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Béla Kun

(1886—1937)


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(b. 20 Feb. 1886, d. 1941).

Hungarian Communist dictator 1919Born in Cehu Silvaniei, he graduated as a lawyer from Kolozsvar before World War I. As prisoner of war (1916–18) in Russia he became a Communist. He returned to Hungary to build up a Communist Party which gained increasing support as it promised all things to all people in a country suffering from severe economic and national dislocation.

 Kun replaced Károlyi in March 1919 on a wave of nationalist outrage at the Romanian occupation of Transylvania. This proved part of his eventual downfall: as he exhausted Hungarian troops in an effort to regain territory occupied by the Czechs and Romanians, he was unable to accept any peace which involved a compromise on formerly Hungarian territory. Domestically, he managed to offend virtually all sections of the society in his reforming zeal: the Roman Catholic Church and the agrarian population through his destruction of traditional customs (e.g. the transformation of churches into cinemas, nationalization without redistribution of land), as well as urban workers and the bourgeoisie, through inflation and continued war. His regime collapsed on 2 August 1919 below the weight of the Nationalist Army under Horthy, and the Romanians, who entered Budapest on 4 August 1919.

 Kun's regime had allowed the co‐ordination of the nationalist right, which then controlled the country for twenty‐five years. The Jewish descent of Kun and many other leaders of his regime also added fuel to the already growing anti‐Semitism of the country. Kun himself fled first to Vienna and then to Moscow, where he became the President of Comintern. In 1938 he became a victim of Stalin's Great Purge, and was sent to a labour camp, where he died.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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