A Fidesz MP’s encounter with the Treaty of Trianon and revisionism

A couple of days ago there was an interview with Gáspár Miklós Tamás, known as TGM in Hungary, who until 1978 lived in Romania. Hence he knows a great deal more about that country than the average Joe in Hungary.

TGM complained about the general ignorance in Hungary of the enormous political crisis that is brewing in Romania and added that out of solidarity Hungarian politicians shouldn’t threaten Romania with all sorts of ridiculous territorial demands.

What was he talking about? He was alluding to an incident caused by a more ignorant than average Fidesz member of parliament who indicated at a right-wing Hungarian youth camp held in Transylvania that if Hungary becomes economically and “in some other ways” stronger under the guidance of Fidesz it might be possible to bring up the issue of revision in international forums. Perhaps as soon as in eight years time. Why exactly eight years, I don’t know. Perhaps because the Treaty of Trianon was signed in 1920.

What happened exactly? First on the Internet a video appeared in which Hungarian-speaking youngsters were engaged in shooting exercises. Initial rumor had it that these exercises took place at a festival, studded with Hungarian nationalist speeches, held by an organization called Transylvanian Hungarian Youth (Erdélyi Magyar Ifjak or EMI). That turned out to be a hoax. Mircea Dusa, Romanian minister of interior, denied the existence of such a shooting range but expressed his dissatisfaction at  “Hungarian politicians coming here to talk about autonomy and the Land of the Szeklers.” As is known, Romania resists any Hungarian attempt to grant autonomy to the Szeklers living in the middle of Transylvania.

The video depicting the Hungarian sharpshooters was shown on Romanian television and the news was widely reported in the Romanian press. In Hungary not a word of the news that had Romanians riled up appeared. But then came a detailed description of the speeches at the festival by Zoltán Balczó (Jobbik’s deputy chairman and deputy speaker of the house), Gábor Vona (Jobbik’s chairman), and Zoltán Kőszegi (Fidesz). Please note that there are more and more joint appearances of Fidesz and Jobbik politicians, a rather frightening development. Especially when Gábor Vona in his speech emphasized his willingness to cooperate with Fidesz in order “to get rid of MSZP for good from Hungarian politics not because it is a leftist party but because it is ‘anti-nation.’”

According to Krónika someone from the audience inquired about the possibility of border revision. The Jobbik Balczó turned out to be more moderate than his Fidesz colleague, Zoltán Kőszegi. Balczó rightly pointed out that under the present circumstances there is no possibility whatsoever of any border change. Kőszegi thought otherwise.

Zoltán Kőszegi at the Forum of Hungarian MPs in the Carpathian Basin, MTI Photo Imre Földi

Who is this Kőszegi? Few people in journalist circles had ever heard the name. It is not surprising. He is a new illustrious addition to the Fidesz robots sitting in the Hungarian parliament. Until 2010 he was the mayor of Dabas, which has a population of 16,000. Although Dabas might be small, it has “Europe’s longest Main Street,” or at least this is what the good people of Dabas claim.

Kőszegi finished high school in the Pesti Barnabás Élelmiszeripari Szakközépiskola in Budapest, which seems to specialize in cooking, baking, and catering with a rather meager academic curriculum. For example, only two hours of history a week, which might explain Kőszegi’s scant knowledge of Hungary’s past. After high school he went to the Testnevelési Egyetem (University of Physical Education) and focused on coaching weight-lifters. I hope all the regular readers of Hungarian Spectrum will recall that Pál Schmitt received his “doctorate”  from the same university. Moreover, since then there was another outrage at the same institution. The dean granted a diploma to the son of a Fidesz politician who didn’t have the necessary number of credits to graduate.

Kőszegi capped his education with a diploma in something called “igazgatásszervezés” at the Államigazgatási Főiskola (College of State Administration). I had some difficulty finding out much about this mysterious degree in organization, but according to a list where students exchange thoughts on majors it is a low-level law school. In the original: “Szerintem ez a szak nem más, mint lebutított jog.”

If some of you thought that Gábor Borcsa-Turner’s prose left something to be desired, you should definitely take a look at Kőszegi’s autobiography that he submitted to the webmaster of the Hungarian parliament. It begins: 1964-wasn’t born in Dabas. And it goes downhill from there. Kőszegi can start a sentence in the third person singular and end it in the first person singular.

