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The Treaty of Trianon: A Hungarian Tragedy: American Hungarian Federation - Founded 1906
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The Treaty of Trianon: A Hungarian Tragedy - June 4, 1920

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Summary

How Hungary Shrank, stranding millions across artificial bordersA thousand years of nation building successfully delineated groups based on culture, religion, geography, and other attributes to create the countries with which we are so familiar. While some Western European nations would continue power struggles and princely battles and civil wars, Hungary, founded in 896, was a peaceful multi-ethnic state for over 1100 years and her borders were virtually unchanged.... Until 1920.

"The greatest catastrophe to have befallen Hungary since the battle of Mohacs in 1526," the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, was extremely harsh on Hungary and unjustifiably one-sided. The resulting "treaty" lost Hungary an unprecedented 2/3 of her territory, and 1/2 of her total population or 1/3 of her ethnic-Hungarian population. Add to this the loss of all her seaports, up to 90% of her vast natural resources, industry, railways, and other infrastructure. Millions of Hungarians saw borders arbitrarily redrawn around them, virtually without plebiscites, ignoring President Wilson's lofty goal of national self-determination.

"Just get over it"
Many in Europe, especially those that caused this mess, prefer the status quo and are very uncomfortable with the treaty's implications today and refuse to tackle some very real current issues. They are quick to dismiss Trianon and recommend to those that call attention to its lingering affects to "get over it." In Communist Hungary, Trianon and the issue of mistreatment of Hungarians across the borders in the perfect "Socialist brotherhood of nations" was taboo. Decades of ignoring these issues has created a pressure cooker and feeds radicalism. They must be dealt with. Since 1989 and the fall of Communism, more attention has been paid to the Hungarian diaspora. Sadly, the affects of this dictat are felt strongly today throughout the region. Two of the three newly created countries carved out of Hungarian territory no longer exist. "Slovakia" (Upper Hungary) split with the Czech Republic while "Yugoslavia" suffered from tragic civil war and the ravages of ethnic cleansing. The violence should never have happened. Hungarian populations continue to decline significantly after forced removals such as the Benes Decrees and other pograms. Continued pressure and discriminative policies such as the 2009 Slovak Language Law, the Slovak Citizenship Act, which are being used to stop the use of Hungarian language and to strip Hungarians of their citizenship and status in Slovakia are today's reality. Violence and vandalism in Transcarpathia (Ukraine), and gerrymandering and other discriminatory practices in Romania and Serbia directed at ethnic Hungarian communities teach us that Trianon's effects are still felt strongly today. The American Hungarian Federation has been a long advocate of human and minority rights for all peoples of the Carpathian Basin. We call on all those who share a love for democracy and human rights to help these communities not just survive, but determine their own destinies and flourish in a Europe free from fear and discrimination.

The United States never ratified this treaty. At the time President Wilson said: “The proposal to dismember Hungary is absurd” and later Sir Winston Churchill said: “Ancient poets and theologians could not imagine such suffering, which Trianon brought to the innocent.” Others warned that a weakened, dismembered Hungary would lead to a weak, fragmented Central Europe unable to resist Soviet expansionism. We are sad to report that they were all right.


AHF Statements and Trianon Analyses

How Hungary Shrank: Ostensibly in the name of national self-determination, the Treaty dismembered the thousand-year-old Kingdom of Hungary, a self-contained, geographically and economically coherent and durable formation in the Carpathian Basin and boasting the longest lasting historical borders in Europe. It was imposed on Hungary without any negotiation by vengeful leaders who were ignorant or ignored the region’s history, and mercilessly tore that country apart. By drawing artificial borders in gross violation of the ethnic principle, it also transferred over three million indigenous ethnic Hungarians and over 70% of the country's territory to foreign rule.6/4/2014 - 94th Anniversary of the Treaty of Trianon: AHF issues statement highlighting how shortsighted "peacemakers'" mistakes led to millions of people being cut off from their motherland, caused untold suffering, assured the rise of Hitler, the expansion of Bolshevism, and set the stage for unneccesary conflict still with us today:

  • President Wilson: “Bohemia will be part of Czechoslovakia.”
  • Ambassador Bullitt: “But Mr. President, there are three million Germans in Bohemia.”
  • President Wilson: “President Masaryk never told me that.”

