Historians of twentieth century Europe, I have noticed, tend to gloss over or minimize the atrocities and crimes of leftists, anarchists, and communists. We hear constantly about the excesses of the right; and yet the left is portrayed as the perennial victim, never stepping beyond the boundaries of civilized conduct.
And yet nothing could be further from the truth. The growth of the far right in Europe after the First World War was often traceable to the disorder, chaos, and fear generated by leftist and communist crimes. In country after country, the pattern was the same: outside agents or internal traitors seeking to destabilize the societies in which they lived.
The reader will perceive that there is a direct line of descent from the communist-Bolshevist agitators of yesteryear and the militant social justice warrior (SJW) of today. They are cats of the same stripe. Both of them sought to undermine and destroy the societies in which they lived, and did not care much how they went about doing it.
We have recently discussed one such example, the Spartacist revolution in postwar Germany. We will now turn to another such example, that of the communist revolution in 1919 Hungary. It was the second communist republic to come into existence, after Russia; and while its longevity was mercifully brief, its advent was marked by vindictive violence and bloodshed.
The author of the 1919 Hungarian revolution was a cunning, treacherous man named Bela Kun. His birth name was Bela Kohen or Kohn, and he was born in 1886 in what is now Lelei, Romania. Sometime around 1904 he changed his last name to Kun.
Before the First World War, he was engaged in work as a newspaper journalist in Austria-Hungary, much like the militant social justice warriors (SJWs) of today. He was known for his combative nature, and was apparently accused of embezzlement at one point.
He served in the military forces of Austria-Hungary in the First World War, but was captured by the Russians in 1916. When Russia became convulsed in revolution in 1917-1918, he willingly allowed himself to become an agent of the Communist International.
He was a committed communist and found its methods and promises attractive. He knew Lenin and approved of his brutal methods, and thought that exporting this brand of terror to the country of his birth would be a good thing.
The Bolsheviks sent him back to Hungary in 1918 with a large sum of money and several hundred cadres for the specific purpose of undertaking a coup. In this he was greatly helped by the post-war dislocation and chaos caused by the collapse of the old monarchy. Like a plague bacillus, he and his followers sought to infect a weakened society with an evil ideology that cloaked itself in the language of liberation.
His tactics were those of fear and intimidation: he and his group organized strikes, demonstrations, and employed the use of violence against dissenters. Hungary was in chaos and many in government were opposed to the Allies’ plans to redraw the country’s borders. At some point, Kun was asked to take part in a coalition government with the Social Democrats; his known ties to Soviet Russia were expected to be a useful card in negotiations with the Western allies. Kun promised that he could bring Russian support to a new Hungarian coalition government.
And here we see the truth illustrated in stark clarity once again: trying to appease or negotiate with SJW fanatics is a losing proposition. This proved to be the case with Kun in 1919.
As the price for his support, Kun demanded the declaration of a Soviet republic in Hungary, as well as the domination of the Social Democrats by the communists. Like fools, the traditional forces of the old order allowed a snake to enter the tent; and once there, the snake quickly took over.
The Hungarian Soviet Republic was declared in March 1919. Kun was the dominant force in the new government and immediately embarked on a radical program, such as the nationalization of all private property. He used gangs of thugs known as the “Lenin Boys” to murder and terrorize anyone who was thought to be insufficiently enthusiastic for the regime. All the usual Bolshevist apparatus was brought into Hungary: secret tribunals, secret police, and revolutionary “courts.”
But events would soon spiral out of control. Hungary became involved in border disputes, then open war, with Romania and Czechoslovakia. Romania then invaded Hungary and marched on Budapest, deposing Kun and his retinue of flunkies in August 1919. The government had lasted only 133 days. The Soviet Red Army in Russia, too preoccupied with its own problems, could do little but offer rhetorical support for Kun.
But Kun’s blood-stained career was not over. He was briefly interned in Vienna, but later released as part of a prisoner exchange; thereafter, he found his way back to Russia, where he could find additional opportunities to commit violence and atrocities against innocents.
Kun participated in Russia’s civil war in the 1920s, and according to historians was directly responsible for the execution of about 50,000 White Russian prisoners and civilians (with the approval of Lenin). These were people who had been promised amnesty if they would surrender.
Kun later took charge of the Crimea, and there he undertook a vigorous program of murder, torture, and mass deportations. It is estimated that he supervised the execution of 60,000 to 70,000 Crimean inhabitants.
For the rest of the 1920s, he worked as an agent of the Comintern, traveling around Europe and trying to foment revolutions. One he organized in Germany ended in complete failure (the “March Action” program). Thereafter his credibility in communist circles waned; he was arrested in Vienna and deported to Russia. There he spent his time denouncing former comrades and planning future projects.
But history seems to have a perverse sense of humor, and Kun would eventually see some measure of justice. The advent of Joseph Stalin changed the game in Russia; he distrusted foreign communists, especially those with ties to the old Bolsheviks.
Around 1937, Kun was arrested, tortured, and shot by Stalin’s NKVD, for the stated reason of being a “counter-revolutionary terrorist.” So perished the diabolical and cruel engineer of the deaths of so many others, by the very hand of the people he had sought to elevate. There is a crude, but fitting, sort of justice in this outcome.
Readers may draw their own conclusions from the Bela Kun story, and what those lessons mean for the present day. At the very least, his career suggests the following: (1) making alliances with people of this sort is a useless exercise; (2) the vindictiveness and cruelty of such people cannot be underestimated; (3) physical force is often needed to confront them.
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