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In time-period of Roman Empire, the countries, situated in west direction of Danube river, were known as Pannonia. After fall of western part of Empire, in consequence of hard press of moving nations, there appeared Huns, and founded, under rule of Attila, powerful Empire.

Middle Ages and  Rule of Arpad Parentage

When disintegrated Huns´monarchy, so as first seated in Pannonia  Ostrogots and Lombard tribes. In 5th century, the tribs of Avars came. They founded Avar-khanat, and this was, in the course of two hundred years, most powerful state formation of Central Europe Region. However, finally this tribe was defeated by Franks. There was not succeeded to create a state for certain time period. Even in 896, Arpad managed, under bloody swear, to unit Hungarian tribes, and these started successively to dominate whole Pannonia.

Middle Age Hungary extended on greater territory as France. Its population was the third most populated in Europe. Hungarians had enormous military force available, and this fact was used for their excursions abroad. Nevertheless, later defeat at Lechveld in 955, finished their eager for conquest efforts. During rule of Geza, (he came from Arpad Parentage), the country began to orientate for west model of Christianity. And state politics, as well as social structure, were adapted to their western model.

Anyway, Hungary became as real Christian Kingdom during rule of Stephen I. (son of Geza, so Arpad´s descendant). He was throned in 1000 in capital Esztergom. Till 1006, he strengthened his power, eliminated all his opponents, who wished return to heathenism or allied connection with Byzantium. He managed to create strong Kingdom, being able to defend attacks of German Kings and Emperors, as well as nomad tribes from East. In 1102, Hungarians even subordinated Croatia.

Between 1241-1242, the Hungarians suffered a lot from Mongols´ invasion. After a defeat in a battle near to Muhi, King Bela IV. escaped, and part of population died, despite of Tartar´s pillaging. When Mongols left, Bela ordered, as a protection against next possible invasion, to build stone castles. Anyway, Mongols returned in 1286, but thanks to castles and new fighting tactics (big part of army was consisted of heavy cavalry), the Hungary was successfull in defending. Their troops were defeated by King Vladislav IV. Army, not far from Pest. The castles proved as very important buildings also later, within endless fights with Ottoman Empire, but their maintenance brought King into debts, in comparison with aristocracy. Arpad dynasty ruled till 1301, and Hungary reached the greatest swing at that time. Later, the King´s power was weakened, to the detriment of nobility. Except of this, there was increased the danger abroad, in form of more strengtehed Ottoman Empire.

Ottomans´ Triumph and Fall

King Louis I. Great enlarged his power so, that he extended it from Black Sea up to Adriatic Sea, and it partially covered Naples, too. Last strong Hungarian King, there was those of Matthias Corvin. He was a son of powerful aristocrat  and soldier Jan Hunyady. Matthias took over (according to his father) megalomaniac targetss. He wished to create enormous empire. He expanded to the East and North-west and introduced various internal reforms. His army, known under nickname Fekete Sereg (Black Army) obtained many successive results, including Vienna occupation in 1485.

In 1514, King Vladislav II. had to resist great farmers´ uprising, guided by Gyorgy Doza, and it was successively repressed in very cruel way. However, central power in Hungary was weakened consequently, and this fact was quite favourable for Ottoman Empire. In 1521, Nandorfehervar (today´s Belgrade), great Hungarian fortress in south, fell down. And, in 1526, this apocalypse was terminated with destruction of Hungarian Army in a battle near the town of Mohacs.

Next years were characteristic with political chaos. Divided Hungarian aristocracy voted two Kings at the same time – Hunagrian Janos Szapoly (1526-1540) and Austrian Ferdinand Habsburg (1527-1540). The conflicts among these two rival monarchs deepended internal weakness of the country. Later, Hungary was divided, as a result of successfull besiege of Buda fortress, into three parts – territory of today´s Slovakia. North-west part of Hungary, in spite of the fact being independent, became a province of Habsburg Empire. Since that time, Austrian Emperors were throned as Hungarian Kings, too.

