Monday, August 21, 2017
Reflections on the Condition of Hungary
In the 1930’s a full restoration of the monarchy seemed very possible in the person of Archduke Otto, the Crown Prince of Hungary and heir to the throne. The Archduke and the Chancellor of Austria, Kurt von Schuschnigg, came to an agreement on restoring the Habsburg monarchy in Austria which had the support of Mussolini in Italy. Schuschnigg had also restored friendly relations with Hungary and many believed that once the Austrian monarchy was restored, Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia would come together in a Danube confederation of sorts, presided over by the Habsburg monarch, backed up by the Kingdom of Italy (Mussolini having envisioned another Habsburg-Savoy dynastic alliance). However, this entire plan came to ruin when France and Britain turned against Italy over the war with Ethiopia, pushing Mussolini into the welcoming arms of Hitler and the Italians stood down as the guarantors of Austrian independence. Austria was annexed by Germany and the neighboring countries soon had to make their peace with Berlin.
Hungary, under new management, remained in the war but despite fierce resistance, nothing was able to stop the Soviet Red Army hordes from pushing ever closer. In late 1944 the Soviet troops invaded Hungary and by the end of the war fully occupied the country, installing a pliant communist puppet regime whose strings would be pulled from Moscow. In 1949 the “People’s Republic of Hungary” was declared, ushering in an era of privation, oppression and misery which did not end until 1989 when the countries of Eastern Europe rose up to reassert their independence as the Soviet Union collapsed in on itself out of sheer Marxist incompetence. As with everywhere the communists held power, Hungary had stagnated for decades and fallen far behind the standard of living seen in countries on the western side of the “Iron Curtain” when, in the distant past, the Kingdom of Hungary had, at times, been more powerful than any of them. In this weakened condition, the new, non-communist, Third Hungarian Republic joined NATO in 1999 and then the European Union in 2004.
Prime Minister Orban, of course, should not be ruling Hungary, at least not without having to answer to a Habsburg monarch for it, however, he seems to have done rather well and anyone who is criticized by Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkl, Jose Manuel Barroso and Jean-Claude Juncker must be doing quite a bit right. Where does the House of Habsburg fit into all of this? Well, the head of the house, Archduke Karl von Habsburg, resides in Austria and, while generally on the conservative side of things by European standards, would seem to be somewhat at odds with Orban’s nationalism and so-called “soft” Euro-skepticism. However, his younger brother, Archduke Georg von Habsburg, has lived and worked in Hungary for many years and all three of his children have been born in Hungary so there is definitely still a family connection.
The Heyday of Hungary” will recall that most of this area, and more, was once united under the Hungarian Crown. It happened before, why can it not happen again? A look at the map of the lands ruled by the King of Hungary shows that it very much corresponds with those areas today most determined to maintain their national distinctiveness and to resist the encroachment of foreign powers and foreign peoples. This could be something to work with and, if the proper policies are pursued of course, I think could be extremely successful.