Hungary: Did Ruthenes serve in the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades, or in the Labour Corps?

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Sid Guttridge
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Hungary: Did Ruthenes serve in the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades, or in the Labour Corps?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 20 Apr 2021 20:39

It is sometimes suggested that minorities in Hungary served in the Labour Corps.

But is this true of Ruthenes?

I ask this because I see that the Hungarian mountain brigades were both based in Ruthenia. As the province's Ruthenes were the mountain folk, (not the Hungarians, who were largely lowlanders), it would seem logical to recruit them to the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades.

So, were Ruthenes recruited to the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades? If so, how important were they to them?

If not, why not?

Many thanks,

Sid.

Peter89
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Re: Hungary: Did Ruthenes serve in the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades, or in the Labour Corps?

Post by Peter89 » 26 Apr 2021 21:25

Sid Guttridge wrote:
20 Apr 2021 20:39
It is sometimes suggested that minorities in Hungary served in the Labour Corps.

But is this true of Ruthenes?

I ask this because I see that the Hungarian mountain brigades were both based in Ruthenia. As the province's Ruthenes were the mountain folk, (not the Hungarians, who were largely lowlanders), it would seem logical to recruit them to the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades.

So, were Ruthenes recruited to the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades? If so, how important were they to them?

If not, why not?

Many thanks,

Sid.
What kind of minorities do you mean? Labor service was designed for Jews, and Jews were conscripted from all kind of nationalities.

Yes, there were Ruthenes and Romanians in the Mountain Brigades (hegyivadász alakulatok), they became a rather "elite" type of unit by 1944. The memoirs I've read so far speak of their cooperative and helpful attitude.

http://www.epa.hu/00000/00018/00128/pdf ... 06-139.pdf
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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thezerech
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Re: Hungary: Did Ruthenes serve in the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades, or in the Labour Corps?

Post by thezerech » 16 May 2021 22:35

There were varying political groups in Carpatho-Ukraine, among the Ukrainians were the Russophile/Magyarophiles, Nationalists, and Communists.

The Russophiles, who were organized into a black-shirted pro-Hungarian party, financed by Budapest, made up local collaborators (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_N ... mous_Party). I've not really read much about them, looking into literature about Carpatho-Ukraine from 1938-1945 is difficult, they were singled out as collaborators by the Czechoslovakians in exile. I have not heard of significant numbers of Ukrainians in the region serving under Hungary, nor to my knowledge were there any officially non-Hungarian units in the Hungarian army. Ethnic Ukrainians were not, to my knowledge, excluded from conscription, I've never heard of them being specifically recruited on the other hand. It would not surprise me if local paramilitaries and auxiliaries existed, but that doesn't answer your question.

The Hutsuls, the Ukrainian Highlanders of eastern Carpatho-Ukraine and southern Galicia were very pro-Ukrainian and fought the Hungarians briefly in 1919, and were a base of support for the nationalists. I would be surprised if support for the Hungarians was nearly as popular among the highlanders as it was in urban areas. That's not to say they weren't conscripted or that majority opinions were universal.

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Re: Hungary: Did Ruthenes serve in the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades, or in the Labour Corps?

Post by Peter89 » 19 May 2021 12:03

Hello guys, now it seems my personal library is complete again, and I just found the proper source I was looking for.
thezerech wrote:
16 May 2021 22:35
I have not heard of significant numbers of Ukrainians in the region serving under Hungary,
in June 1940, the ethnic background of the fresh recruits of the VIII. Corps (Kassa) was the following (volunteer / conscripted):
Hungarian: 542 / 9064
Ruthene: 112 / 3631
Slovak: 11 / 502
Romanian: 0 / 73
Jew: 124 / 876
Other: 5 / 40

thezerech wrote:
16 May 2021 22:35

nor to my knowledge were there any officially non-Hungarian units in the Hungarian army.
Originally, they've planned to establish 1-1 battalions at Kassa and Ungvár in November 1938 for ethnic Slovaks and Ruthenes. However, this never came to be mostly because of the opposition of Henrik Werth. After a large number of ethnic Romanians, Ruthenes, etc. came under Hungarian rule, the territorial system did not seem to work anymore (the military did not want to station armed ethnic soldiers near their minority centres).

