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The Kingdom of Hungary (also known as the Regency) existed from 1919 to 1946 and was a de facto country under Regent Miklós Horthy. Horthy officially represented the abdicated Hungarian monarchy of Charles IV, Apostolic King of Hungary. Attempts by Charles IV to return to the throne were prevented by threats of war from neighbouring countries and by the lack of support from Horthy (see the conflict of Charles IV with Miklós Horthy).

The Kingdom of Hungary under Horthy was an Axis Power during most of World War II. In 1944, Hungarymarker was occupied by Nazi Germany, Horthy was deposed, and the Kingdom was replaced briefly by a National Socialist puppet state called the Hungarian State.

After World War II, Hungary fell within the Soviet Unionmarker's sphere of interest and, in 1946, the communist Hungarian Republic was established.


Upon the dissolution and break-up of Austria-Hungary after World War I, the Hungarian Democratic Republic and then the Hungarian Soviet Republic were briefly proclaimed in 1918 and 1919 respectively. The short-lived communist government of Bela Kun launched what was known as the "Red Terror" and ultimately involved Hungary in an ill-fated war with Romania. In 1920, the country went into a period of civil conflict with Hungarian anti-communists and monarchists violently purging the nation of communists, leftist intellectuals, and others they felt threatened by, especially Jews. This period was known as the "White Terror" and, in 1920, after the pullout of the last of the Romanian occupation forces, it led to the restoration of the Kingdom of Hungary.

On March 1, 1920, a coalition of right-wing political forces united and returned Hungary to being a Constitutional Monarchy. Selection of the new King of Hungary was delayed due to civil infighting. It was decided to select a Regent to represent the monarchy and former Austro-Hungarian Navy Admiral Miklós Horthy was chosen for this position. Sándor Simonyi-Semadam was the first Prime Minister of the Horthy's Regency.


Some have considered Horthy's rule as Regent as being a dictatorship though others have pointed out that all of Horthy's powers were a continuation of the constitutional powers of the King of Hungary adopted during the Kingdom of Hungary's presence in its federation with the Austrian Empiremarker years prior. As Regent, Horthy had the power to adjourn or dissolve the Hungarian Parliament at his own discretion and had the personal power of being able to appoint the Hungarian Prime Minister.

The first ten years of the reinstated kingdom witnessed increased repression of Hungarian minorities. Limits on the number of Jews permitted to go to university were placed, corporal punishment was legalized. Under the leadership of Prime Minister István Bethlen democracy dissipated as Bethlen manipulated elections in rural areas which allowed his political party, the Party of Unity to win repeated elections. Bethlen pushed for the revision of the Treaty of Trianon. After the collapse of the Hungarian economy from 1929 to 1931, national turmoil pushed Bethlen to resign as Prime Minister.

Social conditions in the kingdom did not improve as time passed, with extremely small percentages of the population controlling much of the country’s wealth. Jews were continually pressured to assimilate into Hungarian mainstream culture.

The desperate situation forced Regent Horthy to accept far-right politician Gyula Gömbös to become Prime Minister on the condition that he pledged to retain the existing political system. Gömbös agreed to abandon his extreme anti-Semitism and allow some Jews into the government.

In power, Gömbös pursued moving Hungary into being a one-party government like that of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. However pressure by Nazi Germany for extreme anti-Semitism forced Gömbös out and afterwards Hungary pursued intense anti-Semitism with its “Jewish Laws”. Initially, laws were passed limiting the number of Jews to 20 percent in a number of professions. Later Jews were scapegoated for the country’s failing economy and were deported to concentration camps.

In 1944, responding to the advancing Soviet forces, Regent Miklos Horthy deposed the last fascist Prime Minister and installed an anti-Fascist regime in order to join the allies and avoid occupation by the Soviet Union. Shortly afterward, German forces waged war on Hungary and deposed Horthy as Regent and installed a puppet regime led by Ferenc Szálasi of the anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi Arrow Cross Party.


Upon the kingdom's establishment, the country suffered from economic decline, budget deficits, and high inflation as a result of the loss of economically-important territories as induced by the Treaty of Trianon. The land losses of the Treaty of Trianon in 1920 caused Hungary to lose agricultural and industrial areas making it dependent on exporting what agricultural land it had left to maintain its economy. Prime Minister István Bethlen's government dealt with the economic crisis by seeking large foreign loans which allowed the country achieve monetary stabilization in the early 1920s followed by the introduction in 1925 of a new currency, the pengő. Industrial and farm production rose rapidly and the country benefited from flourishing foreign trade during most of the 1920s.

Following the start of the Great Depression in 1929, previous economic prosperity collapsed in the country, especially in part due to the economic effects of the failure of the Österreichische Creditanstalt bank in Viennamarker, Austriamarker.

From the mid-1930s to the 1940s, with relations improved with Germany, Hungary’s economy benefited from trade with Germany, though the Hungarian economy became dependent on the German economy to sustain itself.

