Abstract. The article is dedicated to relations between the Second Polish Republic and the Hungarian Soviet Republic. It introduces the Polish position towards the communist revolution in Hungary in 1919, in the context of relations between these two countries in the interwar period. The contemporary historical narrative presented in the Polish public space was also referred to as an element of the political strategy regarding European regional policy.
Key words: Treaty of Trianon, communist revolution, Second Polish Republic, Hungarian Soviet Republic, geopolitical strategy
The end of World War I on November 3, 1918 in Europe was to bring new order and stability as well as a lack of military action. As it turned out a few months later it was just a pipe-dream, especially in the context of Central-Eastern and Southern Europe. The formation of nation-states on the ruins of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was theoretically to satisfy all national groups that were part of the former Empire. Each group was given the opportunity to create their own state, which theoretically should have been the fulfillment of dreams and expectations for which they had fought for so many years. As it turned out quickly, the treaty arrangements and lines demarcated became a field of disagreement for virtually all national groups, thus initiating new sources of geopolitical, ethnic, but also military conflicts.
The post-war European landscape was not optimistic, the deaths of millions of people, hunger, misery, lack of perspectives and ubiquitous destruction became serious problems that the entire European society had to face. For many, the world turned upside down, the collapse of monarchist and nobles systems, the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, and growing pro-communist movements throughout Europe were gaining momentum. It all overlapped with mutual claims regarding the belonging of individual cities and regions, which have been inhabited by multi ethnic groups for centuries. In many countries, the tensions that were rising between extreme-right and extreme-left political parties have intensified, involving not only intra-state relations. An example here may be the beginnings of the formation of The Second Polish Republic and The Kingdom of Hungary, the two countries shared a sentiment of historical size and glory, a sense of superiority over other national groups combined with attempts to impose their own opinion and power in areas inhabited by a multi-ethnic society. Although today in the European media space we meet with exaltation of joint brotherhood declarations of Poland and Hungary, unprecedented friendship and support for common interests, over a hundred years ago the relations of both countries were mildly indifferent.
POLISH-HUNGARIAN RELATIONS IN 1914-1920
A thousand-year friendship connecting Poland and Hungary, this is how cooperation between these two countries is perceived today. Common interests, partly shared history, kings and similar geopolitical interests. The period of the First World War and the interwar period did not abound in joint ventures or political declarations. The beginning of ambivalent relations was brought already by 1914 along with the outbreak of war, Prof. Jerzy Kochanowski notes that before 1914 the Hungarian elites treated the Polish question – the pursuit of autonomy or indepen-dence quite indifferently, even coldly, because Galicia was never part of the Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen. It was similar during the war, although there were individual exceptions. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, there was even a border dispute between the two countries about Eye of the Sea (Morskie Oko). In 1902 it was decided in favor of Galicia, and it was a great merit of the Lviv lawyer, Professor Oswald Balzer. All this, according to the professor, abounded in correct, but not the best, relations between these two countries in the interwar period1.
According to Piotr Semka, the turbulent events in Hungary in 1919 are perceived very simply in Poland: shortly after the fall of the Habsburgs, a communist revolt broke out, which was suppressed by Hungarian patriots, led by Admiral Miklós Horthy2. While mass protests and the class revolution were taking place in Hungary, the Second Polish Republic together with the West Ukrainian People’s Republic, the People’s Republic of Belarus and the Latvian Republic and even the Russian Political (Evacuation) Committee had to face the spreading wave of communism carried by the forces of the Russian Soviet Federation Socialist Republic. Poland absorbed in the war with Bolshevism that lasted from February 14, 1919-October 18, 1920, was not involved in Hungary’s problems. The approval of the Polish government was also not won by the proclamation of The Hungarian Soviet Republic on March 21, 1919, in which the leadership Revolutionary Government Council consisting of social democrats and communists took over. For the improve of relations did not affect creation of the Red Army by the HSR, and proclamation of an ideological and spiritual community with the Russian Soviet government and a military alliance with the Russian proletariat3.
Arkadiusz Adamczyk notes that both Hungary and Poland were not able to obtain more favorable solutions regarding the lands that would have belong to them after the official end of hostilities, but this did not prevent both countries from cultivating a sense of non-fulfillment and creating a concept of changing the new order. A characteristic feature of Warsaw and Budapest was the conviction about the ability to play a superpower role – in the narrowed understanding of subregional power4. Márk Sima writes about the almost neurotic approach of Hungarians to the idea of Greater Hungary, which makes it difficult for them to function in international society5. When discussing the rather cold relations that connected Poland and Hungary more than 100 years ago, in the context of a sense of regional power and an exaggerated historical narrative full of misfortune – we can find similarities. These similarities also apply to the subsequent treatment of national minorities within the borders of both countries. Adam Kożuchowski recalls that only half of the inhabitanrs in pre-war Great Hungary were ethnic Hungarians – but almost all the power belonged to them: they used to impose language and culture on other nationalities. We find a similar approach in the way in which the authorities of the Second Polish Republic treated national minorities, especially the Ukrainian and Lithuanian ones1.