Thus, on December 9 1940 they've decided to disperse the ethnic recruits amongst the Corps with a 15% quota, but no Slovak can serve in the II. Corps, no Ruthene in the VIII. Corps and no Romanian in the IX. Corps. However this was revised furing wartime and the following order was established:
I. Corps (Budapest) 1% Slovak
II. Corps (Székesfehérvár) 6% mostly Slovak
III. Corps (Szombathely) 14% mostly Croatian
IV. Corps (Pécs) 3% mostly Croatian
V. Corps (Szeged) 24% Serb, Romanian and Slovak
VI. Corps (Debrecen) 6% Slovak and Romanian
VII. Corps (Miskolc) 5% Slovak
VIII. Corps (Kassa) 40% Ruthene, Slovak and Romanian
IX. Corps (Kolozsvár) 50% Romanian
thezerech wrote:
16 May 2021 22:35

Ethnic Ukrainians were not, to my knowledge, excluded from conscription, I've never heard of them being specifically recruited on the other hand. It would not surprise me if local paramilitaries and auxiliaries existed, but that doesn't answer your question.
I never heard any of those, but if you have a source or a hint, I'd be glad to hear about it.
thezerech wrote:
16 May 2021 22:35

The Hutsuls, the Ukrainian Highlanders of eastern Carpatho-Ukraine and southern Galicia were very pro-Ukrainian and fought the Hungarians briefly in 1919, and were a base of support for the nationalists. I would be surprised if support for the Hungarians was nearly as popular among the highlanders as it was in urban areas. That's not to say they weren't conscripted or that majority opinions were universal.
I think we need to differentiate between two things; the quasi-peactime training and garrisoning and the deployment in Soviet-Ukraine. While the former was relatively popular amongst the ethnic Hungarians, the latter was equally despised by all nationalities, but obviously, the minorities carried out orders with even less enthusiasm.
Sid Guttridge wrote:
20 Apr 2021 20:39
http://epa.oszk.hu/03200/03286/00012/pd ... 34-041.pdf
http://epa.oszk.hu/03200/03286/00013/pd ... 39-055.pdf
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Hungary: Did Ruthenes serve in the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades, or in the Labour Corps?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 19 May 2021 13:43

Hi peter89,

Many thanks.

A superb reply to a difficult question.

It is the sort of informed, specialist answer that makes internet forums worthwhile.

I will digest the post and links (via Google translate) and may come back with a few more.

For example, what does the chart on p.52 of the second link represent? Is it the losses of 2nd Army on the Don by nationality?

In appreciation,

Sid.
Last edited by Sid Guttridge on 19 May 2021 14:11, edited 2 times in total.

Peter89
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Re: Hungary: Did Ruthenes serve in the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades, or in the Labour Corps?

Post by Peter89 » 19 May 2021 14:00

Sid Guttridge wrote:
19 May 2021 13:43
Hi peter89,

Many thanks.

A superb reply to a difficult question.

It is the sort of informed, specialist answer that makes internet forums worthwhile.

I will digest the post and links (via Google translate) and may come back with a few more.

For example, what does the chart on p.52 of the second link represent? Is it the losses of 2nd Army on the Don by nationality?

In appreciation,

Sid.
Hello Sid,

that table includes the losses from the Hungarian entry into the war against the Soviet Union (27/06/1941) until 30/09/1943.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Hungary: Did Ruthenes serve in the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades, or in the Labour Corps?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 19 May 2021 14:16

Hi Peter89,

Thanks for the clarification.

From my crude Google translation of p.37 of the first link, it seems that 1st Mountain Brigade was initially formed in 1939-40 with such a high proportion of Ruthenes that their language was to be used as the means of communication within units with more than 50% Ruthene soldiers.

However, it seems that from later in 1940 the Ruthenes may have been transferred out of the Mountain Brigade to other corps to avoid them serving among their own people. Is that a correct interpretation?

Cheers,

Sid.

Peter89
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Re: Hungary: Did Ruthenes serve in the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades, or in the Labour Corps?

Post by Peter89 » 19 May 2021 14:34

Sid Guttridge wrote:
19 May 2021 14:16
Hi Peter89,

Thanks for the clarification.

