1 Zalán Bognár Trianon and 1956 in in the mirror of Hungarian national identity The two most important historical events of the 20th century regarding Hungarian national identity are the Trianon peace treaty and the revolution and war of independence of I know that the topic of national identity was already touched upon on Monday but let me talk about a few issues shortly as an introduction. What does nation mean? Why is belonging to a nation important? Why is it important to have a healthy national identity? A nation is a historically formed, steady community whose members speak the same language, they have the same customs, values, myths with other words they share one culture. They also share the same characteristic psychological features. They have a common history and identity. Furthermore they usually (most often) live in a common political, territorial and economic unity. According to psychologists people need love just as much as they need to feel secure that is we need to know that we belong to somebody and to some community. It was found that sticking to their homeland and the landscape was much more important for Europeans than for Americans. It is even truer about Hungarians as we are totally isolated in Europe and in fact in the whole world. We don t have as an extensive family language as for example the Slavs, the Latins or the Germans. We are only understood in this small country or rather in the Carpathian Basin. That is also why Hungarians stick so much to the Carpathian Basin, a geographical unit which has been our motherland for 1000 years. Áron Tamási, a Hungarian writer, born in Transylvania which was detached from Hungary put it as follows: We were born into the world to be at home in it somewhere. Now it is better to understand why Hungarians, the Hungarian nation associate in their minds the word Trianon with the notion of national tragedy. Why do Hungarians consider the peace treaty of Trianon a dictate? Why do we think that Trianon is one of the greatest if not the greatest tragedies of the Hungarian Nation? Why did the principal powers, dictators of the conditions, inflict a wound on Hungarian people s patriotic feelings and national identity which has still not been healed? Let s start by taking a look at the facts. Let s see the conditions of the peace treaty of Trianon and its consequences. The territory of the historical Hungary, that is the Kingdom of Hungary, was 325 thousand km 2. We call it historical Hungary because for more than 800 years from 1091, when Croatia was annexed to Hungary, until the peace treaty of Trianon in 1920 this territory constituted the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary. The widow of the issueless King of Croatia Zvonomir who was also the sister of the Hungarian King László Ist called his brother in 1091 to strife-torn Croatia. That s how Croatia became an independent administrative province of the Hungarian Kingdom and as such enjoyed considerable autonomy. The Hungarian troops retreated in 1099 and in 1102 the Croatian nobility elected King Kálmán of Hungary, the successor of László Ist to be king of Croatia. The territory of Hungary without Croatia, the so called Hungary of Saint István was 282 thousand km 2. Saint István (Stephen), or Stephen Ist was the first king of Hungary from AD The Hungarian conquerors who arrived in the Carpathian Basin in the late 9th century were the first people who created a political union in the region led by their prince at the beginning and then after 1000 by their king who was crowned with the crown gifted by the Pope. The conquering Hungarians found the Carpathian basin nearly empty. No political formation whatsoever owned this territory.
