Hungary in World War I

Last updated

At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Hungary was part of the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. Although there are no significant battles specifically connected to Hungarian regiments, the troops suffered high losses throughout the war as the Empire suffered defeat after defeat. The result was the breakup of the Empire and eventually Hungary suffered severe territorial losses by the closing Peace Treaty.

Contents

The Empire during the outbreak of the war

In 1914, Austria-Hungary was one of the great powers of Europe, with an area of 676,443 km2 and a population of 52 million, of which Hungary had 325,400 km2 with population of 21 million. The Austro-Hungarian Empire conscripted 7.8 million soldiers during the WW1. [1]

Although the Kingdom of Hungary composed only 42% of the population of Austria-Hungary, [2] the thin majority – more than 3.8 million soldiers – of the Austro-Hungarian armed forces were conscripted from the Kingdom of Hungary during the First World War.

Austria-Hungary was more urbanized (25%) [3] than its actual opponents in the First World War, like the Russian Empire (13.4%), [4] Serbia (13.2%) [5] or Romania (18.8%). [6] Furthermore, the Austro-Hungarian Empire also had a more industrialized economy [7] and higher GDP per capita [8] than the Kingdom of Italy, which was economically the most developed opponent of the Empire by far.

On June 28, 1914, Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. Before entering the war, only the prime minister Count István Tisza hesitated, unconvinced that it was the best time to engage in battle. As soon as Germany promised to neutralize the Kingdom of Romania and promised that no territories of the Kingdom of Serbia would be annexed to Austria-Hungary, he then decided to support the war.

After the ultimatum sent to Serbia by Franz Josef I, the war broke out and soon spread over much of Europe and beyond.

The army of Austria-Hungary in 1914

The first line of this multi-ethnic army was based and consisted of:

The second line of the army was the mobilized

In 1914, the Austro-Hungarian army was facing its greatest challenge so far in history. After mobilisation, the armed forces were grouped into six armies, totaling 3.2 million soldiers. Between 1914 and 1918, 9 million served in the army (7.8 million in the fighting forces).

In comparison to the other armies of Western Europe, Hungary's experienced veteran armed forces, technical equipment, and military expenditures were underdeveloped. The artillery was insufficient, but it was heavily developed later in the war. The correct supply of ammunition was not solved even by the end of the war. The armed forces lacked an adequate air force: it had only 42 military and 40 sport airplanes before the war. Unifying the multi-ethnic units was also a serious problem for the military's leaders.

Hungarian participation

The military forces of Austria-Hungary remained largely unified over the course of the war, in spite of their multi-ethnic nature and some expectations to the contrary. While German support was undoubtedly critical to the success of various offensives (such as the Gorlice-Tarnow Offensive and the Battle of Caporetto), the multi-ethnic armies of Austria-Hungary proved fully capable in a defensive role in all the theaters of the war in which they were engaged.

The predominantly ethnic German commanders of the army generally favoured troops of German extraction, but ethnic Hungarian troops were also seen as being reliable and were widely used on the front lines, especially on the Russian front and Italian front. For the most part, troops from other ethnic groups within the empire were less likely to be placed in strategically critical positions and therefore had lower casualties.

Over the course of World War I there was never a documented offensive by purely ethnic Hungarian troops, but such troops did contribute positively to the outcome of various battles, as follows:

The troops raised in the Kingdom of Hungary spent little time defending the actual territory of Hungary, with the exceptions of the Brusilov Offensive in June 1916, and a few months later, when the Romanian army invaded Transylvania, both of which were repelled. A small number of troops from Austria-Hungary also fought in more distant theaters of war that are beyond the borders of the Austria-Hungary, including the Gallipoli campaign, and in the Sinai Peninsula and Palestine.

Military leaders

Austro-Hungarian mountain corps in Tyrol Austro-Hungarian mountain corps.jpg
Austro-Hungarian mountain corps in Tyrol

Some military leaders who have received the Commander's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa, the most renowned medal:

Losses

Military deaths of the Central Powers. WorldWarI-MilitaryDeaths-CentralPowers-Piechart.svg
Military deaths of the Central Powers.

