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Hazai, Samu

(1851–1942), Hungarian general and minister of defense. Born Samu Kohn in Rimaszombat (now Rimavská Sobota, Slovakia), Samu Hazai (he changed his name in 1876) completed his studies at the Commercial Academy of Budapest and then became manager of his father’s distillery. Hazai started his military career in 1873 as a common honvéd (soldier). His excellent performance led him that same year to the Ludovika Military Academy in Budapest, where as a cadet he converted to Christianity. In 1874, he passed the officer’s exam and the following year became a professional soldier.

In 1878–1879, Hazai attended a senior officers’ course in Budapest and from 1879 to 1881 was at the General Staff College in Vienna (a placement that no Jew was permitted). Promoted to first lieutenant in 1883 and captain in 1888, he then was a general staff officer in various units (1881–1886) and at the Ministry of Defense (1886–1889). From 1889 to 1893, he taught at the Ludovika Academy. After commanding a battalion between 1893 and 1896, Hazai lectured at a field officer course and functioned as the military school’s commander between 1902 and 1904. He rose through the ranks from major (1895), to lieutenant colonel (1897), to staff colonel (1901). In 1904, as commander of the field officer course, he was promoted to chief of the first department of the Ministry of Defense, where he remained until 1910. He attained the rank of major general in 1907 and in 1910 lieutenant general; that same year, he was appointed internal privy councillor.

Hazai contributed significantly to developing the Hungarian Royal Army. Between 1910 and 1917, he was the member of parliament from the electoral district of Losonc with the ruling National Labor Party’s program. From January 1910 to February 1917 he held the post of minister of defense in the governments of Károly Khuen-Héderváry, László Lukács, and Count István Tisza, and during the war was general of the infantry. His name is associated with a full set of laws on modern military criminal procedures and emergency measures in wartime; he was also responsible for the codification of army act reforms. In recognition of his merits, Hazai became a baron on 10 September 1912; he also received several Hungarian and international awards during World War I.

From February 1917 until November 1918, Hazai was in charge of reserves in the joint Austro-Hungarian army, a position that made him the most important officer after the chief of staff in the Dual Monarchy. After the defeat suffered in World War I and the Hungarian revolution, Hazai retired. He was arrested and taken hostage during the Hungarian Soviet Republic. From 1922, he was president of the State War Supplies Factory and served on the boards of directors of various banks and companies. In 1927, he was made a life member of the Upper House.

Hazai was a distinguished military writer (in both Hungarian and German) and a long-term editor of the Ludovika Akadémia Közlönye (Gazette of the Ludovika Academy), as well as the first president of the Circle of Hungarian Military Writers. He translated Carl Philipp Clausewitz’s book On War into Hungarian, adding notes to the text (1892–1894). His most important military works include Hadsereg szervezet a magyar királyi honvédségi Ludovika Akadémia tanfolyamai számára (Military Organization for the Courses of the Hungarian Royal Ludovika Military Academy; 1891); Alkalmazó megbeszélések a spicherni csatából I–II (Applied Discussions of the Battle of Spicjern, vols. 1–2; 1897); Alkalmazó harcászati feladatok az Iser környékén 1866. június 23-tól 29-ig lefolyt hadműveletek és ütközetekből (Applied Military Exercises based on the Operations and Battles around the Iser, 23–29 June 1866; 1899); A háború géniusza (The Genius of War; 1910); and A háború tényezői (The Elements of War; 1915).

Suggested Reading

János Gabányi, “Hazai Samu báró,” Magyar Katonai Közlöny 10.1 (1922): 1–13.



Translated from Hungarian by Veronika Szabó