Yes, it gets worse! [read more]


AHF remembers the ill-advised treaty and publishes essay by Sir Bryan Cartledge who calls the treaty "the greatest catastrophe to have befallen Hungary since the battle of Mohacs in 1526."6/4/2011 - On the 91st Anniversary of the Treaty of Trianon, AHF remembers the ill-advised treaty and publishes essay by Sir Bryan Cartledge who calls the treaty "the greatest catastrophe to have befallen Hungary since the battle of Mohacs in 1526." Over the course of its more than 100-year history, the American Hungarian Federation has commemorated the Treaty of Trianon, highlighting the gross injustices wrought by that treaty (better described as a diktat) and the entire Versailles so-called peacemaking. The grossly unfair treaty continues to plaque the region. [read more]


Hungarian Ethnic Distribution6/3/2010 - The 90th Anniversary of Hungary's Dismemberment: Hungary declares "National Day of Unity," AHF issues statement: "Trianon is not only tragic history, it is a lingering tragedy which continues to affect the Hungarian minorities and historical communities living in the states neighboring Hungary even today." Includes links to article by Amb. Geza Jeszenszky (Gyásznapok után - az elkeseredés ellen) and Letter to the Editor by Geza Cseri. [read more]


How Hungary Shrank: Ostensibly in the name of national self-determination, the Treaty dismembered the thousand-year-old Kingdom of Hungary, a self-contained, geographically and economically coherent and durable formation in the Carpathian Basin and boasting the longest lasting historical borders in Europe. It was imposed on Hungary without any negotiation, drawing artificial borders in gross violation of the ethnic principle, it also transferred over three million indigenous ethnic Hungarians and over 70% of the country's territory to foreign rule.6/4/2009 - The 89th Anniversary of Hungary's Dismemberment... AHF Remembers Trianon. The statement reads, "Trianon is not a relic of the past to be ignored.  As several recent publications astutely suggest, Trianon, as part of a blunder of a massive scale, had far-reaching consequences that are still with us today and continue to affect both the lives of the Hungarian historical communities found in states neighboring Hungary and the region."
[read more]


6/4/2008 - The 88th Anniversary of Trianon. AHF issues Statement entitled, "Overdue Autonomy for Minority Hungarians! Time to Bury Trianon and Resurrect Democracy." The European order imposed after World War I and then re-imposed following the Second World War collapsed almost within months at the end of the Cold War. One ethnic group after another throughout the region seized the opportunity to realize their own objectives to exercise external self-determination, even as some of them denied internal self-determination to their Hungarian co-nationals.  For example, after Slovakia broke away from Prague’s perceived dominance in the peaceful divorce of 1992, it wasted little time to gerrymander the country’s historic administrative division in 1996 so as to eliminate most of the districts which had a Hungarian majority population. [read more]


George Clemenceau and Lloyd George leave the Trianon Palace Hotel at Versailles during the Paris Peace Conference, 19196/4/2007 - "Trianon: Tragedy, Dissolution, and Remedy." Frank Koszorus, Jr. and the AHF International Relations Committee release essay on treaty's 87th anniversary. "...Ostensibly in the name of national self-determination, the Treaty dismembered the thousand-year-old Kingdom of Hungary, a self-contained, geographically and economically coherent and durable formation in the Carpathian Basin and boasting the longest lasting historical borders in Europe. It was imposed on Hungary without any negotiation by vengeful leaders who were ignorant or ignored the region’s history, and mercilessly tore that country apart. By drawing artificial borders in gross violation of the ethnic principle, it also transferred overthree million indigenous ethnic Hungarians and over 70% of the country's territory to foreign rule. Following the war to make the "world safe for democracy," the Treaty even denied the affected populations the right to choose under whose sovereignty they would live. Only the city of Sopron in western Hungary was allowed a plebiscite to decide its future, and it opted by a large margin to remain in Hungary. Although the peacemakers included provisions for the protection of minorities in various international instruments they insisted the successor states sign, the latter generally ignored their promises and the individual and minority rights of ethnic Hungarians were violated.

