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Iron Paternalism. The victorious Horthy entered Budapest on a white horse, proclaiming. "I've come to punish this sinful city." The Red Terror became a counterterror, much of it directed against the Jews (Kun was Jewish). Though Horthy's country had been shorn of its seacoast and had no navy, he still used the title of admiral. As self-styled regent for an unoccupied throne, he ruled until 1944. During the early years of his long reign, under the premiership of Count Stephen Bethlen, Hungary was ruled by what was called an iron paternalism, but the iron gradually became more pronounced than the paternalism. The magnates continued to dominate the land: one-third of Hungary's rich acres was owned by 1,000 wealthy nobles. In 1941 Horthy took his country, crying for its "lost provinces," into the war alongside Hitler. By 1944 Horthy wanted an armistice: the Germans seized him and occupied Buda. He was later released by the U.S. Seventh Army from Nürnberg prison, now lives in Portugal, and at 88 has recently written his autobiography. Once again, as the Germans withdrew in 1944, conquerors swept down from the East to overrun the Hungarian plain, to rape, to pillage and to lay waste the once-gay Danube city of Budapest. This time they were Russian Communists, and close behind them as they marched came another army of political agitators, experts of the secret police, and a parasitic host of Hungarian expatriate Communists. In the first post-war election held on Nov. 4. 1945, the Communists came in a bad third, with only 800,257 votes to stack up against the 2,688,161 votes of the democratic Smallholders Party, which was led by Bela Kovacs and Ferenc Nagy.
But with the Red army in control of Hungary, bulletheaded Communist Party Boss Matyas Rakosi, a onetime Kun lieutenant, set out to grab power. Using what he called salami tacticsa slice at a timeRakosi cut off his opponents. Kovacs was sent to Siberia (where, after nearly nine years, he was released a few months ago). In 1947, with his four-year-old son held hostage, the Smallholders' Premier Ferenc Nagy, the last hope of a free Hungary, was forced to resign and flee into exile.
Last July, after nearly a decade of Red tyranny, Rakosi himself was forced to resign as party boss after a youth club in Budapest proclaimed openly that "it is high time an end be made to this regime of bureaucrats and gendarmes." Three months later that wish came to reality with the fury of gunfire in Budapest's streets.
* Among Hungarians, or their descendants, who have made names for themselves: such musicians as Franz Liszt, Bela Bartok, Zoltan Kodaly, Eugene Ormandy, Joseph Szigeti and Sigmund Romberg; such theatrical personalities as Alexander Korda, Ferenc Molnar, the Gabor sisters, Ilona Massey and Leslie Howard (real name: Arpad Steiner); such scientists as Nobel Prizewinner Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (discoverer of vitamin C) and Mathematician John Von Neumann; such public figures as David Lilienthal, onetime chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, H-bomb Pioneer Edward Teller, Socialist Eugene V. Debs.