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The RAJK (Reich) Network: The Horthyite Penetration into Hungary’s Communist Movement – Part 1

 

 

Summary: The Rajk (Reich) family in Hungary had many active members in Hungary’s Nazi movement, ‘Arrow Cross’. On behalf of his Nazi brothers, Laszlo Rajk joined the communist movement. The fascist anti-communist hunt-downs during the Spanish Civil War allowed Rajk to grow in the ranks of the Hungarian communist movement. Subsequently, Rajk came to lead – and sabotage – much of the Hungarian communist movement’s anti-fascist resistance, by advocating a Trotskyite left-sectarian policy against popular-frontism. By 1943, with the turn of the balance in favour of the Red Army in Stalingrad, the Anglo-American imperialists had opted to ally with the Nazis so to contain the Soviets. The Rajk network expanded ties with US intelligence official Noel Field, having already established a friendship with the Yugoslav “Communist” leaders. The Rajk network was to serve as a bridge between the Anglo-American secret services and the Horthyite secret service and Hungarian Nazi ‘Arrow Cross’. Rajk and his close friend Janos Kadar (who came to lead post-1956 Hungary), came into contact with the Horthy regime’s secret service. The Horthyite secret service, while continuing its war on communism, also began assisting the Rajk network. The Arrow Cross regime “arrested” Rajk to make him appear as an ‘anti-fascist veteran’. More likely, the ‘arrest’ and ‘interrogation’ was really a cover for Rajk travelling to the Arrow Cross intelligence headquarters and informing (‘being interrogated by’) his bosses about anti-fascist resistance activities. By the lobby of his brothers, who were Arrow Cross officials, Rajk was freed from prison. By the time of Hungary’s liberation from the fascist occupation, Rajk emerged as a high-level Hungarian official and continued to receive support from the kulaks, the left-opportunists, and the Arrow Cross operatives.

 

The History of the USSR & the Peoples’ Democracies

Chapter 15, Section 2 (C15S2) 

 

Saed Teymuri

 

 

A person in a suitDescription automatically generated

Laszlo Rajk (Right), a bloody partner-in-crime of Horthy (left)

 

The most important of the imperialist agents in Hungary’s communist movement was Laszlo Rajk, who:

came from a Saxon (German) family of Transylvania. He had two brothers. His original name: REICH. (Background of the Rajk Case, CIA, May 23, 1956, p. 1) (IMG)

The family’s original name was congruent with their politics. In the late 1940s, Rajk declared himself as:

an Aryan, and a pure one, because I'm a Saxon on one side of my family. (Report on the Murder of the General Secretary, Karel Kaplan p. 29) (IMG)

His two brothers were prominent members of the Hungarian Nazi ‘Arrow Cross’ organization:

Rajk’s two brothers both had been leading members of the Arrow Cross party. (FACTIONALISM IN THE HUNGARIAN WORKERS (COMMUNIST) PARTY (1945-1956), CIA, January, 28, 1957, p. 26) (IMG)

There were already great contrasts in the RAJK family. His brother was completely in favor of the Nazi ideology and has glorified Nazism. (Background of the Rajk Case, CIA, May 23, 1956, p. 1) (IMG)

RAJK’s brother was an active Nazi (arrow-cross)…. (Background of the Rajk Case, CIA, May 23, 1956, p. 1) (IMG)

The three Rajk brothers, these ‘pure’ ‘Aryan’ Saxons, were all fascists. Yet, one of them, Laszlo Rajk, would infiltrate the communist labour movement on behalf of his brothers.

Upon the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, communists and democrats worldwide heeded to the call of the Comintern and travelled to Spain as ‘International Brigades’ (C8S4) in order to defend freedom against the fascist rebels and Axis aggressors. This outflow of communists was undoubtedly for the noble cause of defending democratic Spain so to contain the Axis. Yet this mass-travelling of communists also presented a great opportunity for fascist police-spies to infiltrate this flow of communists, and hence to infiltrate the lines of and backstab the Spanish Republican forces.

