At AHF's April 2nd, 2005 meeting held in Washington, D.C., AHF's chair of the Executive Committee, Dr. Paul J. Szilagyi introduced a new project code-named "Fulgur" or "lightning" in Latin. Fulgur was the title of a children's book about Hungary and its historic borders. Like its namesake, the Fulgur project aims to develop programs to support the survival of Hungarian communities in former Hungarian territories.
Why so many Hungarians in across the borders?
The reluctant player in WWI was punished heavily, paying a price no other modern nation had ever before been subjected to. The French, despite American protests and calls for plebiscites, with troops in Northern Hungary in violation of the peace, pushed through the Treaty of Versailles (Trianon) which cost Hungary 2/3 of it territory, 1/3 of its Hungarian population, and up to 90% of its resources, railroads, and industry. Although Rumania, herself created only in 1862, switched to the French side almost at the very end of the war, she gained all of Transylvania and majority of the Banat. The Czechs got all of Northern Hungary to create Czechoslovakia, the Serbs got Southern Hungary (Vojvodina) and Croatia, and most amazingly, the Austrians who were responsible for getting Hungary into the war in the first place, got Western Hungary (Burgenland). AHF was instrumental in organizing the American Hungarian Community in efforts to influence US policy in order to illuminate the unjust dismemberment of Hungary at Trianon and seek re-unification. Anti-Hungarian measures such as the infamous Benes Decrees, which expropriated Hungarian lands and landowners in the newly formed Czechoslovakia added to the Hungarian tragedy as hundreds of thousands of Hungarians were forced off their ancestral lands.
Today, the story isn't much better. Hungarian population in her former territories continues to fall as Hungarians leave their ancient homelands seeking better education, better jobs, and a better standard of living. Violence, ethnic cleansing, and discrimination against Hungarians is also another major factor in the population decline. A good recent example of this is in the Vajdasag (Vojvodina), a formerly autonomous region in the former Yugoslavia, now controlled by Serbia. In Rumania, too, violence; confiscated churches, synogogues and other property; lack of higher education in the mother tongue; further excacerbate the problem. Sadly, the same patterns can be found in Hungarian settlements throughout the Carpathian Basin. AHF is proud to have had a role in opening the border in Szelmenc, a forgotten cold war tragedy.
What can we do to ensure Hungarian culture survives in the Carpathian Basin?
Adding to Dr. Szilagyi's comments, AHF Vice President Bryan Dawson-Szilagyi promoted the idea of supporting ethnic Hungarian organizations through sponsorship of technology and other innovations that can contribute to effective communication and coordination in former Hungarian territories. He commented there is a lack of centralized information and community outreach and that AHF can help provide that. Many organizations are doing great work, but lack the resources, infrastructure, and technology know-how to fully reach their potential. Rev. Imre Bertalan Jr. added that Fulgur can also target ethnic Hungarians in the United States through educational opportunities and information dissemination. Dawson-Szilagyi added that the lack of full-time elementary education as well as a strong national presence in Washington that could offer internship and other government related educational opportunities are a major concern. Those interested in participating, are invited to join us!
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