On Tuesday, speaking at the inauguration ceremony of a memorial to Hungarian soldiers assisting Polish insurgents in Warsaw, Deputy Minister of Defence Tamás Vargha, Parliamentary State Secretary of the Ministry of Defence pointed out that although they were fighting on the side opposing the Poles, Hungarian soldiers played a positive role during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, in the spirit of thousand-year-old friendship.
The unveiling ceremony of the memorial erected on the initiative of the Hungarian Institute of Culture in Warsaw took place in the center of the Polish capital, near the Sejm of the Republic of Poland and the Hungarian Embassy.
In his speech, Tamás Vargha talked about the important moments in the thousand-year history of Polish–Hungarian friendship, pointing out that in the spirit of this friendship, Hungarian soldiers and officers “played an active and positive role” in the anti-Hitler Warsaw Uprising that broke out on 1st August 1944, “in spite of Hungary’s role in the anti-Soviet military alliance and its neutral stance towards the people of Poland.” [...]
Mr. Vargha explained that the order received from Budapest forbade the one cavalry and three infantry divisions – which were led by Lt.-Gen. Béla Lengyel and stationed near Warsaw at the time –, to join the uprising, but under the same order, they supplied the insurgents with bandages, medicament, food and also ammunition and explosives, and gave assistance to wounded Poles and refugees.
Referring to German military reports, Tamás Vargha explained that the Hungarian soldiers tasked with the encirclement of Warsaw enabled the insurgents to receive fresh incoming forces during the uprising. He pointed out that helping them was not without risks, as the German patrols “ruthlessly killed all Hungarian soldiers who were caught in the act of »fraternizing« with the Poles”. “Since then, our Polish friends have been taking care of some Hungarian soldiers’ graves that survived”, he added.
The Parliamentary State Secretary quoted an excerpt from the memoires of Lt.-Gen. Béla Lengyel: “In the given military situation, we conducted ourselves to the extent permitted by the honor of Hungarian soldiers; and the constraints on our conduct were the oath of service, the orders we received from our superiors and our friendly neutrality towards the Polish people.”
A Hungarian documentary (with English subtitles) Hungarian corridor - Warsaw 1944:
The German Military High Command planned to get the Second Hungarian Reserve Corps to crush the Warsaw uprising. However, the Hungarian contingent of thirty thousand troops misled their military ally. Not only did the soldiers provide large quantities of ammunition, weapons, food and medicine supplies for the Polish resistance Home Army but they also wanted to switch sides to support the rebels.
From Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw by Norman Davies:
The approaching column of Hungarian infantry was beset by passers-by, and was forced to stop. We were standing right on Krashinski Square and from all sides we threw questions at the soldiers in different languages. Earlier they had smiled at us rather sheepishly. But lately, they expressed their sympathies quite openly. Traditional Polish-Hungarian cordiality was breaking through the walls of the enemy camp, and the chasm that had divided the enemies of Hitler, like us, from his allies, was crumbling.
'Long live Poland!' shouted one of the Hungarian soldiers. He was a Slovak and had correctly mastered the Polish language. 'Keep yourselves hale and hearty, the devils have already taken Hitler ...' [...]
At this moment, I saw a [German] gendarmerie patrol approaching from Long Street. Heavy blows from metal rifle butts rained down on the backs of the people who had been talking to the Hungarians. Fear of German brutality, which had kept a strong grip on us throughout the Occupation, had been recently replaced by greater boldness ... In the eyes of the whole of Warsaw, the Germans had lost their victors' strength.
One of the furious gendarmes fell upon the Slovak and began to tug at his uniform. The Hungarian soldiers and the German gendarmerie stared at each other, sizing each other up.
But the stand-off did not deteriorate into open hostilities, because a Hungarian officer appeared [from Honey Street] on a beautiful dun horse, rode towards the group at a light gallop, and without a word whipped the German gendarme until bloody stripes ran along the length of his hands. The Hungarians immediately marched forward, and the gendarme stepped back onto the pavement.