The essay includes selected statements relating to some of these issues that shed light on the context, attitudes and practices that affected Hungarians eighty-seven years ago and which still impact and to some extent poison the region, as evidenced by the Successor States’ refusal to grant their Hungarian historical communities the right to autonomy. The last excerpt is another solution for a tragedy that affected the entire region." [read full text] or [download]


6/7/2006 - "Trianon Binds No One Except Hungarians," AHF Issues Statement on the 86th Anniversary of the Trianon Tragedy. Hungarian American communities join in protest. AHF's Assoc. President Frank Koszorus, Jr., writes, "Two of the new states cobbled together by the victorious Entente “peacemakers” at Versailles ceased to exist years ago, and even part (Moldova) of the third successor state succeeded to gain its independence it never had before. Ironically, the winds of change that swept through the region and rearranged the old Cordon Stalinaire after 1989, left untouched the very people who have suffered the most under a punitive treaty – the thousand plus year old indigenous Hungarian communities living under the rule of states that are mostly different from those stipulated at Trianon 86 years ago...Even as Montenegro declares its independence and Kosovo’s status remains on the front burner, Budapest appears content to sit on the sidelines and conspicuously refrains from espousing the democratically expressed aspirations of autochthonous Hungarian minorities for autonomy in Vojvodina, Transylvania, Slovakia and Karpatalja (Ruthenia)." [read full text] or [download]


Trianon Demonstration New York6/7/2005 - Trianon turns 85! Demonstrations in NY, Toronto and elsewhere... Hungarian organizations from New York and Toronto demonstrated to call attention to the unjust Treaty of Trianon in which Hungary lost 2/3 of her territory, half her Hungarian-speaking population and vast natural resources and infrastructure. Trianon Demonstration TorontoThe New York Polgari Kor demonstrated in front of the U.N. building on June 5, 2005. [read more] The demonstrators drew the world’s attention to the "increasing injustices, atrocities, and physical abuse from which our fellow Hungarians, who were forced to remain outside of the new Hungarian borders, have been suffering as a result of the Treaty." See more pictures on Gimagine.com and read about the NY Polgari Kor.

For the past 85 years 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. Today, AHF is closely monitoring the violence and injustices in Rumania, Vojvodina (Serbia), Slovakia, Transcarpathian Ukraine, and elsewhere.


Those interested in viewing Gabor Koltay's controversial film that was banned by the Rumanian AND the Hungarian governments, can now view the film on the Web.2/5/2005 - Banned Trianon Documentary makes it's way to the Internet for download and viewing! Those interested in viewing Gabor Koltay's controversial film that was banned by the Rumanian AND the Hungarian governments, can now view the film on the Web. Directed by the renowned Gábor Koltay and with internationally respected historians such as Nemeskürti and Raffai, the film has and will continue to spark critical debate. AHF encourages open debate on Trianon and encourages all to review the film - unfortunately this site offers the film in Hungarian only. [Go to film]
NOTE: The site has the film's 13 parts out of 14. To view, just LEFT click on any portion. Once there, you can view it from your Browser or save it. To save that portion, RIGHT click the small yellow symbol (100/k) and "Save target as" to your hard drive.

