As part of the Paris Peace Conference that closed the World War I, the Treaty of Trianon was signed at the Grand Trianon Palace of Versailles one hundred years ago on 4 June in 1920. The peace treaty – or dictate in certain sources – defined the new borderlines of the Kingdom of Hungary due to the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. In this week’s virtual exhibition, we are commemorating the historical Hungary with a postcard compilation issued during the “happy peacetimes”.
Treaty of Trianon
According to the peace treaty of Trianon, Hungary became a small state from a medium power. By losing WW I, it also lost about two-thirds of its territory and population; it could keep a territory of 93 thousand square kilometres from 325 thousand square kilometres and 7 million from its population of 20 million. The Kingdom of Romania received Partium and Transylvania, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes received Southern Hungary, the Czechoslovak Republic got Upper Hungary and Carpathian Ruthenia, and Austria got Burgenland. The mostly Italian-populated Fiume became independent first, but later it was taken over by Italy. Certain settlements in the northern Szepes and Árva Counties were annexed to Poland.
The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy did not have any colonies, but during an Austro-Hungarian expedition, an archipelago was discovered near the North Pole in 1873, and was named Franz Joseph Land in honour of the monarch. The Monarchy did not claim the archipelago that was annexed by the Soviet Union later, and military bases were established there.
It is less known that the Monarchy also had a territory of 150 acres in semi-colonial status in the southeast of Tianjin in China, called concession zone. According to the Treaties of Trianon and Saint-Germain, the concessions were taken over by China.
Peace allowed a rather narrow space to our country in connection economic and military issues as well. According to period news articles, the whole life stopped for ten minutes in Hungary a hundred years ago. All the bells tolled at 10 am. in Budapest; trains, trams and cars stopped for a mourning pause. Workers and clerks put down their tools and kept silence throughout the country.
Upper Hungary (Felvidék) and Carpathian Ruthenia (Kárpátalja)
The expression Upper Hungary meant different things geographically and politically in each periods. In the 19th century, the northern highland of the Kingdom of Hungary, which was populated by Slovaks, was called Upper Hungary or “Felvidék”. Nowadays, the word Felvidék is used as a synonym of Slovakia, and some people use it for the southern areas of Slovakia populated by Hungarians. Large cities like the former coronation city Pozsony (Bratislava), Kassa (Košice) or Nyitra (Nitra) among others are located there.
In geopolitical sense, Carpathian Ruthenia is the extension of the Felvidék (North-east Felvidék), the name of the territory developed at the end of the WW I. During the past one hundred years, the territory and population of Ruthenia “exchanged country the most often”, as it belonged to Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the Soviet Union and now to Ukraine. Its cities with significant Hungarian minorities are Beregszász (Berehove), Csap (Chop), Huszt (Khust), Munkács (Mukachevo), Ungvár (Uzhhorod), Visk (Vyshkovo).
The Őrvidék or Várvidék (Burgenland) having mostly German-speaking population at the Austrian border region of Hungary was annexed to Austria according to the Treaty of Trianon. This territory did not have an integrated administrative or geographic unit within the Kingdom of Hungary earlier, thus it did not have its own name either. Burgenland is the youngest state of Austria, its largest city and its capital is Kismarton (Eisenstadt). Its most important settlements are Felsőőr (Oberwart), Németújvár (Güssing), Pinkafő (Pinkafeld), Ruszt (Rust), Tarcsafürdő (Bad Tatzmannsdorf).
The only significant territorial revision of the Treaty was realised here, approved by the Entente, when Sopron and its surroundings could vote on a referendum between 14 and 16 December in 1921 and could decide whether to belong to Hungary or Austria. The national assembly awarded Sopron the title of the “The Most Loyal Town” (Civitas Fidelissima), in the act XXIX. of 1922 on the ratification of the memory of the referendum of Sopron. They also erected the Gate of Loyalty (also known as Fidelity Gate) at the southern part of the sixty-one-metre-high Firewatch Tower in the city.
Southern Hungary (Délvidék)
The geographic name Délvidék also meant something else in each era. There have been several definitions since Trianon too. There is consensus in the question that it includes the Hungarian territories annexed to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Bácska (Bačka), Bánát (Banat) and the Baranya (Baranja) triangle), but certain definitions also include Croatia-Slavonia, which was a peer country of the Kingdom of Hungary, a kind of independent part. When the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia joined the new-created South Slavic state, the maritime connection of Hungary ceased to exist.
After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, Transylvania became the organic part of Hungary within the Monarchy by the act XLIII. of 1868. The Treaty of Trianon gave Romania a larger territory than the territory that remained to Hungary. The name Transylvania that has a broader sense today usually means the whole western part of Romania. This area includes the historical Transylvania that is “over the Király-hágó” (the mountain pass to Transylvania), the Partium and the eastern part of Banat. The eastern part of Transylvania is Székelyföld, where the proportion of Hungarians is the largest in Romania presently.
Afterlife of Trianon
Obviously, the borderlines drawn in Trianon were unacceptable to Hungary, but the successor states were not completely satisfied either. They tried to gain further territories either to the detriment of each other or of Hungary. When establishing the borders, strategic aims and the developed railway network were considered more important than the ethnic principles, thus the successor states of the multinational Austro-Hungarian Monarchy were also created with significant amount of ethnic minorities. Between the two World Wars, Hungary got back some of the annexed Hungarian-speaking territories owing to the Vienna Awards. However, Hungary committed itself to the Third Empire with its revisionist policy, and ended up with the losing side again in the WW II. The Treaty of Paris that closed WW II in 1947 was even more severe than the Treaty of Trianon had been, and we had to give the bridgehead of Pozsony to Czechoslovakia due to military reasons.
The serious loss that influenced Hungary is still perceptible after a century. The anniversary of the signing of the Trianon peace treaty has been the Day of National Cohesion since 2010.
Translated by Zita Aknai