On the occasion of the 104th anniversary of the Treaty of Trianon, on the Day of National Unity, the Municipality of Debrecen organised a commemoration and wreath-laying ceremony on the 4th of  June 2024.

The commemoration began in the morning with the raising and lowering of the flag of Hungary at Kossuth Square. In the early evening, the Debrecen Hajdú Dance Ensemble, the Debrecen Folk Ensemble and the Főnix Children’s and Youth Folk Dance Ensemble performed “The Hungarian Nation is Fleeing to the Heart” on Dósa nádor Square, the Hortobágy Folk Dance Ensemble, the Ilosvai Selymes Péter Folk Dance Ensemble from Nagyida and the Bürkös Orchestra gave a joint performance, and then they all marched together with the assembled guests from Dósa nádor Square to Bem Square.

On the square, after the raising and lowering of the flag, Mayor of Debrecen László Papp gave a speech. According his words, every 4th of June, our hearts bring us together, here at the statue of Hungarian pain symbolsong the mutilated Hungary. All of us who are here are pained by the injustice done to the Hungarian nation in Trianon. On this day 104 years ago, the Hungarian nation was mutilated, with the unconcealed intention of causing its slow death. A century later, the Trianon Peace Treaty can be interpreted as nothing other than a murderous assassination attempt against the Hungarian nation.

One of Europe’s oldest nations was torn apart, families were torn apart, our ancestral lands were stolen, our economy was mutilated, our right to self-defence was taken away,  all of which are mortal wounds in the life of a nation…  

The nation was on the verge of becoming unviable, of losing the ability to defend itself, in a situation where we had little chance of a good, hopeful decision for the survival of the nation.  

This situation was expressed by our great statesman, Count Albert Apponyi put it this way “Still, if Hungary were to be put in a position where it had to choose between accepting this peace or refusing to sign it, it would actually have to ask itself the question, should it commit suicide in order not to die.”

So it is natural that our hearts, more than a century later, are still torn by Trianon. Especially here, at the gateway to our sister regions of Partium and Transylvania. We cannot forget or forgive what happened, and we must work with all our strength to make Hungary a rich, strong, sovereign country, which can never again be treated as it was in Trianon.  

Today is a sad but meaningful day for all Hungarians. It is significant because we feel that on this day a century ago, although we were condemned to death, we defied that sentence, and the Hungarian nation is still alive today and can say that it has great plans. 

No other nation has been tested by so many wars, dictatorships and crises. No other nation has had so much taken away from it. No other nation, after so many trials, has not only been able to survive, but, shaking off the yoke of fascism and communism, has been able to start building a country and a nation. 

Just think of how many peoples and how many great empires have disappeared into the abyss of history in the space of 1000 years. Once masters of the world, many now exist only on the pages of history books. Many tragedies have befallen us, many times we have been on the brink of destruction, but we are still alive! We have been, we are, we will be as long as the world is the world. 

Europe is still in our debt today, even if the thought brings a sneer to the faces of some politicians at home or in Europe. In fact, the Trianon dictate disregarded Hungary’s historic role, as Count Albert Apponyi put it, “’Historical Hungary fulfilled the task of maintaining a state in which balance and security prevailed, protecting Europe from the immediate threats from the east. It fulfilled this profession for ten centuries and was qualified for it only by his organic unity….”  

All that was to be created here, in Central Europe, on the ruins of historic Hungary, exists only in its elements. Czechoslovakia was dissolved, the southern Slavic community of states was broken down into its elements at the cost of a bloody war, and the Wilsonian principles never for a moment prevented any of the successor states from forcibly changing the ethnic composition of the Hungarian territories they had seized. 

The Trianon peace was based on lies and injustice and left a weak, squabbling Central Europe, dependent on the influence of the West and the East, for the 21st century. Trianon and the peace of Paris are not our peace, yet they are historical facts. But the wheel of history did not stop in 1920 or 1947. Nor should we resign ourselves to the fact that we were losers. We were losers in the 20th century, but in the 21st century we have every chance of being winners. 

A century ago, at a time of one of our greatest national tragedies, Debrecen, once again after 1848/49,  set an example of patriotism. It opened its heart, opened its gates, welcomed refugees, gave protection to the persecuted and, most importantly, kept hope alive. The hope of a new beginning, the hope of Hungarian ascension. Debrecen has always been there for the nation. We have been its support in the struggle for freedom, its defenders in times of trouble, its stars of hope in the darkest times. Because we, the people of Debrecen, have always excelled in patriotism. 

As once, so now we have an important task to perform. We see that the world around us is in turmoil. The spectre of war is sweeping the world, and we can see the horrors of it in our immediate neighbourhood. 