[<< Back to All AHF News]


Quicklinks to AHF Statements More About Trianon

Count Apponyi pleading to the Supreme Council of the Paris Peace ConferenceCount Apponyi pleading to the Supreme Council of the Paris Peace Conference:

"In the name of the great principle so happily phrased by President Wilson, namely that no group of people, no population, may be transferred from one State to another without being consulted,- as though they were a herd of cattle with no will of their own,- in the name of this great principle, an axiom of good sense and public morals, we request, we demand a plebiscite on those parts of Hungary that are now on the point of being severed from us.  I declare we are willing to bow to the decision of a plebiscite whatever it should be. Of course, we demand it should be held in conditions ensuring the freedom of the vote."
[more on Count Apponyi]

The United States has never ratified this treaty. At the time President Wilson said: “The proposal to dismember Hungary is absurd” and later Sir Winston Churchill said: “Ancient poets and theologians could not imagine such suffering, which Trianon bought to the innocent.” Others warned that a weakened, dismembered Hungary would lead to a weak, fragmented Central Europe unable to resist Soviet expansionism. We are sad to report they were right.

The Treaty of Trianon in 1920... in the aftermath of WWI, was extremely harsh on Hungary and unjustifiably one-sided. The resulting "treaty" lost Hungary an unprecedented 2/3 of her territory, and 1/2 of her total population or 1/3 of her Hungarian-speaking population. Add to this the loss of over 90% of her vast natural resources, industry, railways, and other infrastructure. This was done to a nation whose borders were established over a thousand years earlier (896 A.D.) and one who, as the Pope called the "Saviors of Christianity," lost millions of lives defending the rest of Europe from numerous invasions from the likes of the Mongolian Tatars and the Ottoman Turks.

Hungary, a reluctant player in WWI, paid a price no other modern nation had ever before been subjected to. The French, long hungry to stall rapid economic advancement in German and Hungarian lands and despite American protests and calls for plebiscites, sent their troops to Northern Hungary in violation of the cease fire, and then pushed through the Treaty of Versailles (Trianon).Hungary, along with Germany and Austria, experienced rapid economic expansion during the latter part of the 19th century and into the 20th. This challenge alarmed France, Britain and Russia. Each needed a way to stave off Austrian-German-Hungarian economic competition. With the advent of WWI, France and Britain had their chance and began fostering anti-Hungarian sentiment among non-Magyar speaking Hungarian nationals. It is important to note that for over a thousand years, Hungary never experienced ethnic civil war. France, eager to weaken Hungary, offered to reward those nations and groups that assisted them in the war with large pieces of territory. The "Little Entente" of Rumania (who switched sides in the last minute), Czechoslovakia, and Serbia took that opportunity and got very lucky with huge swaths of territory. But they also inherited millions of ethnic Hungarians. Depsite promises otherwise, ethnic cleansing would soon commence.

The French, despite American protests and calls for plebiscites, sent their troops to Northern Hungary in violation of the cease fire, and then pushed through the Treaty of Versailles (Trianon). 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, but claimed the river Tisza. The Czechs were awarded all of Northern Hungary (now Slovakia and Transcarpathian Ukraine), despite almost equal numbers of Hungarians and Slovaks in the region, to create Czechoslovakia. The Serbs got parts of Southern Hungary (Vojvodina), Slavonia, and Croatia (confederated with Hungary for 700 years) to create the unlikely "Yugoslavia," which, like Czechoslovakia, no longer exists. Perhaps most amazingly, the Austrians who were responsible for getting Hungary into the war in the first place, got Western Hungary (Burgenland).

Ethnic Map of Slovakia - 1910 vs 1991 showing population decline

The dictators in these successor states began to foster nationalism and teach a less-than-accurate history to help bring legitimacy to their regimes. These claims are based on some seriously unfortunate state propaganda-cum-history about an ancient Roman province called Dacia. In Rumania, this revised history, accelerated by Ceaucescu, has become the accepted state historical doctrine even today, making the honest debate and a process of reconciliation much more difficult. In the newly formed Czechslovakia, Eduard Benes and his infamous "Benes Decrees" forcibly expelled tens of thousands of Hungarians and confiscated personal and church properties. See the additional steps the Slovak Government has taken against the Hungarian minority such as repressive "Slovak Language Law" and "Citizenship Act" which has no place in a 21st Europe. AHF's efforts to guarantee anew the rights of the Hungarian "minorities" continue.

