A video surfaced in which the head of the Hungarian delegation at the peace negotiations after World War I, Albert Apponyi, can be seen in 1929 speaking in English about the Hungarian situation and losses. In his speech, Apponyi emphasizes that nine years after the Trianon Dictate, Hungary does not expect “to get our wrongs set right by new wars, which seldom lead to any resetting of justice.” The video entitled “A Message to America,” was found by liberal news portal 444.
This article was originally published on our sister-site, Ungarn Heute. Translated by Júlia Tar.
Although the Entente powers had already decided before the end of World War I to dissolve the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and divide large parts of Hungary among the neighboring states, the warring parties had to sign the so-called peace treaty. This required maintaining at least the appearance of negotiations. At the end of 1919, Hungarian representatives were invited to the Paris peace negotiations, where (in 1920) the Hungarian position was still not considered decisive, but the country at least had “the right to have the last word.” At home, scientists, politicians, and diplomats worked for months on the incredible amount of background material with which the delegation finally arrived in the French capital.
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The delegation was led by Count Albert Apponyi, an important Hungarian politician with great international experience, fluent in several languages, who was also called “the greatest living Hungarian” by his contemporaries.
Born in 1846, the politician was also one of the most outstanding orators of his time, and he impressed even the leaders of the Entente in January 1920, with his famous defense speech given in several languages. Apponyi arrived in Paris as the head of the peace delegation on January 7th and delivered his famous peace speech to the High Council on January 16th.
Perhaps the most respected Hungarian politician of the monarchy, he had other interests besides politics. Fluent in six languages, his interests included linguistics, literature, philosophy, and music. He traveled to the United States several times beginning in 1904, the last time in 1924, where he completed lectures and met political leaders such as Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.
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In 1929, Apponyi delivered a monologue in English about the Hungarian situation in front of the cameras of an American team, which has now been discovered by news portal 444:
Apponyi was probably asked here to speak about the situation of the country nine years after the Treaty of Trianon. The Count started his short speech with:
“When Hungary is mentioned, then most people think of red pepper called ‘paprika’; of gypsy bands; of picturesqueness; of big plains with herds of cattle upon it… and semi-impoverished people to watch over all this.”
Now, as a matter of fact, we are quite on the same level of civilization as any Western country in Europe is.”
“We may say that we are the farthest outpost of Western civilization towards the East,” said the politician, also recalling the unjust decision of Trianon:
Hungary, who had been a country, a thriving country, I might say: a powerful country with 20 millions of inhabitants, has been reduced in territory and has been reduced in number to somewhat over 8 millions of inhabitants. And if you are told that these were alien races, who have been made free by being severed from Hungary – then all I can answer is this: they never have been asked whether they’re willing to be taken away from us. They were, as President Wilson put it, driven as so many cattle from one stable to another. And as to the alien races: I can state that [out] of the 14 million people that have been taken away from us, three and a half million are Magyars, who have now been subjected to foreign dominion and who certainly feel it as grievous, as a grievous injury done to them; and are in a distressed state morally, as well as economically. This is what I want to say to you about my country. And the message which I send to you is this: that even in our reduced state, even in this state of utter misery and dejection, we are mindful of our duties towards humanity, and here, taking part in the work of the League of Nations.”
At the same time, Apponyi stresses that Hungary does not expect “to get our wrongs set right by new wars, which seldom lead to any resetting of justice.”
As a result of the Treaty of Trianon (1920), Hungary lost more than 2/3 of its territory as well as its population, cities, and the most important railroad lines were cut so that the country was exposed to incalculable economic, political, and psychological damage. World War I achieved its goal. The great dynasties (which were one family) weakened and dismantled each other; thus, the era of great empires came to an end and the world took the first small steps towards globalization.