A very brief Hungarian history lesson continued

I would love to continue the Romanian-Hungarian strand especially after Dumneazu's very interesting comments, but first I would like to talk about the fate of lost Hungarian territories in the south and the west. I already mentioned that Croatia-Slavonia's relation to Hungary was different from the other lost territories. While they were an integral part of the country, Croatia-Slavonia was a separate country that was attached to Hungary proper through the person of the king.  This personal union occurred at the end of the eleventh century when the last Croatian king died without issue. His wife was the sister of St. László, king of Hungary. After the death of the king different noble groups vied for power, and one of them supporting the queen invited St. László to occupy the country and take the Croatian throne. This was a similar arrangement to the later personal union between Austria and Hungary after the death of King Louis II in 1526 at the Battle of Mohács. His wife was the sister of Ferdinand, the Austrian archduke, brother of Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire.

Similar to the Compromise of 1867 between Austria and Hungary, a year later there was a compromise between Croatia and Hungary by which the Croats received wide local autonomy in internal affairs, judiciary, and education. But just as most Hungarians were dissatisfied with their compromise with Austria, the Croatians wanted more than autonomy. They dreamt of a southern Slav state, the brainchild of Croatian intellectuals (the Illyrian movement, named after the Roman province of Illyria) in the middle of the nineteenth century. After the lost war, Hungary acknowledged Croatia-Slavonia's special status within Greater Hungary and did not dispute its secession.  So Croatia realized the Illyrian dream. Unfortunately for them it became more of a nightmare. By the end of the 1920s Croatian leaders were complaining to Hungarian diplomats about their situation vis-à-vis the Serbs. And we know today that the Croats were only too eager to break away from Yugoslavia.

To continue the "be careful what you wish for" theme, Hungarian nationalists (the Party of Independence) for a long time had as their goal Hungarian independence from Austria. Except they forgot one very important thing: an independent Hungary and the country's territorial integrity were mutually exclusive concepts. While Budapest was rejoicing over its independence at the end of the war the non-Hungarians within Greater Hungary were desirous of their own independence; they wanted to sever connections with the Magyars of Hungary. The lost war, the Hungarian declaration of independence, the non-Magyars' desire to secede, the greedy neighbors all contributed to the collapse.

But let's go back to the southern parts of the country, first the territory between Croatia and Romania north of Belgrade that the Serbs call Voivodina (Vajdaság/Bánát-Bácska). After the Turks were expelled from these territories the area was pretty much devastated and Leopold II, king of Hungary, encouraged Serbs still under Turkish rule to settle in Hungary (1690-91). About 200,000 followed their religious leaders and settled in the area. Germans and eventually Romanians also started to move here from southern Transylvania. Eventually the area was a veritable ethnic checkerboard. One village Serb, the next Hungarian, its neighbor German or Romanian. In fact, a serious dispute occurred between two allies, Romania and the Yugoslavia, over the territory. They were ready to fight each other for certain parts of today's Voivodina. To make a long story short, the lion's share of this area was given to Yugoslavia although the population was very mixed. According to the 1910 census the population broke down as follows: 450,000 Serbs and other southern Slav people, 442,000 Hungarians, 312,000 Germans, 73,000 Romanians. Today the number of Hungarians is around 300,000.

Hungary also lost to Croatia the so-called Baranya triangle. Baranya is a Hungarian county in southern Hungary, bordering on the Drava river. South of the Drava belonged to Croatia which, as I mentioned, was not in dispute. But the Serbs occupied territories north of the Drava as well, including the capital of Baranya, Pécs, a city that was overwhelmingly Hungarian. In fact, Yugoslavia refused to withdraw from Pécs until 1921. Although Yugoslavia demanded a great deal more territory, eventually they had to settle for only the Baranya triangle, an area at the confluence of the Danube and the Drava.

And then came the big surprise to the Hungarians. The Austrians suddenly realized that if the self-determination of nations were to be taken seriously Nyugat-Magyarország (Western Hungary) should belong to Austria because, after all, it was almost completely German. I think that was a perfectly reasonable demand just as the German parts of Bohemia-Moravia should have been given to Austria on ethnic grounds, but surely that was out of the question. However, the annexation of territory from another vanquished country was much easier. The Austrians, as opposed to the Czechs, Romanians, and Serbs, did not and could not occupy the territories they demanded but patiently waited for the decision in Paris. This time the Hungarians were not too eager to withdraw their troops from the territory. Eventually the Hungarian government managed to convince the Allied and Associated Powers to allow a plebiscite in Sopron, the largest town in the region, and in some of the surrounding villages. The plebiscite went in Hungary's favor. I might add that it was through this area, today's Burgenland, that Edvard Beneš planned a "corridor" that would have connected Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. His claim rested on the few thousand Croats living there. Luckily this idea was too much for the peacemakers.

So that's a brief description of how and why the dismemberment of Greater Hungary occurred. The major goal of Hungarian foreign policy between the two world wars was to regain these territories. Although officially the Hungarian government never admitted that they would be satisfied with border adjustments, in reality they would have been quite happy with partial restitution. The German brokered arrangement between Slovakia and Hungary was a relatively fair border, and I think that if the Hungarians hadn't put all their eggs in one basket perhaps it would have stood the test of time. Even some arrangement with Romania could have been worked out. The Soviet Union promised diplomatic backing if Hungary didn't join the Germans in their attack of the Soviet Union. But Hungary was a loyal German ally, and it paid the price.