Out of over 2.2 million men mobilized in Austria-Hungary, more than one million died during the course of the war. In Hungarian areas, this meant a death rate of twenty-eight per thousand persons – a level of loss exceeded within Austria-Hungary only by German Austrians. [9] In comparison to the total army, Hungary's loss ratio was more than any other nation of Austria-Hungary. There could be two possible causes: Hungary was more an agricultural country, where it is easier to mobilize forces, rather than from more industrialized territories (i.e. Bohemia), and secondly, the Hungarian soldiers were considered to be more trustworthy and disciplined than soldiers from other ethnic groups. [10]

The war aims of Hungary

In contrast to the cases of Germany, France or Italy, the question of World War I aims of Hungary remains almost unexplored. However, as the Kingdom of Hungary was the most politically stable part of the Habsburg Monarchy, it strongly impacted the Dual Monarchy's war plans. The main concerns of the government in Budapest were directed by fears for the territorial integrity of Hungary. In July 1914, its Prime Minister, István Tisza, convinced the Monarchy's Crown Council not to demand new territories from Serbia. In parallel, the Hungarian opposition secretly informed the Entente that an independent Hungary could be proclaimed, ready to sign a separate peace treaty if her frontiers were guaranteed. An opposition leader, Mihály Károlyi, entered into contacts with Italians, British and French. In the autumn of 1915, with the Austro-Hungarian army's successes, the secessionist moods in Budapest cooled down. Hungarian politicians turned towards the annexation of Northern Serbia, and possibly Montenegro. When Austria envisaged the amalgamation of Poland, Tisza insisted in Vienna to include Bosnia-Hercegovina (and probably Dalmatia) in Hungary. However, when Romania declared war on the Habsburg Monarchy in August 1916, the Tisza government anticipated annexations of Romanian lands, whereas the Hungarian radical opposition in the parliament (independentists, led by Mihály Károlyi), reinforced the separatist propaganda. In March 1917, Tisza proposed to the Crown Council of the Monarchy to divide Romania between Hungary and Russia, leaving a small Romanian buffer State. Yet, according to the Bucharest Peace Treaty (7 May 1918), Romania only ceded the Carpathian mountain passes to Hungary. The next "success" of Hungarian territorial expansionism was the Habsburg approval of the attachment of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Dalmatia to the Kingdom in October 1918. Expecting the collapse of the Central Powers, Károlyi was allowed by the Emperor-King to form a government in Budapest. This government declared the independence of Hungary on 31 October 1918. However, it did not stop the Entente and its allies from raising territorial claims against Hungary. They finally gave three quarters of pre-war Hungary to surrounding countries by the Peace Treaty of Trianon (4 June 1920). [11]

Aftermath

On November 11, 1918, World War I ended for Austria-Hungary with a complete military defeat, even if at the time of the collapse, all forces were standing outside the borders of 1914. With the collapse of the army, Austria-Hungary also collapsed. The ethnic groups of the Kingdom of Hungary called for independent nation-states. In the Treaty of Trianon signed on June 4, 1920, Hungary lost approx. two-thirds of her territory, more than half of its population, more territory than any other country at that time (excluding colonies). Around 8 million Hungarians remained in Trianon Hungary, while more than 3 million Hungarians were stranded outside the newly established borders. Newly established countries, such as Czechoslovakia, Poland and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes were established and some already existing countries extended their territories (Italy and Romania). The southern part of Hungary was given to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Croatia was also incorporated into it after more than 800-year personal union with Hungary. 102,813 square kilometers—the whole of Eastern Hungary and Transylvania—were awarded by the Entente to Romania, more than the remaining area of Hungary itself 93,030 km2. The northern part of Hungary was annexed by the newly created Czechoslovakia. Austria also received territories from Western-Hungary.

These newly created or greatly enlarged states formed the Little Entente after the war, encircling Hungary in order to make border revision impossible. The Hungarian Army was reduced to a mere 30,000 troops, Hungary was forbidden to have an air force, tanks, and any sophisticated weapons. The borders were set in such a way that all natural defense lines were crossed making the remaining territory totally vulnerable and difficult to defend.

See also

Related Research Articles

Austria-Hungary Constitutional monarchic union between 1867 and 1918

Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy and great power in Central Europe between 1867 and 1918. It was formed with the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 and was dissolved following its defeat in the First World War.

Treaty of Trianon

The Treaty of Trianon was prepared at the Paris Peace Conference and was signed in the Grand Trianon Palace in Versailles on 4 June 1920. It formally ended World War I between most of the Allies of World War I and the Kingdom of Hungary. French diplomats played the major role in designing the treaty, with a mind to establishing French-led coalition of the newly formed nations. It regulated the status of the independent Hungarian state and defined its borders generally within the ceasefire lines established in November–December 1918 and left Hungary as a landlocked state that included 93,073 square kilometres (35,936 sq mi), 28% of the 325,411 square kilometres (125,642 sq mi) that had constituted the pre-war Kingdom of Hungary. The truncated Kingdom had a population of 7.6 million, 36% compared to the pre-war kingdom's population of 20.9 million. Though the areas that were allocated to neighbouring countries had a majority of non-Hungarians, in them lived 3.3 million Hungarians – 31% – who were now in a minority status. The treaty limited Hungary's army to 35,000 officers and men, and the Austro-Hungarian Navy ceased to exist. These decisions and their consequences have been the cause of deep resentment in Hungary ever since.

