Red terror

Brief summary

Violence and intimidation were from the very start the essence of communist dictatorships.

“How can you make a revolution without executions?” This is how Vladimir Ilyich Lenin described the essence of the communist exercise of power. Once Russia had been Sovietised, Lenin had the Czar and his entire family executed, and ordered everyone who stood – or could stand – in his way to be murdered, intimidated, deported, and sent to concentration camps. By 1920 there had been several hundred thousand documented political executions, and around one hundred concentration camps had been set up. Cheka, the dreaded Soviet state security organisation, had been created as early as in 1917, under the leadership of the notoriously cruel Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky. Following the pattern established in Russia, the leaders of the Hungarian Soviet Republic also based their rule on open violence and intimidation. During the months of the Hungarian Red Terror, a taste of the real nature of communism was given by armed units known as “the Lenin Boys”, inspired and led by Tibor Szamuely and József Cserny. The number of their victims is estimated to have been around 600. Based on their view of history as an expression of the Marxian class struggle, they considered all representatives of the old order – including the bourgeoisie, land-owning farmers, the aristocracy and the churches – as enemies to be liquidated. In practice, however, that definition was extended to include anyone who refused to accept – or simply dared to question – the communist social order of their dreams. Communism claimed around 100 million victims worldwide throughout the 20th century.



„Ideology kills."
George Orwell




Further rooms

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Back from the front

The military casualties of the war numbered 10 million dead and 21 million wounded.

The creators of the peace structure

The victors invoked the principle of “national self-determination”, but their decisions bore no trace of this.

The dawn of the American century

After World War I the United States took over the leading role in world politics from Europe.

Europe in tumult

The continent’s victors and vanquished alike faced similar problems: everyday life was overshadowed by social unrest and economic hopelessness.

The Spanish flu pandemic

In three devastating waves, the pandemic killed over twenty million people: more than twice the number of soldiers killed in the war.

The league of nations

The organisation founded at President Wilson’s initiative was the first attempt at peaceful resolution of the world’s conflicts.

Red terror

Violence and intimidation were from the very start the essence of communist dictatorships.

The Leninist model

Attempts at transforming European societies and the threat of a communist world revolution posed a serious challenge to European states.

Changes – 1914–1922

“Divide and rule!” The victors redrew the world map in a way that would possibly perpetuate ethnic and religious conflicts.

In the shadow of Trianon

The dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy plunged the Kingdom of Hungary into its deepest crisis since the Ottoman occupation.