to the fear of losing her territories and German military support,
on 27 June 1941, the Hungarian government declared war on Russia.
The bulk of her forces remained in Hungary in order to deter any
Romanian forces from re-taking Transylvania, and only a small
military contingent was sent to Russia.
The elite mobile corps
together with the mountain and the 8th Frontier Brigade, were
the first Hungarian forces to advance into Ukrainian capital of
Galicia and across the Dneister. The mobile corps advance farther
into Ukraine as part of the German 17th Army. In October the elite
mobile corps made a spectacular 965Kms advanced to reach the Donets
region, but at a lost 80% of its motorized equipment in the Ukrainian
mud. By November the mobile corps had withdrawn to Hungary and
The German-Hungarian relations were at an all-time
high. The Germans were even impressed how well the Hungarian mobile
corps performed. After September 1941, the 1st Mountain and 8th
Border Brigades, which were located in Galicia were replaced by
newly formed security divisions.
semi-postals commemorating the Army
In early December 1941, the Hungarian government issued the following set of
four semi-postal stamps to honor the army:
1) The 8 + 12Filler, soldiers in action. The uniforms are very similar to the German,
one difference is the color of their uniforms, which was light khaki.
2) The 12 + 18Filler, soldiers handling a PAK 38 anti-tank with 50mm caliber.
3) The 20 + 30Filler, light Toldi model tanks with RE-2000 fighter plane on, background.
4) The 40 + 60Filler, a calvary man and a cyclist.
The surtax was used to support the army. Also another semi-postal showing a
soldier and a Christmas leaf was issued on December 1, 1941. The surtax from 20
+ 30Filler value was used to benefit the soldier's Christmas. Many other semi-postal
stamps were issued to benefit charitable organizations such as Red Cross, etc.
In spring 1942, Germany's need
for more manpower on the Eastern Front, led the Hungarians to
mobilize their 2nd Army with 200,000 men. Composed of three corps
and 1st Armored Division. The armored division was equipped with
German PzKpfw III and IV tanks as well with Hungarian Toldi light
In June 1942, the 2nd Army advanced to the Kursk Front
and set up a defensive line along the Don River south of Voronezh.
It held this sector against major Russian raids across the river.
By the end of 1942, the Hungarians morale had deteriorated because
of the harsh winter conditions. They were poorly equipped and
were reluctant to engage the enemy.
On 12 January 1943, the Soviet
offensive overran the Hungarians defensive perimeter. The army
retreated in disorder, briefly protected by the 3rd Corps. About
30,000 men were killed or missing in action, 50,000 men were taken
prisoner and all their tanks and heavy weapons were lost. It was
the worst disaster in Hungarian military history, and the Hungarian-German
relations this time had reached an all-time low.
In March Admiral
Horthy ordered what was left of the 2nd Army back to Hungary to
strengthen the home army. Most of the reserves were re-allocated
to the 8th Corps (known to the Hungarians as the Dead Army), which
constituted the only force engaging the Soviets. In June 1943,
the Hungarians re-organize their infantry divisions along German
lines, forming eight corps group into mix divisions. Each infantry
division comprised of three infantry regiments, and either three
or four infantry battalions plus reconnaissance and engineer battalions.
The armored divisions were also organized along German lines.
The tank battalions had a mixture of Hungarian made Turan I and
II medium tanks, German StuG III tanks and assorted assault guns.
By the beginning of 1944, the Germans were withdrawing and setting
up defensive positions all over occupied Russia.
knew that Admiral Horthy was secretly trying to find a way out
of the war. Immediately German forces moved into Hungary to ensure
her alliance. The Hungarian Army was now fully mobilized. In May
the powerful 1st Army combined with remnants of the 2nd Army,
and the elite mountain brigades were sent to Galicia. The "Dead
Army" Corps was already fighting there. These forces were able
to build a defensive line along the Carpathian frontier.
1944, Romania defected to the Russian side, exposing Hungary's
southern front. The newly formed 3rd Army moved into western Transylvania,
while the reserve units remained in Hungary.
Charity Army Issues
In 1942 Christmas charity labels were issued to support Hungarian "Honved" Army troops
serving on the Eastern Front. The charity label shown on the top right commemorates
the Hungarian "Levente" Youth movement, which was incorporated into the Hungarian Army
On 15 October 1944,
Admiral Horthy proclaimed an armistice. Hitler ordered his elite
SS-Commando unit under the leadership of SS Officer Otto Skorzeny
to arrest him and take over the headquarters. Immediately with
German support, a puppet state was formed, composed of ultra-nationalist
"Arrow Cross" party members.
Ferenc Szalasi who was the leader
of the Arrow-Cross Party was named Prime Minister. The three armies
were mixed with German units. More reliable Waffen-SS Divisions
were raised by the Germans, which were made up of Hungarians and
ethnic-Germans. By December 1944 the 1st Army retreated into Slovakia
and the 2nd Army disbanded, transferring it's remaining units
to the 3rd Army. During that time the Hungarian capital Budapest
was surrounded by Russian forces.
Major Waffen-SS calvary divisions
and mixtures of German-Hungarian units defended the capital. After
two unsuccessful attempts by other elite Panzer Waffen-SS Divisions
to liberate the capital, the besieged troops surrendered Budapest
in February 1945. The battered Hungarian 1st Army retreated through
Moravia, Czechoslovakia where it remained until the end of the
war. The exhausted 2nd and 3rd Armies headed westward, where they
surrendered to the Americans and British forces.
Hungarian servicemen sending mail to and from the Eastern Front
received free postal privileges. Hungarian units were assigned up
to three digit coded field post numbers. The Hungarian military
personnel were provided with special field cards costing 1Filler
each. These cards were printed in Budapest. All Hungarian field
post was censored, a rectangular handstamp was applied when censoring.
The most common censored cancel was the double-ring oval marking
with the inscription "ELLENORIZVE" and the year, month and day.
There is also, other rectangular and triangular censor post-marks.
Hungarian soldiers also had airmail service. A similar special field
card costing 12Fillers was made. On the top right side, it has a
printed stamp showing an eagle holding a sword with the Hungarian
Coat of Arms on the background with a 12Filler value. There was
free franking for Official Registered Covers mail by corresponding
Hungarian field card mailed through the German Feldpost system. Notice it has
the word "Feldpost" written and the Hungarian "Tabori Postai Levelezolap" inscription crossed out.
The card also has both the German and Hungarian field cancels, and censorship markings. Below is an official military field register cover mailed to Budapest.
Above are two very rare
war propaganda cards that were mailed in early spring 1944. One card depicts Hungarian Toldi tanks
attacking Soviet troops. The other card illustrates Hungarian infantry men fighting Soviet troops during winter.
I believe that during the post Soviet occupation anybody caught with these propaganda cards would end up in prison.
The Hungarian government issued many semi-postals with the proceeds
of the surtax going to the army or charitable organizations such as Red Cross, etc.
On 1 March 1944, the last semi-postals under Horthy's government were issued.
The surtax aided the Hungarian Red Cross.