The Polish extreme right took a different approach to the issue of Polish-Hungarian relations. Roman Dmowski was characterized by dislike and even a very negative perception of the Hungarians themselves and this country. However, this did not bother him to represent an extremely nationalist position, also based on sympathy for Russia. Other right-wing, conservative and National Democracy activists of the inter-war Polish perceived their ally in Hungary, and assured them of mutual friendship. Marian Zdziechowski referred to Hungary’s reactionism and the concept of creating a Catholic wall against Bolshevism, anti-clericalism and Freemasonry2, which seems to be a rather strange criterion in the face of a country ruled by pro-Bolshevik communists. A similar approach is also found among Hungarian society which claims that ”since the partitions of Poland in the 18th century, great powers have not done so ruthlessly and unfairly with any country as they did with historic Hungary”3.
TRIANON 1919 – POLISH ATTITUDE TOWARDS HUNGARY
As already mentioned earlier the events of 1919 in Hungary, in Poland went almost unnoticed. The authorities of the Second Polish Republic did not support communist rule in Hungary, it was a special blow for them in the face of the war with Bolshevik Russia. At a time when the combined forces of Józef Piłsudski and Symon Petlura fought valiantly, carrying out almost heroic actions to stop the communist march to the west, an alliance with Bolshevik Russia was announced in the south. The lack of support from the Republic of Poland was one of the few acts of involvement in Hungarian affairs at that time in the general sense. The Ukrainian army stationed behind Zbruch was a barrier before the Soviets merged with the Hungarian Soviet Republic4. Thus blocked, like Romania in Moldova, the arrival of ”red aid” from the east to Hungary. Poland did not participate in the Little Entente, but it was not her autonomous decision, but Czechoslovakia which was against her belonging, fearing the counterweight of a much stronger country5. It should also be mentioned that the Second Polish Republic and Czechoslovakia, represented by the governments in Prague, throughout the interwar period were connected by very negative political and state relations as well as territorial conflict. And also the lack of any political will on both sides to enter into any alliance or even settlement. Arkadiusz Adamczyk notes that the Hungarians were convinced of the negligible possibilities of Poles to influence the decisions of allied powers, and thus the practical impossibility of influencing the borders of the Hungarian state. Poland itself expressed little interest in the Trianon arrangements because this problem did not concern her directly. Hungary was then treated in Polish geopolitical thought as a country of marginal significance. In the entire interwar period, relations with the Kingdom of Hungary were not strengthened, and the only gesture towards Hungary was the declaration of mediation in the Hungarian-Romanian negotiations1. The second exception was Hungarian military assistance in the fight against the Bolsheviks in a critical situation when Tukhachevsky’s army approached Warsaw; by supplying ammunition and weapons through Romanian territory in 1920 coordinated by Admiral Horthy2, dictated, by his negative experiences gained during the fight against communism in his own country. Poland, like the US, took part in the deliberations and ceremonies of signing the treaty of Trianon, but together with America it never ratified it.
TRIANON IN CONTEMPORARY NARRATIVE
In general, the Polish public space devotes very little space to events from 100 years ago. Usually, the information concerns only the outbreak and end of World War I, and Poland regaining independence. Apart from the few specialists and historians, almost nobody knows about the events that took place in Hungary at that time. Łukasz Religa on the Polish-Hungarian news portal notes that when Poland regained independence, Hungary met the partition3. A similar narrative appears on the famous from the bias and lack of objectivity of kresy.pl portal where Karol Kaźmierczak compares the provisions of the treaty to the partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth4. Marta Borzęcka writes about the greatest trauma of Polish’s brothers5, while Paweł Luberacki on the Medianarodowe website writes about the contemporary wave of compassion regarding the act of signing the treaty itself6. Krzysztof Varga, who comes from a mixed Polish-Hungarian family, also touches on this subject. In his book he even writes that when he passes through Bratislava he imagines the bombing of this city by Hungarian partisans, and their entry into the city like at one time Miklós Horthy to Budapest7, what in today’s realities of a common European society should not take place.
Polish policy towards Hungary in the interwar period was brittle and sustainable, as was Hungarian policy towards Poland. Both countries did not express special interest in mutual affairs, being absorbed in the internal problems of individual states. Much closer rapprochement between the two countries took place only during World War II. At present, one cannot deny many joint initiatives and good relations, both in the regional context and in relation to European policy. However, the cooperation of Viktor Orban with Vladimir Putin, which is a kind of allegory for the events of 1919, and Rusophilic aspirations part of the Hungarian politicians – puts a shadow on Polish-Hungarian relations. It can be assumed that Polish positions published in recent years are simply part of the political campaign and propaganda of the Polish-Hungarian brotherhood used for international politics than having anything to do with historical facts of a century ago.
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