In the latest installment of our (semi)regular segment, Wow! Really?, we examine little-known or unexpected facts about Hungary and Hungarian culture. Today, we take a look at the office of the Slovak Minister of Finance, where a rather surprising map can be found hanging on the wall.
Peter Kažimír is Slovakia’s Finance Minister and a senior member of the ruling Smer-SD party, a political group that has shown various degrees of hostility to the country’s Hungarian minority in the past. It was slightly surprising then, that in photos published as part of a recent interview with the Finance Minister, a historical map of ‘Greater Hungary’ can be found hanging on his wall.
This map, showing a territory roughly the shape of a large fish, portrays the Kingdom of Hungary, the Lands of the Holy Crown of St. Stephen, as it existed before the end of the First World War and the 1920 Treaty of Trianon. This treaty was the formal conclusion of Hungary’s participation in the war. In addition, under the terms of the treaty, Hungary ceded over two-thirds of its territory and roughly 64% of its population (including over 30% of ethnic Hungarians) to neighboring countries. This includes lands that today make up a significant portion of Slovakia. You can see a similar map to the one hanging on Kažimír’s wall below:
According to Hungarian-language Slovak news site Parameter.sk, the explanation behind this map lies in a growing acceptance of the pre-1918 ‘Hungarian Kingdom’ as being an integral part of Slovak history. While Smer-SD has shown a hostility to Hungarians (and even to St. Stephen) in the past, the party is moving towards a different view of Slovak history, one that lays less emphasis on the Czechoslovak era.
In fact, the Slovak government is now positioning itself as an equal heir to the historical heritage of Austria-Hungary, the Kingdom of Hungary, and even of St. Stephen, since modern Slovakia’s territory was every bit as much a part of these empires as modern Hungary’s was. One example of this was a series of Slovak euro coins issued a few years ago featuring the Holy Crown of St. Stephen; as Parameter points out, while this might seem strange to Hungarians in Hungary,
Slovaks naturally did not steal the symbol, since…Stephen was not only King of the Hungarians, but of the Slovaks as well.
And perhaps the strongest indicator of this new line of historical thought can be seen in Kažimír’s interview, which itself was given on August 19th, the night before St. Stephen’s Day. But while the day is widely known and celebrated as the anniversary of Hungary’s foundation, it is also celebrated in Slovakia as well, as the founding of Hungária-Uhorsko, or Upper Hungary, the southern region of the country that historically belonged to Hungary, and that has a sizeable Hungarian minority to this very day.
In this context, then, and on the eve of such a celebration, one that has now been embraced by Slovaks as well, it is perhaps less surprising that the country’s Finance Minister has a map of ‘Greater Hungary’ on his wall. For while the pre-1918 era was once derided as a period of foreign oppression, it has begun to receive a re-evaluation as a valuable source of not just Hungarian, but Slovak pride as well.
Via parameter.sk and dennikn.sk
Images via Dennik N and antikterkep.hu