Last updateCs, 08 febr. 2024 7pm

rovas logo

Our history

An Outlaw's Diary: The Commune


It was fate that dubbed this book An Outlaw's Diary, for it was itself outlawed at a time when threat of death was hanging over every voice that gave expression to the sufferings of Hungary. It was in hiding constantly, fleeing from its parental roof to lonely castles, to provincial villas, to rustic hovels. It was in hiding in fragments, between the pages of books, under the eaves of strange houses, up chimneys, in the recesses of cellars, behind furniture, buried in the ground. The hands of searching detectives, the boots of Red soldiers, have passed over it. It has escaped miraculously, to stand as a memento when the graves of the victims it describes have fallen in, when grass has grown over the pits of its gallows, when the writings in blood and bullets have disappeared from the walls of its torture chambers.

tc bk01




Crown 8vo 6s. net. each




Demy 8vo. (uniform with this volume) 12s. 6a. net.

Part I Revolution

with a Foreword by
The Duke of Northumberland.


Published by


First published on 1923




Admiral Nicholas Horthy


' Red ' Posters



' Lenin Speaking '



Geoege Nyistor



The Jews Call a Meeting



Julius Hevesi alias Honig



Alixander Cizmadia



Juhász and Peczkai



Country Folk Going to Draw Rations



Eugene Hamburger



On the Banks of the Ipoly



Tibor Számuelly



Geoege Lukács alias Lövinger



The Red Mayday



Béla Kún in Kassa



Eugene Szanto alias Schreiber



Béla Kún and Számuelly .



Terrorists (I.)



' Számuelly... took hostages '



Alexander Szabados alias Singer



The Executioners of the Death Train



Map of Hungary



The Library of Count George Szápáry



Arpad Kerekes alias Kohn



Joseph Czerny and the Lenin Boys



A Recruiting Placard



The Lenin Boys Pose with a Victim



Terrorists with a Victim



Béla Vago alias Weiss



Rumanian Troops Occupying Budapest



Számuelly... Brings Greetings



Terrorists (II.)








































Night of March 21d, 1919.

There followed a moment's silence, the awful silence of the executioner's sword suspended in the air. Humanity in bondage draws its head between its shoulders, and, like the sweat of the agonising, cold rain, pours down the walls of the houses. Now...

A bestial voice shrieks again in the street : " Long live the Dictatorship of the Proletariat !"

The neighbouring streets repeat the cry. A drawn shutter rattles violently in the dark. Street doors bang as they are hurriedly closed. Running steps clatter past the houses, accompanied by two sounds : " Long live... Death.... " The latter is meant for us. Shots ring out at the street corner.

"Death to the bourgeois ! " A bullet strikes a lamp and there is a shower of glass on the pavement. A carriage drives past furiously, then stops suddenly amid shouts. A confused noise follows and the shouting dies away in the distance. Other cars follow its track into the maddened, lightless town. What is happening there, beyond it, everywhere, in the barracks, in the boulevards ? Sailors are looting the inner city : a handful of Bolsheviks have taken possession of the town. There is no escape !

One thought alone contains an element of relief : we have reached the bottom of the abyss. It is disgraceful and humiliating, but it is better than the constant sliding down and down. Now we can sink no lower.

Presently the streets regained their former quiet, and nothing but the throbbing of our hearts pierced the silence.

There is no escape for us. The opened gutters have inundated us. St. Stephen's Hungary has fallen under the rule of Trotsky's agent, Béa Kún, the embezzler. And all round us events are taking place which we have no longer the power to prevent.