With this background Kőszegi was placed on several committees, including the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Education, Science and Research. Both perfect fits. But he is also active in the Committee on National Affinity, a new committee set up to deal with the unification of the nation over borders, a topic most likely closer to his heart.

Once Népszabadság and several other papers reported on Kőszegi’s “unfortunate”  statement Gabriella Selmeczi, spokeswoman for Fidesz, immediately announced that “Zoltán Kőszegi only voiced a presumably ill-considered private opinion” on the subject of revision. A few hours later the Foreign Ministry also issued a statement which made it clear that Kőszegi’s statement does not reflect the opinion of the Hungarian government. The statement emphasized that the Hungarian government strictly adheres to all the country’s international obligations and treaties signed with foreign powers. The statement did include, however, the Hungarian government’s insistence on the Szeklers receiving territorial autonomy in Romania.

Kőszegi certainly didn’t misspeak because he elaborated on his ideas to Indexa popular Internet paper. He told the reporter that revision was unavoidable but he has “his private theories about the solution. It would be best if Transylvania became a separate country.” This is not exactly an original idea. It was bandied about on and off between the two world wars, and if it was not a viable proposition then, today it has even less of a chance of ever materializing. The Hungarians were in the minority in Transylvania already in 1920, and since then the Romanian majority has become even larger.

But let’s not be terribly surprised about all this ignorance. Forty-four percent of the adult population more or less knows the size of the territorial losses; in the younger generation only fourteen percent can even approximate the proper figures. More than half of the people in their twenties are convinced that the lost territories were overwhelmingly populated by Hungarians. A couple of days ago a young man phoned György Bolgár on this topic. Obviously the idea of peaceful revision appealed to him. But when Bolgár began telling him the facts and figures there was stunned silence on the other end. It was obvious that this young man had no idea that there were only about 150,000 Hungarians on the other side of the Ukrainian-Hungarian border. Maybe Hungarian school teachers should spend a little time on this very important subject in order to set these youngsters straight. And perhaps then we wouldn’t have so many ill-informed people, including Zoltán Kőszegi, Fidesz MP.

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36 comments

  1. It took me a while to breathe again normally after reading Kőszegi’s bio … Grammar isn’t his strong suit, that’s for sure. He was the funder of a FIDESZ backed association in Dabas, the DAFI, that played an important role in the 2002 elections (FIDESZ win) and later was “awarded” with a few high value state owned real estate during the first FIDESZ government.

    Apropos grammar. The DAFI is the abbreviation of “Dabas Fejlődéséért Integrálódók Egyesülete” which means “Association of the Ones Who Are Integrating for the Development of Dabas”. Hmmm. Let’s unite in the association of the integration and combine ourselves together.

  2. “…set these people straight…”

    No, certainly not. That wasn’t what they learned at the feet of Stalin. What Hungarians learned was the efficacy of lies used in their own political interests. Why should anything have changed? The manipulations are the same. Certainly the new curriculum is not in the interests of the students but of the Fidesz government who want to soften up the next generation for their particular message. And here’s one of my main beefs: shouldn’t the Teacher’s Union or whatever organization they have, challenged the curriculum changes that included those 2nd and 3rd rate writers fascist writers?

  3. The Holocaust was a huge own-goal to Hungarian aspirations – and Hungarian nationalists are ignorant of this. Take the example of the mentioned Carpatho-Ruthenia.

    The census of Hungary in 1910 recorded 30.8% Hungarians in this territory, but this percentage included a large part of the 15.2% Jewry.

    The Hungarian percentage was 12.1% in 2001, not much less than the 15.9% in 1959.