Most part of today´s Hungary, including capital Buda, became a part of Ottoman Empire. Great part of the country was, thanks to many years lasting wars, totally devastated, and many small towns disappeared completely.Moreover, the farmers could survive in greater communities only, owned by sultans, and were included under his direct administration.

In 1686, Christian states forces, leaded by Habsburgs, succeded to obtain back Buda, and within couple of next coming years, even a rest of former Hungarian territories. In 1699, the peace agreement concluded in Karlowitz confirmed these territorial changes, and, finally, in 1718, whole Hungary was freed from Ottoman hegemony.

Uprising and Revolution

Except of process of consequent liberation, there broke out often anti-Austrian as well as anti-Habsburg revolts in Hungary. Wave of rebellions finished with uprising of Ferenc Rakoczi - (he was elected by people as a future king). However, Rakoczi was not successfull, and afterthat, when his movement was defeated by Austrians in 1711, he had to escape to Poland.

At the end of 18th century, as an inspiration of Great French revolution, and as a reaction of Germanisation attempts of Emperor Joseph II., there was born in Hungary national movement. In consequence, it happened to its partial success (as an example: Hungarian language was accepted as an official language). However, introduction of further reforms was, first by Emperor, and later mainly by Chancellor Metternich, strictly refused, and this fact led to revolution.

On 5th March 1848, there were taken place mass demonstraions in towns of Buda and Pest. The reformists presented here their twelve requirements. As Habsburgs faced other revolutions in Pest, Buda, Vienna and in Italy, they had to accept these requirements. So, the first Hungarian Prime Minister - Lajos Batthyany - was elected. However, in September 1848 broke out – between Hungarian Government and Vienna-Court (they wished to abolish the reforms), armed conflict. This next Hungarian success forced Emperor Frank Joseph I. to discharge the rule of his mentally retarded uncle Ferdinand I. Nevertheless, Hungarian leaders took this step as illegal. So, in spring 1849 (under rule of Governor Lajos Kossuth), first Hungarian Republic was declared. Afterthat, when Hungarian army won against Austrian troops, Habsburgs asked for help Nicolas I., Russian Tzar. Powerful Russian Army, under support of Austrian forces, had finally beaten Hunarian units. Within next months, Hungary was under administrative management of Julius Freiherr von Havanu, leader of Austrian Army. On 6th October, he ordered the execution of thirteen leaders of Hungarian Army, including Prime Minister Batthyany. Anyway, Lajos Kossuth was succeded to escape into exil.

Austrian-Hungarian Arrangement and First World War

Hungary came, within several tens of years, into period of passive resistance. Owing to external activities (loss with Prussia in battle near to Hradec Králové in 1866) and internal problems of Habsburg Empire, the internal reform became inevitable.The Emperor made an agreement with Hungarian aristocracy (guided by Frank Deak), in order to muffle Hungarian efforts for separation. This act of 1867 is known as Austro-Hungarian Arrangement, and dual monarchy Austria-Hungary started to exist. Both countries had their common sovereign, foreign policy office, army and economy politics. In 1868, also Hungarian-Croatian settlement was effected, when autonomous Croatia enlarged their constitutional liberty. In the meantime, a nationalism of various ethnic groups (i.e. Romanians, Serbs and Slovaks) became strongly in Hungary. The government started to solve this problem by means of intensive influence of Hungarians.

Within 1st World War, Hungarian troops looked after Eastern front first of all, but the troops were also set in Italy. In 1918, the Hungarian army was disbandmented, in accordance with Wilson´s pacifism.

Unsettled  Afterwar Years

When the war was over, a collapse of Austro-Hungarian Empire arrived. On 16th November 1918, the independent Hungarian Republic was declared. The government, let by Mihaly Karoly, lost subsequently their popularity, owing to various failures. This fact opened the door to communists. On 21st March 1919, Karoly resigned, and Bela Kun, leader of Hungarian Communist party, declared Hungary as a Soviet Republic.

Red communists took their power especially thanks to the fact that they were the only political group which had organized equipped army at disposal. Moreover, they promised to the people that Hungary obtains again back all lost territories from the past. Communists promised also equality and social justice.