I have no idea how long this nightmare lasted. We were silent : everybody was struggling with his own sufferings. The lamp burnt low, and again the clock struck. I caught at its sound, and counted the strokes : nine. Countess Chotek, who had been with us was there no longer, nor did I see my brother. Time went slowly on. My room appeared to me like the dim background of painting; figures sat in the picture rigidly, disappeared, and then were there again. The door opened and closed. I saw my journalist friend, Joseph Cavallier, in a chair which had been empty a moment before. He spoke and pressed me to go—mad rumours were circulating in the town, awful events were predicted for the right. Lieut.-Col. Vyx and the other members of the Entente missions had been arrested, and it was intended to disarm the British monitors on the Danube. The Russian Red Army was advancing towards the Carpathians, the Bolsheviks had declared for the integrity of our territory. Béla Kún's Directorate had declared war on the Entente. " You must escape tonight, " said my friend; " they are going to arrest you. Come to us. "

My mother called me and I opened her door with apprehension. She was sitting up in bed, propped high between the pillows : her face was livid and appeared thinner than ever. She too had heard the cries in the street, was aware of what had happened, and knew what was in store for us. Her haggard, harassed look inspired me with strength to face our fate.

"Why don't you come here ? Why can't we talk things over in here ? " She did not mean to cause pain, but her words stabbed me. Poor dear mother !

When Joseph Cavallier told her of his proposal she shook her head :

"You live on the other side of the river, don't you ? Don't let her go so far. " Suddenly she recovered herself and turned to me : " It is raining hard and I heard you coughing so badly all day. "

The others had followed up into her room, and all had something to say. My sister-in-law mentioned her brother Zsigmondy who lived near by : he had offered me shelter in his home. My mother alone was silent. Though she could not say it, it was she who was most anxious for me to go. She looked at me imploringly. That decided me.

" It can only be a question of a day or two, " I said. " Then, when they have failed to find me here, I can come back. "

Did I believe what I said ? Did I imagine that things would happen like that ? Or did I attempt to deceive myself so that I might bear it the more easily ? I noticed a deep shadow that stole suddenly, I knew not whence, over my mother's face. It appeared on the other faces too, as if all of them had aged suddenly. And beyond them, around us, in the houses opposite, all over the town, people aged suddenly in that ghastly hour.

They all went away and left me alone in my room. I knew I ought to hurry, yet I stood idle in front of the open cupboard. How many, I thought, are standing, hesitating like this to-night, how many are hurrying and running aimlessly about, not knowing whither to turn ? Will it be the same here as in Russia ! Quietly the door opened behind me : my mother had risen and came to me so that we might be together as long as possible.

I will take just a few things, very few " I kept repeating, as if I wanted to force the hand of fate to make my trial short. " Perhaps I may be able to come home to morrow... "

My mother did not answer. She tied the parcels together for me.

"The housekeeper must not know till to-morrow morning that you have gone... " She looked out into the anteroom to see that no one was about, then opened the door herself and accompanied me down the corridor. The house seemed asleep, the sky was black, and the courtyard underneath was like a dark shaft in which rain-water had accumulated.

Leaning on my arm my mother walked along with me. In silence both of us struggled to keep control over our emotions. At the front door we stopped. Nothing was audible but the patter of the rain. My mother raised her hand and parsed it over my face, caressingly, as though she would feel the outlines that she knew so well.

" Take every care of yourself, my dear, dear one ! "

I was already running down the stairs. She was leaning over the balustrade, and I heard her voice behind me, keeping me company as long as possible, calling softly, " Good-night! "

"Good-night... " I called back, but my voice failed me in a pain such as I had never felt before.

Beyond the street door there was a rattle of gunfire. I tried to keep cheerful, and kept saying : " To-morrow I shall come back to her, to-morrow. " I groped my way across the dark yard and knocked at the concierge's window.

He came out, looking curiously at me in the glare of his lantern : " There is a lot of shooting out there. It would he wiser to stay at home. " But I shook my head and the key turned in the lock; the door opened stealthily, and closed carefully behind me, as though unwilling to betray me.

Next instant I stood alone in the rain. I shuddered : my retreat was cut off. Home, everything that was good, everything that protected me, was behind that door beyond my reach.

