who were escaping, now it is mostly Jews who slink along the walls carrying parcels. In the town hall they are feverishly packing up the archives of the Directorate ; the Jewish comrades have again withdrawn into the background.

Szíjgyártó has now become the absolute master of the town. Among other things he issued an order to-day that every individual who is not registered and whose stay is not considered justified by the Directorate must leave Balassagyarmat within twenty-four hours, on pain of being summoned before a Revolutionary Tribunal. Those who come from Budapest will be sent back there under police escort. Once more there is talk of searching houses : the terrible hand groping for me has returned. It will be bad luck if it catches me now when its days are already numbered.

We discussed the matter and the old plan of escape was revived across the Ipoly, somehow to Vienna, to Szeged ; but again the horror of asking hospitality from the Czechs in my own country, my poverty, my illness, interfered.

" Let's wait and see how things develop, " said my friends.

How often have they said that !

Suddenly I thought of the house in Szügy : I could not leave without bidding it farewell ; so I walked over to it and saw the garden and its mistress once more.

When I was there last the crops were still standing ; now the wheat was in sheaves and summer walked between their gold over the fields. Then I came to the garden and found that the clean-swept courtyard was no longer a soldiers' right of way. Crimson ramblers were blooming on the walls of the house, and round about the pump the down-trodden grass had sprung up again. On the terrace, green plants and garden furniture had taken the place of ammunition boxes. How rapidly the ruts of ammunition carts and service waggons and dirt and garbage disappear. Will it be like this elsewhere too ?

Before I left, Mrs. Beniczky walked through the garden with me and we stopped for a moment near the trees between which I had caught a glimpse of the hussar bugler among the Red soldiers, near the bushes whence I had watched Pogány's car. How much had happened since then ! The trees had become dark green and grave ; the garden had passed its nuptial glory. Its wreath had faded, its most beautiful flowers had gone.

When I reached the small railway station of Balassagyarmat I saw that soldiers were running about, throwing their arms into waggons. " They are evacuating the town, " said a railway man, laughing scornfully. On the open track, amidst piles of boxes and bags, carriages, bedding, machine-guns, and pianos were standing near the waggons, ready to be loaded. The streets were quiet, but carts were standing at the doors of some of the houses and people were hurriedly packing things at random into them. They are running away ! Yet Comrade Landler reported in ' The People's Voice ' of the 29th that : " There is no change in the situation at the front. "

The Red press is indulging in paroxysms of fury against the Szeged Government. " Cheats, scoundrels, Jingoes," are the epithets bestowed by Béla Kún's newspapers ; and all the time little handbills are being secretly passed from hand to hand. They were dropped by an aeroplane from Szeged : " The hour of delivery is at hand ! Prepare to support the National Government ! "

The village listens, tense under the Red posters which disfigure its walls. It listens abstractedly, as though trying to hide its thoughts, and behind closed doors and windows people put their heads together. Stories born of desire are spreading, but the insufferable thought that we are in need of help from the Rumanians dominates our imagination and hopes : " The national army has already left Szeged ! ... Whole Red regiments have passed over and have laid down their arms. White Hungarian troops will come with the Rumanians. Perhaps to-morrow... In Budapest the commander of the garrison has prepared the population for a general alarm should the Dictatorship of the Proletariat be in danger. The whole town is covered with posters... An hour after the alarm has been sounded nobody must be in the streets. Soldiers must hurry to their barracks, workmen to their respective headquarters. Within an hour from the alarm all electric trams must be withdrawn... All shops and public offices must be closed at once, as well as the doors and windows of houses. Simultaneously with the alarm martial law will be declared. "

Such preparations have never been made before, either in May when the Rumanians attacked, or in June during the Counter-revolution. Those who come from Budapest speak of the disruption of the Red army as it retires, of its anarchy, of mutinies of Terror detachments, of Számuelly's autocracy. It is impossible to get a clear picture of what is happening : " The White army is approaching ! The Rumanians are advancing from the Tisza ! " One can hear the crackling and collapsing of the Dictatorship. The powers of the Entente have sent a note, and the Cabinet has felt obliged to publish it in its press. This note is no longer addressed to the Soviet or the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. At last, then, the Allied and Associated Powers are going to address themselves to the Hungarian people ! Under the title : ' Declaration of the Entente on the Blockade ! ' the Red press screens the Note of the Powers in which they declare : " We sincerely desire to make peace with the Hungarian people... " But peace can only be concluded if the Hungarian people is represented by a Government which " represents really the will of the people, and not by one whose power rests on terror. "