Upon the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Laszlo Rajk and a number of other Hungarians who posed as communists ‘volunteered’ ‘on behalf’ of the Comintern in the fight against the Spanish fascists:

Approximately one thousand Hungarian volunteers joined the brigade, formed the so-called "Rakosi Battalion" and thus acquired paramilitary experience that was of major importance during WWII. The commander of the brigade was Ferenc Munnich, former officer in the Bela Kun army and by now a Communist of international reputation. Both Erno Gero and Mihaly Farkas reportedly were involved in the fighting, Gero allegedly as special representative of the Comintern. Among the … leaders of the Hungarians was … Laszlo Rajk, who performed … as political officer of the Rakosi Battalion. (FACTIONALISM IN THE HUNGARIAN WORKERS (COMMUNIST) PARTY (1945-1956) (REFERENCE), CIA, January 28, 1957, p. 10) (IMG)

It is worth reminding, however, that while he travelled to Spain officially as a Communist Party leader, Rajk was not really a communist:

The experiences in Spain formed a convinced communist of RAJK who before has not been completely communist in his belief. (Background of the Rajk Case, CIA, May 23, 1956, p. 1) (IMG)

In Spain, the fake ‘communist’ Rajk was welcomed enthusiastically by Dr. Ferenc Munich, the political commissar of the brigade:

The young Rajk arriving from Hungary has been received with great enthusiasm and the commander of the Hungarian brigade ZALKA Mate immediately detailed RAJK to his side and here RAJK made a close friendship with MUNICH Ferenc Dr. the political comissar of the brigade. (…). First, MUNICH nominated RAJK as cell-trustee then later he received larger and larger political roles. (Background of the Rajk Case, CIA, May 23, 1956, p. 2. The bad spelling is original.) (IMG)

The commander of the Hungarian communist brigade in Spain was Bela Frankl, nicknamed ‘Mate Zalka’:

After the defeat of the 1919 revolution many Hungarians escaped abroad. One member of the Mateszalka directorium (local soviet) – Mateszalka is a small city about 3-40 Kilometers from Nyiregyhaza – also took the flight. His name, even today, is unknown in Hungary. This man emerged in the Soviet Union and under the name of ZALKA Mate (the city’s name transposed Mate-szalka) [and] did some writings. The Hungarian communists living in Moscow designated him as commander of the Hungarian brigade operating in the Spanish civil war and he served there under the names of ZALKA Mate and general LUKACS. (Background of the Rajk Case, CIA, May 23, 1956, p. 2) (IMG)

The big obstacle to Rajk’s career as a fascist agent in the Hungarian brigade was indeed General Zalka himself, who unlike Ferenc Munich, did not trust Rajk as much:

General ZALKA also … was somewhat reserved toward RAJK. (Background of the Rajk Case, CIA, May 23, 1956, p. 2) (IMG)

The fascist infiltrators in the Communist Party murdered the anti-fascist martyr Zalka. Referring to General Zalka, the CIA confirmed:

The communists themselves eliminated him. (Background of the Rajk Case, CIA, May 23, 1956, p. 2) (IMG)

Cui bono? Rajk’s group, if not behind the assassination of Zalka, certainly benefited from such a murder by other fascist agents in the communist movement, as the elimination of Zalka and the relieving of his staff from their positions paved the way for the rise of Rajk:

As a matter of fact RAJK’s carrier in Spain began after the death of general ZALKA. At that time, the staff of the brigade has been relieved and in the new staff RAJK already a had a serious, leading role. (Background of the Rajk Case, CIA, May 23, 1956, p. 2) (IMG)

At the end of the Spanish Civil War, Rajk and his group moved to France. Therein, they established contacts with the notorious American intelligence spymaster Noel Field.

