The Race to Germanistan

Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó

Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó

As you may know, I am sympathetic with Hungary’s decision to close its borders to the prospect of uncontrolled mass migration. In doing so, it took a lot of heat from the European Community as well as the U.N. For some quixotic reason, Germany’s Angela Merkel has opened the doors wide to hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa. (Whether the German people will be quite so welcoming remains to be seen.)

Martine and I watched an interview on BBC with Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó, a young well-spoken diplomat. The interviewer, Stephen Sackur, kept trying to pillory the Hungarians for acting in a way reminiscent of the darkest days of World War II. (All the while, Britain is less than willing to accept the onslaught of migrants waiting in Calais to stream through the Chunnel.)

Szijjártó correctly sees mass disorganized migration as a violation of sovereignty. He doesn’t want to see his country trashed, its crops trampled down, and its law enforcement officials beaten up for trying to restore order. You can see the 20-minute interview by clicking here.

My own opinion is that the mass migration of 2015 will not end well, neither for the participants, nor the countries along the way, nor for the ultimate destination: Germanistan.

 

I Don’t Blame Hungary

Afghan Men Are Controlled by Hungarian Border Police

Afghan Men Are Controlled by Hungarian Border Police

For the last two weeks, the news has been full of a mighty onslaught of hundreds of thousands of people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries to Northern Europe, where the streets are paved with gold. The numbers of refugees are almost comparable to those of the Huns, Vandals, Visigoths, Lombards, and Ostrogoths during the later Roman Empire.

That’s why many smaller Balkan and Central European countries have had enough. Rather than be inundated by invasion-strength numbers of mostly Islamic refugees, they have elected to close their borders. Even Germany has to revise its original open borders policy: There are far more than 800,000 refugees currently enroute to being second class citizens in western and northern Europe.

According to a chart published on the BBC website, only a plurality of the migrants between January and August of this year seeking asylum in Germany are from Syria:

Note the large Number of Balkan Refugees

Note the large Number of Balkan Refugees (Source: BBC)

Hungary has been widely attacked for its decision to seal its southern borders and attack crowds trying to break through with tear gas and water cannons. Even Serbia, whose hands are far from clean (note the large number of Serbians seeking refuge) went so far as to call Hungary “uncivilized” for attempting to divert the invasion.

Don’t forget that all of these countries on the road to Austria and Germany had been attacked and occupied by the Turks, in some places until only a hundred years ago. Budapest and other Hungarian cities are still full of Turkish baths and fortifications, with an occasional minaret breaking the skyline. Hungary is one of the two main invasion paths to Western Europe (the other is Poland), and fearful memories among my people are still raw after half a millennium.

Many if not most of the refugees will eventually find homes in Western Europe. Some will find their dreams coming true; some will be poor and unemployed, a prey to jihadist recruiters; some, as in Italy, will sell themselves into prostitution.  The refugees are a diverse bunch, and will undoubtedly be a political football for decades to come.

The Phantom Republic

It Lasted for Less Than 24 Hours

It Lasted for Less Than 24 Hours

The darker green area on the above map marked Carpatho-Ukraine declared its independence from Czechoslovakia on March 15, 1939. Within less than 24 hours, it has been absorbed by Hungary with Nazi Germany’s blessing.I guess, from Germany’s point of view, it didn’t matter because it was inhabited by a bunch of Slavs, who were deemed to be of inferior racial stock. And Hungary by this time was an ally of Germany: My people were not only Aryans, they were Hung-Aryans. (In actuality, Hungary’s ruler, Admiral Horthy was intimidated into joining the Axis powers when he saw what happened to leaders of adjoining countries—such as the assassinated Engelbert Döllfuss of Austria—who were not part of Hitler’s program.)

When I was a young stamp collector, I was surprised to find that Hungary was not in the Overrun Countries commemorative series of 1943-1944. It was only later I found out that Hungary was part of the Axis.

The Overrun Countries: I Guess Hungary Was Part of the Bad Guys

The Overrun Countries: I Guess Hungary Was Part of the Bad Guys

Hungary paid dearly for being part of the Axis. Although we “got” the short-lived Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine, we lost thousands at Stalingrad when the Nazi 6th Army was surrounded by the Russians.

And, after World War Two, the Carpatho-Ukraine territories were made part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. And, as they say, that was that!