2 So the political unifier of the Carpathian Basin since the end of the 9th century, the Hungarian Nation together with Hungary, was divided up by the principal powers of the Trianon dictate 1000 years later. Two thirds, 67 per cent of the Hungary of 283 thousand km 2 without Croatia was detached from the mother country or mother nation. From 283 thousand km 2 only 93 thousand km 2 was left to Hungary. Romania which came to existence in the second half of the 19th century was given a territory of 103 thousand km 2. That is the territory removed and given to Romania was bigger than the one that the truncated Hungary could keep. What is more, there were fewer Romanians in the population living on the territory adjudged to Romania than Hungarians living in their remaining country!!! Hungary without Croatia had a population of 18.3 million people and was left with 7.6 million. 90 per cent of our source of raw materials, mines of iron ore, non-ferrous and precious metal were taken away and 87% of our forests were taken. Hungary which previously imported wood and paper had to export them. 62% of our railroad and 60% of our public road were removed. Our army was imposed on such conditions that it became unfit to attack let alone to protect the country. It was only sufficient to maintain internal order. Only a few facts regarding this: they forbade our country to have compulsory military service and we could only have a mercenary army of 35 thousand soldiers. I was even specified that there could only serve 1750 officers and 1313 warrant officers within this army. Hungary couldn t have an air force, neither tanks nor heavy artillery. The number of rifles and light machine guns were also determined. Moreover, to mention only a few more military restrictions, even the number of cartridges to go with these weapons was restricted. This listing might sound strange in our peaceful times but those days it was extremely important. On the one hand we all know the ancient Roman saying: If you want peace prepare for war. On the other hand to give an idea of the atmosphere of post I World War let me tell you a short anecdote. In June 1919 before the Allies handed over the document about the peace conditions to the Germans, it was given to Ferdinand Foch Marshal, the commander-inchief of the Entente powers army. His opinion was the following about it: This is not Peace. It is an Armistice for twenty years." On the 1 of September in 1939 when the German troops attacked Poland and at the same time the Second World War broke out, Edward Rydz Smigly, the commander in chief of the Polish army remarked: Marshall Foch was wrong but only in 2 months. Let me also quote Stanley Baldwin British Prime Minister who claimed: Peace ended on the day of signing the Treaty of Versailles. In these historical circumstances was the Hungarian Army imposed on such conditions that it not only became unfit to attack but also to defend the country. The states which gained huge territories from Hungary, like Czechoslovakia, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (from 1929 Yugoslavia) and Romania were all aware of the unfairness of the treaty. As a result they were so afraid of the truncated and disarmed Hungary that despite of having 6 or 8 times bigger armies at their disposal, they contracted a military alliance against Hungary. This was the so called Small Entente. Neville Chamberlain, later Prime Minister s speech made in Birmingham in 1926 demonstrates well the atmosphere of the Europe of those days: It is possible that in a short time it will be necessary to change the peace treaties i.e. the application of the 9th article of the Covenant of the League of Nations. Six years after signing the treaties in Europe it is not peace that dominates but the fear of war. Nevertheless what upset the Hungarian Nation much more was the detachment of nearly one third of the Hungarian population that is 3.3 million Hungarian people. They were detached in spite of the fact that most of them lived in coherent settlement areas near the border drawn in Trianon. Tens of thousands of families were separated by the newly drawn frontiers just like in the case of the Berlin Wall put up in There were several families
3 whose members were separated in three different countries. A friend of mine s mother lived near the Hungarian-Romanian-Yugoslavian tripartite border drawn in Trianon and her family fell into three countries as a result of Trianon. The only difference from the Berlin Wall was that people here had a choice. They could either stay on their native land as second class citizens in a foreign country, or depart leaving their homes and livelihood behind, and move to the truncated mother country as outlaws, deprived of their wealth and rights. Thus almost 400 thousand Hungarians were persecuted from the successor states or they voluntarily chose to move to the truncated country. The refuges were mostly professionals and employed by the state, they worked in the administration, for the rail or they were policemen, soldiers, postmen etc. To help these couple of thousands of refuges so called wagon flats were set up at the railway stations. The Hungarian state lacking flats had to accommodate the asylum seekers provisionally in wagons. They had no other choice but live in such places for years until they could move into proper homes. The greatest Hungarian poets like Mihály Babits, Attila József, Gyula Juhász, Sándor Reményik and Albert Wass among others versified the pain