Recently Hungary introduced a new holiday – National Cohesion Day to commemorate the “dire consequences” of the Trianon Peace Treaty, signed on June 4, 1920, following Austro-Hungary’s defeat in World War I.
The Treaty was the result of The Peace Conference in Paris where Allied Powers negotiated the peace terms with the defeated Central Powers. Today historians agree that the treaty was flawed and later created new conflicts in Europe.
Hungary’s ruler Admiral Horthy first supported the Treaty and sent a delegation to sign it led by Count Albert Apponyi. Later he claimed that the Treaty was unfair, demanded redress and initiated an unprecedented campaign of nationalist propaganda – the cult of Trianon. Horthy declared that the Treaty was the cause of Hungary’s ills, it was a diktat and that Hungary was unable to exist within the new borders. He used this propaganda to solidify his power and to justify the country’s pro-Hitler alliance as a way to regain territory. Hungary’s fascist alliance culminated in the declaration of war on the Soviet Union and the United States.
Hungarian-Americans always rejected Horthy, his regime, and the cult of Trianon. While the Treaty may have been flawed, today it shouldn’t be used to rev up nationalist fervor or preach hatred against Hungary’s neighbors.
It is important to remember that on March 15, 1927, Hungarian-Americans formed the Anti-Horthy League with 36 organizations and 136 delegates present. The League declared its struggle “against Horthy type gangsters” and warned about the danger of “Horthy’s agents” who were trying to lure Hungarian-American organizations with financial support to promote Horthyism in the United States. Sound familiar?
On Saturday, Hungarian-American organizations supported by the Hungarian government organized National Cohesion Day events and preached Horthy-type nationalist propaganda here in the United States. Budapest recently even appointed diplomats as National Cohesion Consuls.
Great Hungarian-Americans, Béla Bartók, Albert Szent-Györgyi and Béla Lugosi rejected Horthy, his nationalist propaganda and the cult of Trianon. I think they would protest National Cohesion Day and the revival of Horthyism today.