Foreign policy

Initially, despite a move back towards nationalism, the new state under Regent Horthy agreed to ending the chance for further immediate conflicts and signed the Treaty of Trianon on June 4, 1920. Trianon reduced Hungary’s size substantially from its size in Austria-Hungary. Transylvania was taken by Romania; Slovakia became part of Czechoslovakia, Vojvodinamarker joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenesmarker (Yugoslavia after 1929) and corpus separatum of Fiume it is created Free State of Fiumemarker

With the succession of increasingly nationalist and far-right Prime Ministers, Hungary steadily moved to opposing the Treaty of Trianon, Hungary moved towards alliance with Europe's two fascist states at the time, Germanymarker and Italymarker, which both opposed the borders of Europe as defined at the end of World War I. Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini sought alliance with Hungary in the belief that a stronger Hungary would be mutually beneficial for both countries, beginning with the signing of a treaty of friendship between Hungary and Italy on April 5, 1927. This foreign policy was especially the case under the premiership of Gyula Gömbös, who was an open admirer of fascist leaders, such as Adolf Hitler and Mussolini. Gömbös was instrumental in attempting to forge trilateral unity between Germany, Italy, and Hungary, by acting as an intermediary between Germany and Italy whose two fascist regimes had nearly come to conflict in 1934 over the issue of Austrian independence, in which Gömbös eventually persuaded Mussolini to accept Hitler's ambition to annex Austria to Germany in the late 1930s. It is even believed that Gömbös coined the phrase "axis" which he applied to his intention to seek alliance with Germany and Italy, which those two countries used to term their alliance as the Rome-Berlin axis. Immediately prior to the Second World War, Hungary benefited from its close ties with Germany and was allowed to annex parts of former Slovak territories and Carpatho-Ukraine from Czechoslovakiamarker. This agreement was the first of the Vienna Awards.

World War II

In 1940, the Kingdom of Hungary joined the Axis powers and demanded the concession of Transylvanian territory from Romania. German Führer Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime helped Hungary receive significant portions of Transylvania while avoiding a war with Romania. However, Hitler demanded that the Hungarian government follow Germany’s military and racial agenda in order to avoid potential conflict in the future. Anti-Semitism was already an established political cause by the far-right in Hungary and the Hungarian government aided Nazi Germany in the deportation of Jews to concentration camps during the Holocaust.

In April 1941, Hungary joined Germany and Italy in the invasion of Yugoslavia. Hungary was allowed to annex the Bačkamarker (Bácska) region in Vojvodinamarker with Hungarian relative majority, as well as the regions of Prekmurje and Medjimurjemarker that had a large Slovenian and Croatian majority respectively. Other ambitions such as those on Croatia were halted by the creation of the Independent State of Croatiamarker and Nazi Germany’s alliance with the Kingdom of Romania against the Soviet Unionmarker.

On 27 June 1941, Hungary declared war against the Soviet Unionmarker. Fearing a potential turn of support to the Romanians, the Hungarian government sent armed forces to support the German war effort during Operation Barbarossa. This support cost the Hungarians dearly. The entire Hungarian Second Army was lost during the Battle of Stalingradmarker.

Hungarian armor and infantry on the Eastern Front, August 1944.
By early 1944, with Sovietmarker forces fast advancing from the east, Hungary was caught attempting to contact the Britishmarker and the Americansmarker in order to secretly switch sides. On 19 March 1944, the Germans responded to this duplicity with an invasion of Hungary called Operation Margarethe. German forces occupied key locations to ensure Hungarian loyalty. Horthy was placed under house arrest and Prime Minister Miklós Kállay was replaced with a more pliable successor. Döme Sztójay, an avid supporter of the Nazis, became the new Hungarian Prime Minister. Sztójay governed with the aid of a Nazi Military Governor, Edmund Veesenmayer.

By October of the same year, the Hungarians were again caught making attempts to switch sides and this time the Germans launched Operation Panzerfaust. Horthy was replaced with Hungarian National Socialist Ferenc Szálasi. A new pro-German Hungarian State was created to replace the Kingdom of Hungary and to continue the war on the side of the Axis. Szálasi did not replace Horthy as Regent, but instead became the "Nationleader" (Nemzetvezető) and Prime Minister of the new Fascist Hungarian state.

On 21 December 1944, a Hungarian "Interim Assembly" met in Debrecenmarker with the approval of the Soviet Unionmarker. This assembly elected an interim government headed by Bela Miklos, the former commander of the Hungarian First Army.


Under Soviet occupation and provisional governments, the fate of the Kingdom of Hungary was already determined. The monarchy was formally dissolved in 1946 and replaced by the Second Hungarian Republic which itself was quickly followed by the creation the People's Republic of Hungary.

See also


  1. Sinor, Denis. 1959. History of Hungary. Woking and London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd. Pp. 289
  2. Sinor, Pp. 289
  3. Signor, pp. 290
  4. Signor, pp. 290.
  5. Signor, pp. 291.
  6. Sinor, pp. 291.
  7. Sinor, pp. 291

Preceded by:
Hungarian Democratic Republic
Hungarian Soviet Republic
White Terror

Kingdom of Hungary,
also known as The Regency

Succeeded by:
Hungarian State
Provisional Governments of
Bela Miklos and Zoltán Tildy
Second Hungarian Republic
People's Republic of Hungary

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