Hungary: Notes

Transition from Monarchy to Republic and Independence of Hungary (1918)

The collapse of the Habsburg monarchy in 1918 was seen by Hungarian nationalists as favorable opportunity for secession of Hungary from the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. On 25 Oct 1918, the Hungarian National Council (A Magyar Nemzeti Tanács) was formed with nagykárolyi gróf Károlyi Mihály as president (elnök). During the night of 30 Oct 1918, a bloodless coup was staged in Budapest with the troops loyal to the National Council occupying strategic points in the city. The Council, however, did not proceed with immediate proclamation of independence and chose not to openly confront the royal authority in Budapest represented by Erzherzog Josef (= József főherceg) as homo regius. Following some hours of consultations, King IV. Károly (= Emperor Karl I.) appointed Károlyi Mihály President of the Council of Ministers (31 Oct 1918). The Károlyi cabinet composed of the members of his party, Függetlenségi és 48-as Károlyi Párt (Independence and 1848 Károlyi Party), social-democrats and radicals, was sworn in at the residence of Erzherzog Josef at 20:00 31 Oct 1918. On the next day, the National Council took further steps to consolidate the state authority in the hands of independence supporters. The joint sitting of the National Council, Workers' Council and government started at 18:30 1 Nov 1918, culminating in the speech of Károlyi who proclaimed that the ministry had petitioned the king to relieve them of their oath of allegiance and the king gave his consent. After a few more speeches, the government took oath before the National Council which at this point began to exercise some functions normally pertaining to the Head of State. When the joint sitting was over by 20:30 1 Nov 1918, the National Council held its own session where Károlyi resigned his presidency and Hock János was elected a new president. The cabinet and the National Council proceeded with preparation of the proclamation of independence and republic scheduled to take place on 16 Nov 1918, while royal authority remained in limbo. The declaration of King IV. Károly (dated 13 Nov 1918 at Eckartsau, Lower Austria), stating his determination to withdraw from political affairs in Hungary, was not made publicly known until it was handed to the Károlyi government on 14 Nov 1918, but was not followed by any actions. The solemn session of Főrendiház and Képviselőház, two chambers of the former Parliament (Országgyűlés), which had just decided upon their self-dissolution, and the National Council was held in Budapest's Országház between 11:00 and 12:00 16 Nov 1918 under the presidency of Hock. The assembly passed by acclamation the resolution accepting what was perceived as "abdication" of King IV. Károly and approved the dissolution of Országgyűlés. Next, the proclamation of independence and establishment of People's Republic was read out and later communicated to the public gathered before the Országház. The resolution passed under the authority of the National Council entrusted the government of Károlyi with highest state power until a Constituent Assembly decides upon forming permanent executive.

Counter-revolutionary Government in Arad/Szeged (1919)

The counter-revolutionary government was set up in Arad (this city later incorporated into Romania) on 5 May 1919 and was composed of 12 ministers under the presidency of nagykárolyi gróf Károlyi Gyula. Established in the area under the control of the Romanian armed forces, almost the entire ministry, including Károlyi, was interned by the Romanians from 9 to 22 May 1919. The proclamation dated 5 May 1919 and issued by the Károlyi government at Arad did probably not reach Budapest until mid-May 1919. The released ministry moved to Szeged on 30 May 1919 where it stayed until the coup of 6 Aug 1919 which toppled the ministry of Peidl Gyula in Budapest. Károlyi was replaced as miniszterelnök in a cabinet reshuffle by danczkai Pattantyús-Ábrahám Dezső (12 Jul 1919).

The Szeged government was under the sponsorship of the "Vienna Committee" which with the help of supporting Hungarian organizations set up a body styled Az Országos Magyar Kormányzó Bízottság (Countrywide Hungarian Governing Committee), consisting of Fülöp Béla (Temesvár), jákfai Gömbös Gyula (Vienna), nagy-eőrvistyei Hencz Károly (Budapest), and Varjassy Lajos (Arad); despite this body's pretentious style - which may have persuaded some sources to regard it as a collective "head of state" - this Committee's sole function was to serve as a liaison between the Szeged Government and the Vienna Committee. Fülöp and Varjassy were original members of the Arad ministry, and Varjassy continued to hold the office of agriculture minister in the Szeged government.