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There’s a wonderful Hungarian word that can apply to someone like “Csak egy magyar.” The word is szerencsétlen – and I won’t even attempt to translate it…

Odin's lost eye
Professor Balogh thanks for introducing such an interesting topic. I am much indebted to Mr Sandor and Mr Dumneazu for increasing my knowledge of this part of Europe and its turbulent past. I am beginning to form my own theory as to the beginnings of the Magyar settlement in this region of Europe. It is only a vague theory and needs a lot more work and factual knowledge before it can be discussed. As to the Balkans the Romans occupied the Eastern Adriatic coast as a route in to Greece. The problems of dismantling the Austro-Hungarian and German empires seem horrendous. The Hungarians in particular have never agreed with it. They seem to have regarded the whole of the administrative district of Greater Hungary as 100% Magyar. We know that was not true. What is it that caused the Magyars to spend so much time and effort before the war (with Hitler) trying to recover it? Even now it causes much fire and fury. Why? The British gave away much more. You could loose the whole of Greater Hungary in India, Canada, Australia and even the land of (tongue in cheek) ‘Those rebellious colonials’ –the USA-. Do we care –No… Read more »
My dear Ondin’s, the comparison with the British Empire seems to me a bit inopportune. Although built up over four hundred years, the actual blooming of the empire was barely hundred years and has always been contested by the vanquished. The Hungarian territorial integrity is going back several centuries longer and has never been contested before the WW I. All that notwithstanding, I must call your attention to an obscure little thing. If you would look at the minutes of the Council of Ministers of the Hungarian government following the Compromise, you would find that the weekly sessions always included discussion of the Croatian and Slavonian affaires, presented by the minister dedicated to those affaires exclusively. As the XIXth century drew towards its conclusion, these discussions has increasingly concentrated on “pan-slavic” matters. Every week produced its report: how the pan-slavic foment is progressing. This confirms in my understanding that the Hungarian government was keenly aware of what was going on, but they were too busy wasting time on other, much less important issues. Such as, how to make nice patriotic Hungarians out of the Slovakian anarchists, etc. A very interesting book was also published by a respectable historian, Gusztav Beksics… Read more »
2 things: One of my Jobbik-friends, who actually tries to understand history as it happened, even if we not always have the same evaluation of events, claimed that Hungary around 1937 set up a Black OPs disguised as Czech Irregulars attacking Slovaks. The reason for this was to increase the tension between the Czech and Slovaks, so Slovakia would break out (as it did much later) from Czechoslovakia. The rationale was that a small Slovakia, would be much easier for Hungary to ‘take over’/influence. This gang was called, translated into English, ‘the dirty clothes guys/band’. This has allegedly been a bit hush-hush until someone discovered a tombstone in a Budapest cemetery some years ago. Anyone heard this story before? The other thing is a study on the ‘European DNA’ published recently in Current Biology. It is suppose to be the biggest research so far and the interesting part is that the genetic difference is bigger North-South, than West-East. So a Swede is more different to an Italian, than an ‘English’/British is to a Pole. The only group that does not follow the matrix are the Finns. One could think that the Hungarians would stick with the Finns, because of the… Read more »
Odin's lost eye
Professor Balogh Myths and legends persist often submerging the truth. When a war is lost the losers sometimes look for a scapegoat and accentuate this as the truth. In the 1930s the German Army blamed the politicians for the surrender in 1918. The army claimed it had not been beaten. This is not the truth. Every where on the Western Front, especially in the north after the 8 August 1918 described by Ludendorf as “the black day of the German Army” (The battle of Amiens) when the moral of the German army was broken and in retreat. The German people at home were very short of food and facing near starvation. Their industries were desperately short of raw materials. All of this reflected towards the end of the novel ‘All quiet on the Western Front’ by Erich Maria Remarque. The German military had failed the politicians. This legend was one of the reasons why Poland was attacked in 1939 to recover Prussia etc. @Mr Sandor my use of the British Empire was to try to put the territorial losses of the Hungarian half of the dual monarchy into perspective. Actually those ‘Rebellious Colonials’ got rid of us in 1776 (or… Read more »

Sorry Ondin’s to see how they fooled you.
The fact is: “Sirva vigad a magyar.”
And if my humble (and hopeless) effort at translating this proverb may be of any use to you then its gist is: The Magyar makes merry by crying.


T. Balogh „professzor” asszony (mit nem engednek meg maguknak az USA-ban, hogy ennyire alacsony a mérce a Yalen)! Noha már elfelejtett magyarul, (és még az angol nyelvet sem sikerült tökéletesen elsajátítani), talán ezt még megérti: Nem tudom miért hagyta el az országot annak idején, (harcolt az elnyomók ellen?, nem hinném), mert nagyon is otthon érezhette volna magát a Révai-Gerő-féle vörös fasiszta rendszerben. Megértem miért nem jön haza, mert noha Gyurcsány méltó utódja az előbbieknek, onnan “hitelesebb”nek tűnik a maga gonosz dezinformációja, amit ráadásul angolul tereszt a kevésbé tájékozottak félrevezetése végett, valamint a hasonló gondolkozású, ám magyarul nem tudó, vagy magyarul tudó, de mégis angolul író zsidók, románok stb. számára.
Nagyon, sivár lehet az élete, ha erre fordítja a nyugdíjas éveit.


With your halting Hungarian and with your nonexistent English, I welcome you as the spook of the day and respectfully invite you to take a preferably permanent visit to hell.
Only a Hungarian bunko (pardon, bunkett) would take the trouble to write when she has nothing more than just insults to convey.
Do me a favour…
As to Viking:”As I asked before, how do I confirm that my wife is a Real Magyar and not just a local mix that speaks Hungarian?”
May I ask, would you be terribly disappointed if she would turn out to be only the mix?
Or would you be happier if her pedigree were confirmed?
Was it the pedigree you married her for, or did you have other excuses as well?
And if she should prove to be the inferior model would you trade her in for a more prestigious one?
I wouldn’t even dare to ask if you did present your own pedigree to her before the betrothal. Probably not.