It has taken the Entente Powers four and a half months to come to this decision ! No wonder they have been slow to discredit Béla Kún, for, after Károlyi, he has rendered them invaluable service. He has ruined and robbed Hungary of her last sources of strength. Now they can take possession of the booty which is no longer capable of offering resistance and can pay with our thousand years' old possessions the war bills presented to them by their little allies.

........

August 1st.

The news reached the village last night. The Red army has gone to pieces. Comrade Landler reports that after " the unchanged situation at the front, we are attacking the Rumanians who have crossed the Tisza... The Red army is in perfect order and has gained a victory over the Rumanians... We have retired, unbeaten, of our own accord. "

The members of the Balassagyarmat Directorate are unable to disguise their nervousness, the comrades are rushing about the shops clamouring to buy no matter what so long as they can get rid of their white Soviet banknotes. But however much they pester and threaten, the shopkeepers refuse to sell. The shop windows are empty, only the propaganda shop of the Commissariat of Education still offers its wares pamphlets, portraits of the Commissaries, Red stars, badges with the ' Red man ' and plaster busts of Lenin and Marx. But these are at a discount to-day. The town is practically without traffic and the telegraph wires bring incessant orders from Budapest : " Let everyone remain at his post, Let none dare to run away... "

Steps halted outside and I heard a Semitic voice say : " Let us lead it into other channels... " What did that mean ? While I was pondering the front door-bell rang. The Sub-prefect has come with a wire from Budapest. Béla Kún's rule is over ! Something snatched at my heart and I felt that I wanted to shout.

" It's certain to be true," the Sub-prefect said. " A purely Socialist Government is being formed." And he folded his hands carefully as if he were afraid of committing himself.

A purely Socialist Government ! That was not what we had expected ! Now I remembered the rumours that the delegates of the Entente had not been negotiating with the Viennese committee of Count Stephen Bethlen, nor with the Government of Szeged, but had been exchanging pourparlers for days, not with Hungarians, but with William Böhm, Kunfi and with Károlyi's henchman, Garami.

I thought at once of what I had heard outside my window : " Let us lead it into other channels... "

So the Jews are still to be our leaders : the Red hangmen of yesterday are resuming their old garb of moderate Socialism and are preparing to pass the power from one hand into the other. The world-revolution has not come off, and there have been other mistakes in their calculations ; they reckoned every item as they thought—the threats of the Entente, the attacks of the Rumanians—but they forgot to take into account that dying Hungary might have energy enough to cross its arms over its torn breast and undermine Bolshevism from within with its old weapon, passive resistance, despite the failure of the Entente and Rumanian arms.

There were shouts in the guard-room opposite :

" Who said that ? Arrest him ! " And Red Guards and Terrorists rushed towards the post-office. If the post-master said so, he must be arrested. But instead of answering them the postmaster called up Budapest, a Terrorist meanwhile holding one of the receivers. And along the wires the question rang to Budapest. The answer came at once : " The Government has resigned, the Soviet exists no longer. Budapest is mad with happiness. "

The Terrorists glared at each other terror-stricken, but they did not arrest the postmaster ; instead they went to the Directorate for instructions. But the Red offices in the town hall were empty and the comrades had disappeared. Some of them had been suddenly taken ill and had been obliged to go home. The news rushed along the darkening streets and in a few seconds it had spread all over the town.

Peace on earth and goodwill among men !

The house became too narrow for me. So did the garden. A violin was being played next door, sobbing to the accompaniment of a piano. Then, in spite of ourselves, we all burst into the forbidden, outlawed, Hungarian hymn. We just stood and sang, and the National Anthem went up in that summer night, to the starlit firmament.

Below, in the dark, on the other side of the street, noiseless dark figures slunk away. In the light streaming from open windows the neighbours stood bare-headed. They were praying too.

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