Hungarian Army


    Due 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 By November the mobile corps had withdrawn to Hungary and was disbanded.

    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.

    Hungarian Heroes Stamps

    Hungarian 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 tanks.

    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.

    Hungarian Red Cross Semi-postals


    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.

    German intelligence 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.

    In August 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.

    Hungarian Army Charity Labels

    Hungarian 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 in 1942.

    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 Postal History

    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 units.

    Hungarian Field Post

    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.

    Hungarian Postcard Hungarian Postcard

    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.

    Hungarian Last Issues

    Hungarian Last Issues

    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.

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