The Lenin Boys (Hungarian: Lenin-fiúk) were a band of Communist enforcers formed to support the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919. The group seems to have contained about 200 young men dressed in leather jackets, acting as the personal guard of Tibor Szamuely, Commissar for Military Affairs. Their unit commander was József Cserny.
The Lenin Boys were used as an instrument to suppress opposition to the communist government.
While it is not clear when and to what degree the Lenin Youth became executioners, contemporary media reports suggest there was an evolution from enforcers to killers. On May 18, 1919, almost two months into the four-month-long Hungarian revolution, the New York Times reported that
|“||"The 'Lenin Boys'... are well armed with rifles, hand grenades and machine guns. In an American city they would be called gangsters, but in the absence of a responsible Government they are able to act more freely. So far, according to people direct from Budapest, they have committed only robberies, but being of criminal instincts and having power, there is no telling when they may begin greater crimes."||”|
After a failed counter-revolutionary coup attempt in June 1919, Communist leader Béla Kun is said to have unleashed the Lenin Youth in a more savage fashion, in order to stamp out any more counter-revolutionary urges among his opponents. Tallies of the number of victims of the terror vary; different sources generally count the dead at close to 600. A book published by Dr. Albert Váry in 1922, titled "The Victims of Red Terror in Hungary" documents 590 victims executed by the death squads of Tibor Szamuely and József Cserny.
He failed. With the backing of the occupying French, Romanian troops invaded Hungary, occupying Budapest on August 6, 1919. Kun and his colleagues fled. After the arrival of Miklós Horthy's counterrevolutionary Hungarian forces in Budapest three months later, virulently anti-Communist officers carried out a wave of savage retributive violence against Communists (as well as suspected leftists of any stripe) known as the White Terror. The Lenin Youth were particular targets for their anger.
Cserny was captured, tried and executed by the new government in December 1919.
- Borsanyi, Gyorgy. The Life of a Communist Revolutionary, Béla Kun, translated by Mario Fenyo, Boulder, Colorado: Social Science Monographs; New York: Distributed by Columbia University Press, 1993.
- "Bela Kun Seeking American Favor", by The Chicago Tribune Corp., published in The New York Times, May 25, 1919
- "Execute Joseph Cserny And 13 Other Reds; Commander of 'Lenin Boys' Pays Penalty of His Crimes at Budapest", The New York Times, December 23, 1919