„We have gone a little too far”

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Show-trial in Versailles

"I am totally defenseless and powerless
against this animosity"
(from Apponyi Albert, leader of
the Hungarian peace delegation)

MAGYARORSZÁG NÉPRAJZI TÉRKÉPE A NÉPSŰRŰSÉG ALAPJÁN, készítette: gr. Teleki Pál (1920)
Hungarian    German    Slovak    Romanian    Serb    Croatian    Ruthenian

  When the peace agreement of Trianon was validated, the territory of Hungary (uncounted Croatia, which had received co-country status in 1868) decreased from 282.000km2 to 93.000km2, so exactly to 1/3 of the former Hungary. Only 7,6 million citizens from 18 million remained inside the new border. Romania had earned 1,6 million Hungarians, as they called themselves, Czechoslovakia got 1 million Hungarians and half a million Hungarians received Serbian citizenship.

  The official reason of the detachment was that in this way the new borders provided a better condition considering the national minorities. However, in accordance with the previous data, creating national-states was only a pretext. The real reason was that French leaders wanted to be the only superiors in Europe. That is why cutting apart the Hungarian-Austrian Monarchy, as the counterpart of France, was a crucial issue for them. The same way they obliged Romania, Czechoslovakia and the Balkanian countries by awarding them generously.

  A further fact of proving oversteps of the minority issue is that the Hungarian arguments were not considered by the winners at all, during the conference in Paris. Although, the Hungarian delegation’s only request was to organize a referendum in each debated part of the country and used the inhabitants’ opinion determining the future of those territories. These kinds of proposals (if anybody listened to them at all) were refused wildly again and again by politicians from the Antant countries or the leaders from those countries that would detach some territory. Earl Albert Apponyi, the leader of the Hungarian delegation, later stated his views about the mission in Paris: “Those days were very difficult for us. Every opportunity to express our arguments was refused. Even during private conversations it was the same when we would have liked to declare our truth and we were fenced by a kind of cordon not to say anything.”

  The exact content of the peace-agreement, considering the changing of the borders’ locations and others, mainly punitive sanctions, was decided by the leaders of the four winner Antant-super-powers, the so called “four great”: Georges Clemenceau- French, David Lloyd George- British, Vittorio Orlando- Italian Prime Ministers and Woodrow Wilson the President of the USA. Romania and two new states Czechoslovakia and Serbian-Croatian-Slovenian Kingdom (later on Yugoslavia), intervened in the Hungarian issues, as well.

The agreement was signed by Ágost Benárd, Welfare and Labor Secretary, and Lázár Alfréd Drasche, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, from the Hungarian side.

The following was published in the Pesti Napló on 4th June 1920:
  “This morning in Budapest the bells of the churches rang, the horns of the factories were switched on and the blue sound waves expressed the nation collapsing painful mourning in the shivering autumn: The peace-agreement was signed by the Hungarian representatives in Trianon at 04.30 p.m. So, some gleaming Hungarian towns have been drifted away from us; the ambitious Temesvár, Arad- the town of the martyrs and others, our cute children, all beautiful and great Hungarian centers. Some million loyal and honorable Hungarian inhabitants were made homeless and their working hands were shackled. And the leaders of the world think that they have accomplished their mission and the only thing they must do after having looted and robbed us and leaving us to blood without hands and foot is to cover our winding-sheet with a piece of paper.
  Though, our fate has not been completed yet. We were beaten by heavy strokes and our soul has been crying painfully. However, as a storm of God cleans the air so will our sufferance clean us and will the strokes make us harder and stronger. In these hours of the awful resignation a great decision has appeared in our minds: We will exist and we will earn back everything that we have lost today with decent willingness, headstrong endeavor, saint intent and with sanctified work.”

*

  Since that time it has been proved that in Paris the discussion considering the former Hungary was based on plenty of lies. The geopolitical data concerning the minorities was a simple forgery. The only true part of it was that in Hungary before WW1, there was a huge percentage of the non-Hungarian majority’s territories-but the size of these territories was much smaller than the detached size of the lost Hungarian territory! Majority of the Hungarians lived in the main part of the detached territory. Where the Hungarian inhabitants were in minority, the Romanian, Slovakian and Serbian nationalities were not always in majority, either. For instance, the Sub-Carpathy where mainly Rusins lived, was attached to the new Czechoslovakia in accordance with minority issue, but concerning it, Czechoslovakia had no more right to possess this territory than Hungary. In Transylvania beside Hungarian (Székely) and Romanian inhabitants there were a lot of places where Germans lived in majority such as in the Bánság. In this area there was an “interesting” situation. This place was the most valuable territory where wheat was grown. That is why Romania and Serbia laid claim to it. The tension increased between them and they almost used forces when the French Army appeared and froze the conflict. After that Clemenceau, French Prime Minister, in order to stop the debate, proposed that the citizens should decide about their future home state by referendum. This proposal really closed the dispute between the counterparts. The Romanian and Serbian leadership agreed soon and they divided the Bánság themselves. They knew that a referendum in a region where 75% of the whole inhabitants are Hungarian and German would not give a preferred solution either of them.