and bitterness of Trianon. Surely Hungary lost several ancient territories which had uncountable links with Hungarians, with Hungarian history, culture and national identity. For lack of time let me talk about only a few of these: First of all Transylvania must be mentioned, which was detached to Romania. This was the most painful territorial loss for the Hungarian people not only because with this area was the biggest Hungarian population, 1.7 million persons removed but also because during the Ottoman Empire it was the stronghold of the Hungarian Nation when the country was divided into three. In 1526 the Hungarian Army was fatally defeated in the battle of Mohács fought against the Ottoman Turks and the king, Louis/Lajos II died. After the death of the king Hungary split into two due to a dual king-making, followed by the pretenders struggle for the throne. Later the central part of the country, torn by civil-war-like strifes, was occupied by the Turks and Hungary fell into three parts. The Western and Northern parts of the country became the Hungarian Kingdom under Habsburg monarchs where they started a vigorous Germanization. The central part was ruled by the Ottoman Empire while the Eastern part, the principality of Transylvania was governed by a Hungarian prince. It strove to achieve the greatest possible independence from the two big empires, the Habsburg and the Ottoman. It was then that Transylvania became the stronghold of Hungarian identity and language. Its princes represented the Hungarian nation in European frays and also defended the interests of the Hungarians who lived in the Hungarian Kingdom under Habsburg Monarchs. Its most eminent princes like István Bocskai, Gábor Bethlen or György Rákóczi Ist were able to force several times the Habsburg monarchs to make concessions for Hungarians and over religious tolerance in Hungarian territories controlled by them. István Báthory who was also elected king of Poland is still considered one of their most excellent monarchs by the Polish. Moreover, nothing proves better that Transylvania was the headquarters of Hungarian culture and identity in the 17th century than the fact that 90 % of printing of Hungarian books of the age was done in Transylvania and only 10% in the royal Hungary ruled by the Habsburgs. In addition, one of our greatest kings, King Matthias was born in Kolozsvár (today Cluj Napoca) the capital of Transylvania. He seized Vienna in 1485 and then Silesia (today South Poland), too because Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor hadn t supported him in the war against the Ottoman conquerors. There is one more important thing to highlight the importance of Transylvania in terms of Hungarian national identity. It is in Transylvania where the most characteristically Hungarian ethnic group of the Hungarian Nation, the Székelys (Seklers) live. According to archaeological findings these Hungarians had already lived in the Carpathian Basin before the settlement of the Magyars or Hungarians in 895. They have been living in the basins bordered
4 by the East and South Carpathians. That is why they became guardians of the border, an office which bestowed them their privileged situation. Due to it and because they are isolated by the mountains surrounding them they have kept their Hungarian identity and their Hungarian National characteristics better than Hungarians living in Hungary today. Its most prominent example is the ancient Hungarian writing called runic which they still use in their carvings. And I haven t mentioned our famous poets, writers, painters, architects, mathematicians who were born in Transylvania and other important events of our nation s history in relation to it. In the area attached to Romania, outside Transylvania can Nagyvárad (today Oradea) be found, which was described by one of our greatest poets, Endre Ady as the Paris of the Kőrös (today Criş) riverbank due to its bustling cultural life at the beginning of the 20th century. Also, the city of Arad in present day Romania between Transylvania and the Trianonian Hungary is our nation s memorial place of reverence. 13 heroic generals of the War of Liberty in 1848/49 were executed there by the Austrians. The city of Pozsony (today Bratislava) in Slovakian, the capital city of present day Slovakia which was detached to Czechoslovakia was the capital and crowning city of Hungary after 1526 i.e. the defeat of Mohács. National assemblies were held there, too. The first responsible Hungarian government was formed there in Also, Henry IIIrd, Holy Roman Emperor s flotilla was sunk in an attack against Hungary by the knight called Kund Búvár who became famous for saving the city from German occupation in 1051 with this heroic act. Kassa (today Kosice) today which is also called the capital city of East Slovakia used to be the key to Upper or Northern Hungary. It was there that István Bocskai, prince of Transylvania in the time when Hungary was divided into three parts during the Ottoman Empire, called upon Hungarian nobility to defend the constitution and freedom of religion against Habsburg monarchs. Later he was buried here. His statue can be seen on the International Monument to the Reformation in Geneva, Switzerland. One of our greatest freedom fighters, Prince Ferenc Rákóczi II s mortal remains are placed in Kassa as well. (Let me also remark that during the time of the Peace Treaty of Trianon, when Kassa was taken from Hungary, more than 75% of the population was Hungarian. The