Jobbik-Fidesz cooperation: The case of the Western Hungarian Uprising of 1921

In a way I’m continuing the same topic as yesterday–the Orbán government’s appeasement of Jobbik and its supporters. Actually, it may be imprecise to talk about appeasement. There is a partially shared ideology that on quite a few occasions has brought the Orbán government and Jobbik together on the same platform, working hand in hand. Fidesz politicians would like to keep this cooperation quiet. Openly they refuse to associate themselves with Jobbik, but under cover they are more than ready to pick up and support Jobbik’s ideas.

One such endeavor seems to run into difficulties year after year. I’m talking about the restoration of the statue of a young man that adorns the grave of Tibor Vámossy, a nineteen-year-old engineering student who died in the so-called Western Hungarian Uprising of August 28 – October 13, 1921. Before 1920 Western Hungary was the official name of that part of Greater Hungary called Burgenland today.

Austria, in the name of self-determination of nations, laid claim to the territory, including the city of Sopron, on November 17, 1918. The Allied and Associated Powers approved the transfer of territories in the September 10, 1919 Treaty of Saint-Germain. The Hungarian government did not expect such an “unfriendly act” from the “in-laws,” as Hungarians often refer to their former Austrian partners, but the Austrian claim was well founded. The territory’s population according to the 1920 census was about 350,000. The vast majority were German-speaking (72.4%). Croatians (13.8%) and Hungarians (12.3%) made up the rest.

This territory–as opposed to those in the north, east, and south–remained under Hungarian administration after the military collapse, which gave the Hungarian government some hope of retaining it. Budapest tried to come to a separate understanding with Vienna, but these negotiations not surprisingly were unsuccessful. At this point “independent” armed groups decided to prevent the entry of Austrian gendarmes. Eventually 2,000-3,000 quite well armed men were involved on the Hungarian side; the Austrian policemen were no match for them. After a few people died on both sides, the Austrians withdrew. Eventually a peaceful solution was found at the Conference of Venice with Italian moderation. The Hungarians asked for a plebiscite in Sopron and in nine villages nearby. Although the plebiscite produced a Hungarian majority in only three villages, the inhabitants of Sopron voted for Hungary so overwhelmingly (72%) that eventually the whole area remained within Hungary. This was the only negotiated settlement between Hungary and her successors.

In the last few years the statue of Tibor Vámossy in the Farkasréti Cemetery has become a gathering place for Jobbik supporters who, flanked by members of Magyar Gárda, commemorate Vámossy’s death on October 6, 1921. Young Vámossy was the only son of  upper-middle class parents who were rich enough to hire a well-known artist to sculpt a statue of their son and who were patriotic enough to make sure that everybody would know that Tibor died for “Western Hungary.” The Latin words “Pro Integritate” were chiseled into the base of the statue. Vámossy, Jobbik contends, was a member of the so-called Rongyos Gárda (Ragged Guard), one of the many paramilitary organizations that took part in the uprising. Jobbik–and Magyar Gárda–consider it a precursor of sorts.

By the time members of Jobbik and Magyar Gárda discovered the grave site, it was neglected and crumbling. But it had not been completely ignored. Earlier, in 2004, a government organization looking after places and objects that have some national significance (Nemzeti Emlékhely és Kegyeleti Bizottság/NEKB) decided to include the grave on its roster. The president of this organization is Péter Boross, prime minister of Hungary for a few months after József Antall, who in my opinion is very much to the right on the Hungarian political spectrum. So when Jobbik came up with the idea of restoring the crumbling statue they had to turn to NEKB for permission. On September 12, 2012 the organization gave Jobbik permission to go ahead with the project.

At this point members of the Vámossy family raised objections. They refused to have anything to do with Jobbik and its efforts at reconstructing their ancestor’s grave. They announced that, contrary to Jobbik’s claim, Tibor Vámossy was not a member of the Rongyos Gárda; he was a simple patriotic engineering student who decided to fight for his country. The Rongyos Gárda’s reputation is pretty bad in Hungary: it was a murderous anti-Semitic group. So, it is understandable that the Vámossy family refused to endorse the project.