Motor horns, human shouts, rang here and there in the distance, whilst the rain poured in streams in the broken gutters. The road seemed absolutely empty. Suddenly I heard steps on the other side of the street. They had not approached from the distance but had started quite near by ; someone must therefore have stepped from out of the shadow of the house opposite. Had he been waiting there spying on me ? The steps became hurried, passed me, crossed the street. A dark shape hugged the wall under the recess of a door. No bell was rung. I stopped for an instant : the incertitude of the past few weeks reappeared. The knowledge of being watched, pursued, the torture of being deprived ot my freedom, made me catch my breath. The threat had followed me so long, appearing and disappearing in turn, menacing me from under every porch, from every dark coirer. Should I fly from it ? Should I turn down a by-street ?

Suddenly I felt tired and ill : my pulses were leaden and my brain seemed weighed down with heavy stones. For an instant I contemplated giving in. I seemed to be of so little significance compared with the enormity of universal misfortune. The crash of general collapse had drowned the small moans of individual fates.

Tho shadow suddenly emerged from under the porch and barred my way. We stared at each other. Then a well-known voice said, " Is it you ? " It was my brother Béla, who had been watching for me so that he might accompany me.

Only a few lamps were alight on the boulevard, and our heels crushed the fragments of glass from the broken ones. Empty cartridge cases shone in the puddles.

Machine-guns stood in the middle of the street. Some men passed, carrying a rod flag; then a lorry, bristling with bayonets, rumbled heavily by, full of armed sailors. One of these shouldered his rifle and aimed at us. He did not shoot, and when for an instant he appeared in the light of a lamp before the darkness swallowed him again, I could see the bestial grin which contorted his face. The lorry disappeared, but we could hear his voice shouting something in Russian. There are many of these here to-day. " A bourgeois, to hell with him ! " The cry of Moscow fills Budapest.

Frightened forms ran across the openings of the streets on the other side, and the air was filled with wild movements and lurching fear. At last I rang the bell of the front door which was to shelter me, and my brother wished me Godspeed and turned back. It was some moments before the door opened, and a woman came along, dragging her feet. She looked at me suspiciously and seemed frightened. Where was I going ?

I murmured something, crammed some money into her hand, and brushed past her. Here too the courtyard was absolutely dark. I hesitated in front of the door of one of the flats : something urged me to go on, something else drew me back. At last I knocked, and a friendly face appeared. The table was still laid under the welcoming light of a swinging lamp : how peaceful was the sight of that quiet little home after the howling, dirty, soaking street! Michael Zsigmondy and his wife welcomed me, but whether or not they had expected me I cannot say ; at all events they seemed to consider it quite a natural thing that I should have come.

" What is the time? "

" Past eleven. "

There was a knock at the door... We looked at each other. A tall, dark young man entered. " Count Francis Hunyadi, " announced Zsigmondy, relieved. He did not mention my name, and they carefully avoided addressing me. The newcomer spoke :

"Nobody knows what is happening. It is said that the Communists want to hand the town over to the rabble to plunder. "

I thought of my mother, who was surely thinking of me too. Behind her I saw more faintly other faces : brothers, sisters, friends, acquaintances. I began to tremble for all those I loved.

Zsigmondy went to the telephone, but the exchange gave the invariable answer : " Only official communications are permissible. " Then that stopped too. The telephone exchanges have passed into the hands of the Communists.

The rain stopped ; the streets livened up, and now and then the howls of the excited rabble came up to us : " Long live the Dictatorship of the Proletariat ! "

The children were taken into another room, and my bed was made up in the night nursery. Bright pictures of fairy tales were on the walls, lead-soldiers and toy horses on the floor. However long I may live I shall never again feel as old as I felt in that nursery.


March 22nd.

The day was already breaking when weariness overcame me and lulled me into something resembling sleep. It must have lasted a short time only, then an almost physical pain about my heart woke me. I felt like a person who has lost someone very dear to him and on awakening is reminded of his bereavement not by memory but by grief. I shrunk from complete awakening. Not yet, not for just one more minute ! But it was in vain I tried to hide from consciousness, swiftly I remembered everything. Hungary was no longer. She had been betrayed, sold. Finis Hungariæ.

