a few piano sonatas and some apple strudels later we might make up, but right now…

15 március a Magyar Nemzeti Üdülési! Az 1848 as forradalom kezdete, tüntetések Pesten.

15 March is a Hungarian National Holiday. In 1848, demonstrations in Pest marked the beginning of revolution. 1848 was not the first struggle for independence since the liberation from the Turks in 1687 and the subsequent establishment of Hungary as an Austrian province. Previously, Rákóczi* (whose name adorns many streets, brands, and schools) led a resistance in the early 1700s which was crushed by Austria. Yet 1848-49 remains in the common opinion of Hungarians as a time in history they are most proud, a revolution begun by poets, writers, and the courageous common people.

Before Wilson’s 14 Points, there were Petőfi’s 12 Points.

Sándor Petőfi was a writer and poet who was a leading figure in the revolution. He roused crowds with his nemzeti dal (national song) and his 12 points, which were demands to be met for the Hungarian people (we must memorize these in school!)

(As a side note, it is funny to notice that just this year there have been huge issues with freedom of press, a “responsible” government is questionable, nearly all the banks and insurance companies are Austrian, and Transylvania belongs officially to Romania…) <– all of these are issues within the 12 points

A very important theme in Hungarian history and mindset is that of being alone and abandoned. Surrounded by Slavs, Turks, and Germans, the Magyars are alone, culturally and linguistically. (This particular understanding has also been abused and exaggerated at times or given an “ethnic” or “racial” importance. One should note that realistically speaking, Magyars are some combination of Slav, Turk, and German mixed with the earlier nomadic tribes.) The saying “trust no one” comes to mind and not without some reason. Croatians, Romanians, and Serbs allied with Austria in helping to suppress the 1848 revolution, despite having more in common with the Hungarians. In the end, the revolution was crushed when the Austrians seeked assistance from the Russian Empire. Not wanting to even “speak” to Austria, Hungary surrendered to the Russian Tsar (ha!ha! take that!) When talking of national character, I might mention vindictiveness….

Following this unsuccessful revolution, the first Hungarian prime minister, Lajos Batthyány amoung others was shot. Others were killed or imprisoned and Austrians remained at Gellért hegy (hill) fortress armed in case of any other signs of resistance.

(This is also a little ironic. Today at the foot of Gellért Hill stands a beautiful hotel and baths, occupied every summer by nearly all Austrians. 😉

view from Gellért hegy 15 March 2011

*Not to be confused with the Soviet era’s “Let’s wheel out Rákóczi!” (Like most Eastern Bloc politicians, Rákóczi was old and nothing short of incapable. This is a kind of national inside joke.) The name is from a noble family. There are many Rákóczi’s!

Talpra magyar, hí a haza, itt az idő, most vagy soha!

(photos taken by me, except Petőfi szobor)

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