Though the United States recommended a slightly more liberal approach in regards to Hungary, it did not prevail. The "self-determination of the nationalities" posited by President Woodrow Wilson resulted in only one plebiscite in Sopron, in Western Hungary. The vote was overwhelmingly pro-Hungarian and Sopron remained within the new borders. Oddly enough, although Austria was also a loser in the war, she also received a part of Hungary, and Sopron became a border city.

Returned Lands to HungaryThe dismemberment and instability brought economic collapse and governmental crisis. The Rumanians, also in defiance of the armistice agreement with their new-found French allies, took advantage of the turmoil in Hungary and moved troops into the defenseless nation and occupied Budapest and beyond. To this day, the Greater Rumania Party and other in Rumania still claim territory that includes the river Tisza and even Budapest. A mini-communist takeover, a republican government, finally gave way to Royalist Admiral Miklos Horthy who took over as "Regent" of Hungary and brought some stability back to the country. The new government got to work on trying to revise the unjust treaty.

Ukraine: AHF Releases Statement on the Plight of the Hungarian Minority in TranscarpathiaSadly, the US with its growing isolationist stance, pulled out of the League of Nations and Western Europe wanted no part in re-opening the case. France was focused on making sure Germany was punished. The Hungarians got a sympathetic ear from only Italy and Germany. This tragic alliance initially gained Hungary part of her northern territory from Czechoslovakia and Northern Transylvania from Rumania. But this alliance would only to plunge her into another disaster and occupations by first Nazis and later Soviet communists. Her land was again taken. One part of northern Hungary was then transferred from Czechoslovakia and became part of the Soviet Union and is today part of Ukraine.

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 were awarded all of Northern Hungary (now Slovakia), despite equal numbers of Hungarians and Slovaks in the region, to create Czechoslovakia, the Serbs got Southern Hungary (Vojvodina) and Croatia to create the unlikely "Yugoslavia," which, like Czechoslovakia, no longer exists. Perhaps most amazingly, the Austrians who were responsible for getting Hungary into the war in the first place, got Western Hungary (Burgenland).The maps here not only show graphically the extent to which the Treaty of Trianon dismembered Hungary, it shows how much Hungarian-majority areas were arbitrarily "reassigned." Hungarians today are the one of the largest minorities in Europe and face oppression and violence. Numbering in the millions, Hungarian minorities are second only to the Russians who became "minorities" with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Hungarians live under harsh persecution in the new states created by the treaty. The Helsinki Watch Committee called Romanian efforts to "purify" Transylvania as "Cultural Genocide."

>> Read the Treaty in full text

Ethnic Distribution in the Kingdom of Hungary in 1910 (Hungarians shown in red)

Ethnic Distribution in the Kingdom of Hungary in 1910 (Hungarians shown in red)
[download extra large image 4962x3509]
[download large image 1000x707]

Hungarian populations declined significantly after forced removals such as the Benes Decrees and other pograms, the effects of WWI, and Trianon in 1920. With continued pressure and discriminative policies such as the 2009 Slovak Language Law, the Slovak Citizenship Law, discriminatory practices in Rumania and Serbia, this trend has continued over the past 90 years.

Hungarian populations declined significantly after forced removals such as the Benes Decrees and other pograms, the effects of WWI, and Trianon in 1920. With continued pressure and discriminative policies sucha s the 2009 Slovak Language Law, this trend continued over the past 90 years.