I found myself moaning inarticulately. My heart was wounded and bleeding, and the blood that was flowing was 'the blood of all those who were Hungarian. I pressed my clenched fists to my eyes, pressed them so hard that my eyeballs hurt and red flashes passed before them. Then I opened them quickly and the grey dawn stared at me with dimmed eyes. Their day had come !

The street seemed dead, but it was only resting from the night's revels. It must have been an hour later when steps interrupted the silence—a hunchbacked little monster was coming down the street with a sheaf of posters over his arm and a bucket in his hand. Now and then he stopped, smeared his paste over a wall, and when he went on red posters marked each of his stopping places.

" Long live the Dictatorship of the Proletariat! "

The town must be given no chance to regain its breath, to recover consciousness. When it wakes its whole body will be covered with the red eruption. It will be everywhere. It will cover the barracks, the royal palace, the very churches.

I turned away from the window : it was useless looking out : everywhere it was the same thing. A morning paper was lying on tho table. Yesterday's compositors' strike was over. Socialist compositors had set the papers of the Communists and the red was pervading the black print : " Unite, Proletarians of the World ! " This was followed by Károlyi's proclamation :

"To the Hungarian people! The government, has resigned. Those who till now have governed by the will of the people and with the support of the Proletarians have come to the conclusion that circumstances require a new orientation. Orderly production can only be secured by handing over the power to the Proletarians. Besides the danger of anarchy in the productive activities of the country there is the danger of foreign politics. The Peace Conference in Paris has secretly decided that nearly the whole of Hungary is to be occupied by armed forces. The mission of the Entente has declared that the lines of demarcation will be considered in future as political frontiers. The obvious reason for a further occupation of the country is that Hungary is to be made the battle ground of the war against the Russian Soviet troops, now fighting on the Roumanian frontier. The territories robbed from us are intended as the reward of those Czech and Roumanian armies which are to be used to defeat the forces of the Russian Soviet. I, the Provisional President of the Hungarian Popular Republic, am obliged by this decision of the Paris Conference to appeal to the proletariat of the world for justice and help ; consequently I resign and hand over the powers of government to the Proletariat of Hungary.—Michael Károlyi. "

I was filled with disgust. He admits that it was he who has handed it over ! I felt with horror that this proclamation was nothing but the base documentary evidence of the sale of a betrayed nation.

"I alone can save Hungary ! " It was with these words that Michael Károlyi started his lies on the 31st of October, 1918. " I hand the powers of government to the Proletariat of Hungary, " he declares on the 21st of March, 1919, when lies fail him. In the interval he has squandered and sold Hungary. The mask has fallen, and behind it appears boldly the rabble which he calls the Proletariat of Hungary. Practically all its leaders appear in the list of the " Revolutionary Government Council. " Just as in Károlyi's Government it is headed by a deceptive Christian clown ; Alexander Garbai is the President. The others are all foreigners. All the People's Commissaries are Jews, there is now and then a Christian among the assistant commissaries, then again Jews and still more Jews. Jews are to administer the capital, Jews are at the head of the police. A Jew is to be governor of the Austro-Hungarian Bank.

This list gives one furiously to think. The puppets of the October show have been swept from the stage by the events of last night. The demoniacal organisers, the raving wire-pullers and prompters have taken their place, and for the first time in the long history of Hungary, Hungarians are excluded from every inch of ground, whether in the hills and the vales of the Carpathians, or on the boundless plains. The country has been divided up among Czechs, Roumanians, Serbians and Jews.

