Books on Hungary
Update No: 125 - (29/10/07)
Hungary the survivor
Hungary took a terrible battering in the twentieth century. The First World War
was a frightful disaster for it, initiated all the same by Austro-Hungary.
Vienna rejected the Serbs' ultra-conciliatory acceptance of its ultimatum, after
the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand at Sarajevo in 1914; Belgrade went so
far as to agree to 39 of the 40 terms, and to the 40th, contrary to their
constitution, if international arbitration at the Hague went against them.
Vienna regarded this as insufficiently supine.
This must be the most crazy decision by any government in history. The
Hungarians were reluctant to go along, but in the end accepted in the form of
their hitherto leading advocate of peace, the Hungarian expert in foreign
affairs, Count Tisza. The outcome became clear in a few years.
Hungary lost one-third of its territory at the Treaty of Trianon in 1919,
including Transylvania to Romania. In the same year it had a three month-long
communist government, terminated by a Romanian invasion.
Then emerged an authoritarian regime headed by Admiral Horthy, which
half-heartedly connived with Hitler until forced into the war in 1944, whereupon
a fascist regime of the Arrow Cross came about for nine months. It collaborated
whole-heartedly with the Nazis in dispatching Jews and Gypsies to their deaths
in the Holocaust, led by Eichmann of evil memory.
Central Europe is a zone of self-deprecatory political jokes. One went, when the
Kingdom of Hungary declared war on the US, Roosevelt asked an aide:-
"Who is this King of Hungary?"
to which the answer was: "Well actually, there is no King, but
only a Regent."
"Who is that?"
"A certain Admiral Horthy."
"I see so they have a navy and are on the sea."
"No sir, they are actually a land-locked country. He is a relic of the days
when they were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which abutted onto the
"Well anyway why on earth did they declare war on us?"
"Sir, they have a territorial dispute, which can only be resolved by
"What, with us?"
"No sir, with the Romanians."
"Then why don't they declare war on Romania?"
"They can't, sir, because they are their allies."
We know what then happened - fifty-five years of communism, which was,
nevertheless, confronted by the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. Thousands died and
tens of thousands were exiled from that dread event, The curious thing is that
the man who did the dirty work, Janos Kadar, went on to become a popular leader
by encouraging a measure of market economics and civic liberty. 'Goulash
communism' became the name of the game.
But it was all on sufferance as the least worst option, given subjection to the
Russians. Once the threat of military intervention was removed by Gorbachev,
communism throughout Central Europe was bound to collapse.
The successor regime has been democratic capitalism. It has not been an
unqualified success. It will take a generation or two for people to get the hang
of it. The oldsters pang for goulash communism when rents were cheap, pensions
assured and consumer prices low. The younger generations are beginning to adapt.
But the older ones ensure a good showing for the former communists, the Social
Democrats, under the leadership of the former Young Communist- turned capitalist
tycoon, Premier Gyurcsany.
He is keen to establish a strong relationship with the most successful former
communists of all - the Slovenes.
First joint Gv't session with Slovenia
The Hungarian and Slovenian governments held their first joint session on
October 17. The first part took place in Lendava/Lendva, Slovenia, the second in
The joint session was initiated by PM Ferenc Gyurcsány. There were eight
bilateral and four business agreements signed. Slovenian visa requests in Taiwan
will be managed by the Hungarian commercial office and in Kazakhstan by the
The Pragersko-Ormoz-Hodos-Boba railway line will see further extension, the
electricity grids of the two countries will be connected through a 400 kW
transmission line by 2010. The motorway connecting Ljubljana with the Hungarian
border will be completed by the end of 2008, said Slovenia's PM Janez Jana.
There is no tension in the relationship of the two countries so we can focus on
the opportunities, said Gyurcsány. Before the government session, the two PMs
met the representatives of Slovenian Hungarian minorities and Hungarian