Kingdom of Hungary Central European monarchy (1000–1946)

The Kingdom of Hungary was a monarchy in Central Europe that existed from the Middle Ages into the 20th century. The Principality of Hungary emerged as a Christian kingdom upon the coronation of the first king Stephen I at Esztergom around the year 1000; his family led the monarchy for 300 years. By the 12th century, the kingdom became a European middle power within the Western world.

István Tisza Hungarian politician

Count István Imre Lajos Pál Tisza de Borosjenő et Szeged was a Hungarian politician, prime minister, political scientist, international lawyer, macroeconomist, member of Hungarian Academy of Sciences and champion duelist. The prominent event in his life was Austria-Hungary's entry into the First World War when he was prime minister for the second time. He was later assassinated during the Aster Revolution on 31 October 1918 - the same day that Hungary terminated its real union with Austria. Tisza supported the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary and was representative of the then liberal-conservative consent.

Eastern Front (World War I) The East European theater of World War I

The Eastern Front or Eastern Theater of World War I was a theater of operations that encompassed at its greatest extent the entire frontier between the Russian Empire and Romania on one side and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and the German Empire on the other. It stretched from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south, involved most of Eastern Europe, and stretched deep into Central Europe as well. The term contrasts with "Western Front", which was being fought in Belgium and France.

Austro-Hungarian Army Ground force of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy from 1867 to 1918

The Austro-Hungarian Army was the ground force of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy from 1867 to 1918. It was composed of three parts: the joint army, the Imperial Austrian Landwehr, and the Royal Hungarian Honvéd.

Battle of Zenta

The Battle of Zenta, also known as the Battle of Senta, was fought on 11 September 1697, near Zenta, Ottoman Empire, between Ottoman and Holy League armies during the Great Turkish War. The battle was the most decisive engagement of the war, and it saw the Ottomans suffer an overwhelming defeat by an Imperial force one third as large commanded by Prince Eugene of Savoy.

Magyarization

Magyarization, after "Magyar"—the autonym of Hungarians—was an assimilation or acculturation process by which non-Hungarian nationals came to adopt the Hungarian national identity and language, either voluntarily or due to social pressure, often in the form of a coercive policy.

Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen Official name for the Hungarian territories of Austria-Hungary

The internal official name "Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen" denominated the Hungarian territories of Austria-Hungary during the totality of the existence of the latter. This union is sometimes denominated "Archiregnum Hungaricum", pursuant to Medieval Latin terminology. Pursuant to Article 1 of the Croatian–Hungarian Settlement of 1868, this territory was officially defined as "a state union of Kingdom of Hungary and Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia". Dalmatia actually lay outside the Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen and was part of the Austrian half of the Empire, but was included in the name due to a long political campaign seeking recognition of the Triune Kingdom which consisted of a united Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia. The Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen disintegrated after the dissolution of Austria-Hungary.

Revolutions and interventions in Hungary (1918–1920)

There was a period of revolutions and interventions in Hungary between 1918 and 1920. The First Hungarian Republic was founded by Mihály Károlyi during the Aster Revolution in 1918. In March 1919, the republic was overturned by another revolution, and the Hungarian Soviet Republic was created. The unresolved conflicts led to wars between Hungary and its neighbor states in 1919. The Hungarian Soviet Republic ceased to exist after the Romanian occupation. The Treaty of Trianon in Versailles chilled the conflicts and beneficiaries for this event were Romania, the newly formed states of Czechoslovakia, and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

Serbian campaign

The Serbian Campaign is the series of campaigns launched against Serbia at the beginning of the First World War. The first campaign began after Austria Hungary declared war on Serbia on 28 July 1914, the campaign to "punish" Serbia, under the command of Austrian Oskar Potiorek, ended after three unsuccessful Austro-Hungarian invasion attempts were repelled by the Serbians and their Montenegrin allies. Serbia's defeat of the Austro-Hungarian invasion of 1914 ranks as one of the great upsets of modern military history.

Romania during World War I

The Kingdom of Romania was neutral for the first two years of World War I, entering on the side of the Allied powers from 27 August 1916 until Central Power occupation led to the Treaty of Bucharest in May 1918, before reentering the war on 10 November 1918. It had the most significant oil fields in Europe, and Germany eagerly bought its petroleum, as well as food exports.

