Ferenc Farkas de Kisbarnak

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kisbarnaki Ferenc Farkas
Born May 27, 1892
Kismarton, Hungary
Died April 14, 1980
Arnstorf, Germany
Nationality Hungarian
Occupation General Camp Manager 4th World Jamboree; Chief Scout of Hungarian Scout Movement; Commander, Royal Ludovika Akadémia; General of the Hungarian VI Army, World War II

Ferenc Farkas de Kisbarnak (Hungarian: vitéz[1] kisbarnaki Farkas Ferenc) (May 27, 1892 - April 14, 1980)[2] was Chief Scout of the Hungarian Boy Scouts, commanding officer of the Royal Ludovika Akadémia, the country's officer training school, and General of the Hungarian VI Army Corps during World War II. He served under several political regimes including that of Charles IV King of Hungary, Regent Miklós Horthy, Prime Minister Pál Teleki, and Arrow Cross Party leader Ferenc Szálasi. His service through the end of the World War II resulted in controversies within Hungary that followed him until his death.[3]

Scouting and Officers Training School

In 1933, he was chief organizer and General Camp Manager of the 4th World Scout Jamboree hosted by the Hungarian Boy Scouts at Gödöllő, Hungary, alongside Hungary's Chief Scout and future Prime Minister Pál Teleki.[3] A Catholic, in 1938 Farkas was the chief organizer of an World Eucharistic Congress in Budapest on May 25–29, 1938 at which time he created a life-long relationship with the Pope and the Vatican.[4]

In the same year he assumed command of the Royal Ludovika Akadémia[5] (officer training school) which had been founded in 1872. Among the officers he brought to the Akadémia was 21-year-old Béla Bánáthy, who Farkas had met as a 14-year-old youth at the 1933 Jamboree. He requested a volunteer to teach leadership at the academy, and Bánáthy was selected. He also asked Bánáthy to organize a Scout Troop for the young men, 19 years and older, which was a common practice within the Hungarian Scout Association at the time. Farkas served as commander of the Royal Ludovika Akadémia through 1943.[2] Banathy served most of the war under Farkas and when it ended, escaped first to Austria and later the United States. He was inspired by his attendance at the 4th World Jamboree where he met Farkas and his Scouting experience teaching leadership at the Ludovika Akadémia. In 1958 he founded the White Stag Leadership Development Program in Monterey, California which has continually taught leadership to youth since then.

Chief Scout of Hungary

A life-long supporter of Scouting, Farkas became Chief Scout of Hungary upon Prime Minister Pál Teleki's suicide in June 1941, on the eve of Hungary's forced entry into World War II.[6]:260 Under political pressure from the extreme right, the Hungarian Scouting movement became more militaristic and nationalistic between 1941 and 1945. Despite the war, the Hungarian national Scout leadership was able until the end of 1943 to maintain contact with the Boy Scouts International Bureau, the Polish Scout Headquarters in exile, and with Prince Gustav Adolf of Sweden, Chief Scout of Sweden and member of the World Scout Committee.[6]:260 Before the end of World War II, the national Hungarian Scouts were ordered to merge with the extremist right-leaning youth organization Hungarista Örszem, but the merger was never implemented.[6] :260-262[7]

Farkas retained the title and role of Chief Scout through World War II. When the Soviet Union occupied the country and forbid organization of Scouting units, he remained Chief Scout of the Hungarian Scout Association in Exteris until his death in 1980.[3]

Commander of Hungarian Sixth Army Corps

In 1943 Farkas assumed command of the Hungarian Sixth Army, which had been garrisoned at Debrecen. During March 1944, Regent Miklós Horthy first set in motion plans for a new Hungarian government loyal to the Allies, but the effort was forestalled after German pressure by Edmund Veesenmayer, Hitler's personal emissary in Hungary. Ferenc Farkas was to have been minister of cultural affairs.[8] In July 1944 he replaced General Károly Beregfy, an Arrow Cross Party member, and under Farkas' the Hungarian VI Army Corps beat back a Red Army attack across the Carpathian mountains, employing brutal methods to keep the Red Army from advancing.[9] He became known as the heroic defender of the Tatár Pass in the Carpathian Mountains.[9]

Secret negotiations to surrender

As the Soviets advanced on Budapest, the Sixth Army was ordered to Budapest on October 12[10] where Farkas was briefly named commander of the Pest bridgehead. Regent Miklós Horthy also wanted military units in Budapest commanded by officers he could trust, as he planned to announce an armistice with the Soviet Union as Romania had done, abandoning the lost Axis cause which he had never fully embraced. Germany feared the surrender of Hungary, knowing this would leave their entire southern flank open to Soviet attack.