Let’s not let peace slip away slowly, because the troubled times that led to the First World War and then to the tragedy of Trianon will return. Just as the people of Debrecen were not broken after Trianon, we must not resign ourselves to what is happening around us today. Overcoming the soul-killing decision, our nation and our city began to reshape itself, to rebuild the society and economy of a radically mutilated country through trauma and collapse. Education, health care, the economy, urban infrastructure and culture developed in leaps and bounds, just as 100 years later,  history repeating itself, in the 20s of the 21st century, Debrecen is the country’s development centre in all the areas I have just mentioned. Just as 100 years ago, the development of Debrecen helped to heal the wounds, so today it is our duty to put the strengthening of Debrecen at the service of the nation. 

This national healing attitude, typical of Debrecen, is well illustrated by the words uttered on the 23rd of  June 1920, after Debrecen had been liberated from the Romanian military occupation and we had just signed the Treaty of Trianon. This is how Dezső Baltazár, the then Reformed Bishop of Debrecen, summed up the recent past and looked to the future. “We have suffered a lot, but we are neither discouraged nor despairing. We knew whom we believed. We did not expect anything good from people. So we were not disappointed. We put our hope in God. We work according to his law. We also put our trust in him for the resurrection of our country.” 

This is what we must do today, and Debrecen must continue on the path of development it has begun, because we, as one of Hungary’s most important and strongest communities, must give strength to Christian-conservative Hungary. It is our historic responsibility to set an example and give strength to our fellow countrymen with the wisdom and calm strength that only we possess. 

Today, the city is once again a force as it was in historical times, when Debrecen’s influence reached into the Felvidék, Subcarpathians, reached deep into Partium and had a decisive influence on the Tiszántúl region. The borders drawn by Trianon broke down this organic unity, but now the time will come, we hope, soon, to restore, even if only partially, the old Debrecen world. 

I was recently in Oradea and Partium, where the question of how the development of Debrecen could be put at the service of the local Hungarian communities was raised again. I believe that there is a very important condition for this, and that is the abolition of the Schengen borders. I hope that the days of the border, which makes it difficult for Hungarian communities on both sides to cooperate, are numbered. Hungary will hold the next EU presidency in the second half of 2024, and the priority of this presidency will be to dismantle the Hungarian-Romanian Schengen border. Let’s hope that this year, we can finally achieve the removal of the border that has been an obstacle to the development, cohesion and unity of this region, which has been an integral part of the European Union for 1,000 years. If this happens, we will be able to put Trianon to a large extent behind us and once again create a culturally and economically strong and united region with Oradea and Partium. 

History brings us new opportunities. Our task is to be strong and prepared for these opportunities. We have laid the foundations for this strength and preparedness over the past 10 years, and I believe that Debrecen, as the strongest city in the region, will be a driving force for the region and for the reunification of Hungarian communities. This is how the idea of national unity will truly make sense. 

To avoid another Trianon, we must now do everything we can for our peace and for the future of Debrecen. Development and planning for the future is only possible in peace. This is in the interests of Debrecen and all its citizens.

Trianon gave birth to the new Hungarian nationalism. The humiliations and revenge that were heaped upon us after the First World War strengthened us, we knew no impossibilities and we developed a common identity, a common way of thinking that unites us and makes us strong wherever we are in the world. 

This idea has exploded seemingly invincible extremes and contributed to the fall of empires. We have shaken fascism off our shoulders, but it was a hard fight. We have hammered the first hole in the shield of communism and the first nail in its coffin. All this shows that we know the impossible and that we can stand up even when everyone thinks we have lost the battle.  

Today, we are not only remembering a tragic historical event, but also that whatever the rulers of the world wanted to do to Hungary in 1920, they failed. They failed to break the backbone of Hungary, they failed to break the unity of our nation. So, along with remembrance, let us pay tribute to the will to keep the nation together and to all those who have done their part to give us a chance to remain a successful, vibrant nation. 

“What has been taken away from Hungary geographically will always remain part of spiritual Hungary. This gives us hope for the strengthening of Hungarians around the world, for giving Hungarians both within and beyond the borders a perspective through strong educational, cultural and economic cooperation, and for everyone to live and prosper in their homeland, preserving their Hungarian identity. May God protect and help our nation here in the Carpathian Basin and around the world! God bless the Hungarians!” Mayor László Papp concluded his speech.

Afterwards, the audience was treated to a joint commemoration by Debrecen Hajdú Dance Ensemble, Debrecen Folk Ensemble, Főnix Children’s and Youth Folk Dance Ensemble, Hortobágy Folk Dance Ensemble,  Ilosvai Selymes Péter Folk Dance Ensemble from Nagyida and the Bürkös Orchestra, entitled “We belong together even in our divisions”. The St. Ephrem Greek Catholic Kindergarten, Primary School and Elementary Art School’s Rainbow Children’s Choir, as well as  actors of the Csokonai National Theatre István Papp and Richárd Kránicz performed.


Author: Debrecen4U