A Special Relationship

BUDAPEST/BERLIN | | ungarn

BUDAPEST/BERLIN (Own report) - The Hungarian National Assembly commemorated the post World War II "disfranchisement and expulsion of Hungarian Germans" on November 16, with the presidents of the German and the European parliaments in attendance. The occasion was a conference on the 60th anniversary of the relocation of the ethnic Germans of Hungary. The conference had been initiated by the social democratic president of the Hungarian Parliament, Katalin Szili. She sees the post war relocation decisions, which were derived from the Potsdam Conference, as "documents of shame". She also rejects the Czech government's Beneš Decrees and recently called off a visit to Slovakia, because, contrary to Budapest - the parliament in Bratislava did not annul the 1945 relocation decisions. Preceding the November 16 session, the President of the Association of Displaced Persons (Bund der Vertriebenen BdV), Erika Steinbach, awarded Szili with the association's Medal of Honor. Hoping to profit from the annulment of the post war order, Budapest is cooperating with Berlin. Hundreds of thousands of members of the Hungarian speaking minority in Slovakia are hoping for reparations and restitution if the Beneš Decrees are abrogated. The German-Hungarian revisionist axis had been forged long before the 1989 upheaval and consolidated through government accords. Its offensive against Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia is gaining momentum.

No Taboo

Prominent Hungarian and German politicians are taking part in the Hungarian National Assembly's commemoration conference on the "60th Anniversary of Disfranchisement and Expulsion of Hungarian Germans". Speakers will include representatives of the "Hungarian Germans", the Minister of the Prime Minister's Office, Peter Kiss, and the Minority Ombudsman of the Hungarian parliament. The President of the German Bundestag, Norbert Lammert, as well as the President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering will also participate in the conference at the invitation of Katalin Szili, President of the Hungarian Parliament. In June 2006, at the inauguration of a memorial dedicated to relocated Germans, near the Hungarian capital, Katalin Szili had already made her rejection of the 1945 relocation decisions clear, declaring: "the Germans' disfranchisement, their expulsion from their mother country can no longer be treated as a taboo."[1]

Post War Order

Like the relocation of Germans from Poland and Czechoslovakia, the relocation of the "Hungarian Germans" was part of the European post war order as decided by the victorious allied powers. This relocation was stipulated in Chapter XIII of the Potsdam Treaty and - analogous to Prague's Beneš Decrees - was implemented in Budapest by national provisions. With these relocations, the Allies drew the consequences of not only the German "Volksgruppen" policy (an ethnic based 5th column policy) for the destabilization of Eastern Europe, that had reached its climax in the so called Sudeten regions, but also of Nazi crimes in the occupied countries, with the participation of Hungarians and "Hungarian Germans". Hungary, which became Germany's ally in the war, annexed part of today's Slovak territory, only weeks after the German invasion of Czechoslovakia. Historians estimate that approximately 120.000 of the 470.000 "Hungarian Germans" registered in a 1940 census, fought in the Nazi SS divisions.

Revision

Since the 1989 upheaval, Budapest - in contravention to the Potsdam Treaty and the post war order this treaty established - has been fully complying with the demands of the relocated Germans. Already March 28, 1990, the Hungarian parliament alleged that the relocation of "Hungarian Germans" was in violation of the Universal Human Rights and therefore illegal. Two years later, 1992, a law was passed granting reparations to the "Hungarian Germans". Even though these reparations were usually granted in the form of coupons ("reparations coupons") for investing in shares or apartments, the relocated often lost their benefits through shady transactions with their coupons. Still, more than 11 million Euros were paid to the "Hungarian Germans," in addition to their shares. In the meantime, the approximately 62.000 "Hungarian Germans" who are still living today in Hungary, enjoy extensive ethnic privileges ("minority rights"), since 1995 they have their own political representation ("Landesselbstverwaltung") and are part of a pan-European network of German speaking minorities, that is instrumental for the German ministry of the interior to have influence on the policies of other European nations (german-foreign-policy-com reported [2]).

Collaboration Benefits

In spite of the German's enhanced status, Budapest is profiting from the German-Hungarian revisionist policy. If the Beneš Decrees are abrogated in Slovakia, the Hungarian-speaking minority, of approx. 600,000, can hope for reparations and restitution. In the aftermath of World War II, because of Budapest's participation in the break-up of Czechoslovakia, alongside the German, the Hungarian minority was expropriated and a proportion relocated. Following an initiative taken by the Slovakian "Party of the Hungarian Coalition" (SMK) calling for the abrogation of the Beneš Decrees, the parliament in Bratislava reaffirmed September 20, their inviolability. Hungarian politicians have been up in arms ever since. President Laszlo Solyom, who in the 1990s had worked with an influential German "Volksgruppen" specialist [3], visited the Hungarian minority community in Slovakia and sharply criticized the Beneš Decrees. The parliamentary president, Szili, indignantly renounced a visit to the Slovak capital. Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany threatened that the Beneš Decrees are "not only in violation of the principles of good neighborly relations, but also in violation of basic EU principles."[4] Lastly, on demand of an SMK parliamentarian, the Interior Committee of the European Parliament is now taking up the question.

