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General Bandholtz and the Hungarians
by Emil Zerkowitz
HUNSOR publication

The following article appeared in the Pester Lloyd of January 31, 1919.,A.D.

  Having fulfilled his Mission, Harry Hill Bandholtz, Brigadier General of the United States Army, the leader of the American Military Mission, will shortly leave Budapest and return to his country and to his home after an absence of nearly two years. The noble-minded and brave General leaves us after having done his work, and we must say that he could not have won a nobler, a more uplifting and happier victory than the one he achieved in Budapest. He conquered the hearts of millions, the love and gratitude and appreciation of the Hungarian nation accompany him on his journey, and we tie a wreath of victory for him out of the flowers of love.

When he arrived in our midst, in the dreary days of the month of August, the country had hardly had time to regain consciousness from a stupor caused by a period of terror when the darkness of renewed horrors covered our souls; the Hungarian capital, occupied by foreign troops, was turned into a death chamber. Armed guards were watching over the downtrodden and tortured national conscience, on the eve of a frightful ordeal. We could not raise cries loud enough, we could not speak openly, for even the winking of our eyes was regarded with suspicion. How could the wide world, the foreign nations nd the few friends that we had left and who still retained some humane feeling after a war of five years, a chaotic compound made up from mutual hatred, get to know in what plight we were and what fate was in store for us?

But lo! the world was moved and with it the conscience of triumphant victors. The great powers of the Entente delegated mission of Generals to Budapest; American, British, Italian nd French Military Missions with a general at the head of each of them, who met every day to discuss the position of the occupied country. This was an essentially military function, but it could not maintain its rigidly military character for long. In order to investigate into the damages caused by Roumanian occupation, a Claim Office was set up by the council of the four Generals and placed under the control of the American Mission. In such manner, the American Mission developed into a Mecca, as it were, of the suffering Hungarian pilgrims. It must be admitted that this was a practice that had been adopted by the sufferers long before the Claim Office was brought into being. They hurried to the American Mission hoping for assistance.

Their hopes were not in vain. General Bandholtz, the hardy and brave soldier, was a warm-hearted guardian of the sufferers, the impartial and inexorable judge of injustice, whom nothing could keep from acting, if something was to be done in the interest of a just cause. He persecuted all excesses with unbounded energy and investigated all complaints with inexorable impartiality. He rigorously combated injustice and relieved all innocent sufferers with happy contentment.

He carried into practice all the principles of the much advertised modern diplomacy. He made no secret of what was in his mind, but openly stated his opinion. He was ever ready to discuss matters of importance, but, what is more, he acted. His door was open to all; he received everyone and heard all who wanted to speak to him. This is how he gained a deep insight into the Hungarian soul. He did not limit himself to the study of books or of historical documents, but he turned for information to the data supplied by real life. He made the acquaintance of Count Albert Apponyi, the greatest of our political leaders and often, after discussing with him for hours such questions as were most intimately connected with our very existence, he heard the complaints of some poor farmer, turned out of his property by the troops of occupation. Having been at work all day, he hurried on one occasion late at night to the National Museum to seal its doors with his own hands, thus saving the most valuable treasures of the nation, the precious memorials of its culture and civilization.

