The immediate post World War I period in Hungary provides an interesting field of historical research. Hungary underwent two social revolutions and witnessed four dramatic changes of government in a period of 9 months. I t was a short period of revolutionary upheavals in between two long periods of stability - the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Horthy Government of the inter-war period. This thesis deals with the two short lived governments: the Democratic Republic of Michael Karolyi and the Soviet Republic of Bѐla Kun, each of approximately 4.5 months duration.
This study concentrates on the foreign relations of the two governments because they provide a unifying theme for the period. Both governments came to power as a result of international events and both fell as a direct consequence of foreign policy failures. It is based on original research carried out in London and Budapest and sheds considerable light on facts and attitudes which were previously unknown. It answers the speculative questions raised by former studies.
In October 1918, the old political order in Hungary collapsed as a result of the lost war and the subsequent disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. There followed a bloodless revolution which saw the peaceful transfer of power from the hands of a politically bankrupt ancien regime to a democratic government led by Count Michael Károlyi. This government was a coalition of bourgeois and socialist parties which held the reigns of power in Budapest amidst the territorial disintegration of the Hungarian State.
Károlyi has been misrepresented in Hungarian historiography. He was denounced by both the left and the right wing press. Surprisingly, Western scholars have incorporated this bias in their own works. This study attempts to present an objective analysis of his government. It examines his struggles to protect the infant Democratic Republic, and analyses his numerous foreign policy initiatives.
Furthermore, it also re-examines Bѐla Kun's Soviet Republic in the light of additional material from the Public Records Office, London. The Allied leaders in Paris were naturally disturbed when a Soviet regime was established in the very heart of Europe. Previous scholars have concluded that Bѐla Kun's fall was brought about by the anti-bolshevik policies of the Paris Peace Conference. This was a justifiable finding on the basis of the sources available at the time. Following an examination of the British records, it is now possible to fill the missing gaps, and present a balanced account of the period.