Greater Hungary (political concept)

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Image:Austria-Hungary map.svg
Map of the Austro-Hungarian Empire: the lighter green shows Hungary proper and the darker green shows autonomous Croatia-Slavonia within Hungary. The green areas comprise the borders of historical Hungary within Habsburg Monarchy, which is one of the more extreme revisionist proposals for the creation of Greater Hungary.

Greater Hungary (Hungarian: Nagy-Magyarország) is a political goal of Hungarian irredentists, who want to restore the borders of historical Hungary as they were before 1918. Historical revisionism is often used on by both proponents and opponents of Greater Hungary.

Although such outright irredentism remains a marginalized political position, adherents of this position often ally politically with proponents of milder forms of pan-Magyar ideology in organizations such as the (relatively moderate) Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania or those who wish to establish an autonomous Székelyföld within Transylvania, currently a region of Romania.


[edit] Historical survey

An independent Hungarian kingdom was established in approximately 1000 AD, and remained a power in central Europe until Ottoman Turks conquered it in 1526 at the Battle of Mohács. After the battle, territory of former Hungary was divided into three portions: in the West, Royal Hungary was included in the Habsburg Empire of Austria and retained its existence as Habsburg province; the Ottomans controlled south-central parts of former Hungary (including Pécs and Buda); while, in the East, Transylvania remained a semi-independent principality, successfully playing the Ottomans and Austrians against each other. Between 1699 and 1718, the Habsburg Monarchy conquered the Ottoman territories, which were part of Hungarian kingdom before 1526, and incorporated some of these areas into the Kingdom of Hungary, which was still a Habsburg province.

After a suppressed uprising in Hungary in 1848–1849 (one of the Revolutions of 1848; see especially The Revolutions of 1848 in the Habsburg areas), the Kingdom of Hungary and its diet were dissolved, and Hungary was divided into a series of smaller districts, directly controlled from Vienna. This new centralized rule, however, failed to provide stability, and in the wake of military defeats the Austrian Empire was transformed into Austria-Hungary in 1867, with Hungary becoming one of two autonomous parts of the new state (with self-rule in its internal affairs).

This was followed by a policy of Magyarization of non-Hungarian nationalities, most notably the aggressive promotion of the Hungarian language and supression of Slavic languages. The franchise was greatly restricted so as to keep power in the hands of the Magyars. The new government of autonomous Hungary took the stance that Hungary should be a Magyar nation state, and that all other peoples living in Hungary—Germans, Jews, Romanians, Slovaks, Ruthenes, Serbs, and other ethnic minorities—should be assimilated (The Croats were to some extent an exception to this, as they had a fair degree of self-government within the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, a dependent kingdom within Hungary). Census results show that this process of Magyarization was somewhat effective: according to the Austrian census of 1850, Hungarians were 36.5% of the population of the Kingdom of Hungary, but by the 1910 census, this percentage had risen to 48%. Most of the increase came at the expense of the Germans and Jews, who were scattered in small communities throughout the country and proved most willing to assimilate and become "Magyars". The Romanians and Slavic peoples of Hungary, on the other hand, who were largely peasant peoples living in large areas where they were a majority, proved much more resistant to the government's efforts.

[edit] Treaty of Trianon

Main article: Treaty of Trianon

The peace treaties signed after the First World War redefined the national borders in Europe. The dissolution of Austria-Hungary, after its defeat in the First World War, gave an opportunity for the subject nationalities of the old Monarchy to claim the rights to form their own national states. Hungary itself became an independent state in 1918. The Treaty of Trianon of 1920 was the peace treaty signed between the allies and Hungary. The Treaty defined borders of a newly independent Hungary. In the north, the Slovak and Ruthene areas become part of the new state of Czechoslovakia. Transylvania and most of the Banat united with Romania, while Croatia-Slavonia and the other southern areas became part of the new state of Yugoslavia. The post-Trianon Hungary had about half of the population less than the former Kingdom. The population on the territories of the former Kingdom of Hungary that were not assigned to the post-Trianon Hungary was mainly non-Hungarian, although, it also included a sizable minority of ethnic Magyars.

