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Monday, 4 June, 2001, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Hungary revives painful past, former glory
Statues from the recently exhumed memorial
Figures from the Greater Hungary Monument
Hungary is to restore a monument which commemorates painful military defeats while bearing witness to the country's former glory.


This memorial... was a memorial to the centuries of struggles of the 1,000-year-old Hungary

Janos Rozsas
The Greater Hungary Monument was erected in western Hungary in 1934 to mark what the nation regarded as its four great tragedies - defeats by the Tartars, the Turks and the Habsburgs, as well as the 1920 Treaty of Trianon which carved up the country after World War I.

"This memorial... was a memorial to the centuries of struggles of the 1,000-year-old Hungary," writer Janos Rozsas told Hungarian TV.

Under the Treaty of Trianon, Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory and 12m of its population.

The nation woke up to find its road and rail network leading nowhere, its access to the sea gone and most of its industrial base in foreign hands.

Burial

Efforts to resurrect the monument have come together on the treaty's 80th anniversary.

The original Greater Hungary monument
The momument in Nagykanizsa before its demolition
Rozsas said the monument was an obelisk with a Hungarian crown and an inscription saying: I believe in one God, I believe in one homeland.

The coats of arms of the 19 remaining counties were engraved on it. Those of the 44 lost counties were left blank.

The memorial stood till 1952, when communist rule passed sentence over it.

It was demolished and a ditch was dug. A monument glorifying the 1919 Hungarian Soviet Republic, erected in 1961, was intended to replace it.

It was Rozsas himself who - in 1999 - first raised the idea of restoring the monument, to mark the millennium of Hungary's statehood.

Many in the town backed him, though others opposed the idea. Funding was also a problem.

Limited funds

Last autumn the ditch was dug out and the remains of the monument were recovered in relatively good condition.

Monument to Hungarian Soviet Republic
A Soviet-style statue was erected instead
Jozsef Meszaros, chairman of the monument committee, told the TV that the project still had limited funds, with a total of just 13m forints - equivalent to about $43,000 - available.

The monument will be restored in two phases. The coats of arms of the 63 counties will be ready in the second phase only, because it requires more money.

The monument will be inaugurated on 12 August, on the Feast of the Assumption.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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See also:

01 Jan 00 | Europe
Hungary hails national symbol
10 Sep 99 | Europe
Hungary's role remembered
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