Polish-Hungarian relations in the aftermath of WWI

In the aftermath of World War I, the situation of Hungary and Poland was contrasted, to say the least. While Poles were rejoicing about the perspective of recovering an independent state after over a century of foreign occupation, Hungarians were beings amputated of two-thirds of their population and land as a result of the Treaty of Trianon.


The years 1918-1939, turbulent in the history of both countries, constituted a new, interesting chapter in the history of Polish-Hungarian relations. During this period, there are many beautiful examples of friendship linking our two nations – first of all, the help given by Hungarians to Poles struggling with the Bolshevik cavalry or the development of Polish-Hungarian cultural relations. On the other hand, there were also some misunderstandings during this period – especially in the field of foreign policy pursued by the governments of both countries

The autumn of 1918 is the beginning of diplomatic relations in the new political reality. But the first big event during which Polish-Hungarian relations got strengthened yet again was the Polish-Bolshevik (1919-1921). The Hungarian help provided at the time to Polish forces had a decisive influence on the final result of this conflict. Hungary organised the transport of tens of thousands of ammunitions to help the Polish troops repel the Red Army in 1920. Some observers affirm that without this last-minute help, the Polish victory might not have been possible.

It is worth underlying that in the aftermath of WWI, Poland was embroiled in conflicts with most of its neighbours. Poles were clashing with Germans in the regions of Silesia and Greater Poland, with Lithuanians in the Vilnius Region, with the Czechs in Cieszyn Silesia, with Ukrainians in Galicia and  of course with the Soviets in the East. 

The first shipment from Hungarian military warehouses in Košice to Poland was sent in November 1918. In 1919, deliveries of ammunition and weapons from Hungary to Poland took place only from the beginning of January to March 19. In January 1919, the Hungarians again provided Poles with ammunition and weapons. Their were mainly used in the fight of Poles against Ukrainians for the city of Lviv. 

On March 19, a transport of 20 million rifle rounds, 20,000 artillery shells and other military equipment left the Manfréd Weiss factory for Poland. The transport of ammunition to Poland encountered great difficulties, especially from Czechoslovakia, which was in conflict with Poland, through which the railway lines from Hungary ran.

In Hungary, there was a lot of interest in the course of the Polish-Bolshevik war. The authorities in Budapest were thinking how to help the Poles. This attitude can be expressed in the words of Hungarian Prime Minister Pál Teleki at the session of the Hungarian National Assembly: “Here we see the fraternal Polish nation, who fought with us for centuries against the East. Today, Poles are fighting heroically, as they have fought so many times against the overwhelming violence. […] It was we who, for centuries, carried the banner of Europe and Christianity. In these battles, we will always be Poles’ faithful friends, and this time we will do our best to provide Poland with all possible help and that the West appreciates these efforts.”

Image: Hungary Today

This article has been sponsored by the Wacław Felczak Institute of Polish-Hungarian Cooperation.

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