After an attempt to effect a putsch, the government introduced a serie of reprisals. 590 persons were executed without condemnation, so the people were very angry and this fact caused enemity. It is true, that the agriculture reform took away the soil from aristocracy ownership, but in general, it was not divided to farmers in righteous way. Home stirs grew, and Romanian army troops forced Bela and his comrades to flight to Austria.

Nevertheless, this communist experience let in inhabitants´ thought quite unpleasant picture about Soviet Union and about Jews (most members of Kun´s government were Jews), and this fact caused that people accused them of various governments´ failures.

Anyway, there appeared new power in the country, so called „Whites“. Those settled in Szeged made their own government and with their leaders, Istvan Bethlen, (Transylvan aristocrat), and Miklos Horthy, (former leader of Austro-Hungarian navy) started to terorize  the country. They executed, without condemnation, many communist leaders and other politics, orientated for left part. Radical Whites started with attacks against Jews, and accused them of all Hungarian failures and problems. On 16th November, Horthy´s army entered Budapest. His government renewed order consequently and the terror was stopped. However, thousands of people who had an inclination to Karloy and Kun, were sent to the prison.

In January 1920, there were effected first elections, when men as well as women voted secretely. However, the voting was not made in completely democratic way , as the whole part of political spectrum was expelled from voting opportunity.

In March 1920, the Parliament cancelled the arrangement (settlement) of 1867 (this fact renewed Hungarian monarchy, and King´s election was postponed till the civil stirs became calm). Miklos Horthy was elected as a regent. He was entitled to name Prime Minister, to call or disband the Parliament, and he became also a leader of army forces.

Anyway, when Trianon Agreement was signed (on 4th June 1920), Hungary had to give up two thirds of its pre-war territories. Nearly one third of Hungarians (from total number of 10 millions of people) were found therselves outside Hungary. As far as the ethnical composition of the country is concerned, it was nearly homogenious, as the Hungarians formed nearly 90% of total population. New frontiers brought further troubles. The industrial centres were cut from mineral sources, and a market for agricultural and industrial products became smaller.

In June 1920, Horthy named Count Paul Teleki as Prime Minister. His right-sided government introduced agricultural reform, and so four square kilometres of the country were divided. After failured attempt of Emperor Charles IV. (in March 1921) to obtain his throne back again, Teleki´s government resigned. Count Bethlen established new Unit Party and consequently, Horthy named Bethlen as Prime Minister.

Bethlen dominated in Hungarian politics for ten years (1921-1931). He introduced voting right, and offered to his adherents suitable posts in enlargened burocratis offices. Moreover, he changed election results in agricultural regions. So, the order in the country was re-newed so, that he offered money and employment to contrarevolutionaries, and so the uprising against Jews and left-side orientated people were stopped. In 1922, Hungary was succeded in entering into Nations League, and in 1927, there was signed Friendship Agreement with Italy, so Hungary left the international isolation.

Period of Great Economical Crisis brought a decline of  standard of living. Home political state of mind started to orientate to right part of political spectrum. In 1932, Horthy named Gyula Gombos as Prime Minister. He orientated his foreign policy towards closer cooperation with Germany, and presented requirements of Hungarian influence of rest ethnical minorities. Further, Gombos signed trade agreement with Germany. It is true that Hungary was led out the economical crisis but became more dependent on economy of Germany.

Nazi Puppet in the 2nd World War

When Adolf Hitler took his power (except of threats regarding army intervention and economical press), he promised Hungarians that they could receive back their lost territories. At that time, new Fascist party, with leader Frank Szalasi, was founded. Kalman Daranyi, Gombos´s successor, tried to reconcile Nazis and Hungarian antisemits, with acceptance of First Jewish Law (this law ordered 20% quota of Jewish employees in certain branches). Nevertheless, this law was not acceptable nor for Nazis, nor for Hungarian radicals. In May 1938, Daranyi resigned and Bela Imredy took his place.