From my crude Google translation of p.37 of the first link, it seems that 1st Mountain Brigade was initially formed in 1939-40 with such a high proportion of Ruthenes that their language was to be used as the means of communication within units with more than 50% Ruthene soldiers.
It was a proposal, and only for "alegység"-level, which in this context should be read as "below-battalion"; companies and downwards. Also Ruthenian was only to be used inside the unit; the commanding language and the formal communication had to be done in Hungarian.
Sid Guttridge wrote:
19 May 2021 14:16
However, it seems that from later in 1940 the Ruthenes may have been transferred out of the Mountain Brigade to other corps to avoid them serving among their own people. Is that a correct interpretation?
Yes, but not in 1940; the ethnic Ruthenes from the I. Mountain Brigade were dispersed in the Hungarian-majority units after 30/10/1939, and the new conscripts of 01/02/1940 were dispersed without ever going to the I. Mountain Brigade.

However, politically reliable Ruthene individuals continued to serve in the unit until the end (in the very first link of mine, the last mention of an ethnic Ruthenian was from August 1944).
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Hungary: Did Ruthenes serve in the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades, or in the Labour Corps?

Post by Eugen Pinak » 19 May 2021 20:44

Peter89 - thank you for the detailed information.
Peter89 wrote:
19 May 2021 12:03
Originally, they've planned to establish 1-1 battalions at Kassa and Ungvár in November 1938 for ethnic Slovaks and Ruthenes. However, this never came to be mostly because of the opposition of Henrik Werth. After a large number of ethnic Romanians, Ruthenes, etc. came under Hungarian rule, the territorial system did not seem to work anymore (the military did not want to station armed ethnic soldiers near their minority centres).
This was really interesting. I try to gather information about military formations, made of Ukrainians. Thanks to you I've found new data - even if this is a project.

Peter89
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Re: Hungary: Did Ruthenes serve in the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades, or in the Labour Corps?

Post by Peter89 » 20 May 2021 10:10

Eugen Pinak wrote:
19 May 2021 20:44
Peter89 - thank you for the detailed information.
Peter89 wrote:
19 May 2021 12:03
Originally, they've planned to establish 1-1 battalions at Kassa and Ungvár in November 1938 for ethnic Slovaks and Ruthenes. However, this never came to be mostly because of the opposition of Henrik Werth. After a large number of ethnic Romanians, Ruthenes, etc. came under Hungarian rule, the territorial system did not seem to work anymore (the military did not want to station armed ethnic soldiers near their minority centres).
This was really interesting. I try to gather information about military formations, made of Ukrainians. Thanks to you I've found new data - even if this is a project.
Hello Eugen, you are welcome. If you need help with translation, please do tell. Google translate can be misleading with Hungarian (conditional, plural, future tense, etc.).
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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thezerech
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Re: Hungary: Did Ruthenes serve in the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades, or in the Labour Corps?

Post by thezerech » 21 May 2021 05:22

I had heard that Fencik party members helped Hungarian gendarmes round-up Sich members, I'll see if I can dig up where I read that.

What I meant generally was in terms of local gendarmes/paramilitary units not unique to Subcarpathian Ukraine, you'd know more about regular Hungarian formations than I would. I'll just say I was under the impression they joined existing Hungarian formations after the annexation, informally they had some paramilitary, but I have found little to no information of the activities of the Fencik party or their paramilitary in English, or in the Ukrainian sources I have read, although I'm sure they're out there. I have not been able to track down a copy of Republic for a Day which probably has some information, the more general works that I've read talk about the Sich and the Hungarian occupation, but seldom give any detail whatsoever on Russo/Magyarphile factions in Zakarpattja. What I do know is that Fencik had a paramilitary that wore blackshirts, and, as I said, informally helped Hungarian forces. I do not know to what extent Fencik collaborated, except that they were named as such by Benes in '45, and I don't know if their formations ceased to exist outside of normal Hungarian law enforcement after the annexation.

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Re: Hungary: Did Ruthenes serve in the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades, or in the Labour Corps?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 21 May 2021 10:24

Hi thezerech,

Republic for a Day is on line: https://diasporiana.org.ua/wp-content/u ... 9/file.pdf

Winch was a journalist who didn't speak any of the local languages, so you can't take him too literally, but he is the best we have in English for the general atmosphere and personalities. He had a Czech photographer whose unused photos would likely be of interest today.

