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“Hungarians are the ones hurt by Trianon” – Review of András Oplatka’s Book

Guest Writer 2020.08.27.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Trianon treaty, a publication appeared in the summer that condensed the well-known facts while analyzing the events within a larger historical framework. Author Andreas Oplatka, former Professor of Eastern European History at the Andrássy University in Budapest, shed light on the history, development, and consequences of the treaty up to the present day in an essay-like form in almost 70 pages.

Written by Josef Kern. The article was originally published by our sister site, Ungarn Heute. Translation by Fanni Kaszás

Oplatka covers a wide range of historical events from the Christianization of the country under King Stephen, the Mongol invasion in 1241, the Battle of Mohács in 1526, through the Habsburg monarchy to the awakening of the Hungarian national sentiment in the 19th century. Only a look back at the prehistory of the political development of the multi-ethnic state makes it possible to understand what was ultimately stipulated in the Treaty of Trianon. It only consolidated the situation that actually already existed at the end of World War I.

The Hungarian diplomats faced a fait accompli at Versailles.

The negotiations were preceded by several splits of individual parts of the country: on October 28, 1918, the Czechoslovakian Republic was proclaimed. Croatia and Slovenia founded the National Council of Serbs, Croatians, and Slovenians in Zagreb and declared themselves part of the new Yugoslavia, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croatians, and Slovenians on October 30, 1918. The Romanians of Transylvania voted on December 1, 1918 for unification with the Kingdom of Romania. The Transylvanian Saxons and Banat Swabians also decided in 1919 to unite their areas with Romania.

But why did the peace contract, which is still called a peace treaty in Hungary today, had to wait until June 4, 1920?

The treaty was signed so late that  defeated Hungary went through considerable political turmoil in the post-war period. After the end of the Danube Monarchy, the Hungarian Soviet Republic was proclaimed, there was another war with Romania, and with the Treaty of St. Germain signed by Austria in September 1919, western Hungary fell to Austria. At the Trianon Treaty, head of the delegation Count Albert Apponyi, tried to reduce the punitive measures in a two-hour speech, also pointing out that Hungary, which was only partially sovereign, was not to blame, but he failed hopelessly. The dye had been cast. In the end, the countrykk lost more than two thirds (from 325,411 km² to 93,073 km²) of its territories through territorial assignment. About three million Hungarians fell under foreign sovereignty.

Trianon: Instead of the principle on self-determination of nations, the victorious great powers re-drew borders according to their geopolitical interests – Interview with historian Balázs Ablonczy
Trianon: Instead of the principle on self-determination of nations, the victorious great powers re-drew borders according to their geopolitical interests – Interview with historian Balázs Ablonczy

Hungary can only be held responsible for World War I as any other participating country, says historian Balázs Ablonczy, whose new book, “Unknown Trianon,” has just been published. On the other hand, the bad perception of Hungary in the world at the time played a role in that the treaty hit the country particularly hard. […]Continue reading

In the final two chapters of the book, Oplatka deals with the failure of the peace treaty, for which both the former victorious powers and Hitler’s power politics leading to World War II are held responsible. Under the heading “And a hundred years later” (whether a question mark would be appropriate, the reader can decide for himself), the author points out that Trianon was a taboo topic in communist times, and after the fall of the Iron Curtain, representatives of a “nationalist political folklore” from recovery dreamed of lost territories, but the conclusion of the treaty decades ago led to “national trauma.” According to Oplatka, a one-winged sentence hits the nail on the head: “Hungarians are the ones hurt by Trianon.”

100-Year-Old Transylvanian Woman Receives Hungarian Citizenship for the Third Time in Her Life
100-Year-Old Transylvanian Woman Receives Hungarian Citizenship for the Third Time in Her Life

Yesterday, on 23 April, exactly on her 100th birthday, Margit Geréd from Transylvania received her naturalization certificate and became a Hungarian citizen for the third time in her life. Margit Geréd was born on the 23rd of April in 1919 in Csíkszentmiklós, Transylvania and has never left her homeland since. She still resides in Csíkborzsova, […]Continue reading

András Oplatka, renowned Swiss-Hungarian journalist, historian, and translator, passed away on Wednesday morning at the age of 78 in his home in Zollikon near Zurich after a long, serious illness.

András Oplatka, Swiss-Hungarian Journalist, Founder of Friends of Hungary Foundation Passes Away
András Oplatka, Swiss-Hungarian Journalist, Founder of Friends of Hungary Foundation Passes Away

András Oplatka, renowned Swiss-Hungarian journalist, historian, and translator, passed away on Wednesday morning at the age of 78 in his home in Zollikon near Zurich after a long, serious illness. He was one of the founders of the ‘Friends of Hungary Foundation’, publisher of news portals ‘Hungary Today’ and ‘Ungarn Heute.’ András Oplatka was born in Budapest in […]Continue reading

He was one of the founders of the ‘Friends of Hungary Foundation’, publisher of news portals ‘Hungary Today’ and ‘Ungarn Heute.’

The book by András/Andreas Oplatka ‘The Trianon contract – a Hungarian trauma’ was published by the Vontobel Foundation, Zurich in 2020. You can order from schriftenreihe@vontobel-stiftung.ch

featured photo: Tamás Kovács/MTI