Trianon thus defined Hungary's new borders in a way that made ethnic Hungarians the absolute majority in the country. The winning powers created from one multiethnic kingdom (48% Hungarians in the Kingdom of Hungary and 54% in Hungary proper, excluding Croatia-Slavonia) three multiethnic states (Czechoslovakia with 45+12% "Czechoslovaks", Greater Romania with 65% Romanians, and Yugoslavia with 74% Serbs, Croats and Slovenes). About 3.3 million ethnic Hungarians would not be included within the borders of post-Trianon Hungary, which became one of the reasons for disputes and hostilities between Hungary and its neighbours. A considerable number of non-Hungarian nationalities remained within the new borders of Hungary: Slovaks numbered 141,877 according to Hungarian sources and 450,000–550,000 according to Czechoslovak sources, 550,062 (6.9%) Germans as of 1920 and some 82,000 Serbs and Croats as of 1930. However the percentage of minorities decreased throughout the 20th century, as for example, there are only 17,000 Slovaks in Hungary today. Thus, Trianon recognized independence of Hungary, a goal for which Hungarians had fought for centuries, but which they hardly achieved in the way they had envisioned it.

[edit] After Trianon

After the Treaty of Trianon, a political concept known as Hungarian revisionism became popular in Hungary. Hungarian revisionism claims that "the Treaty of Trianon was an injury for the Hungarian people". Hungarian revisionists have created a nationalistic conception based on the "injustice of the Treaty of Trianon" with the political goal of the "restoration of borders of a thousand-year-old Hungary".

The justification for this revisionist aim usually followed the rhetoric that "two-thirds of the country's area was taken by the neighbouring countries, recognised later by a forced peace treaty", despite the fact that separation from the Kingdom of Hungary was in many cases initiated by the local people. Revisionists often dismiss or ignore the fact that most of these territories had ethnic majorities of non-Hungarians and minimize the role that forced Magyarization played in stirring nationalist feelings among non-Hungarian groups. Thus, the majority of the local inhabitants of these areas (Croats, Romanians, Serbs, Slovaks, Ukrainians, Ruthenians, Slovenians, etc.) regarded separation from the Kingdom of Hungary as liberation. However, historians generally concede that one of the goals of Trianon was to punish Imperial Germany and Austria-Hungary for starting World War I and fighting against the Entente during the war. Also, several municipalities that had purely ethnic Hungarian population were excluded from post-Trianon Hungary. Indeed, about one-third of the 3.3 million Hungarians in the new neighbouring states lived directly on the borders.

For centuries, Hungarian rulers such as Matthias Corvinus had maintained a relatively cosmopolitan kingdom; for example, Croatia joined the kingdom via a royal union. Because this cosmopolitan identity existed for centuries, modern Hungarian culture includes significant elements from places which belonged to Hungary in various parts of the history. Also, a considerable number of the figures who are today considered important in Hungarian culture were born in what are now parts of Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine, Serbia and Austria (see List of famous Hungarians who were born outside of present-day Hungary). Names of Hungarian dishes, common surnames, proverbs, sayings, folk songs etc. also refer back to these rich cultural ties. After 1867, the cosmopolitan character of the Kingdom started to change into the national state of Hungarians, in which other ethnic groups were subject to assimilation and Magyarization.

[edit] Near realisation of Greater Hungary

Hungary's government allied itself with Nazi Germany during the Second World War in exchange for assurances that Greater Hungary's borders would be restored. This goal was partially achieved when Hungary expanded its borders into Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia at the outset of the war. These annexations were affirmed under the Munich Agreement (1938), two Vienna Awards (1938 and 1940), and aggression against Yugoslavia (1941), the latter achieved, for formal reasons, one day after the German army had already invaded Yugoslavia.

Ethnic Hungarians inhabited parts of the occupied areas, but other areas were mainly inhabited by non-Hungarians. For example, according to Romanian estimations, the population of Northern Transylvania was composed of 50.2% Romanians and 37.1% Hungarians <ref>Dinu C. Giurescu, Romania in al doilea razboi mondial</ref>. The Hungarian census from 1941 counted 53.5% Hungarians (with approximately 150,000 Hungarian Jews included) and 39.1% Romanians <ref>Hungarian census from 1941</ref>.

The Yugoslav territory occupied by Hungary had approximately one million inhabitants, including 543,000 Yugoslavs (Serbs, Croats and Slovenes), 301,000 Hungarians, 197,000 Germans, 40,000 Slovaks, 15,000 Rusyns, and 15,000 Jews.<ref>Peter Rokai - Zoltan Đere - Tibor Pal - Aleksandar Kasaš, Istorija Mađara, Beograd, 2002.</ref> The 1931 census put the percentage of the speakers of Hungarian in Bačka at 34.2%, while later Hungarian data from 1941 show 45.4%. This means that from the beginning of the occupation, the number of Hungarian speakers in Bačka increased by 48,550, while the number of Serbian speakers decreased by 75,166.<ref>Zvonimir Golubović, Racija u Južnoj Bačkoj, 1942. godine, Novi Sad, 1991.</ref>

The percentage of Hungarian speakers was 84% in southern Slovakia and 15% in the Sub-Carpathian Rus.

