Hungarian President János Áder's speech on Day of National Unity
„My feelings toward Hungary were less detached. I confess that I regarded and still regard that Turanian tribe with acute distaste. Like their cousins the Turks, they had destroyed much and created nothing. Budapest was a false city devoid of any autochthonous reality. For centuries the Magyars had oppressed their subject nationalities. The hour of liberation and retribution was at hand.” – wrote British diplomat Harold Nicolson – in 1919 –, who played a major role when the Trianon-borders were drawn.
My fellow compatriots,
What did this diplomat know about Hungary? About St Stephen founding the state, about the wisdom in our first king’s admonitions, about the valiance of St Ladislaus, about the heroism of János Hunyadi, about the world acclaimed victory at Nándorfehérvár?
What did he know about the Renaissance court of King Matthias, about his library unrivalled in Europe and the codices it contained, about the giants of the reform age, our freedom fight in 1848, or the economic boom, the scientific achievements of the half a century before World War I?
Nicholson knew precious little of all this. Yet – as a diplomat, party to the decision – he still fundamentally influenced the future of Hungarians.
Hungary mourned – on 4 June - one hundred years ago today. Budapest was also draped in black. Flags were flown at half-mast. Newspapers were published with black mourning borders. Most of the shops, schools and offices remained closed. Buses and trams were halted. Bells tolled in the capital and everywhere in Hungary. Hungarians observed five minutes of silence.
Not a single Hungarian could come to terms with the loss, the humiliation, the codified illegality.
Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory in 1920. Her population shrunk from 18 to 7 and a half million. More than three million Hungarians found themselves outside of the borders. Romania was given land that itself was larger than what was left of Hungary. The majority of our wheat fields, 90 percent of our forests, two thirds of our railway networks were given to neighbouring countries.
Less mention is made of the economic development that Trianon halted. We know from our elementary school studies about the role played by István Széchenyi in building the first cylinder mill in Budapest. It is a lesser known fact that 60 years later, at the turn of the century, Budapest was the largest mill center of Europe. Only Minneapolis in the United States surpassed it globally.
We do not usually talk about the dynamic development of the Hungarian machinery industry. This, despite the fact that we have every reason to be proud. The first locomotive manufactured in Hungary came off the line in 1873 and 27 years later the one thousandth unit rolled out of the factory.
Within 30-40 years, Hungary was able to produce any equipment and machinery needed in agriculture.