Verecke Pass in Transcarpathia, detached to Czechoslovakia in Trianon and today belonging to Ukraine, is the pass through which our conqueror ancestors arrived in the Carpathian Basin at the end of the 9th century. The castle of Munkács (today Munkachevo) can be found here which was defended by Ilona Zrínyi, mother of Ferenc Rákóczi II., from Austrian troops for three years. Respecting our national identity and history it is also important to mention Belgrade the capital of Serbia though it was not removed by the Trianon decision. In the Middle-Ages it was called Nándorfehérvár and it belonged to Hungary. Here General János (John) Hunyadi, father of the Hungarian king, Matthias, gained triumph of worldwide importance in 1456 over the Turkish troops of the world-conqueror Mohamed II, who had also occupied Constantinople. To remember this victory Pope Calixtus III ordered to chime the bells at midday. Hence the midday chime reminds the Christian world of the victory at Nándorfehérvár (today Belgrade) even if only we Hungarians are aware of it. Hungary as a defeated country was penalized much more severely in Trianon than any other defeated countries. No defeated country was deprived of more than 66% of its territory, 71% together with Croatia. Germany lost only 13% of its territory and 8% of its population. From Bulgaria 10% of its territory and also 8% of its population was removed. Austria, the former Austrian Principality that caused the outbreak of the war although lost its status as a great power and territories annexed by marriages and wars, still as a defeated country was
5 given some Hungarian territories. The originally defined size of this territory could only decrease because the recovering local Hungarians revolted and as a result a referendum was held. Unfortunately, only on certain parts of this area could it be carried out after the enactment of the treaty. Two thirds of the population decided in favour of Hungary. That is why only this small territory, 355 km 2 was finally saved from the Trianonian truncation. No similar injustice was committed against any other European nations in the 19th-20th century. But why was Hungary, the Hungarian Nation truncated that much? Why were even the ethnic borders ignored while concluding the peace? Let me list only a few reasons for lack of time. 1.) First of all, the Powers of the Triple Entente had already, during the war, promised some territories to neighbouring countries and to peoples of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy in secret pacts. The United States did not join the Entente Powers because they refused to acknowledge these secret agreements, they only associated the Allies. 2.) Secondly, the major cause was the greed and mendacious propaganda of the neighbouring countries. (See map about neighbouring countries territorial claims and the Entente Powers promises.) Eduard Benes Czech politician carried out a chauvinistic hateful campaign all along the First World War against the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy but mainly against Hungary. He published his writing titled Destroy Austria-Hungary in This modern Machiavelli used every means to achieve his goal. He himself wrote in his memoirs: I do not aim at truths, I do politics I commit unlawful things consciously for the sake of the state and for my own sake. Eduard Benes accused Hungary among other things of the outbreak of the war, which is not only a lie but also absurd. As a matter of fact the final decisions were made by the so called common Council of Ministers in the Austrian- Hungarian Monarchy which consisted of the Austrian and the Hungarian Prime Ministers and the shared Defence, Finance and Foreign Ministers. From these five persons only the Hungarian Prime Minister was Hungarian before the outbreak of the war just as in other times. So the Austrian majority, Austria s decisive say was unquestionable. What s more after the murderous attack in Sarajevo that killed the Austrian couple, the heirs to the throne it was only the Hungarian Prime minister who didn t want war. He demanded alone that an acceptable ultimatum be sent to Serbia to avoid the outbreak of a war. Actually Hungary had no interest of any kind in the war. Moreover the Council of Ministers supplemented by the Emperor and King that is the Crown Council was headed by the Austrian Emperor and he was also the commander-in-chief of the army of the Monarchy. Eduard Benes s main argument to dismantle the Monarchy was that it was weak and as such unable to resist either the German hegemonial ambitions or Russian Bolshevism even if it was a federative state. Therefore new nation-states must be formed in its place which will be capable for all these. This would have been what the French called cordon sanitieri with other words sanitary zone. However it was very far from reality. Owing to the leaders political intrigue of greedy and chauvinistic successor states in the place of a historically formed multinational state several small multinational states came into being. In the so called Czechoslovakian nation state for example after the Czech the second biggest population was the German with more than 3 million people and Hungarians were fourth after the Slovaks with 1 million persons. In the Great Romania created in Trianon, which became twice as big as it used to be, only 65% of the population was Romanian with 17 other ethnic groups among them 1.7 million Hungarians. Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were founded on false grounds calling them homogeneous Slavic nation-states ignoring the historical, cultural and linguistic differences. As a result they not only disappeared in the II WW but they don t exist today either. These states created by false facts couldn t resist either the German hegemonial ambitions or Russian Bolshevism. As the balance of power which Great Britain had given so much