I did a quick word search of it, but Fencik didn't come up in the text.

As I understand it, Fencik began a black-shirted, Russophile paramilitary movement in September 1938 in the three largest cities, all of which were awarded to Hungary at Vienna in November. I read somewhere that when Brody's government fell Fencik fled to Polish protection and then back to Uzhorod, which by then was in Hungarian hands. A couple of hundred of his followers also made their way to, or were already in, the Hungarian controlled south-west in late 1938. Brody also made his way to Hungarian controlled territory when released by the Czechs in February 1939.

It is entirely possible that Fencik's Ukrainian-speaking, Russophile, blackshirts helped the Hungarians search out Ukrainophile Sich Guard adherents after March 1939.

Cheers,

Sid

Peter89
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Re: Hungary: Did Ruthenes serve in the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades, or in the Labour Corps?

Post by Peter89 » 21 May 2021 11:10

Sid Guttridge wrote:
21 May 2021 10:24
Hi thezerech,

Republic for a Day is on line: https://diasporiana.org.ua/wp-content/u ... 9/file.pdf

Winch was a journalist who didn't speak any of the local languages, so you can't take him too literally, but he is the best we have in English for the general atmosphere and personalities. He had a Czech photographer whose unused photos would likely be of interest today.

I did a quick word search of it, but Fencik didn't come up in the text.

As I understand it, Fencik began a black-shirted, Russophile paramilitary movement in September 1938 in the three largest cities, all of which were awarded to Hungary at Vienna in November. I read somewhere that when Brody's government fell Fencik fled to Polish protection and then back to Uzhorod, which by then was in Hungarian hands. A couple of hundred of his followers also made their way to, or were already in, the Hungarian controlled south-west in late 1938. Brody also made his way to Hungarian controlled territory when released by the Czechs in February 1939.

It is entirely possible that Fencik's Ukrainian-speaking, Russophile, blackshirts helped the Hungarians search out Ukrainophile Sich Guard adherents after March 1939.

Cheers,

Sid
Thanks for the link, Sid!
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Hungary: Did Ruthenes serve in the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades, or in the Labour Corps?

Post by Eugen Pinak » 23 May 2021 17:46

Peter89 wrote:
20 May 2021 10:10
Eugen Pinak wrote:
19 May 2021 20:44
Peter89 - thank you for the detailed information.
Peter89 wrote:
19 May 2021 12:03
Originally, they've planned to establish 1-1 battalions at Kassa and Ungvár in November 1938 for ethnic Slovaks and Ruthenes. However, this never came to be mostly because of the opposition of Henrik Werth. After a large number of ethnic Romanians, Ruthenes, etc. came under Hungarian rule, the territorial system did not seem to work anymore (the military did not want to station armed ethnic soldiers near their minority centres).
This was really interesting. I try to gather information about military formations, made of Ukrainians. Thanks to you I've found new data - even if this is a project.
Hello Eugen, you are welcome. If you need help with translation, please do tell. Google translate can be misleading with Hungarian (conditional, plural, future tense, etc.).
Thank you, Peter!
I'm really next to zero regarding Hungarian language, so I'll be glad for any help from language user.

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thezerech
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Re: Hungary: Did Ruthenes serve in the Hungarian Army's mountain brigades, or in the Labour Corps?

Post by thezerech » 03 Jun 2021 19:27

Sid Guttridge wrote:
21 May 2021 10:24
snip
Thank you Sid!

I already found it elsewhere and have been reading through it. He's an interesting character, although more than a little judgemental and probably aware of what sells books and what doesn't, but it's a good source nonetheless. I haven't found much about the Russophiles, except discussing the Orthodox Church, which he has not mentioned any association with Fencik. I'll keep reading and see, but so far nothing specifically about them. Presumably, they were a minority, even among russophiles, at least they were not prominent among the peasants and I can imagine why the Orthodox Church was reluctant to openly support them. After the Vienna award Carpatho-Ukraine was really doomed, I don't know exactly how much Winch is operating from in hindsight, but his implication that Germany will make a poor ally, especially when the Ukrainians have to compete with the Hungarians is, as hindsight demonstrates, quite reasonable.

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