Hungary: Ancient History
Our history shapes and defines us. We cannot know who we are, where we are, where we belong, or where we’re headed unless we understand our history. This is true of every person, every nation, and every culture. A culture that ignores, forgets, or attempts to redefine its history is doomed to extinction.
As I was traveling in Hungary, I found two interesting, notable bits of history that shed a unique light on today’s Hungarian culture:
Orosháza is a small town in the southern part of Hungary. The entry to Orosháza is dominated by the view of a church; this is reasonably common practice in small towns.
But as I entered the town, a memorial in front of a school on my right caught my eye. I had to stop.
The memorial consisted of a number of rocks resembling graveyard headstones with only a date carved into each one, several crosses made of stone, and a weeping peasant figure next to what appeared to be the ruins of a church. I found the memorial moving, and upon my return decided to research the significance of the dates on the rocks. These were the dates:
- 1241: Mongol invasion and destruction of Hungary
- 1595: Turkish invasion and occupation of Hungary
- 1849: Failed Kossuth revolution from the Habsburgs of Austria
- 1918: Formation of the short-lived, doomed First Republic
- 1920: Treaty of Trianon (“Crucifixion of Hungary”) which arbitrarily partitioned Hungary and reduced its size by 60%
- 1944: German occupation of Hungary (Germans, by the way, temporarily restored some of the lands stripped from Hungary in 1920.)
- 1947: Communist take-over
- 1956: Failed anti-communist revolution
- 1991: Formation of “modern” Hungarian Republic. Last Soviet troops left country.
The dates, as I had suspected, represented years when the Hungarian people experienced severe trauma. However, the last date, “1991”, was different from all the others: It alone was highlighted in gold. Hope never ends…
M3 is a major interstate going from Budapest towards the Ukraine; two lanes in each direction. It was constructed recently. As the road was being constructed, the crew uncovered some stone age remains in a burial mound found near Polgár. Those remains form the inspiration for a park right off the interstate celebrating Hungarian history and folk culture. The park opened in 2007.
Regrettably I arrived almost at closing time and had to rush the visit; one can easily spend a nice leisurely morning or afternoon browsing through the exhibits. An inn (kocsma in Hungarian) provides opportunity for refreshment and food. The park is definitely worth a visit by anyone who is interested in learning about Hungarian history and culture.
A Nation Without Boundaries
In researching the significance of those dates on the Orosháza monument I found some intriguing materials about the history of Hungary. I particularly recommend reading “A Nation Without Boundaries” to get a much better understanding of Hungarians’ current predicament and the turmoil that still exists in Central Europe. Unfortunately the Hungarians’ situation is not unique in the world. There are many other ethnic groups in similar or worse straits.
Having read the piece myself, I now have a much better understanding of why Hungarians are so much like Americans: They were at one time the dominant power and melting pot of Central Europe, the confluence of East and West. They have lived as rulers, and they have lived as slaves. They have learned the value of tolerance and diversity through a millennium of trials. Tolerance and diversity are also fundamental American traits. Regrettably Hungary’s neighbors and most of the world do not share these values.
I also understand more clearly now why Hungarians respect and love America so much: Because America remains the world’s only political hope for freedom and truth until the return of Jesus Christ.
Lastly I’m reminded how Hungary was viciously betrayed and callously dismembered by the powers of Western Europe in the name of peace and fairness that has not materialized. When I look at the Middle East where Israel is surrounded by deadly enemies, I see history being repeated: The whole process of “land for peace” that the Western powers are forcing on Israel reminds me of how Hungary was treated. Will they never learn? Do they even care?
Stephen Sisa : The Spirit of Hungary is an excellent reference for an in-depth history of Hungary and understanding of its culture.
http://hungarianhistory.freeservers.com/timeline.html provides a summary timeline of major events in Hungarian history.
All is not as it looks
 Polgár is 1½ to 2 hours from Budapest by car traveling East on M3.