6 consideration before ceased to exist with the disintegration of the Monarchy a space for power was developed in its place. Robert Lansing, American Secretary of State who also left the peace conference earlier declared about the treaty: Now we have a peace treaty but it will not ensure lasting peace. It cannot as it was built on the sandbank of egoism. The conditions of the peace are excessively severe and humiliating and many of them are unfeasible. Truth is secondary, violence is everything. I am not alone with my opinion regarding it. I conversed with English men of state and the unanimous opinion is that the peace treaties are results of intrigues and craving for pillage, they are pointless and unworkable. The USA did not even accept the truncation of Hungary laid down in the peace treaty and therefore concluded a separate peace treaty on 29 August There was one more great power that didn t acknowledge it, the Soviet Union which called it imperialist gangster peace. 3.) The third reason was the weakness and treachery of the leaders of the Hungarian State and Army. Károly IV Hungarian king after signing the armistice agreement on 3 November 1918, which left the territorial integrity of the Monarchy untouched, resigned which means that the captain left the sinking ship first. The defence minister of the new, pacifist Hungarian government demobilized the Hungarian Army exactly when despite the concluded armistice agreement Roman, Serbian and Czech troops attacked Hungary. Although some locals drove out the enemy for a while for instance in Pozsony (today Bratislava) and Balassagyarmat without the financial and moral support of the Government most of these attempts decayed. 4.) Fourthly, Hungary didn t have any embassies or consulates to defend its interests since the ones of the Monarchy represented Austrian interests. The Hungarian representatives were only invited to the peace conference when the borders had already been determined. The Hungarian delegation could only see the peace conditions on 15 June 1920 and only on the following day were they allowed to speak up and advance their arguments in their defence like a condemned person that can make the last statement. The Hungarian delegation put up in Nuilly wasn t permitted to leave their accommodation. They were kept under police custody as if they had been ordinary criminals. They were hermetically closed from outside world lest the lies spread about Hungary be revealed. On 16 January 1920 the leader of the delegacy Albert Appponyi made his arguments known in three languages English, French and Italian to point out why the conditions were unacceptable and unjust. Finally he asked for plebiscites to be carried out under international supervision in the debatable territories so that the articles of President Wilson s 14 points which declared the right of peoples to self-determination could be effective. David Lloyd George, British Prime Minister after hearing for the first time the Hungarian opinion, opposed to the arguments of the successor states, said: The Hungarians were treated unfairly, they were never listened to We cannot dispose of people as if they were beasts and we would do the Slovaks, the Romanians and the Serbs a very bad office if we attached the very patriotic Hungarian population to their countries. He even proposed to reconsider the Hungarian issue at the Supreme Council of the peace conference. However, his Foreign Minister talked him out of it saying that he had already signed it and he thus would undermine the prudence of his previous decision. At the same time the three successor states Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia protested in a joint statement against the plebiscites. Hence finally the peace treaty remained unchanged for Hungary. Or to be more precise there could only be referendum held in December 1921 in one part of the territory adjudged to the defeated Austria. This is the only border in relation which no necessity for modification has ever been considered seriously. Unfortunately the inhabitants could decide freely about which country they regard as their homeland and in which country they wish to
7 live only on less than 2 per thousand parts of the detached parts of the historic Hungary without Croatia that is on 190 thousand km 2. So according to the Trianon decision nearly one third of the Hungarian population that is 3.3 million people found themselves in foreign countries which were hostile towards them. These states were either new or they were formed in the second half of the 19th century. The majority nations of these new countries seeking their own identity strove to deprive forcefully the minority Hungarians of their identity reducing it to nothing or by assimilating them. Only a few facts to describe it: These states made travelling out of or into the country difficult to separate the different parts of the Hungarian Nation. The successor states didn t keep the agreements regarding protection of minorities signed by them in 1919 yet they started to eliminate and ban Hungarian national identity. First of all, a large-scale land reform was carried out redistributing mostly the lands expropriated from Hungarians without indemnification, which minimized the Hungarian minority s economic power. Secondly, the wealth of the former Hungary passed over to the possession of the successor states. As a result buildings of elementary and secondary schools and of universities changed owners. 