Imredy presented new conception of foreign policy. He started to orientate to introduce better relations with Great Britain. However, this step was – in eyes of German as well as Italian government - very unpopular. Anyway, in autumn 1938, became his politics (he was aware of adding Hungary to Germany) German - and Italian - positive. Next government, (under Paul Teleki leadership) started to assert a claim to the Second Jewish Law. It was more stronger. It did not allow employment of Jews and defined their communities from racial point of view. At the beginning of 1941, Teleki was asked to support German invasion to Yugoslavia.

Hitler promised Hungary for this cooperation, that some territories, lost after First World War, could be returned back. However, as Teleki wished to stop Hungarian participation in the war and did not managed it, he suicided later. Laszlo Bardossy, right-orientated member, took a place of Prime Minister. Successively, Hungary annexed small territories of today´s Slovenua and Serbia.

When east front was open, many Hungarian politics agreed to participation of their country. So, Hungary entered the war on 1st July 1941, under German leadership. Carpathia group marched on deeply in Russian hinterland. After a battle at Uman, Hungarian units participated on surrounding the sixth and twelfth Soviet Army. Twenty-two Soviet divisions were captured or destroyed.

Horthy was afraid of growing Hungarian dependance on Germany. He changed Bardossy for Miklos Kallay (veteran of Bethlen conservative government). Kally continued in Bardossy´s politics of Germany´s support against Red Army, but, on the other hand, he started to negotiate with West Allies.

Stalingrad battle caused Hungarian Second Army enormous loss. Hard Soviet attack along Don-river  was led directly against Hungarian units. Shortly after Stalingrad, Hungarian Second Army was in so hard crisis, that ceased to exist as military unit.

In the meantime, secret negotiations with British and Americans continued. Their requirements were met (Hungarian part did not start the negotiations with Soviets). Hitler was afraid that Hungary could effect separate piece, so he began the operation Margarete, and occupied Hungary in 1944. As a new Prime Minister, there was nominated  Dome Sztoyay, Nazi-adherent. In Hungary, there was placed also Adolf Eichmann, SS colonel. He supervised extended exodus of Jews into German concentration camps in occupied Poland. So, within very short time period of two months (since 15th May till 9th July 1944), more than 400 thousands of Jews left Hungary.

In August 1944, Horthy changed Sztoyay for Anti-fascist general Geza Lakatos. In September 1944, Red Army trrops crossed Hungarian border. On 15th October 1944, Horthy signed an agreement, securing armistice. Germans started Panzerfaust-operation and Horthy´s son was kidnapped. So, Horthy was forced to cancel the agreement with USSR, and Lakatos had to be revocated. On his place, there was nominated Nazi-man Frank Szalasi. Successively, Horthy abdicated and his period - as regent - was terminated.

On 28th November 1944, there was formed provisional government, with leader Bela Miklos as Prime Minister. Miklos immediately expelled predecessor government of Frank Szalasi, but German and German-Hungarians did not stopped to fight.

On the next day, Red Army finished surrounding of Budapest and the battle in this town lasted till February 1945. Nevertheless, on 20th January 1945, the representatives of Hungarian provisional government signed armistice with Soviet Union. So, Soviet operation in Hungary finished officially on 4th April 1945, when the last German unit was expelled.

Final balance of Hungarian War victims within 1941-1945 was: 300-310 thousands of soldiers, from this: 110-120 thousand of persons killed, 200 thousands persons missing and war captivated persons in USSR. Moreover, 200 thousand of Jews wewre killed, civil losses made 80 thousands, including 28 thousands of murdered Gypsies.

Peace agreement with Hungary, signed on 10th February 1947, caused that Hungary returned into its previous borders, which were valid on 1st  January 1938. Half of German minority, (240 thousands of persons) had to leave Hungary for Germany within 1946-1948.

Sickle and Hammer Signs

After elections, held in November 1945, government posts took a Party of Independent Tradesmen, they got 57% of votes, whereas Hungarian Communist party, led by Matthias Rakoszi, obtained trust of 17% only. Soviet Marshal Woroshilow refused that Tradesmen Party could form a government. On the other hand, he nominated coalition government with communists, as they held several key posts. When in February 1946 a Republic was declared, so Zoltan Tildy, leader of Independent Tradesmen, became a President and Fran Nagy was nominated as Prime Minister, and Matthias Rakoczi obtained a post of Vice-Prime Minister.