After the recognition of József főherceg as Magyarország kormányzója (Governor of Hungary) on 8 Aug 1919, Pattantyús-Ábrahám arrived to Budapest to negotiate the composition of a coalition government. As the recognition of the József régime continued to grow and formation of the coalition ministry was completed by 15 Aug 1919, Pattantyús-Ábrahám made a statement at the conference of the Függetlenségi és 48-as Párt (Independence and 1848 Party) in Budapest (22 Aug 1919) where he reported that the Szeged ministry has fulfilled its task and would hand over its authority and troops under the command of the central government.

Resignation of Horthy (1944)

15 Oct 1944. Magyarország kormanyzója (Governor of Hungary) Horthy Miklós issues a proclamation for an armistice with the Allies, defying German control.

16 Oct 1944. Under German duress, Horthy appoints Szálasi Ferenc as magyar királyi miniszterelnök (Royal Hungarian Prime Minister); rescinds the proclamation; and communicates his resignation to the presidents of the two chambers of the Országgyűlés (Parliament). Horthy is immediately deported by the German authorities. Szálasi issues proclamations asserting that he is "entrusted with the temporary direction of state affairs", and that Horthy authorized the establishment of a three-member Kormányzótanács (Governing Council) [see Budapesti Közlöny, Budapest, 1944, 235. szám. Kedd, október 17].

27 Oct 1944. The Országtanács (Council of the Realm), a body established by law 1937.XIX (original text) to regulate the succession to the office of Magyarország kormanyzója and to oversee the election of a successor, consisting of the highest dignitaries of the kingdom, meets under the presidency of the felsőházi elnök (President of the Upper Chamber), perényi báró Perényi Zsigmond. This body receives from the Presidents of the Chambers of the Parliament Horthy's resignation and acts favorably on it. In consequence it drafts a bill, as described below.

3 Nov 1944. The Országgyűlés gives final approval to the resignation of Horthy; approves the formation of a Kormányzótanács (Council of Regency) of three, consisting of the persons Szálasi claimed on 16 Oct 1944 (possibly falsely) to have been selected by Horthy before his resignation - a purely nominal body; and elects Szálasi Ferenc as nemzetvezető (National Leader = Reichsführer) to exercise royal authority with the Kormányzótanács.

4 Nov 1944. In the presence of the members of the Kormányzótanács: Beregfy Károly, Rajniss Ferenc, and Csia Sándor, and before the actual Holy Crown, Szálasi Ferenc is sworn in as nemzetvezető;

28 Mar 1945. The Szálasi régime collapses.

The role of the Országtanács is often misinterpreted by some sources, including Hungarian ones, and is sometimes confused with Kormányzótanács. The fact that the Parliament on 3 Nov 1944 accepted the resignation of Horthy contradicts the suggestion that the Országtanács had the power to declare a vacancy. There would have existed a hiatus between 27 Oct and 3 Nov 1944, which tempted some sources to fill it with the Országtanács itself.

Composition of the Országtanács (1944)

The law establishing the Országtanács (1937.XIX) provided for the following composition of this body: (a) magyar királyi miniszterelnök (Hungarian Royal Prime Minister); (b) and (c) the elnökei (Presidents) of the two Chambers of the Országgyűlés; (d) Magyarország hercegprimás (Prince Primate of Hungary; i.e., the archbishop of Esztergom); (e) magyar királyi Kúria elnök (President of the Magyar Royal Supreme Court); (f) magyar királyi közigazgatási bíróság elnök (President of the Hungarian Royal Administrative Court) (g) magyar királyi honvédség főparancsnoka (Commander-in-Chief of the Hungarian Royal Defense Force) or, in each case, the prescribed substitute.

At the 27 Oct 1944 session of the Országtanács its composition was as follows (coded to the letters above: (a) (Szálasi Ferenc, absent); (b) Felsőhazi elnök (President of the Upper Chamber): perényi báró Perényi Zsigmond, presiding; (c) Képviselőházi elnök (President of the Chamber of Delegates): Tasnádi Nagy András; (d) Serédi Jusztinián György bíbornok (Cardinal) (original name Szapucsek György); (e) m. kir. Kúria másodelnök (Second President): Ternovszky Béla (identity uncertain; Ternovszky occupied the position past 1940); (f) m. kir. közigazgatási másodelnök (Second President): sipeki Balás Kornél (g) (Beregfy Sándor, absent).