Trianon commemoration has no place in North America

Many of us in North America are surprised (and dismayed) by the recent revival of Trianon symbolism in Budapest.  It is part of the Orbán Government’s attempt to re-establish Miklós Horthy’s far-right nationalism of the last century.

Far-right Trianon rally at the Romanian Embassy in Budapest.

Several events were planned in Budapest on June 4, the 100th anniversary of the Trianon Treaty. Due to the pandemic some have been called off while others will go online or postponed.  President János Áder will address Parliament on June 4th and PM Viktor Orbán will also speak.

It was announced last year that the centerpiece of the commemoration would be the inauguration of a huge Trianon Monument in downtown Budapest.  This event is now postponed indefinitely.   Trianon and the heightened emotions around it is uniquely Hungarian.  It has deep symbolism with various interpretations and for nationalists Trianon has a defining role in the Hungarian identity.

After WWI as part of the Paris Peace Treaties the controversial Treaty of Trianon (named after the Trianon Palace) was signed by Hungary in 1920.  Hungary’s ruler, Admiral Horthy and his supporters started a narrative that the treaty was “imposed on Hungary by the victorious allies” and it was unjust because “it stripped Hungary of two-thirds of its territory and half its population.”  They portrayed the country as a helpless victim of history which was forced to sign the treaty against the will of its people.

The propaganda accused the French, the Romanians, the Slovaks, the President of Czechoslovakia Eduard Benes, Béla Kun, Mihály Károlyi, the Communists and the Jews for the ills of the Treaty.  Rarely did they mention the sins of Hungary’s retrograde feudal nobility, the merciless exploitation of nationalities, the corrupt bureaucracy of the Monarchy, the forced “magyarization,” and the fact that Romanians and Slovaks couldn’t use their language or practice their culture.  Don’t misunderstand me, the Trianon Treaty was far from perfect but it was certainly not “criminal” and not the result of a “conspiracy” against Hungary.

Recently installed Trianon marker in a Hungarian village

Americans were stunned when Hungarian right-wingers labelled President Woodrow Wilson, one of the primary negotiators of the Treaties, “anti-Hungarian.”  Recently Fidesz founder Mr. Zsolt Németh claimed that Americans were also responsible for Trianon.

In 1928 the Horthy regime rented the ocean liner Olympic to send a 525 member delegation to the unveiling of the statue of Kossuth on Riverside Drive in New York City.  The statue was a present and the delegation was supposed “to bring to the United States a message of fraternity and good will.”  In reality, they promoted Horthy’s nationalist agenda.

After arrival they were up for a nasty surprise. Demonstrators waited them carrying banners like “Get Out, You Bloody Murderers of Hungarian Workers and Peasants!” and “Kossuth Monument-Horthy Monument!”  The demonstrators demanded that Mayor Walker should not receive the delegation.  In order to protect the visiting dignitaries more than a hundred policemen, detectives and a bomb squad were called out.

1928 – Horthy delegation was not welcomed in New York

The Trianon Treaty narrative today is again part of the nationalist propaganda.  Instead of attacking other nations and people Hungary should promote a more balanced view of the Treaty and its historical context.  Here is the “American view” published as the New York Times editorial on June 30, 1918.

György Lázár

***

The Real Hungary

Hungary’s past as every schoolboy familiar with Kossuth’s visit knows, is one of the reasons why Hungarians should wish the Central Powers defeated – The Evening Post

Instead of being nourished on the Kossuth legend and the false fable that the Magyars are friends of freedom „every schoolboy” ought to know the facts about modern Hungary.  He ought to know that of the 22,000,000 in Hungary only some 9,000,000 are Magyars and 13,000,000 are non-Magyar races, treated by the Magyar magnates and ruling caste with systematic injustice, oppression, and cruelty.

He ought to know that this Magyar minority is not distributed among the various provinces of Hungary so as to be, save in a single province, a majority.  In the Puszta, on the middle Danube and the Tisza, dwell from seven to eight ninth of the Magyar population.  The rest are dispersed among the other provinces, holding the offices, controlling the courts and police, ruling majority races.   In Transylvania and the Bánát, scattered little island of Magyars lord it over four to five million Rumanians.  In Southern Hungary are from five to six million of South Slavs, in the North 2,000,000 Slovaks.  It is the inexorable Magyar plan to Magyarize these peoples, to crush their national aspirations, their language and moral identity, to keep them forever from the racial and political States to which they belong in heart in history.

