An exhibition on the “war between brothers” that was the First World War which has opened in Budapest’s Várkert Bazár events centre at the foot of Budapest castle has been hailed as the most important exhibition of the year at its opening. The exhibition portrays the horrors of First World War battlefields and the world of the hinterlands.
The exhibition, organised under cooperation between the memorial committee to mark the centenary of WWI and the Twentieth Century titute, was branded the most important such venue of the year by State Secretary at the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice Bence Rétvári, who stressed that to understand the 20th century, one must first understand WWI, which, in his words, defined the century more than anything else.
Had Hungary been able to form its fate on itself and independently from Austria, its history would have doubtlessly evolved on a different path and borders confining the country would be different, he said, pointing out that “nobody who entered the war reached the goal for which it did so”. Mr. Rétvári also announced that a central monument to victims of the World War is to be erected soon.
His speech was followed by the thoughts of László L. Simon, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who spoke of attachment to people we barely had the opportunity to know through the story of his own family.
Historian Mária Schmidt, the exhibition’s leading curator, said in her opening remarks that the first war of the twentieth century was fought by the man of the nineteenth, for whom values such as honour and discipline were determinatory, and were unable to understand or explain all that happened. She praised Count István Tisza, who is known as the Prime Minister who presided over the war despite opposing it for the longest time.
In his letter written for the occasion, Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog, who chairs the remembrance committee, said that the War was the fulfillment of selfishness and the notion that “everything can be done that’s good for me”. Killing was not forbidden and because it took place through machines, people did not have to face the agony of fellow soldiers.
The exhibition is open to visitors on Várkert Bazár’s southern side.