There exists a far-fetched allegation that Noel Field was ‘in reality’ a Soviet spy who had infiltrated the OSS. This allegation is unfounded. The far-fetched claims are also seriously challenged by George H. Hodos who, after the Great Patriotic War, returned to Hungary as an editor of economic journals and a correspondent for western newspapers. He has been arrested on charges of espionage for the CIA and later on was able to flee to the US-led camp. He later taught East European history at the University of Vienna and served as a Scientific Advisor of the Yearbook of Historical Research about Communism at the University of Mannheim in Germany. Given his background as a scientific advisor for Yearbook of Historical Research about Communism as well as his ties to Western correspondents, Hodos’s work is a valuable source. A staunchly anti-Soviet scholar, Hodos admits that Noel Field could not possibly be a double agent working ‘in reality’ for the Soviets. As Hodos wrote:

During the war, a number of Soviet espionage agents were active in neutral Switzerland primarily, of course, in pursuit of military intelligence. (…). The Russians were not interested in Field, who had been aiding emigré communists. Had they asked him to provide information about fascists, Field would have aided them in good conscience, but the role of enlisted [Soviet] agent was totally foreign to his character. (Show Trials: Stalinist Purges in Eastern Europe, 1948-1954. George H. Hodos, 1987, p. 29) (IMG)

In addition, Hodos criticizes Stewart Steven for his book ‘Operation Splinter Factor’, in which Steven claims that Noel Field was a Soviet double agent.

At this point, Steven's report moves away from historical fact and introduces half-truths and distortions. He claims that Dulles felt he had been duped by Field, who was not a simple humanitarian but a devious communist, betraying his trust and embarrassing him severely in Washington by tricking him into actions that placed communists in power in Germany, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. Dulles, according to Steven, did not forget this and vowed revenge. (Show Trials: Stalinist Purges in Eastern Europe, 1948-1954. George H. Hodos, 1987, p. 30) (IMG)

Anyways, Rajk and his group not only were tied to Field, but also contacted certain Yugoslav leaders. In those:

French internment camps, following the close of hostilities, a number of the participants in the Spanish Civil War were brought into close contact with representatives of Western relief agencies, including Noel Field, and with Yugoslav members of the International Brigade. During this period (1939- 41), … [in] these internment camps, Rajk and certain other Hungarians participated in discussions of Communist theory with Yugoslav leaders and apparently formed personal friendships…. (FACTIONALISM IN THE HUNGARIAN WORKERS (COMMUNIST) PARTY (1945-1956) (REFERENCE), CIA, January 28, 1957, p. 10) (IMG)

Soon, Rajk was to return to Hungary and continue his fascist anti-communist subversion there.

Throughout the inter-war years, the Communist Party of Hungary had been the sole major anti-fascist resistance organization:

During the period between World Wars I and II the communists were the only subversive group in Hungary…. (Resistance Factors and Special Forces Areas Hungary, CIA, August 1957, p. 1) (IMG)

With the onset of the Second World War, Hungarian communist-led anti-fascist resistance against Horthy’s regime intensified. The Hungarian communist-led democratic resistance movement was:

Soviet-sponsored and [was] led by Matyas Rakosi…. (Resistance Factors and Special Forces Areas Hungary, CIA, August 1957, p. 1. Citing: National Intelligence Survey 19, Section 57, September 1955, CIA, p. 3) (IMG)

The communist-led anti-fascist freedom-fighters resisted the Axis forces:

An orthodox Communist-dominated Committee of Liberation ostensibly under Smallholder Endre Bajcsi-Zsilinszky (subsequently arrested and executed by the Arrow Cross) was belatedly established to coordinate the activities of all resistance groups tend days after a pro-German coup [in Hungary]…. (Resistance Factors and Special Forces Areas Hungary, CIA, August 1957, p. 1. Citing: National Intelligence Survey 19, Section 57, September 1955, CIA, p. 3) (IMG)

Indeed, the communists were active in several front organizations. Two of the groups which:

participated in the resistance [were] the Students’ Resistance Movement, the membership [of] … which had a one-third orthodox Communist representation…. (Resistance Factors and Special Forces Areas Hungary, CIA, August 1957, pp. 1-2. Citing: National Intelligence Survey 19, Section 57, September 1955, CIA, p. 3) (IMG)

and:

the Union of the Friends of the U.S.S.R., which was under orthodox Communist domination. (Resistance Factors and Special Forces Areas Hungary, CIA, August 1957, p. 2. Citing: National Intelligence Survey 19, Section 57, September 1955, CIA, p. 3) (IMG)

In those days especially, every blow against the Axis, however small, was still significant. Many Hungarian communists and democratic freedom-fighters sacrificed their lives for the defeat of the fascists and thereby contributed to the Soviet victories on the Eastern Front.