It is the past of Hungary in the last two generations, it is the present Hungary that “every schoolboy” should know.   The Magyars of the ruling class are a bold, chauvinistic, domineering race. By the cord and the sword they have long oppressed the nationalities subject to them.  There are few more curious myths than this myth of Magyars of Hungary as lovers of liberty other than their own.  Doubtless Americans of Magyar descent are familiar with the character and achievement of this caste. 

(Source NYT archive)

 

27 Comments

  1. Trianon condemned 3.5 million ethnic Hungarians to live as an opressed minority in neighboring countries. You mentioned the sins of the Hungarians before 1918? 3.5 million should have been 5 million based on natural demographics. Where there should be 5 million, there are now 2 million, mostly thanks to the work of the people you sympathize with. In fact this is a trend that your hateful heart sympathizes with which is evidenced by your constant hateful bigoted anti-Hungarian positions. In Transylvania for instance, there was an 800 year period of inter-ethnic coexistence between three major ethnic groups. 100 years of Romanian rule and most of Transylvania is now homogenized. The ethnic Germans have all but disappeared. Where there were once 700,000, now there are perhaps 30,000. Ethnic Hungarians were 1.7 million, now only about 1 million. So 800 years of Hungarian rule, it was not perfect, but multiethnic coexistence was possible. 100 years of Romanian rule and already most counties in Transylvania are homogenized, with only some solid Hungarian enclaves left for your heroes to work on. So I would say that Hungarians have very much to commemorate!

    BTW just to illustrate your own extremist position, in Budapest it is the city’s Mayor who called for a minute of silence. The liberal Mayor, not Fidesz Mayor.

    And once more, yet another bigoted, hateful anti-Hungarian rant hosted on this site!

  2. Don Hermiston says:

    Good for Victor Orban. Admiral Horthy was a hero of the Hungarian people who fought the Communist animals and liberated Hungary from garbage like Bela Khun.

  3. Sorry Gyorgy, this bit is a total lie in the article: “the fact that Romanians and Slovaks couldn’t use their language or practice their culture.”

    Romanians for example had around 7500 schools or so in Transylvania, however, it was greatly reduced by the Apponyi law in the early 20th century by around 3000. However, the population of Romanians was a bit over 2 million. Meanwhile, in Romania proper, they only had 5500 schools or so, for a population of 8 million pre-1918.

    Also, a well known Transylvanian historian, Sabine Gherman, stated that Romanians assimilating into Hungarian societies was almost non-existent. He estimated only around 5% assimilation rate between 1850 to 1918. Most could hardly speak Hungarian. Many were imported into Hungary by the Hungarian nobility because they were cheaper labour to work the lands. As is the case right now in the UK. Most of the farm hands are Romanian.

  4. András B. Göllner says:

    The early bird trolls are welcome to the worms.

    Dismissing György Lázár’s piece as “your constant hateful bigoted anti-Hungarian positions” is a rather boring and purile refrain Joe. It is a fact that Hungarians were a minority in Greater Hungary, and the collapse of Hungary’s colonial joy ride was due to the historic injustices committed by the Hungarian aristocracy against the conquered ethnic communities in Central Europe than to the work of “the Jews”, “the Free Masons” or “the Left”. Károly refused to sign the Vix decree, Béla Kun organized an army to fight those that were tearing the country apart. Horthy chose to hide behind the defensive corridor given to him by the French and didn’t lift a finger against the troops that were streaming into Hungary after the Nov 11 armistice.

    True: the Imperialist Great Powers at the end of WWI made a mess of the world (look at the Middle East and what they did with the Kurds) but that does not excuse the disgusting mess István Tisza and the rest of the Hungarian Aristocracy produced within Hungary and its “holdings” in Greater Hungary prior to 1920. Get a proper education Joe. Repeating the historical lies of the Horthy era, and those embraced by Viktor Orbán’s flunkies won’t get you respect in this underpass. And tell your little friend Hermiston to get off his potty – he’s stinking out the joint.