  4. @Tappanch:

    Yes, yes, but you forget one thing: to a Nationalist a Hungarian is worth
    12 natives…Now do the math…

  5. Very great stats tappanch. I wonder how Orban, his gang and their close buddies in the nationalistic circles would deal with the problem that would be present if the borders would be restored to their likings with the underwhelming Hungarian population. I am not sure that even the Hungarians from the North-East (Austria) would be in agreement to get back to Orban’s Hungary.
    It is very clear that Orban and Kover is running a platform (Big Hungary, All Hungarians, etc.) that is simply there to raise his popularity. He has no real intention to want Hungary back as it was, and he has no intention to release relevant data.
    The reality at this point in time is that Hungarians not only do not want to live in a bigger Hungary, but they are in an exodus out of Hungary. THis is a fact that even Orban acknowledged. (http://policity.eu/index.php/interjuk/item/interju-orban-viktorral?category_id=5) Versus working on programs that would make HUngarians wanting to stay, Orban focuses on supporting the notion of supporting the “Hungarian movement” across the borders.

  6. tappanch :
    In Romania, the town Oradea [Nagyvárad], very close to the Hungarian border, is only 1/4 Hungarian by now. (24.5% according to the 2011 census, see http://www.bihor.insse.ro/phpfiles/Comunicat%20-%20DATE%20PROVIZORII%20RPL%202011.pdf).

    This correlates fairly well with some Austrian census conducted in the 1860/70s that I managed to find online quite some time ago. In those studies it appears as if the Jewish population wasn’t counted as Hungarian. So it looks like later studies tried to fluff up the Hungarian count by including extras….. I’d put stock in the earlier Austrian findings unless someone can point out a reason to cook the books.

  7. tappanch :

    In Romania, the town Oradea [Nagyvárad], very close to the Hungarian border, is only 1/4 Hungarian by now. (24.5% according to the 2011 census, see http://www.bihor.insse.ro/phpfiles/Comunicat%20-%20DATE%20PROVIZORII%20RPL%202011.pdf).

    In my much treasured 1910 census the following figures can be found: Nagyvárad’s population was 64,169. There were 58,421 Hungarians, 1,416 Germans, 279 Slovaks, 3,604 Romanians, 25 Ruthenians, 33 Serbs, 59 others (that usually means Gypsies). There were 20,000 Catholics and Calvinists each and almost as many Jews (izraelita in the census): 17,307. The Hungarian assisted Holocaust managed to wipe out at least a third of the Hungarian speaking population.

  8. This correlates fairly well with some Austrian census conducted in the 1860/70s that I managed to find online quite some time ago. In those studies it appears as if the Jewish population wasn’t counted as Hungarian. So it looks like later studies tried to fluff up the Hungarian count by including extras….. I’d put stock in the earlier Austrian findings unless someone can point out a reason to cook the books.

    In Hungary Jewishness was considered then and still considered today a religion and therefore there was no such “nationality” category as “Jewish.” No, there was no fluffing up. Most of the Hungarian Jews were Hungarian-speaking with the exception of the ultra-orthodox folks up in the northeastern corner of the country who spoke Yiddish. In the 1910 census it was put down as “German.”

  9. In the entire country:

    In the 1890 Hungarian census, 64.0% of the Jewish population were counted as ethnic Hungarian by mother tongue, 33.1% as German (mainly Yiddish speakers), 1.9% as Slovak, 0.8% as Romanian and 0.2% as Ruthenian.

    In 1910, the majority (75.7%) of the Jewish population reported Hungarian as their primary language, so they were counted as ethnically Hungarian in the census. The Yiddish speakers were counted as ethnically German. This way, 6.94% of the Hungarians and 11.63% of the Germans of Hungary were Jewish. In other words, without counting the Hungarian-speaking Jewish population, the 54.45% Hungarian majority of Hungary would have been reduced to 50.67%. Similarly, the 10.42% ethnic German population would have amounted to 9.21%.

  10. 1941 census
    Jewish by ethnicity/Jewish by religion

    pre-1938 Hungary 2.4%
    1938 acquisitions from Czechosolovakia (S Slovakia and lower Carpatho-Ruthenia) 18.4%
    1939 annexation (Upper Carpatho-Ruthenia) 79.3%
    1940 annexation from Romania (N Transylvania and S Maramaros) 31.3%
    1941 conquest from Yugoslavia 27.1%

  11. Dr Balogh: “Maybe Hungarian school teachers should spend a little time on this very important subject in order to set these youngsters straight. And perhaps then we wouldn’t have so many ill-informed people”

    Just a few postings earlier, the current teachers were expected to rise because of changes in the curriculum. If they don’ teach properly now, what improvement is expected in the future. Who will teach slow Rumaniazation of Transylvania? The Rumanian bank financing land purchases for Rumanians in Transylvania. The empowerment of the Rumanians in the Habsburg border regiments? The prohibition of Hungarian settlements in the ex-Turkish occupied regions of the Banat.
    The extensive settlemement of Rumanians in the mostly Hungarian or German majority cities since 1920? That major Rumanian cultural development occurred in Transylvania before it did in the regat. That the first Rumanian books were published in Hungary and not Rumania?