Enticement

Already before the 1989 upheavals, West Germany had enticed Hungary with the prospects of a European revision and won the support for its demands for the relocated as well as for the "Hungarian Germans" who remained in the country. Already in the 1950s, Budapest permitted the founding of a "Federation of Hungarian Germans" and continuously extended its scope of activities. In 1984, the former chairman of the organization of the relocated, the "Landsmannschaft of the Germans from Hungary," reported that the "injustice of the relocation" is becoming a theme of discussion in the Hungarian capital. In 1985 the first "Hungarian German" association ("Nikolaus-Lenau-Kulturverein") was founded in Pecs, followed by numerous other "ethnic group" organizations toward the end of the 1980s. In 1987 Bonn achieved a breakthrough. On October 7, the governments of the Federal Republic of Germany and Hungary signed, a joint declaration, that provided for a special program "to promote the German minority and the German language in the Hungarian Republic".

Spearhead

The prospect of Hungarian benefit from the revision contributed - in September 1989 - to Hungary's headlong surge to open its borders to Austria leading to the collapse of the socialist state system. It was not by coincidence that prominent members from the entourage of the "relocated" associations were on hand with much publicity for the first - illegal - border crossings.[5] While Budapest quickly complied with all demands of the relocated Germans, the governments of both countries worked on the German-Hungarian Friendship Treaty [6] that was signed in February 1992. Article 1 declares the goal to be a "close, partner-like and, in accordance with the special relations enjoyed by the two countries, cooperation at all levels." Article 2 elevates "national minorities" to "natural bridges between the peoples." Article 19 explicitly defines the special rights to be enjoyed by the "Hungarian Germans" (the German minority). Only a few months later, in September 1992, this paragraph was made more precise through a joint declaration of the two governments "concerning the demands of the German minority."[7]

Internal Structure

With the president of the European Parliament's participation in the "commemoration conference" in Budapest, the EU is being implicated in the German Hungarian revision attempts - at a time when Berlin is taking the offensive in its attempts to erect a "Center against Expulsions." The attacks are being accompanied by the edification of a European wide relocation association, that is to be presented to the public at the beginning of December (german-foreign-policy.com reported [8]). Italian organizations are playing an important role in this effort. While the EU is progressively drawing closer together, to be better able to globally compete, inside the union, a revisionist alliance is congealing, comprised of the losers of World War II. This provides a glimpse at the internal structures and the hegemonic hub of a future world power.

[1] Rede zur Verleihung der Ehrenplakette des BdV an die ungarische Parlamentspräsidentin Dr. Katalin Szili durch BdV-Präsidentin Erika Steinbach MdB am 16. November 2007 in Budapest
[2] see also Aktionseinheiten
[3] see also Die zweite Welle and "Transsilvanien ist unser"
[4] Ungarn - Slowakei: Ungarn empört über slowakische Bestätigung der Benes-Dekrete; Die Presse 28.09.2007
[5] Im Spätsommer 1989 lief ein Foto durch die Presse, das Walburga von Habsburg, die Tochter des ehemaligen österreichischen Thronfolgers Otto von Habsburg (CSU), beim Durchschneiden des österreichisch-ungarischen Grenzzauns zeigt. Beide arbeiteten damals an führender Stelle der "Paneuropa Union" - gemeinsam mit deren heutigem Präsidenten Bernd Posselt. Posselt steht heute auch der Sudetendeutschen Landsmannschaft vor, in der das Haus Habsburg hohes Ansehen genießt. See also Paneuropa-Picknick
[6] Vertrag zwischen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und der Republik Ungarn über freundschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Partnerschaft in Europa, unterzeichnet am 06.02.1992
[7] Gemeinsame Erklärung zwischen der Regierung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und der Regierung der Republik Ungarn über die Förderung der deutschen Minderheit und des Unterrichts von Deutsch als Fremdsprache in der Republik Ungarn, unterzeichnet am 25.09.1992
[8] see also Beachtliches Gewicht, Heute ist es das Gleiche and Revisionsoffensive