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HUNGARIAN HISTORY PART 7.- World War I. and its consequences on Hungary

One of the best ways to understand a country’s culture is through getting to know its history. Are Hungarians the descendants of Attila the Hun, whose portraits are on the Hungarian banknotes, how many and which wars Hungarians fought, what did Hungarians invent and give to the world? Instead of reading numerous books to answer these questions, through this series we aim to introduce you Hungarian history in a nutshell.

In the previous part we wrote about the Austro – Hungarian Empire, the decade of wealth and development. In this part we will guide you through the tragic World War I and the great losses it caused for the country.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph was assassinated on 28 June 1914 in Serbia, which escalated further violence and eventually caused World War I. That time Hungarian prime minister, Count Istvan Tisza was first hesitating to enter the war but as Germany promised to offset the Kingdom of Romania, he agreed to join and fought as part of the Austro – Hungarian Empire during the 4 year war. Austria – Hungary was a great power with a population of 21 million, it enlisted 7.8 million soldiers to the war, however in comparison to the Western European armies it lacked modern technical equipment and adequate air force hence it suffered great losses.

When in 1918 the WWI ended the Austro – Hungarian Empire collapsed. Ethnic groups called for liberated states and due to the Treaty of Trianon, signed on 20 June 1920, Hungary lost a great deal, approximately two-thirds of its territory and half of its population. In 2020 as it is the centenary of the sad event, the Trianon Monument, located in front of the Parliament Building was inaugurated. Furthermore, the Trianon Centenary Exhibition opened at Hungarian National Gallery, located at Buda Castle.

Hungarian Parliament

1055 Budapest, Kossuth tér 1-3.

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Buda Castle

1014 Budapest, Szent György tér 2.

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Soon after the end of the war communism emerged and the Hungarian Communist Party rose into power. They promised freedom of speech, free education, language and cultural rights to all ethnicities, however communist ideas did not last long. In 1920 the anti-communist military government, led by regent Miklos Horthy, took over and imprisoned, tortured and executed communists, leftists, Jews and intellectuals supporting communist ideologies. The Monarchy has been restored but Hungary was bankrupted and it had to borrow a loan from the League of Nations, the predecessor of the United Nations. However, most of the loans were spent on non-productive purposes such as graft, bureaucracy and public works projects. Many parts of Buda was built during this era and new architectural styles like Bauhaus and Realism appeared forming the streets of Budapest. The indoor swimming pool of the Hajós Alfréd Swimming Stadium, located on the Margaret Island, was built in 1930, the famous villas of the Napraforgó Street in Pasarét, many buildings of Újlipótváros, the St. Stephen’s Park and the Margaret Boulevard were also constructed during this era.

Hajós Alfréd National Swimming Stadium

1138 Margitsziget 238004.

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Margaret Island

1138 Budapest, Margitsziget

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After the Wall Street Crash in 1929 Hungary’s economy collapsed, the standard of living decreased significantly giving a way to rightist views and politics. The anti-Semitic Gyula Gömbös was appointed prime minister and established a one party Nazi –like government in Hungary. Due to this move Hungary signed a trade agreement with Germany, which led the country out of depression and brought economic growth. However, this did not last long as World War II. was on the horizon.

We hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to the era of World War I. and its aftermath. In the eighth part of the series you can read about the era of the World War II. and its consequences for Hungary.

Photo: Pinterest

Our previous articles about the Hungarian history:

HUNGARIAN HISTORY PART 6.- The Austro - Hungarian Empire

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HUNGARIAN HISTORY PART 5.- The rule of the Hapsburgs and the Reform Era in Hungary

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HUNGARIAN HISTORY Part 4. - Ottoman Era

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HUNGARIAN HISTORY Part 3. - St. Margaret & King Matthias

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HUNGARIAN HISTORY Part 2. - The first kings of Hungary

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HUNGARIAN HISTORY Part 1. - The origins of the Hungarians

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