The newspaper continues to address " Everybody. " The Revolutionary Council proclaims haughtily that it has taken over the government and that it is going to build up its workers', peasants' and soldiors' councils. Hungary becomes a Soviet Republic. The Revolutionary Council will start without delay a series of fundamental changes. It decrees the socialisation of big estates, wholesale businesses, banks and means of communication. The land reform will not take the shape of dividing up the land into small holdings but of organising it into socialistic productive co-operative societies. The death penalty will be imposed on the bandits of the Counter-revolution as well as on the brigands who indulge in looting. It will organise a powerful proletarian army. It declares its intellectual and sentimental community with Soviet Russia. It offers an armed alliance to the Russian Proletariat. It sends brotherly greetings to the working masses of England, Prance, Italy and America, appealing to them not to tolerate any longer the looting expeditions of their capitalistic Governments against the Soviet Republic of Hungary. It offers an armed alliance to the workers and peasants of Bohemia, Roumania, Serbia and Croatia. It appeals to German Austria and Germany to ally themselves with Moscow... Long live the Dictatorship of the Proletariat ! Long live the Hungarian Soviet Republic ! "

tc od2-03

I thought of the stories related by returning prisoners of war, the vague news of the Russian Revolution, the distant outlines of its nefarious actors and its beginnings at Petrograd. Russia's awful fate filled me with anguish and apprehension.

This was the first ordinance of the Revolutionary Council :

" Martial Law.—Anybody resisting the orders of tho Soviet Government or inciting to rebellion against it will be executed. Revolutionary tribunals will sit and try the criminals. Budapest, March 21st, 1919. "

I jumped up : I felt I should choke unless I did something.

" That soldier down there is still walking up and down, " said Mrs. Zsigmondy quietly.

" It is lucky that the house has entrances on two streets. I shall go out by the other. "

A sharp wind, cleared by rain, was blowing on the boulevard. The carriages seemed to have disappeared, and only motor-cars were rushing about, armed sailors standing on their steps and long-haired Jews, smoking big cigars, sitting inside. The shops were closed, and red posters flamed from their lowered shutters.

" Long live the Soviet Republic allied to Russia ! "

The wind blew the torn down posters of the Károlyi Government over the unswept pavements. Now and then hurrying pedestrians passed with bent heads, their eyes expressing stunned bewilderment. They could not understand what had happened.

A chemist's shop was open : that was the only concession. My head was on fire and my chest torn with coughing. I went in. Many people were waiting for their prescriptions. Two people whispered to each other : " The resignation of the Government was simply a sham to frighten the Entente into re-establishing the old lines of demarcation. " " Goodness no, my dear sir, there has been too much of Károlyi's cowardly pacificism. The Bolsheviks want to reconquer the whole of Hungary. " A lean young man standing by began to gesticulate wildly : " If that is so, every Hungarian ought to stand by them. " The other nodded : " We shall soon go home to Pressburg... "

I was staggered. So they are still credulous, they still believe ! I went on sadly. When I reached the offices of the National Federation of Hungarian Women I was taken aback. There was nobody waiting there, the ante-room was empty.

What a great thing we had been attempting, we women ! To stop a cart running down a slope ! We wanted to spread light and confidence and strength into the homes and people of Hungary. Was it to be all in vain, our sufferings, our labour ?

As I opened the door into the inner office there was a sudden silence within, and the secretary rose from his table. Familiar faces turned to me, but they looked at me in silence, as if a question were on their lips, as if they expected something.

Faithful, brave women ! In this moment I felt that after all everything was not lost. What we had sown could not be trampled down, the flames we had lit could not be extinguished.

A young girl looked in and nodded. " Soldiers are gathering in front of the house... "

We began to hurry. One gathered the list of names another threw our appeals into a basket : " There is a corner of my house where they won't look for them, I shall hide them there. " Another tied some documents together : " My husband will hide them somewhere in the National Museum. "

" I will take these to a decorator who has hidden many other dangerous documents, " said the secretary.

I wrote a farewell letter to my collaborators at the long table on which I had done so much work. " We won't dissolve and we won't cease to exist. Let everyone continue our work as best she can till we meet again. And if there is any trouble and anyone is persecuted, say that I am the cause of all. "

A girl leant against a cupboard and covered her eyes, while two others dragged a heavy basket through the door it contained our office outfit. Suppressed sobs wore audible near the wall underneath the high crucifix. We shook hands, no one said a word, and they let me go alone. But when I turned back from the door I saw they were all looking after me.