800 Hungarian primary schools were closed down in Yugoslavia and Romania in the 1920 s. Thirdly, the buildings and budgets of Hungarian theatres, cultural and social clubs and associations were confiscated. This meant a severe impediment for the usage and spread of Hungarian language and culture. All these are fundamental constituents of national identity because the language keeps a nation alive. Also, analysis of names was introduced in Romania. It meant that pupils but also adults names considered by Romanians of origin Romanian had to be spelled in Romanian and could only be registered this way. Thus several thousands of Hungarians were deprived of their names, too. Hungarian churches were attacked as well in all of the three successor states. It is of common knowledge in Central-Eastern Europe that national churches are mostly responsible for maintaining national identity in their relevant countries. This is why the lands and buildings of the Hungarian churches were confiscated and a significant part of their schools were forced to close down. It was done partly by prohibiting these schools to issue leaving certificates that were accepted by the state which also meant that their students couldn t carry on with their studies at universities. This way the successor states aimed at reducing the number of highly educated Hungarian professionals who could promote Hungarian identity. Also science was used against Hungarian identity. Some Romanian historians, like Nicolae Iorga claimed that both the several tens of thousand csangos and the three quarters of million Seklers/Székelys were magyarized Romanians. It is like regarding Bavarians or Austrians as Germanized Slavs. All this goes to show that as a result of the dictate of Trianon Hungarian identity got in danger. It became the common interest of the Countries of the Small Entente to oust and do away with Hungarian national identity. In fact, Ionel Brătianu, president of the Romanian Liberal Party and Romanian Prime Minister for several periods said in the Parliament of Bucharest in 1920 when Hungary was shattered by international humiliation: We cannot stop feeling distressed until we completely destroy Hungarians economically and militarily and until we see even a spark of vitality in Hungary we cannot feel safe. This statement is a grave and classified way of diplomatic and military threat. Similar outbursts from political leaders were nearly daily in the capital cities of neighbouring countries in those years.
8 Let s see a few more details regarding the further consequences of Trianon. On account of the Trianon decision Hungary s destiny was constrained since the people unanimously demanded that the current government recover the lost members of the nation and of their families. In addition 54% of the Hungarian military élite or leadership was born outside the border. That is why Hungary saw forced to join the German-Italian alliance because these two countries wanted to revise seriously the peace system of Versailles. Although without any constraint of the kind some of the successor states or nations, Romania, Slovakia and Croatia associated with the German alliance. As a consequence of the Trianon treaty mass genocides, ethnic cleansings, persecutions were committed against Hungarians living on the detached parts at the end of WWII and after. In October-November 1944 Serb partisans killed nearly 40 thousand innocent civilians. The so called Maniu guardists killed and beheaded hundreds of Hungarians in Romania and passed over thousands of them to the Soviets lying that they were partisans. Before detaching Transcarpathia to the Soviet Union thousand Hungarian men were transported to forced labour camps in Siberia. 50 thousand Hungarians were deported in Czechoslovakia from Slovakia to Bohemia (today s Czech Republic). And the list could go on and on and on. Even today politicians use the method of outburst against Hungarians to gain some votes at the time of elections in some neighbouring countries. There are news about beating up Hungarians in the streets coming from Serbia and Slovakia. When Hungary joined the European Union our country was problematical due to the tense relations with the neighbouring countries. Though they discriminate the populous Hungarian minority they were not obliged to respect minority rights, like the free usage of mother tongue. Let me also mention a sad but interesting fact. The inhabitants of Transcarpathia (today west Ukraine) changed their citizenship six times in the 20th century without leaving there homes any time! If the ethnic borders had been taken into consideration in Trianon and the inhabitants could have decided themselves in a referendum about the country they wanted to live in, the peoples of Central-Europe could have been spared a lot of suffering. About the revolution and fight for freedom of (war of independence) in Sometimes the different lectures, books and articles refer to the events of October 1956 as a revolution in their short titles. However, it was a war of independence or fight for freedom. Fight for basic human rights, for freedom