    • “It is a fact that Hungarians were a minority in Greater Hungary,”

      I am not suggesting that there should have been no loss of territory. But half of the 3.5 million ethnic Hungarians lost to neighbors could have been spared by the simple fact that they lived in solid majority areas right along Hungary’s current border. In all honesty, the 1940-1944 period was perhaps the most fair arrangement for all. It still left many ethnic Hungarians living outside of Hungary, but it was also a destination that reflected ethnic demographic realities more fairly.

      As for this: “It is a fact that Hungarians were a minority in Greater Hungary, and the collapse of Hungary’s colonial joy ride was due to the historic injustices committed by the Hungarian aristocracy against the conquered ethnic communities in Central Europe”

      This statement might as well come from a Romanian or Slovak nationalist. It is not historically accurate. There is to date no archeological or primary source written evidence to show that Romanians lived in Transylvania over 1000 years ago. It is the kind of propaganda that is used against ethnic Hungarians to promote bigotry, mistreatment and hate. Shame on you!

      • Don Kichote says:

        For our fool who is a primitive lout and a lazy stinker

        „Transylvania is a historical region in central and northwestern Romania. It was part of the Dacian Kingdom (2nd century BC–2nd century CE), Roman Dacia (2nd–3rd centuries), the Hunnic Empire (4th–5th centuries), the Kingdom of the Gepids (5th–6th centuries), the Avar Khaganate (6th–9th centuries) and the 9th century First Bulgarian Empire. During the late 9th century, western Transylvania was reached by the Hungarian conquerors[1] and later it became part of the Kingdom of Hungary, formed in 1000.“ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romania_in_the_Early_Middle_Ages

        There is more on the Internet good morning joe … http://www.moronlooksforinfo.hu

        • How does any of the stuff you wrote contradict anything I wrote? I simply pointed out that there is currently no evidence that Romanians lived in Transylvania at the time when Hungarians started settling there. Therefore Golner’s claim that Hungarians conquered the Romanians and so on is pure BS, ripped right out of the Romanian nationalist talking points, which are meant to vilify ethnic Hungarians and justify mistreatment.

          Perhaps you need to lay off the internet and go back to the basics, such as reading comprehension, because if you lack those basics the internet will do you no good whatsoever.

          • Don Kichote says:

            „There is to date no archeological or primary source written evidence to show that Romanians lived in Transylvania over 1000 years ago.“

            I assume that those who live in Romania are also Romanians, just as those who lived in Rome were also Romanians, etc. Of course it is normal for a racist that Germans are not German if they are not also Aryans. That here the understanding of the texts of a racist is another is in the nature of things. In the link is also …

            „An armed conflict between Bulgaria and the nomadic Hungarians forced the latter to depart from the Pontic steppes and began the conquest of the Carpathian Basin around 895. Their invasion gave rise to the earliest reference, recorded some centuries later in the Gesta Hungarorum, to a polity ruled by a Romanian duke named Gelou.“

          • Don Kichote says:

            Typo „who lived in Rome were also Romans“

  5. I am bewildered that 100 years after Hungary lost “2/3 of its land”, there are still rumblings and anguish to reclaim Zagreb and the Slavic people and farmlands near that city. Unrealistic longing for the long-gone days of a weak and corrupt empire, and territorial claims to other peoples’ culture and land, draws little sympathy. Perhaps the descendants of Avars and Moravians, murdered by invading Magyars, should launch eviction notices against today’s occupants? Of course not. We move on – as should those sad and delusional vestiges of the ancient feudal system who harbour irredentist dreams of “Greater Hungary”.

    • Croatia has a very unique role in this whole story, it was not part of Hungary even before 1920, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Croatia-Slavonia

      Thus, even though most “Great Hungary” maps feature Croatia as well (being a country that was part of the Hungarian crown countries) , not even those who dream about the reinstallation of “great Hungary” consider Zagreb as a “Hungarian city”.