The guardians of the house were some quiet, gentle nuns. I knocked at their door and the Mother Superior opened it as if she expected me.

" I thank you for your hospitality and pray your forgiveness if our presence brings you misfortune. "

" Nothing happens but what God wills, " answered the nun, with a resigned expression on her gentle face bordered with white veiling.

Meanwhile the soldiers had retired from the vicinity of the house, so I, as usual, bent my way towards home. Only when I reached the beginning of my street did I realize what I was doing. It was too late to turn back. Something attracted me painfully, as though my heart were attached to an invisible thread which was being drawn rapidly towards the further end of the street. There it was that I used to turn in other times when I felt weary. If only I could go there, just for the time necessary to open the door, look in, and nod. And the thread pulled me harder and harder, with ever increasing tension. I crossed the street. Just one more step to be nearer. Just one more ! As I leant forward I put my hand to the wall of a strange house. For an instant I perceived our entrance and saw the windows shining above. I looked at each of them separately. The fifth was that of a room of many memorable evenings, my mother's window. I bowed to it, as if in greeting. Someone quite near to me bowed at the same time. What was that ? It was only my shadow that followed my movements on the sunlit wall. Had anybody observed me ? How ridiculous I must have seemed ! With hastened steps, very fast, I returned to those who had given me shelter.

Hours followed which have escaped my memory. News from the impenetrable tangle filtered through in the afternoon. The town has become more and more strange and incomprehensible : it has put its neck into the halter while talking of reconquering the country. Reliable news is now obtainable of Károlyi's resignation, and the proceedings of the ministers' Council have been divulged by journalists. Before the meeting Károlyi had a long secret talk with Kunfi; thence Kunfi proceeded directly to the prison, where he made formal compact with Béla Kún and the Communists in the name of the Social Democratic Party. The agreement was drawn up in writing. Meanwhile, in the old House of Parliament, Pogány-Schwarz proclaimed tho Dictatorship of the Proletariat. After that everything went quickly : barracks, arsenals and munition depots had already been given up to the Communists. Now the post office and the telegraph have come into their power.

Kunfi obtained from Károlyi an order for the release of Béla Kún and his fellow prisoners ; he then drove to fetch them and they left their prison, as Hungary's all powerful masters, to occupy the sleeping capital.

Meanwhile Károlyi was sitting with his Countess and the former Prime Minister Berinkey in a room of the Prime-Ministerial Palace. The town was getting restless in the dark night. Wrapped in a blanket, Károlyi shivered and asked what was happening out there. When he was told that his proclamation had already been read in the Workers' Council he asked sleepily, " What proclamation ? "

'' Why, your resignation ! "

"Impossible ! I scarcely remember what it contained. I was so hurried to sign it. Its publication must be prevented. "

An official told him that he was too late. " It is already being printed by the papers and will appear in the morning. "

Károlyi stammered that he had no intention of withdrawing it, he only wanted to alter some passages. But the Communists had taken good care that by then it should have already been telephoned to Vienna. The wires carried the news of Károlyi's resignation and his disgrace, and the document, as edited by Kéri- Krammer, is preserved for the edification of a horrified posterity.

This is not a tale, not a figment of imagination devised to make people's flesh creep. In the night of the 21st. of March Károlyi stood with his narrow head bent to one side, his hollow chest heaving, in the room formerly occupied by Stephen Tisza, and before the cock crowed thrice...

This morning someone met Károlyi and his wife walking on the embankment of the Danube. A big red carnation was glowing in his button-hole, and his wife wore a blight-red hat in the shape of a Phrygian cap and a red collar on her coat. Both looked happy and were laughing. " I am so pleased, " Countess Károlyi said to a friend, " Hungary has never been so happy as it is now. " At the Prime Minister's house, when taking leave, Károlyi expressed himself in the same sense.