of assembly, opinion, press, free practice of religion, democratic elections, the right to strike and the list could go on and on since the Communist Regime coming from the Soviet Union intended to control, limit and direct the society s and the individuals life entirely. The anti-communist revolution was closely linked with the fight for freedom in Hungary. As a matter of fact 56 was just as much a national war of independence as an anti-communist revolution. The people didn t only fight for national independence against the occupying Soviet Empire. They also rose because the Soviet leadership, commissioned by the Soviet Union, launched a wide scale war against Hungarian society s national and Christian traditions and identity in all areas of social life. It was how they exercised power. They ruthlessly aimed at dominating all areas of life with communist ideology. That is why the symbol of the revolution and war of independence was the country s flag whit a hole in the middle. One of the first and also symbolic acts of the freedom fighters was to remove the antinationalist, Soviet type coat of arms from the flag, which the Soviet Regime had ordered to insert. The motives of the War of Independence of 1956 stem from 1944 when the military forces of an empire of insidious and untruthful ideology intruded into the country. Its ideology oppressed the culture and gradually destroyed the society and the nation s life of all aspects.
9 Lie and deceit were guiding threads all along this totalitarian occupation. While more than 300 thousand innocent civilians were transported to forced labour camps in the Soviet Union lying to most of them that they were only carried away to do some work for three days (malenkij robot in Russian), and while large number of women were raped, the Soviets erected monuments to make themselves, the liberator Glorious Red Army honoured. The people were forced to celebrate the invaders as liberators. It is true that they freed the country from German occupation. However, they enforced a much longer-lasting yoke on it. Yet they transported part of the Jewish prisoners, who had been rescued from Nazi concentration camps and ghettos, some 25 thousand people to Soviets camps. During and after the war the Soviet Union looted almost entirely the country. Later, they ensured further and continuous plunder and maintenance of economic dependence on the Soviet Empire by compelling contracts of unequal conditions on Hungary. That is why it was included in two points among the 16 claims of the War of Independence that the Soviet- Hungarian economic relations be revised and readjusted on the footing of political and economic equality. By subduing Hungary economically it was also being subdued politically. People, the latter communist leaders, arrived in Hungary following the Red Army or as its members. One of our excellent politicians living in forced exile, Dezső Sulyok said: Power in Hungary is in Hungarian-born Russians hands. Not only the supreme leaders of the Communist Party were Soviet citizens but also some miner leaders, historians and economists. In addition, the leaders of the Hungarian Communist Party and some other influential members were also high ranking officers of the Soviet secret police like for example Ernő Gerő, Rudolf Garasin, János Kovács and so on. Kovács was at the same time sub-director of the ÁVH, the Hungarian political police and the Hungarian colonel of the People s Commissariat for State Security. Moscowian leaders despised and ignored Hungarian culture. It was well demonstrated when Mátyás Rákosi, the head of the communists was having a cigarette, holding his other hand in his pocket once in a rally in Budapest in 1946 while everybody was singing the national anthem (actually this is a prayer) until somebody rebuked him. The political system became totalitarian from 1949 which harshly and artificially interrupted the course of historical continuity of the Hungarian national development and severely offended national self-esteem. Imposition of the Soviet culture, morality and the socialist type of man on Hungarians triggered strong aversion because Hungarians had been following Western European values, culture and lifestyle. Christian celebrations and national commemoration days were overshadowed. The national coat of arms was abolished and replaced by an antinational, Soviet type coat of arms. They even tried to order a new national anthem which would have been in accordance with communist guiding principles. However, Zoltán Kodály and Gyula Illyés refused the request, so finally it wasn t replaced. Hungarian intellectual life was ruthlessly attacked: mainly Christian and national traditions and values and social groups that represented them. This was a conscious, wellconsidered strategy thinking that if Hungarians are deprived of their life-giving roots, national and Christian traditions, they will be powerless and lacking identity, thus very easy to subjugate. The Party had an excellently trained propaganda organization to manipulate and as a result subdue people. Culture was impaired to be a simple means of propaganda. Cultural and taste dictatorship was introduced. Churches were barred from educating and training the youth. Most of our outstanding writes and poets were stigmatized and excluded from cultural life and their names were wiped out of school books. Following party mandates socialist realism was the exclusive and compulsory school in literary life, fine art and music.
