At this year’s Bálványos Free Summer University and Student Camp, the ethnic and diplomatic conflict between Romania and Hungary in connection to the Úzvölgye incident was a crucial topic. According to an official of the Hungarian Ministry of Defense, five out of the eleven soldiers buried in the Úzvölgye military cemetery who are considered Romanian citizens by the Romanian authorities, were in fact Hungarians.
The announcement was made by Colonel Vilmos Kovács, commander of the Military History Institution and Museum, at a podium discussion on the military cemetery in Úzvölgye, and border disputes between Hargita and Bákó (Bacău) counties.
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Other participants of the discussion were Szilárd Németh, state secretary of the Ministry of Defense, Fidesz MP Attila Tilki, and three local politicians: Zoltán Zakariás from the Hungarian People’s Party of Transylvania, József-Botond Rákossy from the Hungarian Civic Party, and Csaba Borboly, Chairman of the Hargita County Council.
The military cemetery in Úzvölgye is the largest WW1 memorial site in Romania’s Hargita County, holding the graves of some 600 soldiers from Austria-Hungary. However, the local council of the nearby town of Dormánfalva (Dormănești) has moved, presumably unlawfully, to establish a memorial site in the cemetery for fallen Romanian soldiers of the second World War. This has resulted in the erection of 52 concrete crosses and one large Orthodox cross in the fenced-off cemetery site. Even the Romanian authorities later acknowledged that there had been no legal basis to do this. After local conflicts, and a long-lasting diplomatic battle, the future of the site is still unclear.
Nationality was not registered in the military in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, Vilmos Kovács stated. However, it is a fact that the five soldiers were Hungarian citizens and served in the Hungarian army. “Anyone conscripted to the Hungarian Army for military service cannot be a fallen hero of an opposing party,” the historian colonel said. Referring to the Romanian nationality of soldiers serving in the Hungarian army would be foolishness, explained Kovács.
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The colonel also emphasized that most of the fifty concrete crosses in the Romanian plot were actually placed on the graves of Hungarian soldiers. Also, during the earlier renovation of the cemetery the 600 wooden crosses placed on the graves have a symbol (a sword and helmet), which represents all the fallen soldiers regardless of nationality. In contrast, the fifty concrete crosses on the Romanian plot of the cemetery were marked with an “unknown Romanian soldier,” thus tipping the cemetery’s former balance.
“The cemetery must be restored to its original state, nothing else is acceptable,” the colonel said.
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In the conversation about the military cemetery, the Hungarian government is trying to enforce the principles of historical fidelity, professionalism, and compliance with legal norms, Szilárd Németh, state secretary of the Ministry of Defense said. According to the politician, Romania has violated the agreement on war grave care with Hungary.
Csaba Borboly, chairman of the Hargita County Council, announced that this year, on the anniversary of the beginning of the fights in Úzvölgye during the Second World War, there will be a memorial at the cemetery, where they expect at least ten thousand people to attend.
Featured photo by Nándor Veres/MTI