Favorites or pariahs? the fate of the right-wing militia men in interwar Hungary


The dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the fall of 1918 inaugurated a period of rapid change in East Central Europe. Independent Hungary, which emerged as one of the successor states to the Dual Monarchy, experienced two revolutions in ten months. However, neither the democratic regime, born in the October Revolution of 1918, nor the more radical Council Republic, founded in March 1919, was able to solve the country's pressing economic and social problems and defend its sovereignty. The collapse of the Council Republic and the occupation of Budapest and the eastern half of the country by the Romanian Army in early August 1919 provoked a right-wing reaction. The next seven months experienced a rapid rise in paramilitary and mob violence. The militias targeted the supporters of the Left, poor workers, and peasants, as well as apolitical and middle-class Jews. Political violence in the second half of 1919 and the early 1920s took the lives of between fifteen hundred and five thousand people in Hungary. The rise of paramilitary and mob violence was part of a larger European phenomenon. From Germany to Turkey, and from Hungary to Poland and the Baltic states, paramilitary groups played a major role in establishing borders and shaping the postwar social and political order domestically.



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Austrian History Yearbook