By late December 1942, the Nazi army failed to achieve its objectives in Stalingrad and the Caucasus, and therein began to retreat. As mentioned in C11S2, this was the time in which Anglo-American imperialism commenced an alliance with the Axis. At this time, the OSS, through its top operative in Europe, Noel Field, transported Rajk to Hungary via Yugoslavia. Nigel West – the prominent British author on intelligence studies, the European Editor of the International Journal of Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence and lecturer of the history of postwar intelligence at the intelligence think tank ‘Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies’ – wrote:

Field had indeed aided Rajk’s return to Hungary in 1943, having arranged his escape from an internment camp in France, doubtless with OSS’s help, but [took] his route through Yugoslavia…. (Cold War Counterfeit Spies: Tales of Espionage: Genuine or Bogus?, Nigel West, September 28, 2016) (IMG)

With the help of his new American intelligence handler, Rajk was released from the fascist internment camp and returned to Hungary. The OSS, led in Europe by Dulles, assisted Rajk’s group to return to Hungary:

Field contacted Dulles, who agreed to furnish money, U.S. and Yugoslav uniforms, and letters of recommendation so that they could be smuggled through France, Italy, and Yugoslavia to Hungary. The other joint operation involved parachuting German antifascists into Germany to organize resistance against the disintegrating Nazi administration. The persons in the group included communists suggested by Field. (Show Trials: Stalinist Purges in Eastern Europe, 1948-1954. George H. Hodos, 1987, p. 30) (IMG)

Thus, by:

the beginning of 1943 RAJK … is with KADAR Janos the leader of the Communist Party of Hungary. (Background of the Rajk Case, CIA, May 23, 1956, p. 4) (IMG)

Janos Kadar was a close partner of Rajk. Along with his partner Kadar, Rajk wormed his way up in the Party and became the de facto leader of the Hungarian Communist Party, fostering also a close partnership with his friend Gabor Peter:

Perhaps it might even be stated that already [Rajk] was the first person (of the party). Beginning from this time he was in close friendship with PETER Gabor who later became the head of the AVH. (Background of the Rajk Case, CIA, May 23, 1956, p. 4) (IMG)

Laszlo Rajk [was] leader of the underground communist movement…. (THE TANGLED WEB: Allied deception operations in Hungary. In: ‘Studies in Intelligence: A collection of articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects of intelligence’, CIA, p. 32) (IMG)

During the People’s Liberation War against the Horthy regime, Rajk had opposed the popular front policy of alliance with progressive bourgeois-democratic parties against fascism. Instead, Rajk had supported the Trotskyite view (held also by his comrade, Tito) that Hungary needed to leap straight to ‘socialism’ instead of undergoing the progressive bourgeois-democratic revolution. Geoffrey Swain of the BBC wrote:

Apart from Szönyi himself, the obvious target for suspicion was Laszlo Rajk. He had served in Spain, had been interned in France for three years, and he had returned to Hungary in 1941 to head the underground Central Committee of the Communist Party. While under his leadership the Party had operated the 'Titoist', '1919', popular front 'from below' strategy aimed at limiting the number of concessions made to 'bourgeois' parties, the policy that the returning Råkosi had confronted on his arrival from Moscow. (Eastern Europe Since 1945, Geoffrey Swain, Nigel Swain, 2018, p. 70) (IMG)