As a Minister of Interior, there was nominated Laszlo Raik (he founded secret police AVH) and just in February 1947, AVH started with arrests of leaders of Independent Tradesmen.

After elections in 1947, most powerful party in Hungary became Hungarian Labour Party.It was established with unification of Communists with Social Democrats. In August 1949, the Parliament voted new constitution (this had Soviet Constitution of 1936 as its model). So, the name of the country was the following: Hungarian People´s Democratic Republic. As a main target of nation, the socialism was decrared. As arms´ symbols, there were adapted communist models - red star with sickle and hammer.

Matthias Rakoczi became a new Hungarian leader. He immediately asked absolute obedience from the part of his comrades. His main rival became Laszlo Raik, he was nominated as Foreign Minister. However, in October 1949, Rakoczi sent him to court. Raik had to confess a fact that he had been and agent of Miklos Horthy, Leon Trotzky, Josip Broz Tito and west imperialism. Raik was found as guilty of these facts and executed successively.

Rakoczi tried to strengthen his power in Hungary. He let nearly 2 thousands of persons executed and more than 100 thousands of persons were sent to prison. Party menbers, who were against this politics, were expelled from the party, and it was 200 thousands of persons altogether.

Rakoczi wished that the education could be enlarget, and this fact started to be realized in a very quick rate of speed. He wished to replace educated class of previous regime. In general, his activity brought the education to poors, more labour occassions for children from workers´ families and educational level increased at all. However, his steps enlarged communist ideology for schools and universities. The teaching of religion in schools was stopped. These ideas were declared as enemy-propaganda and was not allowed to present it. In general total communist intolerance against religion-teaching meant a fact that Joseph Mindszenty, Cardinal (he opposed heroicly German Nazis and Hungarian Fascists) was sent to jail and probably also tortured in December 1948. Finally, he was condemned to lifetime-imprisonment. And his case was not special, as other heroes of the Second World War were sent to jail and executed. However, in 1953 started a „go-round“ of pseudo-court tribunals begun. Many innocent persons were condemned to prison and tortured for ridiculous and inventive crimes.

Rakoczi had problems with Hungarian economy, so that standard of living of populationn dropped. His government became extremely unpopular. In 1953,after Stalin´s death, Rakoczi was substituted by Imre Nagy. Nevertheless, Rakoczi remained general secretary of Hungarian Workers´ Party, and rivaled with Nagy, who would be more powerful in the country.

Nagy cancelled state control of press and supported public discussion regarding political and economical reform. Anyway, this included a promise regarding increasing of production and distribution of consumer goods. Nagy dismissed political prisoners and anticommunists from prison ane spoke about free (liberal) elections and leaving military Warsaw Pact.

However, in 1955 Rakoczi attacked Nagy. On 9th March 1955, Central Commitee of Hungarian Workers´ Party accused Nagy from right-hand deviation. However, Hungarian newspapers supported this attack. Nagy was accused that bad economical situation in the country is his guilt. Consequently, on 18th April he was, after standard voting of National Assembly, removed (suppressed) from his post. Rakoczi became again a man of No. one.

Anyway, Rakoczi´s power was  undermined (after Khrustschew speech in February 1956, where he condemned  Stalin´s politics, including Stalin´s adherents in Eastern Europe). On request directly from Soviet Union, Rakoczi was set free from his power. Nevertheless, he succeeded to squeeze through this post his friend, Erno Geron.

People´s Voice

On 23rd October 1956, there was taken place students´ demonstration in Budapest. This meeting brought a survey of 16 requirements. The police arrested several persons, and tried to disperse a crowd by means of lachrymatory gas. However, when students tried to set free the arrested persons, the police started to shoot into the crowd. This caused a chain of events, leading to Hungarian revolution.

In the night of the same day, the fighting students in streets of Budapest joined officials and soldiers. Stalin´s statue was threw down and all protesting persons cried: „Russians, go home!“ and „Gero away!“ and „Long live Nagy!“. Central Commitee of Hungarian Workers´ Party required military intervention from Russian part. However, on 24th October 1956 in two hours a.m. in the night, Soviet tanks entered Budapest.

