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Magyar Warriors

Magyar Warriors Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review April 2015 Title Magyar Warriors
Author Dénes Bernád, Charles K. Kliment Publisher Helion
Published 2015 ISBN 9781906033880
Format 404 pages, hardbound MSRP (USD) $99.95


With the exception of tiny Croatia, Hungary remained the only "pro-Axis country" to "fight alongside Nazi Germany until the bitter end. It paid the price accordingly."

So note respected historians Dénes Bernád and Charles K. Kliment. Now they tell "The History of the Royal Hungarian Armed Forces 1919-1945" in Magyar Warriors – first of three volumes from Helion.

Structure is elegantly simple. Coverage comprises three chunky chapters – the first two of which are survey sections.

The first – totaling over 160 pages – outlines the country's history to 1945. Bernád and Kliment traverse considerable territory therein – including formative 19th-century events.

The second – only slightly shorter than the first – recaps Royal Hungarian Army organization and equipment. Here, coverage includes fascinating notes on, for instance, military imports, manufacturing and three major expansion plans – Huba I, II and III.

The final chapter amplifies general Chapter 2 information by detailing "Hungarian Army Armoured Formations And Their Equipment". In the wake of World War I, treaty limitations initially forced Hungary to disguise personnel as "police", imported tanks as "agricultural equipment" and units as "automotive".

Those clandestine efforts, however, vanished in Europe's re-armament rush of the late 1930's. Hungary openly acquired armored fighting vehicles. It sought manufacturing licenses for domestic production. And it developed indigenous designs.

Authors chart that history through the prism key vehicles like FIAT-Ansaldo 35M (CV-35) tankettes, Csaba armored cars, Toldi (Landsverk L-60) light tanks and Turán (Skoda T-21) medium tanks.

Not that Hitler substantively helped. To bolster Hungarian formations, Germany reluctantly transferred a few hundred, largely obsolescent tanks and assault guns – but just a handful of late-war designs, like the PzKpfw V Ausf D Panther and PzKpfw VI Ausf E Tiger.

Frustrated, then, in their efforts to secure production licenses of latest Nazi weaponry, Hungary therefore concentrated on local design and manufacture – like the fascinating Tas 44M heavy tank.

Bernád and Kliment duly detail all. Helion's superb study sports 500 photos. Over 40 tables and 12 maps distill details. Sidebars sweeten the study. And annotations admirably amplify accounts. Authors even include a handy Hungarian-language pronunciation guide!

A personal note: the aftermath of Hungary's 1848-1849 Revolution propelled a branch of my maternal relatives to the United States. Every history prompts occasional "what ifs". And for me, this one certainly did.

It's also naturally told from Hungarian historical and political viewpoints. So Slovaks, for instance, should steel themselves for some provocative perspectives.

But – wow – what a terrific tome! Helion's series promises to be the definitive history of Hungary's military between the World Wars. It's brilliantly researched, competently compiled and exhaustively illustrated.

And it carries my highest recommendation. Get this vital venture. Then line-up behind me for Volume 2!

Rabidly recommended!

With thanks to Casemate Publishing for the review copy!