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On 4 June, we remember the tragic decision with a sense of cohesion that strengthens us

Trianon peace diktat has left never-healing wounds

Borsodi Attila
2023.06.04. 16:22 2023.06.04. 17:09
Trianon peace diktat has left never-healing wounds

More than a century ago, on 4 June 1920, the victorious powers had Hungary sign the Trianon Treaty, causing the country enormous losses. Hungary’s territory (excluding Croatia) diminished from 283,000 to 93,000 square kilometers and its population from 18.2 million to 7.6 million. On 31 May 2010, the Hungarian parliament declared the day of the signing of the Trianon Peace Treaty the Day of National Cohesion with the intention of strengthening the sense of belonging together between the separated national communities.

As one of the successor states of the defeated Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Hungary signed the Trianon Peace Diktat with the victorious Allied powers as part of the peace treaties of Paris that put an end to the 1st World War. The terms of the peace were predetermined at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919-20 without Hungary having any say in shaping them. The head of the Hungarian delegation, Albert Apponyi, was only allowed to explain Hungary's position on 16 January 1920. The former minister of religion and education argued - with the help of documents and maps - that the treaty should be revised and amended, but all in vain, as all the ethnic, historical and legal arguments he put forward were ignored.

The victorious powers showed no interested in Albert Apponyi's arguments. Source: Fortepan/National Library of France


Losses caused by Trianon expressed in numbers 


The peace terms were handed over to the Hungarian delegation in May 1920, and the diktat was finally signed by Agost Benard, Hungary's national welfare and labor minister, and Alfred Drasche-Lazar, extraordinary ambassador and minister plenipotentiary, on 4 June 1920 at the Grand-Trianon Chateau, in Versailles.

The Trianon Peace Diktat declared the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and reduced Hungary's territory (excluding Croatia) from 283,000 square kilometres to 93,000, and its population from 18.2 million to 7.6 million.

Around 3.2 million Hungarians, one-third of Hungary’s population, found themselves outside the new state borders, with half of these communities of Hungarian descent remaining in a contiguous block along the borders.

The unjust decision triggers general outrage, and protests against the Trianon Peace Diktat in Szeged, southern Hungary. Source: Fortepan/Gabor Fodi

Upper Hungary (Felvidek, now part of Slovakia), the northern chunk of the Little Plain (Kisalfold) in the north-west and Transcarpathia (now in west Ukraine) were annexed to what was then called Czechoslovakia. Transylvania, the eastern edge of the Great Plain and the eastern part of the Banat region were annexed to Romania. Croatia, Backa, the western part of the Banat region, the western edge of Zala county, Medimurje (Murakoz) and the southern part of Baranya county were annexed to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. A strip of western Hungary went to Austria, parts of Szepes (Spisz) and Arva (Orawa) counties in the north to Poland. The Hungarian state lost about two-thirds of its territory, 38 per cent of its industry and 67 per cent of its national income.


Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) voted 'no' 


Thirteen years ago, on 31 May 2010, the Hungarian parliament declared the day the Trianon Peace Diktat was signed as the Day of National Cohesion. 302 lawmakers voted in favor, 55 against and 12 abstained. In addition to Fidesz and the Christian Democrats (KDNP), the Jobbik Party, Ferenc Juhasz (from MSZP) and Andras Schiffer (from LMP) voted in favor, while 55 members of MSZP's parliamentary group voted against it, and 12 MPs from the green LMP Party abstained.

Watch fire lit on the Hungary-Croatia border on the Day of National Cohesion two years ago. Photo: Titanilla Korosa

The Act on the Testimony for National Cohesion passed by Hungary's National Assembly declares that “all members and communities of the Hungarian nation, subjected to the jurisdiction of other states, belong to the single Hungarian nation whose cross-border cohesion is a reality and, at the same time, a defining element of the personal and collective identity of Hungarians.”

Let's remember Trianon on Sunday!


The National Assembly then affirmed Hungary’s commitment to support the natural claims for the maintenance and cultivation of relations between members and communities of the Hungarian nation and the promotion of various forms of collective autonomy based on accepted practices in Europe. The law ascertained that previous attempts known from history, aimed at the resolution of issues resulting from the enforced Trianon Peace Diktat, either through redrawing borders with the help of foreign powers, or through the elimination of national identity in the name of internationalism, have failed.

Inauguration of the statute of the Turul Bird, the symbol of national cohesion, in Somogyvar, 2022. Photo: Somogyi Hirlap/Robert Lan

Hence, Hungary's National Assembly declared that related issues may only be resolved within the framework defined by international law, through cooperation based on mutual respect of equal, democratic and sovereign states, and that such cooperation may only derive from the freedom of the individual - including the free choice of national identity - and from the right to self-determination of national communities. At the same time, the Hungarian parliament condemned all efforts and aspirations aimed at assimilating members of a nation living in minority in another state.


Cover photo: Every year, commemorations and events are held in many places on the Day of National Cohesion. (Photo: Bors/Zoltan Knap)

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