Fall of Regent Horthy

Working through his trustworthy General Béla Miklós who was in contact with Soviet forces in eastern Hungary, Regent Horthy attempted to negotiate the end of the war, seeking to surrender to the Soviets while preserving the government's autonomy. The Soviets willingly promised this. But the Germans were aware of Horthy's behind-the-scenes maneuvering and set in place Operation Panzerfaust which would remove him from power and replace his government with forces loyal to the German cause, effectively occupying Hungary. Horthy governed from Castle Hill in central Budapest, an ancient and now well-guarded fortress. At 2:00 p.m. on October 15, 1944, Horthy announced over the radio that Hungary had signed an armistice with the Soviet Union. "It is clear today that Germany has lost the war... Hungary has accordingly concluded a preliminary armistice with Russia, and will cease all hostilities against her."[11]

Failing to receive official orders, the Hungarian army ignored the armistice, surprising the Germans. Given that many Hungarian units were controlled by the German army, it is unclear whether orders, if issued, ever reached most of the line troops. There had also been considerable propaganda about the harsh, punitive treatment of prisoners by the Soviets, and some Hungarian forces had witnessed first-hand the atrocities Soviet perpetrated against civilians. Combined with their loyalty to their country, no matter what government was in charge, they felt it was their duty to fight even when the end result was predictable.

Horthy's son Miklós Horthy, Jr. at this father's direction went to a meeting with representatives from the Yugoslavian government to finalize the surrender of Hungary to the Soviets. Upon entering the building, he was attacked and beaten by German soldiers commanded by Waffen SS Major Otto Skorzeny, who had initiated the meeting as a ruse. They kidnapped Miklós at gunpoint, trussed him up in a carpet, and immediately drove him to the airport, where a flight was waiting to take him to Germany and a concentration camp. Skorzeny then brazenly led a convoy of Germany troops and four Tiger II tanks to the Vienna Gates of Castle Hill. Seeking to avoid unneeded bloodshed, and knowing his forces could not resist the superior German troops, the Regent ordered his soldiers to not resist. Only one unit did not get the order, and the Germans quickly and with minimal bloodshed captured Castle Hill. Only seven soldiers were killed and 26 men were wounded.[11] Horthy was arrested by Waffen SS Brigadeführer Edmund Veesenmayer and held overnight in SS offices. Faced with an overt threat to his son's life, and having already been effectively removed from power, under coercion and as a prisoner of war, he abrogated the armistice, deposed Premier Géza Lakatos' government, and named the leader of the fanatical Arrow Cross Party, Ferenc Szálasi, as Prime Minister.

Horthy was placed on a private train to Germany three days later. Skorzeny told Horthy that he would be a "guest of honor" in a secure Bavarian castle. Skorzeny personally escorted Horthy to his captivity, where he was held until the war ended.[11]

Service at end of war

In the final months of the war, Farkas presided over the trial of fellow Lieutenant General Lajos Veres von Dalnoki (former commander of the Hungarian Second Army) and Captain Kálmán Hardy (aide-de-camp to Horthy), who were charged by the Arrow Cross government with treason for having attempted to arrange a cease-fire or switching alliegience during the last days of the war. He sentenced both to death, though neither was executed.[9]

After Ferenc Szálasi assumed power, Farkas was not dismissed despite his previous loyalty to Horthy, and he swore an oath to the new Prime Minister. Károly Beregfy, newly appointed on October 17, 1944 by the Arrow Cross government as Minister of War and Commander in Chief of the Hungarian Army,[12] named Farkas as Government Commissioner for Evacuation, promoted him to General, and put him in charge of securing national treasures.

He was later accused of sending to Austria about USD$3 billion in national treasures, "including the crown jewels, priceless gold treasures and the collection of national seals."[9] The crown jewels were in fact captured in Mattsee, Austria on 4 May 1945 by the U.S. 86th Infantry Division.[13] The jewels were then transported to Western Europe and eventually given to the United States Army for safekeeping from the Soviet Union. For much of the Cold War, it was held at the United States Bullion Depository (Fort Knox, Kentucky) alongside the bulk of America's gold reserves and other priceless historical items. U.S. President Jimmy Carter ordered extensive historical research to verify the crown as genuine, and it was returned to the Hungarian people on January 6, 1978. None of the charges against Farkas relating to the expropriation of Hungarian treasures and seals was substantiated.