  12. From : “http://www.romania-insider.com/romanias-farmed-landscapes-an-international-dilemma-needing-its-own-solution/63438/”

    “These landscapes have not gone untouched over time. They have not been farmed in a continuum, far from it. One would even question the frequent use of the word ‘traditional’ in this specific case. Over the last century there has been changes in ownership, management and in the communities that farm them. The communities themselves have seen ethnic change, no less so than in Saxon Transylvania, and there has been a significant decline in their economic circumstances and now in their demographic sustainability. It is the loss of the upland communities that is the greatest threat to the preservation of the region’s farmed landscapes.

    To make a forthright statement; there are no longer the viable human communities necessary to manage and preserve the region’s invaluable landscapes. Preservation now means to first re-generate the communities so that they are attractive to the young. They may also now need a wave of incomers to improve their demographic viability.”

    And who will be the “incomers” this time?

  13. Eva S. Balogh :

    tappanch :
    In Romania, the town Oradea [Nagyvárad], very close to the Hungarian border, is only 1/4 Hungarian by now. (24.5% according to the 2011 census, see http://www.bihor.insse.ro/phpfiles/Comunicat%20-%20DATE%20PROVIZORII%20RPL%202011.pdf).

    In my much treasured 1910 census the following figures can be found: Nagyvárad’s population was 64,169. There were 58,421 Hungarians, 1,416 Germans, 279 Slovaks, 3,604 Romanians, 25 Ruthenians, 33 Serbs, 59 others (that usually means Gypsies). There were 20,000 Catholics and Calvinists each and almost as many Jews (izraelita in the census): 17,307. The Hungarian assisted Holocaust managed to wipe out at least a third of the Hungarian speaking population.

    And a large part of the little that was left after the holocaust refused to speak Hungarian anymore. It is not hard to understand, why they did it.

  14. @ Louis K:

    “Who will be the ‘incomers’ this time?”

    Russians (…prodding the Moldavians to go before..)

  15. @ Louis K:

    “Who will be the ‘incomers’ this time?”

    Well, in Italy, also with dramatic demographic changes of its own, Mozarella production is increasingly done by immigrant Sikhs…

  16. Just finished watching a program on Duna World. First, there was a news report. Kolosvar, and another town I can’t remember, was treated as it belonged to Hungary. The ensuing
    program began with a rider–”Not recommended for ages under 6″–rather surprising as I always thought that cutoff points were 12 and 16. So, to the program. It was about Szekely Hungarians. Questions about their ‘hungriness’ popped up and they all answered proudly that they were Hungarian. Interesting.

    As I watched the program, I reflected on that not-under-6 stipulation. What was the idea? Well, one effect might be to encourage other children to watch the program. But to what effect? Well, I don’t remember being particularly geographically
    minded at 8 or 10 or even 12. But I can imagine that when
    the geographic truth comes home to these kids they will be saddled with a specific Hungarian indignation as to “when did we lose these Hungarian lands”? Ready-hatched Nationalists.

    Clever, these Fidesz mind-benders, wouldn’t you say?

  17. Petrovics: “Clever, these Fidesz mind-benders, wouldn’t you say?”

    For saying the truth? What should they have said according to you? That we are Dacians, Romans or Cumans?

  18. Louis Kovach :
    Petrovics: “Clever, these Fidesz mind-benders, wouldn’t you say?”
    For saying the truth? What should they have said according to you? That we are Dacians, Romans or Cumans?

    ‘Truth’ is socially constructed. ‘National identity’ is a discursive accomplishment, rather than a natural fact.

    So if certain Hungarians want to instill in innocent youngsters bitter feelings of ‘lost lands’ and anger that ‘they stole our land’ and put up maps of Hungary 100 years ago on the wall, then that’s their right, I suppose.

