The Institute of History SAS on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Trianon Peace Treaty on June 4, 1920
The collapse of the three imperial powers, the German Empire, Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire, following the results of the First World War, belongs to one of the most significant changes modern Europe has undergone. The victorious powers of Great Britain, France, Italy, United States of America and Japan adopted a concept against the defeated enemies, which accepted the demands of the national movements in Central and Eastern Europe for the creation of independent “national” states.
The ratification of a peace treaty with Hungary on June 4, 1920, at Grand Trianon castle, was a practical result of this policy. It definitively sealed the disintegration of the Kingdom of Hungary, similarly as the Treaty of Saint-Germain signed on September 10, 1919, meant the end of the existence of the Austrian part of the Habsburg Monarchy.
By signing the Trianon Peace Treaty, the almost two-year complicated process of separating the Slovak territory from Hungary and its integration into the Czechoslovak Republic was definitively completed. Slovakia became the object and the subject of international policy, the region with precise demarcation and a capital city. As part of the democratic Czechoslovak Republic, it underwent a highly positive cultural, educational and political development in the next two decades, which would be only hardly imaginable in the case of the survival of the Kingdom of Hungary. On the other hand, Hungarian society fell into a long period of political instability after the end of the war. In its case, Trianon was the confirmation of a depressive development after the military defeat.
From the point of view of the prevailing majority interpretation of the past, it seems necessary that the Slovak and Hungarian looks on the Trianon will always be diametrically different. The very meaning, which the individual national historiographies ascribe to it, is different. For Hungarian part, the signing of the Treaty of Trianon represents the key event, which still deforms the moods of society. For the majority of the Slovak historians, Trianon is only a formal and delayed confirmation of what, according to them, was finally decided on the 28th, or, October 30, 1918.
Currently, the subject of Trianon is captive to up-to-date political interests. Even thanks to this, the nationalistic passions often have their say rather than the experts´ arguments. It is still more obvious that the future of a fruitful discussion is possible only outside the conflicting ethnocentric frameworks. The first step towards converging the views is not only defining the mutual points of contact, a sincere effort to hear and understand each other's arguments, but also to reject the politically motivated use of the past.
As member states of the European Union, which should not have territorial disputes with each other, we should focus more on mutual cooperation and understanding. Honest, scientifically based cooperation of historians concerning the sensitive topics of our mutual past can make a significant contribution to this.
Matej Hanula, Adam Hudek, The Institute of History SAS
Photo: Archive of The Institute of History SAS