1456, 1956 – 555 years, 55 years
The employees of Zrínyi Média have a new surprise in store for those placing their faith in Hungarian history. Today we publish our new English-language book in the Zrínyi Média Digital Library (you can find it at http://ekonyvtar.zrinyimedia.hu):
555 years, 55 years
From the Noon Bell to the Lads of Pest
Both of these moments were glorious. The bells tolled for Hungary in 1456 at Nándorfehérvár, at an uplifting and symbolic, victorious moment that marked the end of our first half millennium. And the heart of the world went out to the lads of Pest and the Hungarian Revolution in October 1956, also bleeding for them as of 4 November 1956; although this beautiful moment at the end of our second half millennium marks a defeat, it victoriously transformed the future of the world, dooming international tyranny to failure.
We have timed the publication of our book for the period of the Hungarian EU Presidency. This English-language book about 1456 and 1956 is intended for the world. It is about our heroic fight 555 years ago and 55 years ago, that saved and changed Europe and its future. From the end of April, we will give the printed version of it to all those who are managing European public affairs during these months – evoking the heydays of Hungarian politics –, including the representatives of the Hungarian Government, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Hungary’s political, economic and cultural life, so they can present it to their foreign partners too. Through this book about our past, we pay our respects to Europe and the 1115 years of Hungary, just as we did in at the end of January by publishing our book “1000–1100 Years Ago – Hungary in the Carpathian Basin”, which introduced the victorious Battle of Pressburg in 907, the half-millennium earlier historical counterpart of 1456 and 1956.
Foreword from the book „From the Noon Bell…”:
“For Whom the Bell Tolls” is the title of Hemingway’s famous novel. It quotes John Donne’s Meditation, a well-known line of which goes “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main”.
We might try to rephrase Donne’s sentence to characterize a whole nation like Hungary, the “shield of Christianity” in the Middle Ages. Already an integral “piece of the continent” for several centuries, in 1456 our country heroically defended Europe against the sultan’s huge army at the castle of Nándorfehérvár (Belgrade), against improbable odds. Since that victory, throughout the Christian world the bells toll for Hungary at noon every day, commemorating the heroes of our nation.
500 years after the siege of Nándorfehérvár, in the autumn of 1956, Hungarians rose up to overthrow an oppressive and brutal communist regime. This time fighting against insurmountable odds on the streets of the capital, Budapest, Hungarian insurgents engaged the invading Soviet troops sent to crush the revolution.
Without our mysterious faith in Hungarian history, we could not appreciate that Hungary, in defending the whole of Europe, could hold up its blood-spattered body first at Nándorfehérvár along the Danube in 1456, and then at another city by the same river, Budapest, in 1956, exactly 500 years later, the first time victorious, the second time left hopelessly to itself, and thereby ultimately once again victorious. Without this mystery, we could not appreciate that, as these lines are written, we are celebrating the 555th anniversary of Nándorfehérvár and the bells at noon, and the 55th anniversary of Budapest and the brutal silencing of the unsilenceable words of freedom.
Were all of the “lads of Pest” of 1956 buried somehow, at least hurriedly, at least in the mud? Was everyone accounted for? Is there an unknown voice enclosed in concrete under the asphalt which, when it lived, shouted at the expense of its owner’s life, screaming Long live Hungary, long live Hungarian freedom! at the last bullet? And if we don’t know where they died, do we always know why? The 20th century symbol of freedom, 16 year-old student Kata Magyar – a young girl who volunteered to help as a nurse – as she rushed along the streets to tend the wounded, why was she shot dead?
Her grave, under the undyingly beautiful arch of the rainbow, how near is it to Árpád’s, who has been the father of us all since the Hungarian Conquest in 895–896?
In conclusion, the quote below tells all:
John Sadovy, photographer for the American magazine Life, who recorded the violence and fear in Budapest in 1956:
“Then my nerves went. Tears started to come down my cheeks. I had spent three years in the war, but nothing I saw then could compare with the horror of this.