Index - Opinion - The 'third way' to the Trianon revision

The revision of the Treaty of Trianon, which deprived old Hungary of about two-thirds of its territory and population and forced more than three million Hungarians into the minority, was one of the cornerstones of Hungarian foreign policy between the two world wars. At the same time, there were several ideas about the desired way and extent of revision. Throughout the majority of the public opinion, the integral revision, ie all the territories annexed in 1920, hoped for a return, while the various leftist and liberal groupings favored the adjustment of the border in principle, ie the reclaiming of predominantly Hungarian-inhabited areas. The people’s movement tried to remedy the national-ethnic differences in the Danube basin in a completely different way from these two ideas. Studies, Articles and Records of Folk Writers (1920–1944).

The compiler of the anthology, which was published by the prestigious social science book workshop Osiris Publishing House, was guided by a dual goal: to publish the sources published in Hungary for the first time, and to disseminate knowledge and education. because, based on his pedagogical experience, the role of text analysis in teaching has become more important today, and this work can serve as a useful basis for this work.

In his book, Gábor Péterfi summarized the ideas of the most prominent representatives of this ideological trend, such as Géza Féja, László Németh, Dezső Szabó and Áron Tamási, in eight chapters. From the first part, which seeks answers to the circumstances of the break-up of historical Hungary, to the partial revolutionary successes between 1938 and 1941, to the national and geopolitical drafts of the 1930s, the volume of the volume extends. In an extremely useful way, each chapter begins with the author’s concise and concise introductory lines, which help to place the excerpts in the given era, while also making it easier for the reader to interpret the background of the sources.

As the editor pointed out, the people were primarily writers, not politicians and diplomats, and therefore did not have uniform concepts of foreign policy. The most important goals of the movement were formulated and represented by László Németh, who relied heavily on the views of Dezső Szabó, who was considered by the people to be their immediate spiritual predecessor.

For this reason, Németh and Szabó are the most cited authors in the anthology, and above all Géza Féja, a former student of Szabó,

who alone dissertated on foreign policy events about as many times as all the other folk writers combined.

The disintegration of the century-old historical Hungarian state came at the end of a long process, which, according to Németh’s view, was the subject of modern nationalism in the 18th and 19th centuries. The emergence of the issue of nationality in the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian Monarchy led to its appearance at the turn of the 20th century. Adding that the nationalism of the small peoples was helped to triumph by the victorious Entente powers in World War I after it became clear to them in 1917–18 that after the collapse of Tsarist Russia, the dualistic state could not be Germany’s eastern counterweight. Dezső Szabó, of Transylvanian descent, took the position that instead of accepting the Hungarian compromise with the Austrians in 1867 and the German-dominated framework of Austria-Hungary, the Hungarians should have sought an agreement with the other nationalities of the monarchy. along the implementation of the Confederation’s plan.

The “aerialization” of the borders and the co-operation of the peoples of the Danube Valley continued to be at the forefront of the thinking of folk writers. A separate chapter discusses this issue in a clearly structured and therefore easy-to-read volume. They emphasized the need for the cohesion and common destiny of the small nations living in the area. László Németh, for example, wrote about them directly as “milk brothers”, with whom the Hungarians sucked the “dry breast of a destiny”.

Németh and Géza Féja also supported the idea of ​​a united Central Europe, which could form an independent center of power in the grip of National Socialist Germany and the Bolshevik Soviet Union.

To do this, the ethnic groups living here should rise above our often sharp differences of opinion and work together on the basis of their common interests and also their common historical traditions. The starting point for reconciliation, the “milk fraternity” by the Hungarian people would have been the ethnic revision, a partial review of the erroneous decisions of the peace system around Paris that ended World War I, as Géza Féja put it on paper responsible. ”

In the second half of the 1930s, however, instead of reconciling the small nations of Central Europe, two great powers, Germany and Italy, redrawn the map of the region. The backbone of the anthology is a selection of texts with a good sense that gave us an idea of ​​how the people treated Berlin and Rome in four parts between 1938 and 1941. , In March 1939, the Royal Hungarian Army recaptured Transcarpathia, we regained Northern Transylvania in 1940, and in the spring of 1941 our armies regained part of the late Southern part).

Géza Féja, from Leva in the Highlands, visited the returned parts of the country as a correspondent for Hungary, which defined itself as an independent political daily. Analyzing his reports, Gábor Péterfi drew attention to the fact that the writer, like the vast majority of the politicizing public, did not sufficiently assess the broader, international context of feedback in the field. Following the first decision in Vienna, he did not mention the decisive role of the great powers in any of his articles, but attributed the successful revision to the failure of the Czech “merger policy” and the heroic position of the Hungarians in the Highlands between the two world wars. Three years later, even during the southern invasion, Féja attributed the country’s growth to the state-building ability of the Hungarians, who, through his first wife, Gizella Farkas, also had a connection to Bácska.

At the same time, Dezső Szabó, for example, sent an open letter to Prime Minister Béla Imrédy in 1939, in which he warned the Prime Minister not to tie Hungary to the perimeter of the axial powers preparing for war due to further territorial gains. Instead, he spearheaded a policy of neutrality, emphasizing that our people “have no interest in getting involved in the struggle of original, Eastern, and copied Western Bolshevism.” But László Németh also noted with concern in his article entitled The Feast of Transylvania after the Second Vienna Decision that

the country, which has become committed to the Germans and the Italians as a result of the revision, may even permanently lose control of its own further destiny.

In his words, “What is any partial revision if we are no longer the masters of our entire destiny?”

And although the results of the partial revision were enthusiastically welcomed by the majority of Hungarian society, this volume describes the differences between folk writers over the way in which feedback in the field has been provided. Although those who wanted to solve the most important problems of the truncated Hungary in Trianon, including the issue of revision, in the spirit of what they called the “third way”, Gábor Péterfi’s work sometimes showed a different path. The presentation of this rich tradition of thought is the great virtue of anthology, which is true of the excellent historian István Papp, who wrote a recommendation for the back cover of the book. trained in the journalistic debates of our time, but also for those who dive among the hidden ideological treasures of the Hungarian past. ”

The author is a research teacher at the Mathias Corvinus Collegium School of Social and Historical Sciences.

Opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the Index Editorial Board.

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(Cover image: 1940 – He arrived from Csíkcsomortán near Miercurea Ciuc with an irredenta banner in his hands when he invaded the Royal Hungarian Army in Transylvania. Photo: MTI / Institute of Military History)

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