" It must not be forgotten, " he declared, " that, though it may ruin a few individuals and now and then inflict hardships on certain people, it has to be borne in the interest of the community. Let us pour oil on the wheels of the new Government and let us do all in our power to make it a success, because that is the interest of the Hungarian people. "

They speak like that. Adorned ostentatiously with red flowers and a red hat—wearing the hangman's colours—these two human beings walk about after having achieved their work. One of their confidants, a Communist comrade, said of them : " Károlyi and his wife wanted a revolution that he might become the President of the Republic. Now they want Bolshevism that in the reaction which they hope will follow in its suit they may rule as autocrats. " And the confidant grinned as he spoke. Is this the solution of their enigma ? I don't know. Those who say so have stirred the witches' cauldron with them.

Suddenly I saw Béla Kún. I saw him as be had appeared to me on New Year's Eve at the barracks when he went to incite the soldiers. Károlyi let him, Pogány helped him. Now they sit all together. And Számuelly is with them, so are Kunfi, Landler and Böhm. They have not yet recovered from the first shock : their good fortune has surpassed their wildest expectations. Even in their dreams they had never hoped for so much.

At Limanova and at Doberedo the Hungarians showed themselves obstinate heroes ; who would have thought that they would so easily bend their heads under the yoke ?

The all-powerful Peoples' Commissaries are already moving. The people are crowding in front of the editorial offices of ' The Red Newspaper, ' where Számuelly's belongings are being packed on a carriage. Béla Kún too is leaving the two rooms which he had hired with Russian money under the name of Dr. Sebestyén. Whither are they going ? Into the royal castle ? Into the Prime Minister's palace, or elsewhere ? They have the widest possible choice : everything is theirs.

There was a knock at my door. One friend efter another came in bringing news. Béla Kún has sent Communist agitators all over the country. They drive through the villages in motor-cars, beflagged in red, and shout : " The Dictatorship of the Proletariat has been proclaimed ! Kill the gentle-folk! " A new order has been issued : it is forbidden to wear arms ; even revolvers have to be delivered to the authorities. Only the ' reliable people, ' Red soldiers, factory guards and workmen's levies, are allowed weapons. The shops remain closed : their goods are declared common property. The newspapers are to be communised or prohibited. The buildings of the conservative Budapesti Hirlap have been occupied by the editorial staff of ' The Red Newspaper. ' Armed men occupy the tables, and on the front of the building the Red flag floats.

A message reached me from Elisabeth Kállay : she and her family have gone into the country and she asked me to come to them. But I shock my head ; to-morrow I return to my mother.

Many have left town. Those who could went by train, others fled by carriage, on foot, by whatever means they could manage. All traces of them disappear—they simply exist no longer. One political party after another pronounces its extinction. The general officers and high officials have disappeared from the scene. Nobody attempts to raise a dam against the deluge, though yesterday a sluice-gate might have stopped it.

October 31st has returned like a haunting spectre and we live the evil day again. Then the trap was baited with the device : ' Independent Hungary. ' now it is : ' Territorial Integrity. ' The whole thing is like the semi-conscious feeling during a nightmare that one has dreamt the same horrors before.

Where are those who used to be always ready to give advice to the King in Schönbrunn and the halls of the Vienna Burg ? Why do they not advise our unfortunate nation now ? And where are now those who during the war were ready to order thousands ' over the top ' into the jaws of death whenever a single trench was in danger ? Where is my whole haughty race which used to go so proudly, singing a merry tune, to face death on foreign fields ? Why does it stand now, with glaring eyes, inactive, on our fields at home ? Since Károlyi's treason, four and a half months have passed. And this new danger finds us again without a leader, without organisation. Running shapes are in flight. Shadows are disappearing in the distance, shadows which once were thought the great realities of Hungary. And those who stay with us, in offices, in poor officers' quarters, are but hungry, ragged, grey little shadows with bended heads.

