Hungarians in History and World War II

Steve Torok, a Hungarian now living in Thailand. writes: Ever since the 13th century King Laszlo IV, Hungarian history contains reference to the Huns as predecessors who came to the Carpathian valley and established a state there that the later Hungarians "inherited".  This is mainly based on legends, However it was a strong source of pride to Hungarians who grew up with history books based on the tradition of this "Guesta", commissioned by the King in the 13th century and written in Latin. Interestingly enough Transylvania is the region where the tradition is the strongest,  There is even a national anthem that laments the departure of Csaba, a descendent of Attila, and his promise to return to save the Transylvanians. Some! historians trace the legend to Kadosa, a Bulgarian prince who established a kingdom under the Byzantine Empire.  A million Hungarians living in Transylvania hold this tradition close to their heart

Hungary's role in World War II war can only be understood in the light of the Trianon Treaty at the end of  World War I.  The atrocities I would question, since the book Requiem for an Army by Nemeskurthy paints an entirely different picture of how ill-equipped Hungarians sent as an occupation force duties to Transylvania were annihilated at the Don River bend. This was the so-called Second Hungarian Army. Hungary made a series of attempts to quit the war, however these were at the end unsuccessful because of German occupation in March, 1944, after a declared withdrawal in October, 1943 by the Regent Horty, who was deposed by the Germans.

RH: Terra irredenta plays an important role in historical memory. The Aztlan movement among Mexican Americans is a good example. In a conversation with me, another Hungarian, Istvan Simon, expressed bitterness at the loss of Transylvania, which was ceded to Romania after World War I. As the French referred to the hated Germans in World War I as les boches", the British and Americans called them the Huns, who are heroes for the Hungarians. Their glorious Attila was for the West the scourge of Christendom.  Learning history, indeed.

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Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: November 19, 2004