And shortly, on 25th October, Soviet tanks started their cannonade directly towards demonstrating persons. Central Commitee of Workers´ Party ,being shocked with development of events, forced Gero to step back his function and  he was replaced by Janos Kadar.

Imre Nagy had a speech in radio where he declared that he took over the leading of government  as a chairman of ministry assembly. He promised that Hungarian public life would  be democratised. On 28th October, change of leaders of Hungarian Workers´ Party followed, and Nagy took over, together with his friends, the power. Two days later, Nagy declared, that he set free Cardinal Mindszenthy and other political prisoners. Also government system of ruling of one party only was cancelled, and parties of tradesmen or social democracy, were re-newed.

However, Nagy´s most controversy decision was a fact that he announced on 1st November 1956 that Hungary would leave military Warsaw Pact. Nikita Khrustchew was very troubled of events in Hungary. So, on 4th November 1956, he sent there Red Army troops. Soviet tanks immediately besieged all Hungarian airports, highways and bridges. Hard fights were effected throughout the whole country, however, Hungarian army was defeated quickly.

In the course of Hungarian uprising, there were killed 20 thousands of persons. Nagy was arrested and substituted by Janos Kadar (he was loyal to Soviet Union). Nevertheless, he was executed in 1958. The other Nagy´s ministers were executed as well or died later in prison. Kadar, who before led the attacks against revolutionars, declared general amnesty and announced new political direction: „who is not against us, he could follow us“.

In 1966, Central Commitee introduced so called New Economic Mechanism. Within scope of this, the economy would be changed, and the productivity could increase in such way, that Hungary could be more competition competent on world markets.

In 1980, foreign policy was more open towards West countries. In general, Hungary started to form in democracy of western part. At the end of 1988, the activists, (not only inside the party and official administration) required more and more changes. Some of them became reform socialists and started to effect other political parties. In 1988, Kadar was replaced by reform communist leader Imre Pozsgay. In 1989, Hungarian Parliament accepted economical changes, and, consequently in October of the same year, the radical change of constitution was made. Since that time, Hungary tries to transform its economy and improve their relations with western Europe. At the same time, there appeared a hope for membership in European Union. In April 1989, there was signed an agreement between Hungary and Soviet Union, that all Soviet troops would leave Hungary till June 1991.

In October 1989, Communist Party held its last congress, where the transformation in Hungarian Socialist Party was effected. On Parliament´s meetings between 16th and 20th October, the change of legislative power was made. This fact enabled the possibility of political plurality and even direct election of President was carried out. This new legislative power changed Hungary from People´s Republic into standard republic, and guaranteed that all human as well as civil rights would be maintained and the power would be separated.


1990-1999 and New Millenium

First Parliament elections took place in May 1990. Most of votes got populists and central-right as well as liberal parties. Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) obtained a majority (43% votes), followed of Free Democrats (24%). Within activity period of Joseph Antal, MDF formed central-right coalition government, insluding Independent Tradesmen and Cristian-Democratic People´s Party, and this fact brought 60% predominance in Parliament. After Antal´s death in December 1993, the post of Premier Minister took Peter Borosse. His government succeeded to reach  satisfactorily functioning Parliament Democracy and put a base for free market. However, this fact let that standard of living of many persons was worse, and the government started to loose their support.

The elections held in May 1994  became a victory of socialists. They started to concentrate for economic questions and questions of standard of living, and this standard dropped since 1990. Voters´ change postponed central-right coalition, but the people refused left- as well as right extremists at the same time. Foreign policy orientated for integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. However, no invitation to NATO or improvement of economical situation arrived. Dissatisfaction of people with high crimes, small progress of economical reforms or attempts to build big dam in Danube-river, increased successively, and also corruption cases in government caused that the voters gave theiŕ vote for central-right parties in elections in 1998. On 12th April 2003, 85% Hungarians ( on elections partecipated 45% of total population) gave their vote for joining European Union. So, on 1st May 2004 the country became Europe Union Member.

Text: Maxim Kucer

Photo: Wikipedia.org




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