A Hungarian Artist Goes to War

Painting by Béla Zombory-Moldován

Painting by Béla Zombory-Moldován

He was a twenty-nine-year-old artist who was taking a vacation at Novi Vinodolski on the Croatian Coast of the Adriatic Sea when the world suddenly erupted. He, and all the other young Hungarian men, were called to report to duty. It was almost a hundred years later that Béla Zombory-Moldován’s The Burning of the World: A Memoir of 1914 was translated by his son Peter and published by the New York Review of Books.

Reading of the horrible confusion on Eastern Front in Galicia, where the 31st Royal Hungarian Regiment was battling the Russians in Galicia, I decided to look for some of the painter’s work. Below is a still life from the 1950s:

A Still Life

A Still Life

Perhaps when I have finished Zombory-Moldován’s book, I will write about the young ensign’s experiences in the war. Like the Eastern Front in a later war, it was a campaign marked by confusion and carnage.

An Embarrassment to the Russians

Cardinal Jószef Mindszenty

Cardinal Jószef Mindszenty

I have just finished reading Victor Sebestyen’s excellent Twelve Days: The Story of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. As a Hungarian-American I was acutely conscious of the events of that Fall. I never forgave President Eisenhower, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, or Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld of the United Nations for what I felt was their craven refusal to confront a very sticky issue. Did I say confront? They essentially ignored it—even while Radio Free Europe was broadcasting military advice and promises of American and U.S. military aid. Aid that never came. All that came was a mass invasion of Russian troops and armor that crushed the rebellion definitively.

As a kid in Cleveland in 1956, and as a student at St. Henry’s Catholic School, I had always thought that one of the heroes of the Revolution was Jószef Cardinal Mindszenty, Prince Primate, Archbishop of Esztergom, and leader of the Catholic Church in Hungary from the last year of World War II to his death in the 1970s. Poor Mindszenty had been imprisoned by the Hungarian Communist leadership until the beginning of the Revolution, in which he actually played no real part. Just days after he was released from prison, he sought asylum of the American legation in Budapest, where he stayed for the next fifteen years.

As a Catholic school kid, we were urged to sell the Diocese of Cleveland’s Catholic Universe Bulletin from door to door in our neighborhoods. According to the Universe Bulletin, Mindszenty was the hero of the Hungarian Revolution, whereas actually he played pretty much a walk-on, walk-off role. But I was just a kid and I believed all that pap.

In the end, Mindszenty proved an embarrassment to the Russians because it kept the memory of the uprising alive in peoples’ minds, even if he himself was a non-player. In the end, Pope Paul VI ordered Mindszenty to leave Hungary, and the Kádár government allowed him to go. His continued existence in the American legation made it difficult for the Catholic Church to come to any accommodation with the Kádár régime.

Mindszenty was just a minor embarrassment to the Russians. It was the Hungarian Revolution itself that proved to be a much greater embarrassment. After 1956, the Communist parties of Western Europe felt that Russia had behaved brutally. Never again were the Communist parties of France, Italy, Britain, and other countries bring any serious political influence to bear. From 1956, it was a mere 31 years before Soviet Communism itself crumbled.

 

Nasty and Pungent

To What Extent American? To What Extent Hungarian?

To What Extent American? To What Extent Hungarian?

A few days ago, I went into one of my Hungarian moods, most likely from feeling extremely dissociated from the Scotch-Irish Confederates that seem to be making so much of the political news. My old friend Lynette commented that she felt I was mostly an American who just happened to think of himself as a Hungarian.

To be sure, if I stepped off the plane at Budapest’s Ferihegy Airport, I’m sure I would think of myself as mostly American, especially if I got a whiff of Hungary’s own Right Wing, the (un)worthy descendants of World War Two’s Arrow Cross, which bid fair to out-Gestapo the Gestapo.

I find it helps to think of myself as a Hungarian whenever I take a sustained look at America’s ugly politics. Think of it as a distancing maneuver. Here is the America of Donald Trump, Wayne La Pierre, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, John Boehner, and the Tea Party—and there I am, off to the sidelines, with an expression on my face of having stepped into something particularly nasty and pungent. Me? I’m a Hungarian, folks: I had nothing to do with this stramash except, perhaps, to admit to having nothing to do with it.

Some people might say that instead of standing off to the side, I should be more directly active politically. Here’s where I must sadly shake my head and say, “Sorry, folks! I’m not really a people person.” I’m fully as capable of damning Progressives as I am of damning Tea Partiers, except that I hate the latter even more.

Some day, the last raggedy elements of the Confederate States of America will sink into the mire. I will probably no longer be around to celebrate. Besides, knowing American history as I do, I am sure it will be replaced by other tendencies equally repellent.