The Vámossy relatives, most of whom live abroad, were right. Young Vámossy was not a member of this unsavory group. According to Andor Ladányi, who wrote a book on the role of university students in the first years of the counterrevolution, there were two recruiters at the engineering school: István Friederich, former prime minister between August 7 and November 25, 1919, and EKSZ (Etelközi Szövetség), an irredentist group active in universities. According to Ladányi, about 50 students were recruited from the engineering students by Friederich, some of whom were described by contemporaries as “all very stylish and well-educated boys.” They even had a “uniform” of sorts: green hunting caps and brown “sporty outfits.” Vámossy was one of these. He and a friend of his, Antal Lossonczy, died while writing postcards home along a roadside near Kismarton. An Austrian patrol opened fire on them.

So, Jobbik came up with an idea which was then approved by the Boross-led organization in charge of national monuments. When the family objected to the presence of Jobbik, the Ministry of Defense decided to take upon itself the cost of the restoration. That is what I meant when I said that Jobbik and the Orbán government often work hand in hand. As Előd Novák, vie-chairman of Jobbik, reported in August 2013, it was on Jobbik’s initiative that the project received the nod from Csaba Hende, who wrote to him that ” although Tibor Vámossy did not die as a soldier on October 6, 1921, he sacrificed his life in defense of the integrity of our country.” Apparently, Hende added that “naturally the government and the ministry acknowledge the merits of the Rongyos Gárda” as well.

The restored tomb and statue

The restored tomb and statue

In August 2013 the whole project was almost ready and Jobbik was preparing for the official unveiling of the statue sometime in October. Naturally, the Magyar Gárda and Jobbik wanted to be present. After all, it was their idea, and they would have been ready to pay for the restoration if the family hadn’t objected. But this was exactly what Csaba Hende, the minister of defense who planned to deliver the speech at the unveiling, did not want. So, according to Jobbik sources, the ministry decided to unveil “the statue of Tibor Vámossy who was a member of the Rongyos Gárda in secret” on October 11. As soon as the ministry discovered that Jobbik knew about the “secret” event and that they intended to participate, Hende’s ministry “postponed the ceremony” again.

Jobbik was outraged and began to attack both the ministry and the Vámossy family. In Novák’s opinion, the ministry is using the family as an excuse. They simply don’t want to be seen with Jobbik. Jobbik also began questioning the right of the Vámossys to speak on the issue at all. After all, they said, Tibor was unmarried and had no direct descendants. Yes and no. I happen to know that Tibor Vámossy had a sister who was married to someone whose family name was Mikecz. At the request of his father-in-law Mikecz changed his name to Vámossy in order to carry on the family name.

Another year has gone by and the anniversary of the uprising’s beginning, August 28,  is approaching. There is still no resolution to the unveiling even though by now the restored memorial is in place. According to Jobbik, the government must decide whether it recognizes the heroism of the Rongyos Gárda in the Western Hungarian Uprising that resulted in a negotiated settlement in Hungary’s favor or not. Előd Novák wants the government not to hide anymore and instead to come out openly and bravely. Hende cannot say one thing to Novák and another to the general public or the Vámossy family. The members of the Orbán government must choose. I agree with Novák.


  1. Orban to the Hungarian ambassadors in Budapest today:

    “We will not follow foreign policy based on ideology. We will stay in the NATO and EU…
    It is true we do not spend 2% of our GDP as we promised to NATO, but we try.

    US is financed by China, the German RWE company and the Norwegian sovereign fund do business with the Russians, so we should not be worried about Paks.

    The EU examined us thoroughly and found us appropriate.

    Poland regards the Russian problems from a security viewpoint, we regard them from an economical one.

    We will not follow the Japanese, the Russian or any other model. In Europe, it is not possible to follow a model not based on Christianity.

    We are being attacked because of the Russian sanctions.

    Europe will decline if people outside Europe work more and more efficiently.

    The handling of immigration separates liberal and illiberal countries. Hungary has an economic advantage [over the liberal Britain, which encourages immigration], because there is order here in the legal sense, but also in the culture.” [Unbelievable stupidity]

  2. “We will be very hard against immigration.

    There should be international programs to keep the refugees at home.

    Before we destroyed Lybia [meaning Khadafi], there was something going on in that regard.

    We also have 10 million Gypsies in Europe, who are unemployed.” [10 million??]

