Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff, addressed a commemoration of ethnic Hungarians deported from Czechoslovakia after the second world war under the Benes decrees, in Budapest on Tuesday.
In 2012, Hungary’s parliament declared April 12 the memorial day of deportees, marking the anniversary of the start of deportations in 1947.
In his address, Gulyás called the deportation “a rather painful chapter” in the period that saw retaliation, ethnic cleansing and collective punishment after the end of the war.
“If we want to live on, we need strong communities that create values and we need strong localities where Hungarian life thrives instead of waning,” Gulyás told the commemoration hosted by the Rákóczi Alliance. He called “the ability to survive and restart” one of the most important characteristics of the Hungarian nation.
Gyula Bárdos, the head of the Hungarian Social and Cultural Association of Slovakia (Csemadok), said that the forced political deportations to Hungary had affected more than 89,000 Hungarians who had not received any sort of compensation since.
Csongor Csáky, the head of the Rákóczi Alliance, said that according to Slovakia’s census conducted last year, 422,775 people self-identified as Hungarian and another 34,089 people also indicated their identity as Hungarian along with another nationality. The census’s data also showed an increase of local Hungarian residents at 80 localities, he said.
The Benes decrees passed immediately after the second world war deprived Czechoslovakia’s ethnic Hungarians and Germans of their citizenship and property on the basis of collective guilt.
Featured photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI