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Bethlen, Count Stephen

Count Stephen Bethlen, 1874–1947?, Hungarian premier (1921–31). A Transylvanian, he entered the Hungarian parliament in 1901, and in 1919 he was a delegate to the Paris Peace Conference. Called to the premiership by Admiral Horthy, he prevented (1921), despite his monarchist leanings, the return of King Charles (Austrian Emperor Charles I) to avoid military intervention by the Little Entente. The chief aim of his foreign policy was the revision of the post-World-War-I Treaty of Trianon (see Trianon, Treaty of); a treaty of friendship (1927) with Italy advanced this cause. Bethlen survived a scandal over the forgery of francs in 1926, but his revisionism aroused the increasing suspicion of the Little Entente powers. In 1931, French bankers offered a loan to the hard-pressed government on condition that there be an end to revisionism, and Count Bethlen resigned. He was succeeded as premier by Count Julius Károlyi. Drawn at first toward collaboration with Nazi Germany, Bethlen grew increasingly opposed to Adolf Hitler and in 1940 opposed Hungary's alliance with Germany. In 1945 he was taken by the Russians to the USSR, apparently because of his efforts at concluding a separate peace with the Western powers. He was unofficially reported to have died there in prison.

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