The Siege of Budapest

One Hundred Days in World War II

Krisztián Ungváry; Translated from the Hungarian by Ladislaus Löb

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In the final six months of World War II, Germany and the Soviet Union focused on Hungary: Stalin demanded victory at all costs as a key to securing his European empire; Hitler ordered an unrelenting defense of Budapest in order to prolong his grip on Vienna and preserve the route to Berlin. Consequently, the siege of Budapest was one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the entire war.

Based on formerly inaccessible documents and several hundred interviews with Hungarian and German survivors, this is the first complete and unbiased account of the siege of Budapest. Street by street, day by day, Krisztián Ungváry describes the battle and its horrors in meticulous detail. One hundred and two days passed between the appearance of the first Soviet tank and the final capture of Buda Castle. More than 80,000 Soviet troops and 38,000 German and Hungarian soldiers were killed; about 38,000 Hungarian civilian lives were lost. Civilian casualties were extraordinarily high because the city’s 800,000 noncombatant residents were never evacuated. This book represents a massive effort of historical reconstruction, and a major contribution to the history of World War II.

Krisztián Ungváry is a research fellow at the Institute for the History of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Ladislaus Löb is emeritus professor of German, University of Sussex.

A selection of the History Book Club 

"Ungvary's book will preserve for posterity the record of an epic yet futile struggle that will soon fade from living memory."—Srdja Trifkovic, Chronicles

"The Siege of Budapest is an important and exciting contribution to World War II history. The siege was a crucial event in the final year of the war. No other European capital--apart from Berlin and Warsaw--suffered a similar fate. It is a source of endless horror as well as fascination to read about how more than 800,000 civilians, including well over 100,000 Jews in a ghetto or in hiding, coped while German and Red Army soldiers engaged in hand to hand combat in the very buildings they inhabited."—István Deák, Columbia University

"Ungváry has written a dramatic, gripping history of this siege, filling a gap in WWII history. . . . This history is unique and ought to be in every WWII collection. Essential."—Choice

The Siege of Budapest offers a stellar historical account of this nightmarish time.”—Andrew Ervin, Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Ungváry's account of the 100-day siege of Budapest is a gripping story of horror and courage. . . . Ungváry has based his extraordinary tale on archival resources and hundreds of survivor interviews. This is the finest account of this most dreadful incident in a world war filled with dreadful incidents. Recommended for all collections.”—Library Journal


The Siege of Budapest is an exceedingly dramatic book, filled with fascinating stories, some of them even humorous, and with heart-rending accounts of suffering, limitless cruelty, and amazing decency. It also contains detailed accounts of battle plans, logistics, troop movements, and casualty statistics. In his valuable foreward, John Lukacs rightly observes that ‘as a military history [the book] is unrivaled.’”—István Deák, New Republic

“As a military history [The Siege of Budapest] is unrivaled. None of the otherwise quite good military histories of the battles of Stalingrad or Warsaw or Berlin comes close to its minute details and to its vivid reconstruction of where and when and how troops moved and fought. Military historians ought to study The Siege of Budapest with jewelers’ eyes. So must the people of Budapest, and the diminishing minority among them who experienced its siege sixty years ago (as did I, a historian, who found many details in this superb reconstruction that were new to me). . . . [Ungváry] has written not only a military history par excellence but a civil, political, sociographic reconstruction of a dreadful and sordid (and, on occasion, heroic) drama of a siege of a great capital city. . . . Magisterial.”—John Lukacs, The New York Review of Books

"A very detailed, well integrated account of the desperate fighting around and later in Budapest in the winter of 1944-1945. . . .Military operations are told in considerable detail. . .and there is a great deal of material on the city's people. . . .A very good book."—The NYMAS Review

"This book provides the first acceptable assessment and analysis of the siege of Budapest, a monumental confrontation during the Second World War. Krisztián Ungváry makes use of a wealth of fresh historical evidence locked until recently in the secret archives of Russian and Eastern Germany. He draws on the diaries and personal recollection of survivors, both civilian and soldiers . . . most of whom have never got over their experience. The result is excellent scholarship and gripping reading. . . . [It] deserves to be widely read."—Thomas Land, Times Literary Supplement



“This is truly a missing chapter in our understanding of World War II, at last brilliantly filled in by Ungváry.”—Wesley K. Clark, Washington Post Book World

"Ungváry's research is almost completely new, based heavily on testimony from Hungarian participants who could talk only after the fall of communism. . . . [It] deserves the widest possible readership. . . . The Siege of Budapest is an important book. It restores a forgotten but epic episode to its rightful place in the history of the war, and it does so without imparting any false sheen of heroism to anyone involved in it."—Robert Citino,

Selected for Association of American University Presses (AAUP) Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries, 2006
ISBN: 9780300104684
Publication Date: April 11, 2005
512 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
50 b/w illus. + 16 maps

Sales Restrictions: For sale in North America and its dependencies (including the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Guam), the Philippine Islands, and Canada only
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