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Tibor Gencsy’s memoirs, p. 18 (in the collection of the author). HL TGY, Aurél Salamon, 3179, p. 54. Tóth, 1975a, p. 62. In October 1944 Stalin and Churchill had come to an agreement about the division of the Balkans. For details, see Kogelfranz, pp. 12–13. Tóth, 1975a, pp. 62–3. , p. 73. Tóth, 1975b, p. 280. Veress, p. 76. Tomka, p. 85 (manuscript in the collection of the author). For a list of those who received the Hero of the Soviet Union medal, see Tóth, 1975b, pp. 203–310. The total number of awards for fighting on Hungarian soil was 382, which includes 26 generals and 80 air-force officers decorated for locally unspecified actions.

The Department of Foreign Armies East (Abteilung Fremde Heere Ost) signalled the planned Soviet offensive as early as 12 December. 63 The Germans had already sent substantial reinforcements to Transdanubia, with the intention of regaining the lost territories and creating a solid battle line along the Danube which could be held with a smaller combat strength. Guderian’s ultimate reason for so doing was to save troops, for he had always regarded Hungary as a secondary theatre of war. The German units concerned were three panzer battalions, the 4th 26 B AT T L E F O R B U D A P E S T Cavalry Brigade and the 3rd, 6th and 8th Panzer Divisions, in total numbering some 400 tanks and 40,000 men.

Having taken his oath as leader of the nation, he delivered a lecture on relations between Hungary and Japan and then left with his retinue without commenting on the military situation. By that time, the thunder 30 B AT T L E F O R B U D A P E S T of guns could already be heard in the Castle District. On 3 November he summoned Friessner and asked him to forward a statement to the highest German authorities. Friessner signalled: In view of the fact that the battle is now raging in the suburbs of Budapest, he [Szálasi] stresses that these developments are not his fault but a legacy of the previous regime … He regrets that the German leadership intervened so late in Hungarian affairs.

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