    But it all sounds incredibly perverse to me.

  19. Bowen: “But it all sounds incredibly perverse to me.”

    Would you say the same thing for “Next year in Jerusalem” also??? There it was thousand of years ago not hundreds.

  20. Louis Kovach :
    Bowen: “But it all sounds incredibly perverse to me.”
    Would you say the same thing for “Next year in Jerusalem” also??? There it was thousand of years ago not hundreds.

    I’m really no fan of organised religions – a cursory glance at history suggest they probably do more harm than good. But it’s interesting that you imply this Trianon nostalgia is on a par with some kind of religious faith.

  21. Louis Kovach :
    Petrovics: “Clever, these Fidesz mind-benders, wouldn’t you say?”
    For saying the truth? What should they have said according to you? That we are Dacians, Romans or Cumans?

    Louis,
    you’ve got to take your Orban-tinted glasses off. It’s precisely
    the deviousness of the program I objected to. Now, in 2012,
    those places belong to another country called Romania. Why mislead children to thing they’re Hungarian? As I’ve said,
    the misdirection is intentional: they want to awaken a sense of
    loss and indignation later when the children will be in there teens.
    Nice-work. Back a while ago, we used to call that brain-washing.

  22. Speaking of religion & perversity.

    My mother is 92. She was watching today’s Catholic religious ceremony of the “Showing of the Sacred Right Hand” [of the first Hungarian king] on public television. [Remark: it might be just a fake "right hand" from the 18th century]. President, prime minister, military units all participated, paid by the taxpayers.

    She was a student at a high school close to the “Bazilika” and Parliament during Horthy’s reign. They were ordered to participate in the celebrations as happy crowd. She remarked today: “the celebration was less lavish then”.

    So where is the perversity in the whole thing? Only 29% of the taxpayers wanted to donate money voluntarily to any church in 2010 [up from 22% a couple years before], and 60% of them designated the Catholic Church.{see a previous discussion for the exact data}

    That makes 100% of the taxpayers were forced to pay for the religious ceremony of 17-18% of the population.

  23. tappanch :
    That makes 100% of the taxpayers were forced to pay for the religious ceremony of 17-18% of the population.

    Well, you know that the August 20 celebrations were magically renamed ‘Együtt az Ország!’ after May 2010.

  24. Bowen :

    tappanch :
    That makes 100% of the taxpayers were forced to pay for the religious ceremony of 17-18% of the population.

    Well, you know that the August 20 celebrations were magically renamed ‘Együtt az Ország!’ after May 2010.

    Ahh, the ‘generosity’ of Orban and Fidesz.
    Generosity–the olympic achievers will get roughly double what they got
    four years ago;

    Generosity–this year they are spending 35% more on the fireworks;

    Generosity–Lavish August 20th ceremonies…and more.

    WHOSE GENEROSITY?

    Oh, you mean it comes from taxpayers’ money? You don’t say.
    Yet the SHINE OF GENEROSITY is to fall on Orban and Fidesz.

    And the sheep take it all in….

  25. “Back a while ago, we used to call that brain-washing.”

    It still is, on industrial level this time.
    In my opinion there is a big scale and long term social engineering project going on, this is only a part of the whole scheme. They using well proven techniques – working every time, no surprises there, have seen it before.
    If you look at the criteria to define a religious sect, you’ll see a nice parallel how the Fidesz organized. Listen to anything what Mr.Orban read up in a place of speech, you’ll recognize the same pattern all the time: a bunch of strategically picked, emotionally loaded word glued with anecdotes and whatever nonsense comes around – a clearly dreadful experience if you are not a believer. Add to the whole the information void in the mainstream media, pour over and soak in some national/nationalist colors, and here we are.

  26. Louis Kovach :
    Dr Balogh: “Maybe Hungarian school teachers should spend a little time on this very important subject in order to set these youngsters straight. And perhaps then we wouldn’t have so many ill-informed people”
    Who will teach slow Rumaniazation of Transylvania?

    I believe the census shows that aside from a few pockets (cities?), Transylvania was mostly Romanian. But then, who teaches that?

  27. Bowen :

    Louis Kovach :
    Bowen: “But it all sounds incredibly perverse to me.”
    Would you say the same thing for “Next year in Jerusalem” also??? There it was thousand of years ago not hundreds.