With the strategic triumph of the USSR in the Battle of Stalingrad, the tide turned, and the US began to strategically realign with Nazi Germany since late 1942, shortly after which Rajk returned to Hungary with the assistance of the pro-Nazi Allen Dulles. This meant that the US would also eventually enter into an alliance with the Trotskyite elements that had worked to the benefit of the Nazis – for example, Laszlo Rajk. Thus, on March 1944, American intelligence launched operation SPARROW in order to enter fascist Hungary into an alliance with the United States:

On Monday, 13 March 1944, OSS Team Sparrow dropped from an RAF Halifax into Hungary, near the town of Nagykanizsa, close to the Yugoslav border. The team members had not been told that the Germans probably knew of their mission, but were instructed to establish contact with General Ujszaszy, Chief of Hungarian Military Intelligence and Security, to negotiate for the Hungarians to … join the Western Allies. (THE TANGLED WEB: Allied deception operations in Hungary. In: ‘Studies in Intelligence: A collection of articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects of intelligence’, CIA, p. 31) (IMG)

One of the links between American and Hungarian intelligence services was the Rajk-Kadar group. Throughout:

1944 PETER Gabor, KADAR Janos, and RAJK Laszlo were hidden at the same place….  The place was the apartment of BABITS Antal, university professor, at the Deak Ferenc square, where a room has been walled in (and separated from the apartment) and the trio lived there. One might say, that at this time PETER and RAJK were the best of friends, in fact they spinned the yarn of a dream that they will co-operate. (Background of the Rajk Case, CIA, May 23, 1956, p. 4) (IMG)

Even as Horthy’s secret police ‘continued its fight against the communists’ and the anti-fascist democratic resistance, Rajk was busy backstabbing the anti-fascist movement by allying with and receiving funds from the secret police:

RAJK actually came into contact with the Hungarian counter-intelligence service which continued its fight against the communists. This happened in October 1944. Governor HORTHY already saw that the fight has been lost and wanted to save his position (power) somehow and first turned to the British for help…. Horthy then … looked for connections to the underground, leftist elements. This job was trusted to UJSZASZY Istvan, major-general, head of the intelligence and counter-intelligence departments. In October 1944 … UJSZASZY contacted RAJK, as the leader of the underground communist organisation. RAJK asked for arms and munitions, and UJSZASZY promised both. These meetings took place at the infamous Hadik Barracks (the counter-intelligence barracks), where RAJK and his former pursuer and persecutor [i.e. UJSZASZY] even contracted an alliance. (Background of the Rajk Case, CIA, May 23, 1956, p. 4) (IMG)

Note that at this point in time, Rajk, Kadar, and Peter were living in the same place. Not surprisingly, a US intelligence document confirmed that Kadar was ‘an associate’ of the head of Horthy’s secret service:

Ujszaszy and an associate, Janos Kadar, … [took] part in SPARROW. (THE TANGLED WEB: Allied deception operations in Hungary. In: ‘Studies in Intelligence: A collection of articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects of intelligence’, CIA, p. 32) (IMG)

Project SPARROW was the American intelligence project for an alliance with fascist Hungary. That Kadar, an associate of Horthy’s fascist intelligence chief, took part in project SPARROW goes on to expose Kadar’s loyalties. After the 1956 Red Army intervention in Hungary, Kadar, the topmost henchman of Imre Nagy, was planted at the helm of the Hungarian state with the lobby of Andropov, Khrushchev, and Tito, hence sabotaging the 1956 anti-fascist intervention in that Nazi-stricken country. Kadar went on to lead ‘socialist’ Hungary well until the 1988. More on this will be mentioned in C20S13.

Rather than get their spies to travel all the way to a directorate of the imperialist-fascist secret service, imperialist-fascist secret services instead officially ‘arrest’ their own spies and then interrogate them. The ‘arrest’ and interrogation provides a cover for getting those spies to travel all the way to the secret service office and provide full intelligence briefings or any other intelligence cooperation that the secret services wishes to have.

