Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Jány, Gusztáv (1883–1947)

Hungarian army general whose Second Army fought the Soviets on the Eastern Front. Born in Rajka, Hungary, on 21 October 1883, Gusztáv Jány graduated from the Military Academy as a lieutenant in 1905. He was promoted to major in 1919, lieutenant colonel in 1921, and colonel in 1925. Assigned to duties with the General Staff, he commanded the 2nd Brigade at Szombathely in 1929 and then, from 1932 to 1936, the Ludovika Military Academy in Budapest. In 1937 and 1938, he commanded II Corps at Szombathely, and from February 1939 to March 1940, he had charge of I Corps in Budapest as a major general.

In 1940, Hungarian Regent Miklós Horthy appointed Jány commander of the Second Hungarian Army, with the rank of full general. In May 1942, Second Army was sent to the Eastern Front to participate in fighting against the Soviet Union. Jány had only limited authority while under German command. His troops were ordered to defend the front along the Don River, an unrealistic role given the army's small size (200,000 men) and inadequate equipment. Jány repeatedly requested additional resources, but none were sent. He informed the Hungarian political and military leadership about the potential for disaster, but no support from home or order authorizing him to withdraw if necessary was forthcoming.

Jány's exhausted and poorly supplied soldiers simply could not hold back Red Army forces, which broke through their lines on 14 January 1943. In spite of considerable losses and the catastrophic circumstances, Jány never received authorization to withdraw, and on 24 January, he issued a general order in which he blamed his soldiers for the tragedy. Six weeks later, he admitted that his officers and men had done their best, but word of this was kept from many of his soldiers and the public. In the Battle for the Don, Jány's army had 120,000 men killed, captured, or missing.

Jány returned to Hungary with his staff on 1 May 1943. That August, he was relieved of his command, and he retired from the army. When Soviet troops reached Hungary, he moved to Bavaria, where he was taken prisoner by U.S. forces. In October 1946, Jány was returned to Hungary, and he was arrested and charged with war crimes. Tried, he was found guilty, sentenced to death, and executed in Budapest on 26 November 1947. In 1993, the Hungarian Supreme Court annulled the charges against Jány and rehabilitated him.

Anna Boros-McGee


Further Reading
Gosztonyi, Péter. "Jány Gusztávról ötven év után" (Gusztáv Jány fifty years later). Világosság 34 (August 1993): 71–80.; Szabó, Péter. "A sorsára hagyott hadsereg" (The abandoned army). Rubicon (January 1999): 37–40.
 

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