      It is also not that black and white with Moravians or Avars. Genetically, there is not too much difference between genes of people who now speak Hungarian or Slovakian or Croatian. Research has shown that Hungarians were a small minority when they arrived in the 9th century (most probably). Some people got “hungarizied” during the times, some did not – but they/we are basically all a mixture of those nations, with very few exceptions.

      Just look for photos of Hungarian, Croatian and Slovakian celebrities.

  6. Monika Varga says:

    This is outragous! György Lázár, you are an ignorant man who knows nothing about Hungary, hungarian history, hungarian people and their real feelings. Or you have all the knowledge about hungarian history but you are just an unskillfull liar. Shame on you…

    • Monika Varga says:

      Actually your claim is not true. We live in Hungary and we have not experienced things you mentioned. Here in Hungary we commemorate the 100th anniversary of Trianon treaty and nobody cares about Horthy. We support all Hungarian people living outside our borders in the neighboring countries as they have been still abused and deprived from their basic humans rights by nations surrounding us. This is the really important topic for us not Horthy… if you were really aware of the hungarian situation you would know that…

  7. Stephen Herald says:

    Both Horthy and now Orban conveniently forget that Kossuth was an ardent Zionist.

  8. Karl Busch says:

    Lots of bullshit from the orbanist trolls.
    Thanks to Gollner and Tamas for writing some facts.
    As for you Monika why has Orban & co put up over 20 statues to Horthy if “nobody cares”. Horthy declared War on the USA.
    As for you S. Herald you conveniently forgot that Zionism did not exist in Kossuth’s time.

  9. Shame on you György Lázár!!!

  10. Don hermiston, Shame on you! Today, June 1, 1944 another transport of cattle trains from the Koloszvar – Cluj, Romania ghetto left with thousands and thousands of Jewish men, women and 16,000 children under the age of 14 – thanks to Horthy! My father who returned cursed your Horthy out all his life. The revenge? The defiant 2nd generation born to survivors!
    Along Horthy these names and families are to be cursed and blamed hailing from Cluj;
    Police Chief Ferenc Laszlo Urban
    Dr. Lajos Vargha, the Governor of Kolosz county
    Dr. Ferencz Szasz – the under sheriff of the county, Dr. Laszlo vasarhely the mayor of Cluj, dr. Gezza Papp, the Prefect of the police of Koloszvar and Drs. Strohnschneider and Roeder.
    The number of guards of the ghetto were between twenty or thirty – all brought in from Hungary. The Jewish people confined to the ghetto never saw a German soldier, except for the SS military spotted on the first day.

  11. Frank Koszorus Jr. says:

    Trianon – A Living Tragedy in Need of Closure
    June 2, 2020

    The involvement of the United States in both the First World War and the ensuing Paris Peace Conference makes it a particularly appropriate venue to commemorate Trianon!

    One hundred years ago, on June 4th, 1920, the twenty-seven nations, including the United States, assembled in Paris to conclude the First World War. President Woodrow Wilson, who led the United States into that war “to make the world safe for democracy,” was also intent on establishing a league of nations at that peace conference.

    The peacemakers instead concocted a hazardous brew. The ostensible “peace” turned out to be only an armistice as World War Two erupted merely twenty years after the “peace treaties” were signed. Tens of millions of civilians and soldiers died in that war; the Holocaust devasted the European Jewish community; a murderous Stalin occupied Central and Eastern Europe, and the world was thrust into a costly and dangerous Cold War.

    Negative consequences continue to plague national minorities. For instance, the Treaty of Trianon, the settlement with Hungary in 1920, dismembered the one-thousand-year-old Kingdom of Hungary in the name of national self-determination. It was imposed on Hungary by leaders who ignored the region’s history.

    As the peacemakers mercilessly tore that country apart, they overlooked the crucial fact that Hungary was an unwilling partner to the Central Powers in World War I.

    By drawing borders in gross violation of the ethnic principle, the peacemakers also transferred over three million indigenous ethnic Hungarians and over 70% of the country’s territory to foreign rule. The peacemakers denied the affected populations the right to choose under whose sovereignty they would live.

