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HUNGARIAN HISTORY PART 8.- World War II. And its aftermath

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 World War I. and its devastating consequences on Hungary, the collapse of the economy, the growth of anti-Semitism and the trade agreement with Germany that temporarily led Hungary out of the depression.

The instability in Europe caused by World War I. set the stage an even more devastating global event, World War II. Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, in the middle of the Great Depression he restored economic stability and his racist, anti-Semitic views started to gain popularity. His Nazi regime threatened and dominated neighbouring countries that led to World War II in 1939, when Germany attacked Poland. Hungary entered the war in 1941 on German side and it suffered great losses. When Hungary was considering changing sides and entered into peace negotiations with the United States and the United Kingdom, it was invaded by Germans and the Hungarian Nazi party, the Arrow Cross in 1944.

The deportation of Jewish Hungarians and Romani people had already started, approximately 500. 000 – 550.000 Hungarian Jews died in World War II, 430 000 of them were dragged to concentration camps and the rest died in the ghettos. The Budapest ghetto was set up in November 1944, it consisted of several blocks of the old Jewish quarter including the two most important synagogues, the Dohany Street Synagogue and the Orthodox Kazinczy Street Synagogue both located in District VII.

Dohany Street Great Synagogue and the Hungarian Jewish Museum

1074 Budapest, Dohány utca 2.

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Kazinczy Street Synagogue

1075 Kazinczy utca 27-29.

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Soon after the Cross Arrow Party rose to power one of the cruellest battle of the World War II began during Christmas Days 1944 in Budapest. Stalin’s Red Army forces approached and circled Budapest, which resulted the Siege of Budapest a 50 day long battle between the German and the Soviet troops. Over 160.000 died from what 38.000 were civilians. Budapest was destroyed, buildings were shot including bridges for example the Chain Bridge, the Elisabeth Bridge and famous sights like the Nyugati Railway Station, the Royal Palace and its surroundings, the Fishermen’s Bastion, the Matthias Church and many more. Finally, in 1945 the Germans together with Hungary suffered defeat by the Soviet Red Army.

Széchenyi Chain Bridge

1051 Budapest, Széchenyi Lánchíd

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Elisabeth Bridge

1013 Budapest, Erzsébet híd

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Nyugati Railway Terminal

1062 Budapest, Teréz körút 55.

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Matthias Church

1014 Budapest, Szentháromság tér 2.

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At that time the Soviets were seen as the “liberators” of Hungary and the Statue of Liberty was erected in Budapest. Soon after it was clear that Hungary moved from one oppression to the other. The Soviet Regime brought fear and more death to Hungary, while a new conflict between the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union started to escalate resulting in the Cold War. Unluckily Hungary remained on loosing Eastern side.

Statue of Liberty and the Citadel

1118 Budapest, Gellérthegy, Citadella sétány 1.

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We hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to the era of World War II. and its aftermath and the series of the Hungarian History in a nutshell.

Photo: Fortepan.hu

Our previous articles about the Hungarian history:

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

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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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