|Back to the Austrian Commanders page|
|Tibor Szamuely was born at Nyíregyháza on 27 December 1890. His name was synonymous with the red terror of Bela Kun’s soviet regime. He was formerly a journalist for small socialist newspapers and became a bolshevik pamphleteer after the end of World War I.
One of his proclamations during Graf Mihaly Károlyi’s government delivers all that Szamuely believed and soon put into practice: “Everywhere counter-revolutionaries run about and swagger; beat them down! Beat their heads where you find them! If counter-revolutionaries were to gain the upper hand for even a single hour, there will be no mercy for any proletarian. Before they stifle the revolution, suffocate them in their own blood!”
When Bela Kun’s bolsheviks took power and formed a Soviet regime, Szamuely became chief propagandist for the government, and made a trip to Moscow to campaign for world revolution by the side of Lenin in late May 1919. He was also appointed to combat counter-revolutionary sentiment with pure terror, with the title Commissar for Military Affairs of the Hungarian Soviet Republic. Thanks to the propagation of collectivism that Kun espoused, there were several violent peasant rebellions against the regime during Kun’s 133 days in power.
Anti-bolshevik rebellions had to be suppressed with brute force all across the Alföld beyond the Danube, also in 20 villages in Kalocsa county, as well as around Budapest. Szamuely gleefully threw his special guard, the so-called “Lenin Boys” (or “Youth”) into the fray, arbitrarily shooting and hanging anyone they could lay their hands on as a means of terrorising the peasants into submission. Szamuely once boasted, “Terror is the principal weapon of our regime,” and for good reason. After several days, the killing was over and Szamuely returned to Kun and reported that the revolution had “succeeded in the countryside.
However, Kun already planned to suppress the Lenin Boys, because the extreme violence of Szamuely was doing more harm than good. Szamuely prepared for this eventuality by starting a newspaper called "Kommunista," but it never got off the ground.
Problem was, the regime’s grip on power was becoming shakier and shakier, and the "Lenin Boys" were not actually dissolved until 1 August 1919, when Szamuely, Kun, and other top-ranking bolsheviks fled Budapest as the Rumanians advanced on the city. Kun escaped, but Szamuely was shot and killed by a gendarme while trying to illegally cross the Austrian frontier on 2 August. Afterward, his death was widely celebrated throughout Hungary.
GWS, 6/03 [rev. 7/04]