Image:Zrtve racije01.jpg
Monument in Novi Sad dedicated to killed Jewish and Serb civilians in 1942 raid

The establishment of Hungarian rule was followed by brutal war crimes against the local non-Hungarian population in some areas, such as Bačka, where Hungarian military between 1941 and 1944 killed 19,573 civilians, <ref>Slobodan Ćurčić, Broj stanovnika Vojvodine, Novi Sad, 1996.</ref> mainly Serbs and Jews, but also Hungarians who did not collaborate with the new authorities (For example, Erne Kis, ethnic Hungarian and one of the leaders of the communist resistance movement in Vojvodina, was sentenced to death by a court in Szeged and executed). About 56,000 people were also expelled from Bačka. <ref>Zvonimir Golubović (see above)</ref>

In Northern Transylvania, close to 1,000 Romanian civilians fell victim to the Hungarian troops. The bloodshed was repaid in turn to Hungarian civilians, both in Yugoslavia by Yugoslav partisans (the exact number of ethnic Hungarians killed by Yugoslav partisans is not clearly established and estimates range from 4,000 to 40,000; 20,000 is often regarded as most probable <ref>Dimitrije Boarov, Politička istorija Vojvodine, Novi Sad, 2001.</ref>), and in Transylvania by Maniu guards (they killed several thousands of Magyars), towards the end of WWII. The Jewish population of Hungary and the areas it occupied were largely diminished as part of the Holocaust, as discussed by Elie Wiesel in his autobiography Night, with the knowing support of the Hungarian authorities. Tens of thousands of Romanians fled from Hungarian-ruled Northern Transylvania, and vice versa. After the war the occupied areas were returned to neighbouring countries and Hungary's territory was slightly further reduced by ceding three villages South of Bratislava to Slovakia.

[edit] Modern era

Most people in present-day Hungary reject annexation of lands in which people of other nations view the Treaty of Trianon as their liberation, though there is consensus in Hungary that the Trianon was not the right solution for the nationalities living in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy— especially for Hungarians. Nationalist organizations want to change borders and to create Greater Hungary, some by any means necessary. However, even among these groups there are differences: some want to include only areas with Hungarian ethnic majority, others propose the independence of Transylvania as a multi-ethnic/linguistic state similar to Switzerland, while the more extreme—a tiny minority within Hungary itself, but a larger minority among Hungarian minorities in neighbouring countries—want to restore Hungary's maximum historic borders regardless of ethnic compostion or the sovereignty of neighboring countires.

A similar, but usually less ambitious, Hungarian nationalism is often expressed through ethnic Hungarian political parties in neighboring countries and through movements such as that among some Szeklers in Romania for an autonomous region within Transylvania named Székelyföld, or among some Hungarians in Serbia for an autonomous region in northern part of Vojvodina (see: Hungarian Regional Autonomy).

After World War II, a Hungarian Autonomous Region was created in Transylvania, which encompassed most of the land inhabited by the Székelys. This region lasted until 1964 when the administrative reform divided Romania into the current counties. According to some claims, from 1947 until the 1989 Romanian Revolution and the death of Ceauşescu, a systematic Romanianization of Hungarians took place, with several discriminatory provisions, denying them their minority identity. This tendency started to abate after 1989, and has abated further with the granting of significant minority cultural rights as Romania to join Hungary as a member of the European Union.

Both during the Communist era and today, the Hungarian government has advocated for the rights of ethnic Hungarians living in surrounding countries to retain their Hungarian language and culture. In general, in this respect, relations—and treatment of Hungarian minorities—are better now than they were in Communist times.

Recently, Trianon, a Hungarian film based on revisionist ideas, was forbidden from being shown on Hungarian television, (although it was screened in a cinema and showed on a Romanian TV station), because of concern about how neighbouring countries would receive the revisionist perspective shown in this movie.

[edit] Literature

  1. Dr. Fedor Nikić, Mađarski imperijalizam, Novi Sad - Srbinje, 2004.
  2. Danilo Urošević, Srbi u logorima Mađarske, Novi Sad, 1955.

[edit] Notes

<references/>lt:Didžioji Vengrija ro:Ungaria Mare sr:Велика Мађарска

Greater Hungary (political concept)

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