From murderers to heroes

(This is the first of a three-part series on Iván Héjjas the leader of the Ragged Guard)

A conference has just ended in Kecskemét called “Of the brave and heroic,” a tribute to the Ragged Guard (Rongyos Gárda), a vigilante group whose military disturbances resulted in a plebiscite that returned the city of Sopron to Hungary after the Treaty of Trianon had shrunk the country to one-third of its size.  The conference was organized by the Association of Hungarian Patriots, a group that has received an unusually high award of 150 million forints ($500,000) from two agencies of the government in the last two years.  The organization and conference are part of the on-going campaign of the Orbán regime to applaud all nationalistic efforts of right-wing groups and thus rewrite Hungarian history.

As a result, no mention is ever made of the fact that it was the Communist Republic of Councils in 1919 that fought to maintain the historical territory of Hungary in what would become Slovakia, no mention made of Horthy’s quiet acceptance of the revised boundaries dictated by the Treaty of Trianon, nor is there any acknowledgment of the White Terror that was unleashed by vigilantes once the Republic of Councils fell in August 1919.

Kecskemét was chosen for the conference because it was the home of Iván Héjjas, the founder and one of the leaders of the Ragged Guard.  He and other veterans like Pál Prónay were encouraged by Horthy to exact revenge on the remnants of the Bolshevik regime.  In the fall of 1919, with the permission of the occupying Romanian troops, Héjjas and his men began a campaign of terror, largely against Jews.  They went on a rampage of theft, torture and murder, resulting in the death of hundreds. The extreme anti-Semitism that would lead to the extermination of half a million Jews in Hungary started with Héjjas and the Ragged Guard.  It was one of their members, László Endre, who would become Eichmann’s enthusiastic collaborator, organizing the mass deportation of Jews to Auschwitz in 1944.

Of course no mention was made in the conference of the brutal murders committed by Héjjas and his men.  His biographer László Domonkos called the village of Héjjas “the nest of the Hungarian race” and Héjjas “the embodiment of the Hungarian national character.”

Why bring up the uncomfortable facts about these thieves, sadists, and murderers when the image of a heroic Hungary has to be created?  A Christian Hungary as the New Fundamental Law of 2011 proclaims.

Steven Kovacs


  1. Avatar András B. Göllner says:

    Looking forward to the remaining installments. The current government in Hungary is not only white-washing the crimes of those who sent hundreds of thousands to the abattoirs of Auschwitz but those who began the massacres, the hate campaigns against Jews, the Roma, Gays, and anyone who wanted justice, equality under the law and a sustainable future for the working men and women of Hungary after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918.

    Contributors to this site are often dismissed as enemies of Hungary. No doubt this will be the tack taken in response to the timely article of Mr. Kavács, by the Orbán trolls that pollute the atmosphere in this underpass. Before they do so I want to congratulate Mr. Kovács for his initiative. In the meantime I suggest two highly credible scholarly account of the conduct of the criminal gangs who terrorized the Hungarian countryside during 1919-1921 and are being praised as heroes by Orbán’s sycophants. One is in Hungarian: Bödők Gergely. Vörös é Fehér Terrior Magyarországon: 1919-1921. PhD Dissertation. Eszterházy Károly University. Department of History. 2018. The other is in English: Béla Bodó. The White Terror: Anti-Semitic and Political Violence in Hungary, 1919-1921 London. Routledge 2019

    • Let me add the well researched fiction in Hu – “Orgia” about the orgy of gruesome violence of the Szálasi’s rabble in 1944/45. Notably one of the 1919 murderers was Endre Làszlò who became a prominent executor of the Holocaust in Hungary.

  2. Orban is not writing a false history. He is finally, getting things right. It is time to stop demonizing the Germans and their Allies for many crimes they did not commit. It is time to show up Communism as the true harbinger of evil in twentieth-century Hungary. The 1956 Hungarian Uprising was a reaction to a small minority brought back on Soviet tanks who were the secret police and the torturers and murders stepping on the neck of the Hungarian people.

  3. May their heirs live a life of always looking over their shoulders from fear.
    May these cruel men’s memories be stomped out –

  4. Avatar Kerekes Sándor says:

    I was hoping to see a bit more facts and less ”opinions” about this subject. Being interested in the topic as I am, awaiting in the later parts some historical and political context. Not to mention the increasing pressure from the government to revise the established history and substitute it with long discredited lies.

  5. Avatar András B. Göllner says:

    Sándor, why not wait for the next two installments before passing judgment on the initiative of Mr. Kovács? Why not turn to the factual evidence that’s been available on this horror story for close to a hundred years? If you missed it, look at the data in the two volumes I suggested above and find me one credible scholar, historian who questions those facts other than one, who belongs to the Viktor Orbán soccer club which hangs out in Felcsut and goes around in circles on his mini-train.

  6. Fascism it is folks.
    Even if the power hungry and totally immoral Orbàn built this modern version of fascism by adopting methods and forms that helped him usurp and retain power, ie. capture the state (and steal its wealth).
    I wonder why does this uncivilized thief like to associate his regime with these gruesome murderers as if he didn’t have enough baggage already. My only explanation is that the regime is trying to intimidate and condition the public for possible violent action against any opposition, just as all previous fascists did.

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