10 The Traditional Hungarian Army was transformed into People s Army, according to Soviet training and guiding principles, methods and regulations following soviet advisory instructions. As a result it was totally deprived of all national characteristics. Traditions were ignored even in sports life. Old, traditional national sports clubs were renamed giving them names harmonising with communist ideology and terminology for instance Red Flag, Bastion Sc etc. These prominent sports clubs could regain their original names thanks to the Freedom Fight of The structure of the new system also crippled the nation. The biggest group of the contemporary society, the farming peasants, who used to stick to the national traditions most, were destroyed by the excessive compulsory delivery. Cut off their roots, they were forcefully moved to the cities or transported to camps. As the communist song went: we will overturn the world by tomorrow so it was. Society was upside down. Patriotic and Christian professionals were degraded to be unskilled workers because they were so called reactionaries, while for example a shoemaker became a factory director or a joiner a manager of a pharmaceutical company. Competence didn t count only unconditional faithfulness and obedience to the Communist Party. That is how István Bata who had completed six years of elementary school could become from a tram ticket inspector first a colonel then the Defence Minister. Communists poisoned public life. Everything was a lie. They talked about people s democracy but it was neither democracy nor the people s. Power wasn t exercised by the people but by a small group of the party elite. They talked about independence in an occupied country, about welfare in the midst of rationing and insufficiency economy. In 1956, in the days of the revolution István Örkény, writer said about the communist leadership s previous years with ruthless frankness the following: quotation: We lied by night and we lied by day, we lied on every wavelength. The atmosphere of terror, fear, distrust and hatred penetrated the society. Never before had so many reports arrived in police stations as in this period of time. Between 1952 and 1955 more than 1.1 million people were reported. More than 40 thousand informers kept nearly 2 million people under observation. Masses of the population were imprisoned, deported or transported to forced labour camps. The churches were also involved in the process of influencing people s souls. By using lies, blackmailing, prison, torture and other insidious tricks of power they placed their own people in the leadership of the churches, who were the so called peace priests. After all this instead of the gospel, the word of God the propaganda of the party could be heard from the pulpits of churches, too. The standardizing communism wasn t as antipatriotic in other countries as in ours. The Hungarian Communist Party s leadership remained more unconditionally faithful to Bolshevik ideology, to Stalinist principles and to their Moscowian liege lords than to the Hungarian Nation that they were to govern. While they served Moscow to the extreme, they betrayed Hungarians and offended rudely their patriotic feelings more than any other communist regimes. This was the fundamental reason for the outbreak of the anti-communist revolution firstly in our country. All this goes to clearly show that the 13 of October, 1956, a day of world wide importance from historical point of view, was basically a war of independence. It was because a nation fought its life and death fight against a foreign power and their Hungarian regents that aimed not only at crippling entirely psychologically, physically and intellectually them but also at annihilating them.
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