This afternoon, as promised by Gábor Vona (president of Jobbik, a small extreme right-wing party) six hundred uniformed guardists marched out to Heroes’ Square to be sworn in as new members of the Magyar Gárda (Hungarian Guard). The uniform is the same, except I see a new item–a red and white striped scarf. Black boots, black pants, white shirt, black vest, black baseball cap with red and white striped insignia, similar insignia on the vest and on the back of it a drawing of a lion. Several online papers immediately published picture galleries of the event. The best perhaps can be found on the homepage of Hírszerző (http://www.hirszerzo.hu/galeria.63) According to the reports there were about 2,000 to 3,000 spectators, most of whom had the red and white striped flag of the Arrow Cross Party (aka Árpád-striped flag). Thus, they were not just curious onlookers but sympathizers.
Some people were conspicuously missing. For example, the representatives of the three churches (Catholic, Hungarian Reformed, and Lutheran). It seems that their superiors did a little more than give them friendly advice. Most likely they threatened them with consequences if they appeared and again blessed the flags of the Hungarian Guard. Mária Wittner didn’t appear either. Apparently, she had another urgent engagement. However, her short speech was read by someone else. What the exact story is here I have no idea. One thing is sure: Mária Wittner will be one of the speakers at the Fidesz "celebration" at the Astoria on October 23. It’s possible that Orbán gave Wittner the choice between appearing with the Hungarian Guard or with the Fidesz and she chose the latter. Moreover, one of the honorary Guard presidents resigned: the Guard, it was asserted, is strong enough to get along without his help. Again, another question mark.
Gábor Vona on the other hand was active. In his speech he outlined a Hungarian Guard that is somewhat parallel to but not exactly part of Hungarian society. For example, the Guard plans to organize "people’s colleges" (népi kollégiumok) in every county where the "students" would learn "Christian belief, runic writing, and decency." In Hungary a "kollégium" is not a post-high school academic institution but rather a dormitory. In the past, talented poor children of the peasantry and the working class were selected to leave home and move to one of these colleges. The colleges were attached to established schools, sometimes even elementary schools. The students got their basic education in these schools and lived in and received supplemental education in the dormitories. The most famous elite kollégium was the Eötvös kollégium; admission there was based solely on academic performance. Obviously, admission to Vona’s colleges will be based on ideology. Of course, it is possible that nothing will come of it. After all, the cost of establishing eighteen or nineteen "colleges" is not exactly peanuts.
An interesting side note. A year ago during the disturbances on October 23, the official organizers set up an old Soviet T-34 tank to remind people of those days in 1956. An enterprising middle aged man, György Horváth, managed to get inside of the tank. He knew enough about the mechanism that he managed to start it to the great surprise of the police. Well, this Mr. Horváth became very popular in right radical circles, and he either volunteered or was asked to join the Hungarian Guard. The guardists got so excited about his presence in their ranks and his feat with the tank that they decided to "walk" from Heroes’ Square in Budapest to Budaörs (not exactly a hop, skip, and a jump) to visit the tank. I hope the tank was appreciative.
I don’t know how the tank felt, but that the Slovaks were not happy is definite. The Slovak Foreign Ministry was ready. The celebrations on Heroes’ Square had barely come to an end when the ministry’s spokesman walked over to the MTI (Magyar Távirati Iroda) and handed over a note in which they expressed their worries concerning the establishment and growth of the Hungarian Guard. The note ended with their astonishment that such an organization can even be registered in a democratic country. Considering that the guardists swore allegiance to the Holy Crown and that another right radical organization (MÖM) thinks that the whole Carpathian Basin is the property of the Holy Crown, I would be a bit nervous if I were a Slovak. Although most likely these extremists will not get very far, the fear of the radicalization of the country in this direction is undoubtedly not baseless.