    The peacemakers did insist that the successor states sign various international instruments that included provisions for the protection of minorities. Moreover, the Resolution of the (Romanian) Assembly at Gyulafehervar/AlbaIulia, December 1, 1918, promised the Hungarian minority autonomy: “Complete national freedom for the peoples jointly inhabiting Romania.
    All peoples have the right to their own education and government in their own language, with their own administration, and by individuals chosen from among themselves.”
    Notwithstanding these promises and the fact that Romania obtained a large chunk of Hungarian territory by the Treaty of Trianon – more territory than remained as Hungary. Romania ignored and continues to ignore and violate its obligations.

    One hundred years after Trianon, the Hungarian historical communities living in Romania are denied a range of rights and are forced to live in ways that threaten their cultural existence. As well, they are refused internal self-determination and autonomy, such that they would enable them to exercise a degree of local self-rule to preserve their unique culture and identity within existing borders.

    Significantly, the Hungarians in Serbia, Slovakia, Romania, and Ukraine have all demanded autonomy by peaceful and democratic means. Autonomy would ensure democracy to beleaguered Hungarians, fulfill promises made to them one hundred years ago, and strengthen the democratic process by serving as a model of how majorities and minorities can work together to redress past wrongs.

    Trianon is not only a tragic history; it is a living nightmare that continues to affect the Hungarian minorities living in Romania and other states neighboring Hungary. Considering the far-reaching implications of discrimination, and intolerance directed at the Hungarian minorities, the response from the European Union and the United States to date has been tepid. Both seem to forget that it is not the victims of discrimination who cause intra-state and inter-state tensions, but the victimizers.

    They also forget that the United States and the European Powers are as justified today as they were one hundred years ago to insist that countries neighboring Hungary take concrete steps to ensure that Western values, democratic principles and international norms and practices relating to national minorities will finally prevail in Central and Eastern Europe and bring regional tensions to a just and lasting end. Indeed, as President Woodrow Wilson stated on May 31, 1919, at the Peace Conference:

    “But I beg him [Bratianu, Romania’s prime minister] to observe that he is overlooking the fact that he is asking for the sanction of the Allied and Associated Powers for great additions of territory. and that, therefore, we are entitled to say: ‘if we agree to these additions of territory, we have a right to insist upon certain guarantees of peace.’”

    Hungary’s neighbors kept the territories but denied their minorities a range of rights, including autonomy. Granting such rights will long last bring Trianon to closure and peace for all.

    Frank Koszorus, Jr. ©
    Public Member, U.S. Delegation of the 1989
    Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe

    Aniko Gaal Schott
    Former Member, Cultural Property Advisory Committee
    (Appointed by Pres. G.W. Bush)

    Peter de Gajary
    Independent Analyst

  12. Frank Koszorus Jr. says:

    Further Suggested Reading to Accompany: Trianon: A living tragedy in need of closure

    Sir Bryan Cartledge, “Trianon Through British Eyes” (Talk to Quintess; 2011)

    David A. Andelman, “A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today”, John Wiley & Sons, Inc, (2008)

    Stephen Borsody, Ed, Yale Center for International and Area Studies,
    “The Hungarians: A Divided Nation”, (1988)

    Francis Deak, “Hungary at the Paris Peace Conference”, Columbia University Press, (New York, 1942)

    Fejto Ferenc, “Rekvium egy hajdanvolt birodalommert: Ausztria-Magyarorszag szetrombolasa”, (Minerva, 1990)

    “War and Society in East-Central Europe”, Vol. VI: Essays on World War I: Total War and Peacemaking, A Case Study on Trianon, Bela K. Kiraly, Peter Pastor, and Ivan Sanders, eds., Social Science Monographs, Brooklyn College Press, Distributed by Columbia University Press, (New York, 1982)

    • Andras Boros-Kazai, Ph.D. History says:

      Great reading list: Diverse and well-researched. Thank you, Frank.

  13. Dez Szatmari says:

    Lazar is an ignorant fool and those that think the Trianon diktat was just and fair are just as stupid. No ones claiming Zagreb and it’s outskirts as one reject stated. There are still over 2 million ethnic Hungarians that have preserved their identity after a century of brutal discrimination and attempted forced assimilation. Lazar and the rest of you ignorant asses are beyond stupid!