Facing the imminent fall of the government and the nation, the Hungarian Defense Ministry named Farkas as the leader of a four-man committee which was charged with representing the Hungarian Army with the Allies after the war's end. General officers of the Hungarian Army who returned to Hungary under Communist rule were likely to be arrested and become Prisoners of War again, and face charges and possible execution.[14] Farkas drove across Austria and France to General Patton's headquarters.[15] Farkas was placed in a prisoner of war camp in Foucarville, near Sainte-Mère-Église, Normandy, which housed 40,000 prisoners, including 218 generals and 6 admirals.

Post World War II activities

U.S. Army liaison

In October 1946, 26 other Hungarian Army generals in the Foucarville POW camp wrote a letter to the American military, requesting that Farkas be released. In January 1947 he became the U.S. liaison to Hungarian prisoners of war and assisted in resolving their displaced person status and living arrangements. He remained in Germany becoming the highest-ranking Hungarian officer to settle in a country controlled by the Allies.

His war-time role in the Army, especially after the Arrow Cross Party assumed command, became very controversial within Hungary. Because of his actions in the camps against the Arrow Cross Party and Szálasi's government, the Provisional Hungarian Government of 1945, led by the Soviet forces in Debrecen, reduced his former Army rank to a private.

Pál Teleki Scout Association

While in the displaced persons camp, he founded the Pál Teleki Scout Association, which in 1948 was renamed the Hungarian Scout Association in Exile, and after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the Hungarian Scout Association Abroad.[6]:270[16] He was named Training Camp Chief and later Chief Commissioner (Hungarian: Bodnar Gabor). He also led adult leader training for Hungarian Scout leaders in exile in several locations within Germany during the late 1940s, and later at numerous locations abroad. He recommended Béla H. Bánáthy, a Hungarian Scout leader and one of his former officers with whom he had maintained a relationship, for a position as a Hungarian language instructor at the U.S. government's new Army Language School. During 1952, Farkas visited the United States and met with adult leaders at a training camp for Hungarian Scouts in Exile held in Buffalo, New York.[3] He remained the Hungarian Chief Scout until his death in 1980.

Anti-Soviet activities

He was founder of a Hungarian veteran's organization for veterans in exile, the Magyar Harcosok Bajtársi Közössége Központja (World Federation of Hungarian Veterans). He suggested creating a fraternal organization to honor the officers, non-commissioned officers, and enlisted men who served in the Hungarian armed forces and were now in exile. He suggested to Béla Almay, a former Lieutenant Colonel on the Hungarian General Staff, that he organize an association for Hungarian veterans, which became the Collegiate Society of Hungarian Veterans.[17]

Farkas also attempted with the support of former members of the Hungarian government who had escaped to the west before the war to establish a Hungarian government in exile, but was frustrated in his efforts by American Occupation Forces in Germany who forbid it. The veteran's organization retained as one of its purposes support for the restoration of a democratic government in Hungary.[17]

During 1947, the Americans and French permitted him to found the Anti-Bolshevik Hungarian Liberation Movement[18]:297 in Landshut, Germany. The movement initially called for a violent revolution in Hungary against Soviet control. It arranged for a member in exile to return to Hungary illegally and assess the situation and support for overthrow of the Communist government. What it learned was discouraging and the only hope the group held out for liberation of Hungary was Western help, which was not forthcoming. By 1950, Farkas was a leader of the reactionary, right-wing Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations which openly advocated the destruction of the Soviet Union and its fifth columnists.[18]:319

Conviction and restoration

When World War II ended and for several years afterward, the Communist government organized and encouraged the arrest and execution of those they blamed for the deprivations the war visited upon the Hungarian population. These arrests and prosecutions were in many instances politically motivated and the legal process was later found to lack the minimum requirements for legal action.[19]

Farkas was convicted in absentia by the Budapest High Court of the Hungarian Communist government on March 30, 1950 and was stripped of his rank and sentenced to life imprisonment. He visited the United States and Canada during 1955 and met with Hungarian Scouts in exile. In 1962, he was named General Captain (Hungarian: Fõkapitány) of The Knightly Order of Vitéz, a role in which he continued to serve through 1977.[20] He also continued his involvement with Scouting both locally and internationally, serving as Chief Scout of Hungary for the Hungarian Scout Association Abroad. He died in Arnstorf, Germany[4] on April 14, 1980.

