The newly inaugurated Trianon memorial is facing serious debate, after a historian, in an op-ed, harshly criticized it. According to the author, the memorial in its current form merely commemorates pettiness in matters of nationality and the falsification of history. Meanwhile, other historians who played an important role in shaping the concept of the memorial, said that despite its flaws, this was the only possible way to commemorate historical Hungary.
Background information: Due to the current epidemic, Hungary’s newest Trianon memorial, the Memorial of National Unity, was opened on August 20th instead of the originally planned date of June 4th, the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Trianon. The focus point of the memorial site is a cracked granite block sunk below street level, with an eternal flame burning inside. To this, leads down a hundred-meter-long slope (‘Trianon ditch’) from the direction of Kossuth Square, on the sidewalls of which the names of all the settlements of Historical Hungary, based on the official 1913 place-names archives, are engraved.
In an essay published on válaszonline.hu under an alias, the author sharply criticizes that the names of the settlements engraved on the memorial use the forcefully Hungarianized official settlement names of the 1913 place-names archives instead of their original, foreign language ones. According to the author, the driving force behind this was Hungary’s assimilation and anti-minority policy of the time. The historian claims that this practice then served as a model for almost all the successor territories that benefited from the fragmentation of historical Hungary. In doing so, the memorial merely commemorates pettiness in matters of nationality and the falsification of history.
Experts from the Institute of History of the Research Center for the Humanities, which played an important role in shaping the concept of the memorial, responded to the fierce accusations. In an article, the historians acknowledge that the professional findings of the critical author are essentially correct, but they argue that the commentary lacks any constructive ideas or alternative suggestions. In their view, there is no doubt that despite all the obvious flaws of the place-names archives they used, it is still the most acceptable solution of all possible ones, which they try to prove through concrete examples. They highlight that the memorial is erected by the Hungarian State, commemorating the Hungarian State before 1920. The content of the place-names archives of 1913 and thus the memorial does not represent the Hungarian nation or ethnicity, but the existing Hungarian state before Trianon.
Featured photo by Márton Mónus/MTI