    “Hungary is a rather provincial country, it is difficult to scrape the mud off our shoes.”

    End of Orban’s lecture of the world


    Orban’ speech reminds me of the mandatory “scientific socialism” lessons at the university here.

    Lots of platitudes spiked with false statements.

    platitude: societies continuously change,
    false statement: change occurs along a helix – societies get better and better along the helix]

  3. @tappanch

    Thanks for these little gems in Fidesz’s Fuzzy Thinking!

    Isn’t it the second time in a week that Russia is excluded from ‘Christianity’? And I thought we’d come a long way since 1054 …

    Regarding the economy, we still don’t know what kind of ‘work’ OV has in mind. According to 2012 figures compiled by the European Parliament earlier this year, the three Baltic States spend 30% more EU funds on R&D that Hungary does (related to their respective populations). Slovenia, 50%.

    What’s next for Hungarians? Building more soccer stadiums? Clearing more brushwood?

  4. Difficult to pick one line that’s dafter than the rest, but for me, this stands out:

    “Europe will decline if people outside Europe work more and more efficiently.”

    I wonder if Orbán has ever noticed how “efficiently” Hungarians work?

    Has he noticed just how long it takes to get served in any sort of government office and how “efficient” that process is? Has he noticed how impossibly slow the till queues are in the supermarkets? (even in Lidl!) Has he noticed just how many staff you see in shops just standing around, with apparently nothing to do?

    Or the work gangs cleaning the streets – 12 people doing what one person does in the UK (and without the extensive tea breaks)? Or the workmen that always turn up in threes for a one-person job, and always have to come back for at least one more visit?

    An absolute classic, the other day – it was bin day, I was coming back from the Co-op and noticed two bin men standing at the side of the road chatting. The reason I noticed this is that it’s not something you ever see at home – bin men there are either moving the bins to and fro or loading or unloading them, or they are trotting after the lorry (they have to trot, as the lorry is almost constantly moving). I discovered the reason for their idleness when I reached the lorry – there was no driver. He was in the local ABC, drink in hand, chatting to the woman who runs the shop. Ten minutes later, he was still there.

    (The Germans always comment on how inefficient us Brits are, so God alone knows what they think of Hungarian ‘efficiency’!)

  5. I am meeting real people all over the world.

    What could the ratio of normal vs. abnormal be?

    I would estimate that 2% may be called normal, while 98% of the people are prisoners of delusional myths.

    Luckily, most of the readers of the Hungarian Spectrum belong to the 2% group.

    Liliputin is residing in a totally separate category.

  6. I just read about a book by two Austrian journalists: Roland Adrowitzer and Ernst Gelegs, Szhöne Grüße aus dem Orbán-Land. Die rechte Revolution in Ungarn (2013).

  7. New, retroactive tax on media commercials:

    atlatszo obtained some documents used in preparation of the tax.

    The Orban government expected to levy
    69.0% of the 7.5 billion HUF tax on RTL,
    18.6% on TV2,
    6.0% on Sanoma and
    6.4% on all other market participants combined.

    Simicska’s Publimont would pay only 1.1% of the tax, so I would not
    worry about him.

  8. So RTL would pay almost 70% of the tax – this is obviously a targeted tax on a single market player, the law will not stand up to the scrutiny of an independent, European court.

  9. It’s really funny – we have visitors right now.

    Someone from my wife’s family just remarked how interesting it would be if the principle of “the biggest company pays the largest tax” would be applied to other markets too – like building:
    How much would Közgep have to pay?

    Or banking:

    How much would OTP (they are the biggest by far, n’est ce pas?) have to pay?

    And the list could be continued …

  10. @twelve, my take on the trip:

    1. We know from urban legends that neither of the spousal relationships of Orban or Lazar is as hot as they used to be. Actually, it is likely that normally neither bothers their respective spouses with asking them for an inconvenient (short, but one which includes a lot of travelling and is likely to be boring) joint holiday unless it was extremely important. For example if both wanted to create an apperanace of a plausible cover, in this case a joint family outing to Germany-Switzerland.
    2. If any Hungarian politician was going to travel to Switzerland as part of a day trip or a very short private trip, it would raise suspicions. So much so that no Hungarian politicians would risk it – they know that people would immediately think that they were checking their secret bank accounts (remember Simon with the Austrian accounts?). This is probably not true (unless the politicians is crazy), because the Swiss banks are no so discrete any more, but people would still assume so. But what if Orban and Lazar *had* to travel to Switzerland? Then they would have to create an appearance of a complex trip so as to deflect attention from the whole rationale of the trip: the Swiss leg of the tour.
    3. We also know that Switzerland is a favorite place for Russians to do energy business. Gunvor (it is widely suspected that it is Putin’s personal trading vehicle, a company which from scratch in a few years became one of the biggest oil trader in the world) is registered there, as is MET Ag, this enigmatic trading company linked by journalists to MOL and Orban about which wrote. But these are just examples. There exists a great and sophisticated infrastructure serving these shadowy companies. It is also a useful neutral place for negotiations if Orban or his counterparties could not or would not want to openly negotiate in Hungary or Russia.
    4. Orban is of course the ultimate decider, but he may not possess all the relevant information because the energy deals have been outsourced to Lazar who lead the negotiations about Paks and probably other deals. Orban wanted to outsource the negotiations while retaining ultimate influence and right to decide and definitely wanted to avert responsibility away from him in the unlikely scenario that such a transaction unravels and ends in a political and legal mess. So for any main decision in a top priority energy deal, such as Paks or the upcoming gas purchase agreement Orban needs Lazar, and Lazar cannot decide without Orban, for effective negotiations involving possible decisions they just have to be together.
    5. The story that both went to Germany to meet a friend there and then further onto Switzerland to attend a concert in a church sounds implausible. Neither the fidgeting Orban, nor the hyperactive Lazar strikes me as somebody who would enthusiastically sit tight during a classical concert, they rarely if ever attend such concerts in Budapest, why would they do so now and travel for this specific reason to Zürich and for example not remain in Germany where there are ample opportunities too to see such concerts?

    I may be paranoid, but I have grave doubts about real rationale behind the trip of Orban and Lazar.

  11. Actually, I also have a question about illegal emigration to the EU.

    Why doesn’t the EU take out Melilla, Ceuta, Lampedusa, Malta, etc. from the immigration laws?

    So if immigrants reach these enclaves and islands , they would not be considered refugees and could be taken back immediately.

    Illegal immigration could be cut by a large % this way.

    Am I wrong?

  12. @Tappanch:

    Even ignoring the humanitarian side – where do you “send back” people that arrive on an island like Lampedusa?

    Often they have no passports, they won’t say where they’re from and the coastal countries of Africa won’t accept them …

  13. the Jewish card in action:

    Ference Falus has now been thoroughly tainted: Heti Valasz has ‘discovered’ that he is of jewish

    Whether true or not, the way the mental midgets in this country are manipulated…he can give up
    his election dream forthwith.

  14. Fidesz perhaps have better suits, Jobbik are perhaps more naïve (honest?) in declaring their hatred of Jews/Roma and foreigners but to speak of Jobbik-Fidesz “cooperation” is to ignore the fact that their politicians and voters are pretty much one and the same in terms of attitudes.

    OT Lazar and his boss are, by this stage, completely foaming at the mouth at the action of the Norwegians and the NGO sector- he expected a complete and utter surrender. However they are standing up to the scumbag and his minions… what is his next step?

  15. @tappanch

    I agree with Wolfi.

    Even in the case of documented people, taking them back to their own country necessitates an agreement from that country’s authorities. Last time I checked in the case of France, the average deliverance rate of such ‘laissez-passer’ by Foreign consular services was around 30%.

    And it’s not only about those home countries where the State is enfeebled. China for instance refuses as much as DR Congo in %.

    Europe cannot expel stateless people, nor can it take people to other countries without those countries’ agreement. Let alone in war zones, incidentally. It is a legacy of WW2 that I, for one, am not ready to throw away.

  16. @tappanch

    So you would create areas where essentially no law would apply such as Guantanamo or certain vast zones of Australia which are formally Australian territories under international law but which are in practice exempted from Australian laws (ie. even if someone reaches such area, under Australian domestic law it would still count as not reaching Australia in terms of its domestic laws, such as entitlement to constitutional rights). But this within the EU.

    For non-lawyers: a similar exempted area existed inside of Auschwitz.