  • In Upper Hungary (awarded to Czechoslovakia, now Slovakia): 1,687,977 Slovaks and 1,233,454 others (mostly Hungarians - 886,044, Germans, Ruthenians and Roma) [according to the 1921 census, however, there were 1,941,942 Slovaks and 1,058,928 others]
  • In Carpathian Ruthenia (Transcarpathia - awarded to Czechoslovakia after WWI, returned to Hungary in WWII, and then annexed by Stalin to the Soviet Union and Ukraine in 1945): 330,010 Ruthenians and 275,932 others (mostly Hungarians, Germans, Romanians, and Slovaks)
  • In Transylvania (awarded to Romania): 2,831,222 Romanians (53.8%) and 2,431,273 others (mostly Hungarians - 1,662,948 (31.6%) and Germans - 563,087 (10.7%)). The 1919 and 1920 Transylvanian censuses by Rumania indicates a greater percentage of Romanians (57.1%/57.3%) and a smaller Hungarian minority (26.5%/25.5%)
  • In Vojvodina 510,754 Serbs and 1,002,229 others (mostly Hungarians 425,672 and Germans 324,017)
  • In Vojvodina and Croatia-Slavonia combined (awarded to Yugoslavia): 2,756,000 Croats and Serbs and 1,366,000 others (mostly Hungarians and Germans)
  • In Burgenland (awarded to Austria): 217,072 Germans and 69,858 others (mainly Croatian and Hungarian)

Additional AHF Links on Trianon

External Links on Trianon


Related Downloads

Adobe You will need the free Adobe Reader to open the following files. Click the image to download.

  • Hungary's Accession to NATO: An expanded report - 7/17/2007
  • "NATO Enlargement" by Frank Koszorus Jr. March 29, 2004 - Remarks on the Occasion of the Enlargement of NATO, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. [download]
  • AHF Memorandum on Romanian President Iliescu Visit - 10/24/2003
  • "Nato Enlargement And Minority Rights: Prerequisites To Security" by Frank Koszorus, Jr. , April 2003 - A memorandum that was submitted to Robert A. Bradtke, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, and Heather A. Conley, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs during a roundtable discussion on "NATO Enlargement and the Current State of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance." This submission follows several other intiatives, including submissions to Lord Roberston, Secretary General of NATO. [download]
  • “Nato Enlargement: Promoting Western Values, Strengthening The Alliance” by Frank Koszorus, Jr. , April 29, 2003 - A Statement Before The United States Senate Committee On Foreign Relations.
    [download]
  • "U.S. Senate Unanimously Ratifies Nato Treaty; Senators Raise Rights Of Minorities: Federation Supports Efforts Aimed At Encouraging Romania And Slovakia To Respect Rights Of Hungarian Minorities And Restore Communal Properties" - Press Release by Zoltan Bagdy, May 9, 2003 [download]
  • An Essay on the foundations of Rumanian Identity, Nationalism and Ethnic Cleansing - CONCEPTUAL CONFUSIONS CONCERNING THE ROMANIAN IDENTITY: NEAM AND POPOR AS EXPRESSIONS OF ETHNO-NATIONALISM (PART 3) - "...the motivation and the goal was common: racially determined mass murder." (Appeared in RFE/RFL Newsline, 6/5/2005 By Victor Neumann, professor of history at the West University of Timisoara, Romania.) [download]
  • Transylvanian Monitor #14: Property Restitution.

Congressional Resolutions & Records

  • H.RES 191 - A RESOLUTION urging the "prompt and fair restitution of church properties by Romania and Slovakia - TOM LANTOS / TOM TANCREDO (April 6th 2005) in the House of Representatives [download]
  • A RESOLUTION REGARDING THE ISSUE OF TRANSYLVANIAN HUNGARIANS -- HON. DONALD E. `BUZ' LUKENS (Extension of Remarks - February 26, 1990) in the House of Representatives [download]
  • VIOLENCE IN TRANSYLVANIA -- HON. DON RITTER (Extension of Remarks - March 22, 1990) in the House of Representatives [download]

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