  The Serbian, Romanian, Slovakian and Czech diplomats provided fake data even to leaders from the super-powers several timesand mainly because of the British leadership. (Great Britain was interested in the peace in Europe, so they wanted to ease the tension between Hungary and its neighboring countries and they looked forward to finding the best solution concerning the minority issue.) Lloyd George, British Prime Minister, later on stated in 1928: “All documents, which were provided to us by our certain alliances, were lies and confusing. We made our decision using fake documents.”

  Hungary finally accepted the new borders believing that there would be a chance to remodify them later in a peaceful way. On 06th May 1920 Alexander Millerand, the French chairman of the Committee of Ambassadors on behalf of the conference promised the following to the Hungarian delegation: “If during the local survey the necessity of changing the predetermined borders emerged and if the border designator commission found that the statements of the contract contain any injustice, Hungary could appeal to the League of Nations. The Alliance and the joining States have agreed that the League of Nations is of service to the parties to support the friendly attitude to find a peaceful solution for rearranging the debated border’s section.” The agreement, which was signed later, included this statement. However, the letter which was made public in 1922 proved that on the same day when Millerand made his promise, the Committee of Ambassadors ordered the League of Nations not to change the new borders of Hungary.

*

  The Super-powers admitted that Hungary had no independence for centuries but they forbade Hungary to give up her independence in the peace-agreement. With this statement they wanted to avoid to create such an alliance as the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy had been before. And in this way the unity of the Carpathian basin’s economy was destroyed and the further co-operation between Hungary and Austria was not able to exist any more, either. This totally fit the interest of France that wanted to be the only European super-power. (In addition, the leadership of Austria did not want to make a united state with Hungary but Germany. However the Western super-powers also prohibited this.)

  Hungary had to face not only losing its territory, inhabitants and paying damages for being the loser in the war, but some extra damage and casualties because of the new borderline. Hungary lost the 80% of the former iron and coalmines, all the salt and copper mines, 2/3 of the plough-lands and domestic animals and the entire main railways. It also happened that just to make the Hungarian railways transportation less effective the Hungarian new border was adjusted. Hungary also had to pass all the well-maintained trains, coaches and goods wagons to its neighbors.
  Furthermore, Hungary could not run a larger army than 35.000 troops (comparing with 280.000 Romanian, 185.000 Serbian-Croatian-Slovenian and 162.000 Czechoslovakian army-size) and it had to provide the Danube River Force and finally it wasn’t allowed to build an air force.

  In addition to the peace-agreement, the winners and the losers signed contracts dealing with the protection of the national minorities. However, the surrounding countries successfully evaded these instructions or forgot about them. Firms, companies, shops and lands were taken and confiscated from the Hungarians and they were almost not able to get a desk job and the right to vote and they were prohibited to use their national language. The Hungarian schools were closed and the possessions of the Hungarian Church were secularized. This situation has not become better till today. Apart from the official prohibition the “Rohadt magyar!” (“Bloody Hungarian!”) expression and some similar such as: “Hungarians won’t be served in this shop.” still exist. Moreover, the Hungarian national celebrations are still disturbed.

After the first negotiation attempt when Albert Apponyi arrived back on 20th January 1920 from Paris, he said:
  “I am rather convinced that those new states, which will be built on the ruins of Hungary, are incapable of living because they are neither based on mutual thoughts nor leading national ideas. Experimenting with such incapable unities that can cause a huge cultural “recession”, I do not consider a clever idea. Maybe this decision can effect our enemies. But I have no positive feelings considering this. If we negotiated with our foes personally with similar conditions, it would be easier. If, once, I have an opportunity to express my point of view fully during one and a half hours right after that only the unfair opinion is accepted. So, it would be daring to think that my words have been effective against the belligerent activities which resume again and again, and against which I am totally defenseless and powerless.”

  Gondrecourt, a French general wrote in a secret letter: “We lost our way during the peace conference. We were blind and we did not have information about this country at all if we believed that we could force a mutilation on Hungary without having driven it to desperation. Romania and Serbia did not deserve to attain their exaggerated ambition, either. It is sure that Hungary is in a very difficult situation to exist when no coal, no mines, no forest and industry has been left to it. We have certainly gone a little too far.”

Certainly.