    See the literature on zoe vs. bios by Giorgio Agamben or Carl Schmitt (chief Nazi legal theoretician) on friend vs. enemy.

  17. Eva S. Balogh
    August 25, 2014 at 8:20 am

    I just read about a book by two Austrian journalists: Roland Adrowitzer and Ernst Gelegs, Szhöne Grüße aus dem Orbán-Land. Die rechte Revolution in Ungarn (2013).

    Sorry, Mrs. Balogh, the book is rather “old” (2013). Did you only read about the book or did you yourself actually read it (or one of your friends/aquaintants did so)? There you can find – among others -the interview with Schöpflin György (pp. 185 ff.) I referred to in my letter of August 8, 2014 since you had mentioned him in one of your blogs (Anti-American voices after the reactions to Viktor Orbán’s speech).The book is quite woth reading.

  18. Wiki has this to say on Gelegs:

    “Im Jahr 2000 baute er als Auslandskorrespondent das Büro Budapest auf, das heute unter seiner Leitung als Osteuropabüro des ORF dient. Von Budapest aus betreut der „echte Wiener“ (mit böhmischer Großmutter und ungarischen Wurzeln) die Länder Ungarn, Slowakei, Tschechien, Polen, Rumänien, Moldawien und Griechenland.”

    So he’s not a nobody but a critical observer and he predicted Orbán’s victory in 2014!

    Somehow I missed this book though it has a lot of reviews in the German/Austrian media and as I see it it has similar views on Orbán and Fidesz as most people here!

  19. Another moment on the Blanket (Mr. Takaro)

    The ‘learned’ Hungarico tells that the importance of literature is to be assigned by the work’s importance in its own time–typical of a Magyar to get it 180 degree wrong!

    As I learned way back when (but of course, that’s ‘outdated’ now, and in any case, it’s a ‘western’
    idea that doesn’t apply to the eastward leaning Magyars…) that a ‘classic’ can only be attached to a work after at least a 100 years have passed. The idea was that the work had to have a general appeal to several generations, and to have staying power. Now I find that this is all wrong, thanks
    to… the Blanket.

    I’m ever so fearful that all I’ve learned by following Mortimer J. Adler’s notion of
    a liberal education (and that’s not a political term) is all wrong; that I must cast aside the works
    of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Montaigne and Shakespeare–to name just a few–on the say of a Hungario with, at best, a 3rd rate education and a 4th rate mind!

    Woe is me!

  20. When one hears the Jobbik, Fidesz, and even some American-Hungarians recite the horrors of Hungarians placed outside the current borders of the nation one rarely ever hears of the Novi Sad massacre in 1942 (Ujvidéki mészárlás) or the 1914 massacres carried out by Austrian, Hungarian, Bosnian, and other of the Empire’s forces against Serb villagers that I posted about the other day. The obsession over the grave of Tibor Vámossy is just one more example of this magyar pszichózis.

    Last year at least Janos Ader formally apologized to Serbia for this horrendous slaughter and in return the Serbian Parliament adopted a resolution indicating there was no collective guilt on the part of Hungarians in Vojvodina for this slaughter. The Hungarian rightwing was outraged at Ader for his act last year.

    Here is one such comment from the rightwing about Ader’s apology:

    “Apologies for what!! The Racs have been uncivil all throughout our history, they never could keep their word, spineless traitors. Why do we have to apologies and keep on forgiving as if we are the foreigners in Europe? No we have to say enough is enough and not apologize but weigh up the Truth how the Serbs screwed us on many occasions, as well as the Czechs, Toth’s, Habsburgs and Romanians. Sick that we are always the bad guys while we have more reason to defend our Motherland then the traitors who live a continuous historical lie.”

    Tibor Cseres’ novel Hideg napok depicted this nightmare in Novi Sad and later his book Verbosszu Bacskaban discussed the mass murder of Vojvodinan Hungarians by Tito’s partisans and Serb nationalists. Paul Mojzes’ book “Balkan Genocides: Holocaust and Ethnic Cleansing in the Twentieth Century” really is the only overall study in English of the nightmare of mass murder committed by various southern Central European nationalists going back to the Balkan wars of 1912–13, forward to the post WWII, and concluding with the genocide as Yugoslavia was breaking up.

