Looking Back: AHF since 1906
AHF, Tibor Eckhardt, and the "Movement for Independent Hungary," 1941 - 1942: Seeking to extract Hungary from the Nazi Axis sphere - by Bryan Dawson and Katalin Kádár Lynn, Ph.D.
On the 31st of December 1940, the Amerikai Magyar Népszava, the most influential Hungarian language daily at the time, published a front-page editorial headlined “The Hour has Struck.” The editorial proclaimed that it was the “the historic mission of Americans of Hungarian origin to give voice to the cries of the silenced people of Hungary and to give their whole hearted effort to the liberation of their mother country which is clubbed into submission by the Nazi terror.”
The editorial called upon the American Hungarian Federation to unfurl the banner of a Free Hungary Movement without hesitation or delay. In January 1941 AHF 's Executive Committee sent a letter to President Roosevelt expressing the loyalty of the Hungarian-American populace and proclaiming,“The Executive Committee of the [AHF] as representative of the American citizens of Hungarian origin…consider it our sacred duty to lead a movement for the preservation of an independent Hungary for the freedom of it’s people.”
Dr. Tibor Eckhardt, the head of the Independent Smallholders Party of Hungary was selected by the Hungarian leadership to travel to the United States where he was highly regarded to head the effort. His stated purpose was “to bring over, at the earliest opportunity, Hungary and her armed forces to the Allied side and…to continue the fight against Nazism which had become impossible in Hungary.”
After Dr. Eckhardt’s arrival in the United States in the fall of 1941, the AHF threw its resources behind his leadership. Dr. Tibor Kerekes, the leader of AHF, stated in a Letter to the Editor of the Washington Post on 7 October 1941: "Our Federation, representing the large majority of Americans of Hungarian descent in this country, expressed already its full approval of Tibor Eckhardt’s movement for ‘Independent Hungary.’"
While the Hungarians were establishing a free movement, much as the Czechoslovaks, the Poles and the Romanians had done, the left and communist sympathizers immediately began their assault on the movement. The anti-AHF and anti-Eckhardt forces were led by Rusztem Vámbéry, the Hungarian legal scholar, his campaign and organization funded partly by the Czechoslovakian Government in Exile in London and the British Center of Information, a propaganda arm of Great Britain, a cover for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) branch of British intelligence. Both felt that Eckhardt and the Movement for Independent Hungary were a reinsurance policy for Hungary's territorial gains and the Hungarian establishment.
In addition to supporting the Czech’s activities, the SOE had agents in the United States who monitored not only Eckhardt’s activities, but also the secret sessions of the AHF Board. SOE agents were not only involved in intelligence gathering but in the active spread of disinformation and propaganda.
While the Movement for Independent Hungary had as its supporters the most prominent American Hungarians, including Joseph Darago, President of the Verhovay Fraternal Insurance organization, Francis Deak of the Columbia University School of Law and Dr. Tibor Kerekes, of Georgetown University, all leaders within the AHF, it had the support of its’ members organizations as well. None of these organizations were pro-fascist, most were secular, academic and religious organizations numbering many thousands of members. However, ultimately the powerful anti-Hungarian propaganda movement succeeded in its mission, in great part due to the pressure of the British Secret Service and Foreign Office on the United States Department of State.
The well-intentioned effort mounted by the American Hungarian Federation to attempt to create a powerful American Hungarian organization that would lobby for Hungarian freedom came to naught. Eckhardt resigned from its leadership a year later. Thus ended the heroic effort mounted by the American Hungarian Federation during WWII on the behalf of Hungarian independence.
The Smallholders Party that Eckhardt had led won a large plurality in the free elections of 1945 but Eckhardt was prevented returning to Hungary to lead his party by the victorious Soviet Allies who occupied Hungary. - All citations from: Tibor Eckhardt: His American Years 1941-1972 by Katalin Kádár Lynn, Ph.D., East European Monographs, Boulder, Distributed by Columbia University Press. 2007.
AHF 100 YEARS DISPLAY
About the Treaty Trianon
One thousand years of nation building successfully delineated groups based on culture, religion, geography, and other attributes to create the countries with which we are so familiar. While some Western European nations would continue power struggles and princely battles and civil wars, Hungary, founded in 896, was a peaceful multi-ethnic state for a 1000 years and her borders were unchanged. Until 1920...
The Treaty of Trianon in 1920... in the aftermath of WWI, was extremely harsh on Hungary and unjustifiably one-sided. The resulting "treaty" lost Hungary an unprecedented 2/3 of her territory, and 1/2 of her total population or 1/3 of her Hungarian-speaking population. Add to this the loss of up to 90% of vast natural resources, industry, railways, and other infrastructure. This was done to a nation whose borders were established over a thousand years earlier (896 A.D.) and one who, as the "Saviors of Christianity," lost millions of lives defending the rest of Europe from numerous invasions from the likes of the Mongolian Tatars and the Ottoman Turks.
Sadly, these territorial losses and the desire to re-unite with the Hungarian communities torn away, led Hungary into the Axis sphere. After resisting Nazi terror, Hungary was herself taken over in 1944, shortly before the end of the war.
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