  14. Andras Boros-Kazai, Ph.D. History says:

    Remembering, or even commemorating, the Trianon dictat in no way means that any sane Hungarian, not even a politician, calls for border changes. Implying that is a vicious lie.
    Calling for the preservation and protection of Magyar culture in areas where such culture existed, flourished and created a civilization ( = Erdely) should be celebrated by “progressives.” After all, similar efforts by any number of ethnie in other lands — Native Americans, Hawaiians, Puerto Ricans, “Palestininas” etc etc — are encouraged, financed and worshipped daily.
    Let a few Magyars have their day of remembrance. Then return to your routine of bashing any thing Hungarian. It amuses us.

    • Don Kichote says:

      Trianon is only there to keep revanchism alive. I’ve never heard of Native Americans celebrating something like Trianon Day, the bullshit seems to rage here. Even the Great German Reich is not celebrated. By the way, every historian knows that revanchism has a long tradition in Hungary. To claim that this is not so is equivalent to a self-disqualification.

  15. Jancsi Bacsi says:

    Petty nationalism aside, wouldn’t a unified Lands of the Crown put each constituent ethnicity in a better position to negotiate with great powers like Russia, Turkey, and the European Union (Germany)? Furthermore, the borders of LotC are more easily defensible. For example, the Carpathians would serve as a natural barrier protecting the central plains. As the borders are drawn now, this mountain range splits Romania in two.

  16. György Lázár says:

    Dear Mr. Koszorus,

    Thank you for your response.

    You write that Woodrow Wilson’s peace “turned out to be only an armistice as World War Two erupted merely twenty years after the “peace treaties” were signed. Tens of millions of civilians and soldiers died in that war; the Holocaust devastated the European Jewish community; a murderous Stalin occupied Central and Eastern Europe, and the world was thrust into a costly and dangerous Cold War.”

    Blaming indirectly WWII, the Holocaust and even the Cold War on President Wilson’s Paris Peace Treaties, or in Hungary’s case on Trianon is a popular narrative in Hungary mostly by the far-right Jobbik party.

    Implying that Horthy’s anti-Jewish race laws and the deportation of 600,000 Hungarians to death camps happened because of Trianon is misguided. Declaring war on the US or sending 200,000 ill-equipped man to occupy the Ukraine or fighting the Allies until the last second did not happen because of Trianon. It happened because of the Horthy regime, its murderous army officers and the Hungarian Nyilas. As you know the United States helped to prosecute these criminals after WWII but we know today that many escaped justice.

    Horthyism and the Trianon Cult were not palatable to Hungarian Americans in the 1930s except a small group of Hungarians who were affiliated with American fascist Silver Legion. (The History of the Cleveland Nazis: 1933 – 1945 from Michael Cikraji.)

    You claim that Romanian citizens of Hungarian origin “are denied a range of rights.” The current Prime Minister of Romania, Ludovic Orban is an ethnic Hungarian who speaks Hungarian. He and many Romanian citizens of Hungarian origin would disagree with your statement.

    I’d love to see a Prime Minister in Budapest from Hungary’s Romanian minority. That would help to build better relations among the people of the Carpathian Basin. Counterproductive Trianon commemorations have no tradition in the US and we, Americans of Hungarian origin should vigorously protest its import from Budapest.

  17. Karl Busch says:

    Mr. Lazar, thank you for your concise, correct and, most useful contributions to HFP.
    The NYT editorial of 100 years ago still holds.
    The trolls should attend a class of Dr. Gollner in Ottawa or Prof. Karsai in Szeged. Read R. Braham’s history of the H. Holocaust.
    Koszorus is a well know fabricator of history trying to make his father a “saver of Jews” while he did NOTHING of that sort.

  18. The current Orban regime’s intolerance, oppression, monumental corruption and its primitive, cheap propaganda and Kulturkampf are an appalling “culture” even for half of the Hungarians in Hu, let alone for anyone in else. No wonder the Hu minorities in the neighboring countries are dwindling faster now.

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