An article by Bill Myers in the February 4, 2023 MPCGram discusses some medals of the Hungarian Levente. We're republishing it here with permission.
Hungary was restricted to an army of 35,000 after World War I and conscription was banned. To get around this Levente Associations were established in 1920 and levente loosely translate to
will be a knight. They were paramilitary youth organizations to promote physical and health training and run by military veterans. In 1939 it became mandatory for males aged 12 to 21 years old to join levente. It was comparable to the Hitler Youth but Levente was not openly fascist or overly politicized but were not free of political influences.
Levente became auxiliary military forces near the end of World War II. There were 1,300,000 members in January 1944. I have been unable to determine if they saw combat. There was also a Levente for females 12 to 19 years old that was formed in 1942 and was voluntary until October of 1944 but this was never implemented due to the Red Army approaching Hungary. Levente was disbanded on 17 March 1945 and any activist were convicted of anti-Soviet activities by a Soviet tribunal and sent to the USSR for penal labor.
There are collectible levente items which includes insignia and medals. I have acquired two medals. One has a left facing man with rifle on the obverse and the reverse has an oak branch and 1938 Megyei (county) II. I assume it medal for shooting. The other has a forward-facing runner on the obverse and an olive and oak wreath on the reverse with LEVENTENAP (levente day) 1944 II. DIJ (award).
I was not aware of this organization and it prepared the Hungarian youth for military service during World War II.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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