Union of Transylvania with Romania

The Union of Transylvania with Romania was declared on 1 December 1918 by the assembly of the delegates of ethnic Romanians held in Alba Iulia. The Great Union Day, celebrated on 1 December, is a national holiday in Romania that commemorates this event. The holiday was established after the Romanian Revolution, and commemorates the unification not only of Transylvania, but also of Bessarabia and Bukovina and parts of Banat, Crișana and Maramureș with the Romanian Kingdom. Bessarabia and Bukovina had joined with the Kingdom of Romania earlier in 1918.

Military history of Italy during World War I

This article is about Italian military operations in World War I.

Creation of Yugoslavia Overview of the creation of Yugoslavia

Yugoslavia was a state concept among the South Slavic intelligentsia and later popular masses from the 17th to early 20th centuries that culminated in its realization after the 1918 collapse of Austria-Hungary at the end of World War I and the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. However, the kingdom was better known colloquially as Yugoslavia ; in 1929 it was formally renamed the "Kingdom of Yugoslavia".

Austro-Hungarian Armed Forces

The Austro-Hungarian Armed Forces or Imperial and Royal Armed Forces were the military forces of Austria-Hungary. It comprised three main branches: The Army (Landstreitkräfte), the Navy (Kriegsmarine) and the Aviation Troops (Luftfahrtruppen). The Army in turn consisted of its own three branches: The Common Army, the Imperial-Royal Landwehr and the Royal Hungarian Honvéd.

Hungarian–Romanian War

The Hungarian–Romanian War was fought between Hungary and Romania from 13 November 1918 to 3 August 1919. It started as a Romanian military campaign on the eastern parts of the self-disarmed Kingdom of Hungary on 13 November 1918, and it continued against the First Hungarian Republic and from March 1919 against the Hungarian Soviet Republic.

History of modern Serbia or modern history of Serbia covers the history of Serbia since national awakening in the early 19th century from the Ottoman Empire, then Yugoslavia, to the present day Republic of Serbia. The era follows the early modern history of Serbia.

Austro-Hungarian occupation of Serbia 1914—1918 military occupation

The Austro-Hungarian occupation of Serbia was a military occupation of Serbia by the Austro-Hungarian Armed Forces that lasted from late 1915 until the end of World War I.

The dissolution of Austria-Hungary was a major geopolitical event that occurred as a result of the growth of internal social contradictions and the separation of different parts of Austria-Hungary. The reason for the collapse of the state was World War I, the 1918 crop failure and the economic crisis. The 1917 October Revolution and the Wilsonian peace pronouncements from January 1918 onward encouraged socialism on the one hand, and nationalism on the other, or alternatively a combination of both tendencies, among all peoples of the Habsburg monarchy.

References

  1. Spencer Tucker (1996). The European Powers in the First World War. p. 173. ISBN   9780815303992.
  2. See: 1910 census
  3. Mowat, C.L. (1968). The New Cambridge Modern History. volume xii. (CUP Archive)London: Cambridge University Press. p. 479. ISBN   978-0521045513.
  4. Andreas Kappeler (2014). The Russian Empire: A Multi-ethnic History. Routledge. p. 287. ISBN   9781317568100.
  5. Sima M. Cirkovic (2008). The Serbs Volume 10 of The Peoples of Europe. John Wiley & Sons. p. 235. ISBN   9781405142915.
  6. Marius Rotar (2013). History of Modern Cremation in Romania. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 24. ISBN   9781443845427.
  7. Stephen Broadberry; Kevin H. O'Rourke (2010). The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Europe: Volume 2, 1870 to the Present. Cambridge University Press. p. 70. ISBN   9781139489515. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
  8. David Stevenson (2011). With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918. Harvard University Press. p. 399. ISBN   9780674063198.
  9. Rothenburg, G. The Army of Francis Joseph. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 1976. p 218.
  10. On the outbreak of the First World War Austria-Hungary was able to mobilize 2.25 million men. This was a fairly small number when one compares it to the 4 million mobilized by the French Army. Attempts were made to rapidly expand the size of the army and recruitment posters in 15 different languages appeared all over the Empire.
  11. A. Piahanau. "Hungarian War Aims During WWI: Between Expansionism and Separatism." Central European Papers 2#2 (2014): 95–107. http://www.slu.cz/fvp/cz/web-cep-en/journal-archive/copy_of_2013-vol-1-no-1/20140202_piahanau

Further reading

In Hungarian

Tibor Balla (2001). "Magyarország az első világháborúban". The Illustrated History of World War I. By Wiest, Andy. London: Amber Books Ltd., reprint in Hungarian by M-érték Kiadó Kft. ISBN   963-9519-28-6.