In late 1944, Rajk was ‘arrested’ by the Nazis. However, due to his anti-communist service for Horthy’s secret police, his role in liaising American intelligence with Horthy’s intelligence, as well as his family bonds to the Arrow Cross leaders, it would have been a serious strategic mistake on the part of the Nazis to purge this valuable asset of the American-German intelligence:

After the 15 of October 1944, RAJK’s brother became “Arrow cross” (Hungarian Nazi) secretary of state. When RAJK Laszlo’s case came up, charged with treason, before the military court – the judge has been DOMINICS Vilmos, military judge major – RAJK’s brother appeared and participated in the trial in “Arrow Cross” uniform as secretary of state. (Background of the Rajk Case, CIA, May 23, 1956, p. 5) (IMG)

According to a paper published by the research staff of the US Department of State – who operated under cover of researchers in Stanford University – Rajk was saved directly upon the intervention of his Nazi brother who as the Assistant Secretary of State in the Arrow Cross regime in Hungary:

In 1944 [Rajk] was … captured by the Nazis and sentenced to death with the other leaders. Several of his brothers were however ardent Nazis and one of them was Assistant State Secretary. This brother was in office during the 1944 Nazi SZALASI REGIME IN Hungary. After Rajk was arrested, they saved his life and he was the only captured underground leader who escaped with a life sentence and was liberated in a few weeks. (‘THE TACTICS AND STRATEGY OF COMMUNISM IN HUNGARY 1919-1949’, Stanford Research Center of Stanford University, External Research Staff of the US Department of State, Series 3, No. 30, September 13, 1950, p. 285) (IMG)

In the end, this valuable asset was not purged by a Nazi secret service, which anyways was lenient towards its agent. Rajk then contacted Hungary’s communist-led democratic movement:

Returning from German deportation RAJK naturally contacted the party immediately. (Background of the Rajk Case, CIA, May 23, 1956, p. 5) (IMG)

According to the CIA, in 1945,:

The anti-semitism was awakened in RAJK at the first time in this period. REVAY, GERO, and FARKAS strongly attacked RAJK, saying that the anti-Semite period is over in Hungary. (…). RAKOSI closed the discussion [by saying] that communism does not know denominations, does not know religion. This is how the REVAI, FARKAS against RAJK struggle started. GERO, knowing the [anti-Semitic] situation in Hungary, retraited on this ground. (Background of the Rajk Case, CIA, May 23, 1956, p. 5. ‘retraited’ should have been written as ‘retreated’.) (IMG)

In fact, Rajk had always been an anti-Semite, as evidenced by his collaboration with Horthy’s secret service. Not surprisingly, Rajk’s support base was predominantly from the remnants of the former Nazi regime as well as Trotskyite infiltrator elements in Budapest’s labour movement:

Rajk's … following contained diverse elements ranging from extreme left-wing of Budapest and other key centers of industry to former Arrow Cross members who supported the one outstanding non-Jewish leader of the party. (FACTIONALISM IN THE HUNGARIAN WORKERS (COMMUNIST) PARTY (1945-1956) (REFERENCE), CIA, January 28, 1957, p. 27) (IMG)

Rajk, who received support from the left-opportunist tendencies as mentioned above, had held the Trotskyite view that communists should not ally with the progressive bourgeois-democratic parties – this is not surprising since Rajk himself was a Nazi agent. Rajk was a Trotskyite preacher of fanatical emotional behaviour. Contrasting the characters of the communist ‘Stalinist’ leader Rakosi, Erno Gero (the Hungarian version of Malenkov), and Laszlo Rajk, the US State Department report stated:

While  Rakosi had important features of “cooled down” wisdom of age and experience, Gero was cold machinelike soulless party fanatism [sic; fanaticism] in itself, dry and without any appeal to the emotions; Rajk was full of emotions. He preached hatred…. (‘THE TACTICS AND STRATEGY OF COMMUNISM IN HUNGARY 1919-1949’, Stanford Research Center of Stanford University, External Research Staff of the US Department of State, Series 3, No. 30, September 13, 1950, p. 285) (IMG)

 

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