    When I read about the various Jobbik and Fidesz denials of the historical reality of the role Hungarians have played in this Central European nightmare it reminds me of the arguments I have with US Army and Marine Corp deniers of all atrocities committed by our own forces in recent wars. What a sad world we live in.

  21. @tappanch

    Speaking of the Puskás Academy soccer team, I was just having a look on at the attendance of games for this soccer season, which is now in its 6th week. Unfortunately, most games don’t release attendance figures, which I assume is because they are embarrassing low.

    But there are two figures released for games at Pancho Arena in Felcsút:

    Aug. 16 MTK-Honvéd attendance: 500
    Aug. 1 Puskás-Pécs attendance: 300

    Attendance at that last game means that the 3500-capacity stadium wasn’t even 10% full. And this is in a brand-new venue that is only 4 months old!

  22. Thanks Istvan! Probably no country in Europe should be proud of what happened there in the last 100 years (and we don’t have to talk/think about what happened before that time …) – too many senseless brutal killings went on.

    Re Sopron:

    I wrote yesterday on another thread:

    “I haven’t been to Debrecen lately, but we just met some relatives of my wife in Sopron. The Deák Etterem on Deák Tér (now the spelling should be good …) is nice and the food was also very good – but the old city is so rotten! So many buildings with signs of a glorious past that are empty and falling apart – it seems that almost nothing has been done since we were there last time, three years ago.

    I was really shocked! Of course there are new buildings and some which have been renovated nicely, but the large majority looks horrible, plaster falling off, windows that haven’t seen any paint since the fall of communism …

    Why is that – especially compared to other cities eg Debrecen?”

    I can’t help believing that some people in Sopron might think that they would have been better off as a part of Austria …

  23. @Wolfi: “I can’t help believing that some people in Sopron might think that they would have been better off as a part of Austria …”

    Possibly. I was in Rust (about 20km from Sopron) last week. Very beautiful little baroque town, lovingly maintained, and buzzing with cafes, wine cellars, souvenir shops. In fact it was difficult to find a place to park. And it’s got lots of storks there. Every house seemed to have three or four storks on the roof.

    And it’s full of Hungarians working there in the cafes and shops.

  24. “…some people in Sopron might think that they would have been better off as a part of Austria …”

    Actually, people in Hungary would probably be better of as part of Zimbabwe….

  25. wolfi
    August 25, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Somehow I missed this book though it has a lot of reviews in the German/Austrian media and as I see it it has similar views on Orbán and Fidesz as most people here!

    Wolfi, you are right, so may I interpret your comment as support of my assessment of he Austrian journalists‘ book?
    From Mrs Balogh’s reaction to my lines I got the feeling that she misunderstood my intention – and thus misinterpreted my stance on Schöpflin and Orbán alike. Perhaps I was not precise enough.

  26. London Calling!

    btw Istvan

    The analysis of the Serb slaughter by the Austrians was a harrowing read.

    The cruelty of the allied Hungarians was horrendous – they seemed to have a sadistic streak, always being the most brutal compared with the Austrians.

    Why do you think that was?

    The author was always careful to corroborate what he said and understates the case when in doubt.

    The pictures alone are unbearable.

    The detailed analysis of the illegal exploding bullets used by the ‘best shots’ of the Austrian army showed how cynically they bypassed the humanitarian conventions – as did the dum-dum bullets.

    Not to mention the systemic rape of the young girls and women.

    The horrors of war.

    How lucky I was to be a post-war child.

    A sobering read – Thanks.



  27. In the 1921 plebiscite in the Sopron salient, 5 villages voted to become part of Austria:
    Ágfalva, Harka, Fertőrákos, Sopronbánfalva, Balf.

    On the other hand, a few other villages at the Austrian border elected to return to Hungary after the 1921.

    1922: Szomoróc

    Szentpéterfa, Pornóapáti, Horvátlövő, Németkeresztes, Magyarkeresztes, Alsócsatár, Felsőcsatár, Kisnarda, Nagynarda; Ólmod; Mekszikópuszta.

  28. Zimbabwe is an excellent analogy for Hungary. Sounds magyar-ellenes, but also true.
    Rwanda could be also a second good one.
    Where is the reason of Deak?

    Even the most educated, most decent conservative old-school Hungarians can not consider to admit the barbaric past.

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