In late 1998, the Hungarian Republic Supreme Court found serious legal and procedural errors in his original 1950 trial and on December 7, 1998 rescinded the sentence, nullifying its results. On September 15, 2006, the Hungarian Defence Ministry's Rehabilitation Committee fully reinstated his military rank and overturned his conviction posthumously.[9]


  1. "Vitéz" refers to a Hungarian knightly order founded by Miklós Horthy ("Vitézi Rend"); literally, "vitéz" means "knight" or "valiant".
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Kisbarnaki Farkas Ferenc" (in Hungarian). http://www.vitezirend.co.hu/CV%20&%20Award/vFF.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 vitez kisbarnaki Farkas Ferenc rehabilitated. Hungarian Scout Association Abroad. October 27, 2006 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "The History of the Order". http://www.vitezirend.org/history.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 
  5. Ludovika Akadémia
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Kroonenberg, Piet J. (1998). The Undaunted- The Survival and Revival of Scouting in Central and Eastern Europe. Geneva: Oriole International Publications. ISBN 2-88052-003-7. 
  7. Saunders, Hilary St George (1948). "The Left Handshake, Chapter IV-RESOLUTION-Scouting in Occupied Countries: Part Seven—Greece, Yugoslavia and Hungary". http://www.pinetreeweb.com/left4-7.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  8. Igor-Philip Matic (2002) (in German). Edmund Veesenmayer: Agent und Diplomat der nationalsozialistischen Expansionspolitik. Oldenbourg: Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag. pp. 262–267. ISBN 3-486-56677-6. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 "Was Kisbarnaki Farkas a war criminal? - Historikerstreit". January 2, 2007. http://hvg.hu/english/20070102_kisbarnaki_farkas.aspx. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 
  10. Ungváry, Krisztián; Ladislaus Löb (2004). Battle for Budapest: One Hundred Days in World War II. Translated by Ladislaus Löb. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 1-85043-667-3. http://books.google.com/?id=cLY1z-XLd_IC. Retrieved 2008-. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Williamson, Mitch. "War and Game: Operation Panzerfaust". http://warandgame.blogspot.com/2008/07/operation-panzerfaust.html. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  12. "Central European Military Antiques". 2007. http://cema1914.com/index.php?pr=POSTERS. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  13. "Hungary: Recovery of Crown Jewels 1945". http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/academic/history/marshall/military/mil_hist_inst/h/hungary.asc. Retrieved 2008-12-17. 
  14. Ferenczy, Lorant. "Mission & History". pp. 9–10. http://www.hqmhbk.com/mission.html. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  15. Gyula, Borbándi (1989) (in Hungarian). A magyar emigráció életrajza. Budapest 
  16. Daniel Kutasi. "Geschichte" (in German). http://www.kutasi.eu/de/page11677fb4d92.html. Retrieved 2008-12-17. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 Borbas, K.; translated by L.B.G. Simonyi (May–June 2005). "Current Events". Hadak Utjan. pp. 9–10. http://www.hqmhbk.com/current.html. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 Levy, Jonathen L. (May 8, 2006). "Madison, Wilson, and East Central European Federalism". Ph.D thesis. University of Cincinnati. http://www.ohiolink.edu/etd/send-pdf.cgi/LEVY,%20JONATHAN%20H..pdf?ucin1147397806. Retrieved 2008-12-17. 
  19. "The Siege". February 13, 2000. http://www.osa.ceu.hu/galeria/sites/siege/introduction.html. Retrieved 2008-12-17. 
  20. "General Captain (Fõkapitány)". http://www.vitezirend.org/home.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 

Additional reading

  • A Tatárhágó Visszanéz (The Tartar Pass Looks Back) Farkas Ferenc, Kárpát: Buenos Aires, 1952 (196 p.) (Hunagarian)
  • v. k. Farkas Ferenc (Hungarian)
  • Az Altöttingi Országgyûlés Története (The History of the Altötting Parliament) Farkas Ferenc, (Hungarian)
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Archduke Joseph August
Captain General of the Order of Vitéz
Succeeded by
József Árpád Habsburg

sl:Kisbarnaki Ferenc Farkas