He knew us in our suffering and so became the true friend of our nation. It is not mere pity that made him our friend. He proved, by persevering at our side even in our direst catastrophe, a true friend who did not abandon us, but who exhorted our nation to work, our only salvation and the only means to forget. When doing so, he called to our memory our glorious past, and taught us that this nation could not fall a victim to destruction, filled as it is with a keen desire of life, this being the lesson taught by our national history of a thousand years. This is what he said to many of our statesmen and to many journalists who interviewed him, and whoever had an opportunity to get in touch with General Bandholtz could see that his words were prompted by sincere conviction. He will herald these ideas of his, even when he has left the Hungarian capital and when he returns to independent America, his country and the land of George Washington, its Father, of Abraham Lincoln, the liberator of the slaves, and of Thomas Jefferson, the advocate of true democracy. He returns to America, the country where Louis Kossuth, the greatest son of oppressed Hungary, was received in 1851 more warmly and more enthusiastically han any other foreign statesman before or since. America is he country where nearly two million fellow countrymen of ours have found work and a warm reception, the majority of whom have been granted citizens' rights, and where the Magyar is being appreciated, not only for his physical work, but also because of the true virtues of every Hungarian. In America, where there is such a fertile soil for the love of our country nd for sympathy, General Bandholtz is sure to become an advocate of our true cause, of our desire to live, and of our faith in the future. His brave collaborators will assist him in his pioneer work. Colonel Loree, who is an incredibly hard worker, an indefatigable, excellent man, who was working for us day and night with love, willingness and self-denial, will be at their head, and so will Colonel Sheldon, this soldier inspired by truly humane ideals, the supporter of all needy people.

The Chief of the Military Mission surrenders his post to the Representative of the American Foreign Department, the Chief of the American Mission, who has just arrived, Mr. U. Grant-Smith. This excellent diplomatist, who worked at Vienna in the service of diplomacy for a number of years, knows our position thoroughly. While taking leave of General Bandholtz with feelings of appreciation and of respect, the public of the country warmly welcomes Mr. Grant- Smith, to whose future work the nation looks with fullest confidence.

And yet our hearts are pained in parting from the General. It is with painful feelings that we see him depart, him, the noble-hearted, excellent gentleman, who, although a soldier, was the first man to make us forget that nations faced each other with arms in hand, nations who used to be united by the traditional feelings of brotherly love, by a community of souls, and by the most glorious human ideals. We want to forget and we are going to forget. But we cannot possibly forget all that we owe to the glorious and noble work of General Bandholtz. On all his ways, our gratitude and undying love will accompany him.

The following is a translation of an article that appeared in the National Journal, Budapest, January 28, 1920:

"This forenoon the American High Commissioner, Mr. Grant-Smith, and General Bandholtz, called on Prime Minister Huszár, who described to them the political and economic situation of the country.

"At 1.30 o'clock General Bandholtz and his officers lunched at the Hotel Pannonia as the guests of the Mayor of the City, Mr. Bódy.

"General Bandholtz and the American Military Mission will leave Budapest at the will always gratefully remember General Bandholtz, because we have so much to thank him for. During the Roumanian occupation, he protected us against the Roumanians' injustice, nd it is mainly due to him that they evacuated the country between the Danube and Tisza and also that they did not rob our museums. The General himself sealed the National Museum and it was the American Mission that prevented the Roumanians from delivering the Bolshevists.

"It is General Bandholtz also who revived interest in charity work in Hungary."

The following is a translation of an article which appeared in the Hungarian newspaper Uj Nemzedék, January 29, 1920.

"The members of the American Military Mission and their chief, General Bandholtz, are soon leaving our capital, probably about the fifteenth of February. The affairs of the Mission

are now being handed over to the American High Commissioner. The Magyars will always remember General Bandholtz with the feelings of deepest gratitude, as there is such a lot we must be thankful for to him and to the Mission. In the days of our profound sorrow, during the occupation of our country by the Roumanians, it was he who stood up for our righteous cause, and we don't know of any instance when he did not defend us. General Bandholtz persuaded the Roumanians to evacuate Transdanubia and the territories between the Danube and the Tisza, and it is owing to him that the Roumanians did not pillage our museums. The General personally sealed e entrance of our National Museum. Also we owe it to the energetic intervention of the Mission, that the Roumanians' endless efforts to liberate arrested Communists were frustrated. was General Bandholtz who initiated the American actions of benevolence and hereby dried a sea of tears on the Hungarian faces."

by Emil Zerkowitz

Source: the Pester Lloyd of January 31, 1919. A.D.

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