On This Day – In 1849 Hungary's First PM And 13 Military Generals Sacrificed Their Lives For The Homeland
Tamás Székely 2015.10.06.
On 6th of October 1849 thirteen Hungarian rebel military generals were executed by the Habsburg army in the city of Arad. On the same symbolic day, exactly one year after the revolution in Vienna broke out, Count Lajos Batthyány (1806–1849), the first Hungarian prime minister, was also executed in Pest in an Austrian military garrison. This day is to be sad in Hungary ever since and it was officially declared the “Day of National Mourning” by the Hungarian government in 2001.
The execution of the 13 generals was ordered by Austrian general Julius Jacob von Haynau after the Hungarian Revolution and War for Independence of 1848-1849 had failed. Forces of the Habsburg Empire and Imperial Russia re-established Habsburg rule in Hungary after crushing the revolution. The generals were captured by the Austrian army and executed to make sure that Hungary will never again rebel against the Habsburg realm. Haynau also sentenced the first Hungarian prime minister to death. Lajos Batthyány knelt in front of the firing squad and shouted just before he was executed: “Long live my country! Come on, huntsmen!”
The 13 executed generals have come to regarded as martyrs for promoting the ideals of independence and national freedom. Not all the generals were ethnic Hungarians, some had German or Slavic origins. According to the legend when the execution was taking place, the Austrian generals were drinking beer and clinging their mugs together arrogantly in celebration of the defeat of the Hungarians. Hungarians vowed never to cling glasses of beer together for 150 years after the execution.
The 13 Martyrs of Arad and their last words before their execution:
Károly Leiningen-Westerburg: “The world will come to understand when it sees the executioner’s work.”
János Damjanich: “We have defeated death because we were always ready to face it.” Ignác Török: “Soon I shall stand before the Highest Judge. My life is just a tiny weight, but I know that I have always served only Him.” Lajos Aulich: “I have served and served, always just served. And I will continue to serve with my death. My most beloved Hungarian people and homeland, I know you will understand that service.” Károly Vécsey: “God gave me my heart and my soul and they burn to serve my homeland.” Vilmos Lázár: “Who is responsible that Hungary suffers such a fate? As the souls of Christ’s followers matured into apostles at the foot of His cross, so the souls of Hungarians must mature into revolutionaries at the foot of the gallows.” Arisztid Dessewffy: “Yesterday there was a need for heroes, today for martyrs. The homeland demands this service.” József Nagy-Sándor: If I had done nothing in my life, it would now be terrible to think about passing away. I now humbly sink to my knees in front of my God, for He made me a hero, a fine person and a good soldier. Károly Knézich: “How strange it is that Haynau is a Christian, just as I am. Only the devil could shuffle the cards in this way.” József Schweidel: “The world of today is Satan’s world, where the gallows is the reward for honor and power is the reward for treason. Only a true Revolution, a new Revolution of Mankind can sweep clean this cursed world.” Ernő Kiss: “Oh my God, will the youth of the New Age become a complete man? Glorious saints of the House of Árpád, keep vigil over the young people of Hungary, so that they might give their hearts to Christ and their lives to their mother country.” György Láhner: “Christ’s Cross and the gallows are very much alike. Compared to the Lord’s sacrifice, my sacrifice is minute.” Ernő Poeltenberg: “We were brought to this point by the furious vengeance of the enemy.”