Wherever the red hand of Bolshevism has grasped the rod of power it has always raised a spirit of resistance. The streets of Moscow, Petrograd, Helsingfors, Berlin and Altona have run with the hot human blood of revolt— Budapest alone has submitted in dizzy apathy. Is the hideous enchantment more powerful here than elsewhere ? Here, where in the time of Károlyi's revolution there were no more than two hundred and sixty thousand organised workers and even yesterday no more than five thousand Communists ? What has happened ? Austrian bugles bare called on Hungarian troops for too many charges during the war. Those who might have saved us to-day are dead.

I felt a desperate longing for action : to do something even if one had to die in the effort, to do something which would break the charm and free the energies benumbed by its humiliating spell ! I clenched my fists and shook my head in frenzy ; it cannot remain like this. To-morrrow— to-morrow " I shall go home. And wearily I shut my tired eyes.

The hours dragged on so slowly that they never seemed to come to an end. Night was falling. The lamp was lit in the next room. The street door was locked :... What was that ? The slamming of it resounded as if a lid had been banged violently on a giant box. And we are all sitting in the box and waiting helplessly for our fate to be decided out there. As long as the house doors were open the houses along the street seemed to hold each other by the hand, and if one had got into trouble the slightest movement would have been enough to warn the others. That is so no longer. When the doors are shut the houses release each other's hands and each is left to itself with its own misfortune.

Out there in the dark threatening streets the stolen motors are racing to and fro without a stop, carrying treacherous plans, hostile orders, all over the town. And behind the doors no one is safe until these plans and orders have decided his fate.

It was just before midnight when the bell rang in the ante-room. Its sound choked the breath in our throats. Zsigmondy went out to open the door. It was all right : only my brother Béla had sent me a message not to go out to-morrow till he had spoken to me.

Then we retired for a restless sleep. A lamp was burning on the table of the night nursery ; my bed was made, but I sat for a long time on its edge, wailing like a patient in the surgeon's waiting room. There was a smell of printer's ink somewhere : if only one could read in these times, I thought. There was a newspaper on the table. No, not that. I turned from it in disgust. I wanted to escape the present.

How often have I found consolation in books during sad hours ! But is there a book that could lull the present sorrows to rest ? I remembered having read Faust during a great storm at sea till the night had passed, and during an evil night of the war my mother and I had read Toldi till the morning came. I wondered if to-day the armed knight could carry me off with him as he rides to Buda to fight a last fight for Hungary's honour, to kiss faithfully great King Louis's hand ? I shook my head. Was there nothing ? Hamlet, with visionary raving eyes, came and went, but did not arrest me. Niels Lyne and The Idiot, and rusty, armoured Don Quixote.

A patrol passed under the window. A soldier pulled his bayonet over a corrugated shutter as if sharpening it for some future victim. The others laughed, then they went on. Silence followed, the silence of a huge wicked town that gapes.

How long will it last ? Why can I not think of anything else ? If I were at home now I would count my books to pass the time. One, two, three... I imagined myself taking an old volume from the shelf. Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. What good is that ? At the other end of my bookcase there is another book in a parchment binding as smooth and cool as ivory : the Iliad. I thought of it—I had bought it in Siena, a long time ago. Bright, great heroes, Homeric songs, would mean nothing to me now And Dante. No, I do not want him. His Inferno knows nought of the tortures we endure.

The horn of a solitary motor resounded through the night, and Volleys were fired in the direction of the barracks. Quietly, so as to make no noise, I began to walk up and down in the nursery. There were books lying about among the toys; picture-books, coloured animals, big, fumy alphabets. I looked at several ; and thus a much used, shabby story book came into my hand.

I sat back on the edge of the bed, the book open. It brought to me the memory of holidays, old Sundays, mild childish illnesses... Someone is reassuring me, kisses me, hushes me and reads in a subdued voice at my bedside, strokes the hair from my forehead... The pages turn quickly. And where neither Goethe nor Arany nor Dante nor Kant could succeed in carrying away my thoughts this revolutionary night, the eternal fairy-tale, the consoler of children, of sick and of suffering, triumphed.

Latest comments

Recommended websites

New Articles