Yesterday was the 100th year anniversary of the Treaty of Trianon of 1920 that carved up the thousand-year old Kingdom of Hungary. As part of the “peace settlement” after World War I, two-thirds of its territory and over half of its population were assigned to neighbouring countries by the victorious powers.
This treaty is now largely forgotten by the world. When the war and subsequent peace are discussed, Hungary’s dismemberment is barely if at all mentioned apart from some disapproving articles lamenting Hungarians’ stubborn remembrance and survival in the Carpathian Basin.
This unprecedented maiming of a breathing, living, organic nation may be a historic curiosity for the world but continues to be a stabbing pain in the heart of all Hungarians wherever they live. It does not concern international opinion and why would it? The agony of other people does not touch us unless we have any relation to it.
Why should we then think about the carve-up of Hungary even if fleetingly? Right now we are all living through a crucial moment of historic change. Ever since the 2008 financial crisis it has been clear that globalisation has its limits. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the process of the realignment of interests and the unfolding of the epic struggle between defenders and challengers of the “ancien regime”.
On one side, we have the centralisers fighting for the status quo of an ever more globalised world denying the legitimacy or even the existence of nation states. They project the illusory image of a world of “shared humanity” under central control where individual freedom reigns supreme but is by and large reduced to consumer choice. On the other side, there are the old-new forces, who believe in nations and sovereignty.
In this situation, Hungary is relevant because it gives hope. This may sound absurd since perhaps never had such a death sentence against a nation been proclaimed in modern history. A country deprived of two thirds of its territory and half its population would normally have little chance to survive. This means not simply a redrawing of maps but translates into economic devastation, the disruption of all established commercial routes, railways and road networks, the loss of mines and energy sources, the impoverishment of millions.
It means long caravans of refugees from the annexed territories to the remaining country called Hungary. It means the persecution of those who all of a sudden wake up in their houses as a feared and hated minority in a foreign country, persecuted for their identity and language.
There was barely any family untouched by the unimaginable suffering that followed. Under Soviet occupation, truncated Hungary and successor states were all brothers in the peace-loving humanitarian socialist paradise hell-bent on eroding wicked national sentiments, where even mentioning that Hungarians live in neighbouring countries was forbidden for a long time.
We live in an age of applauding censorship by political correctness, the current era’s political fashion. We also witness the trend to rewrite history conforming to current ideological-political interests.
So let us cast aside some entrenched historic errors or misinterpretations. The 1920 Treaty of Trianon cut up not the Habsburg Empire but the thousand-year old Kingdom of Hungary. The country that was carved up was not “Greater Hungary” but Hungary proper. It is not wicked nationalists and far right fanatics who remember but all patriots, and they are the majority even if they are not interviewed on international media.
No, their pain has nothing to do with nationalism, chauvinism and all the other stigmas stuck to Hungarians these hundred years; it is the natural feeling of a carved up, truncated, dispersed, humiliated people condemned to death.
The famous principle of Wilsonian self-determination did not apply to Hungary, now surrounded by millions of Hungarians living in neighbouring countries. Similar surgery on any nation’s body and soul would logically lead to the disapperance of its people.
So where is the good news in all this? Hungarians have survived in the Carpathian Basin against all odds. They have survived the carve-up of their country, German and Soviet occupation, two world wars and the 1956 uprising, truncation and persecution. They still have enough energy to stand up against the EU’s globalist, anti-nation state policies. They have managed to survive because the majority of them have always and will always believe in their nation. As Roger Scruton said: “… the motive in human beings that binds them to the place, the customs, the history and the people that are theirs.”
On the hundredth anniversary, all the church bells toll in the Carpathian basin and Hungarians light a candle or fire to signal: we have survived, we are here, we are together. This gives hope not only to Hungarians but to all in the world who believe in the survival of nations, independence and sovereignty: we will survive.