    I’m really no fan of organised religions – a cursory glance at history suggest they probably do more harm than good. But it’s interesting that you imply this Trianon nostalgia is on a par with some kind of religious faith.

    @ Bowen,

    You understood my previous post whereas poor Louis…well that nationalistic nonsense does fog the mind.

    However, I’m not sure I agree about the organized religion part. I mean, where would we be without
    Bach, Handel and all those beautiful churches? And,
    would there have been a Renaissance without the
    monateries? I think not.

    What’s more, the human population would probably be at 10 billion by now without all that humanizing murder.

  28. LwiiH :

    Louis Kovach :
    Dr Balogh: “Maybe Hungarian school teachers should spend a little time on this very important subject in order to set these youngsters straight. And perhaps then we wouldn’t have so many ill-informed people”
    Who will teach slow Rumaniazation of Transylvania?

    I believe the census shows that aside from a few pockets (cities?), Transylvania was mostly Romanian. But then, who teaches that?

    Here is what I found in the 1992 census about ethnic Hungarians in Transylvania.

    933,000 lived in towns
    482,000 lived in villages, where they formed the majority (on the average, those 158 villages were 81.4% Hungarian, and the average village size was 4,000)
    224,000 lived in villages where they were in minority

  29. Here is my last piece about Transylvania

    ethnic Romanians
    in 1910: 60.1% Greek Orthodox, 39.4% Greek Catholic, 0.3% Roman Catholic;
    in 1992: 89.9% Greek Orthodox, 3.1% Greek Catholic, 1.4% Roman Catholic;
    [Greek Catholic collapse among Romanians]

    ethnic Germans
    in 1910: 53.0% Roman Catholic, 37.5% Lutheran, 8.7% Jewish;
    in 1992: 60.1% Roman Catholic, 26.5% Lutheran, 5.4% Greek Orthodox;
    [more emigration among Saxons than among Schwabians in the Communist era]

    ethnic Hungarians
    in 1910: 41.2% Calvinist, 38.0% Roman Catholic, 7.9% Jewish, 4.9% Greek Catholic, 4.1% Unitarian, 2.1% Lutheran, 1.5% Greek Orthodox;
    [Calvinist+Roman Catholic+Unitarian make up 83.3% of Hungarians in 1910]

    in 1992: 47.4% Calvinist, 41.0% Roman Catholic, 4.6% Unitarian,1.6% Greek Orthodox, 1.4% Greek Catholic, 1.2% Lutheran
    [Calvinist+Roman Catholic+Unitarian make up 93.0% of Hungarians in 1992]

  30. I am re-posting this because it was delayed by a wait for moderation and because it relates to the above comment too.

    gdfxx :

    Eva S. Balogh :

    tappanch :
    In Romania, the town Oradea [Nagyvárad], very close to the Hungarian border, is only 1/4 Hungarian by now. (24.5% according to the 2011 census, see http://www.bihor.insse.ro/phpfiles/Comunicat%20-%20DATE%20PROVIZORII%20RPL%202011.pdf).

    In my much treasured 1910 census the following figures can be found: Nagyvárad’s population was 64,169. There were 58,421 Hungarians, 1,416 Germans, 279 Slovaks, 3,604 Romanians, 25 Ruthenians, 33 Serbs, 59 others (that usually means Gypsies). There were 20,000 Catholics and Calvinists each and almost as many Jews (izraelita in the census): 17,307. The Hungarian assisted Holocaust managed to wipe out at least a third of the Hungarian speaking population.

    And a large part of the little that was left after the holocaust refused to speak Hungarian anymore. It is not hard to understand, why they did it.

  31. Bowen :

    tappanch :
    That makes 100% of the taxpayers were forced to pay for the religious ceremony of 17-18% of the population.

    Well, you know that the August 20 celebrations were magically renamed ‘Együtt az Ország!’ after May 2010.

    There’s an enormous advertising hording just round the corner to us, facing drivers on the 4 road as they leave the city A few days before the 20th this was taken over by a huge banner declaring August 20th as “Együtt az Ország!”. Fidesz-Jobbik are obviously so confident that the general population will follow their lead that they don’t need to spend a small fortune advertising it…

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