Shadows of the Past: Post-WWI Settlements in contemporary Central European Politics
by Petr BALLA (Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic)
Sunday, April 7, 4:30 pm

Signing the Treaty, 4 June 1920, Versailles
This is first in a new series of lectures, "Skalny Center Four-thirty Tea." The audience will have tea in a cafe-like setting, chat with each other and with the speaker, and listen to an informal talk. The topics will cover various issues pertaining to the Central Europe.

Hungary lost 71 per cent of its territory as a result of the 1920 Trianon Peace Treaty, which left one-third of the Hungarian population in neighbouring countries. The Trianon trauma had a profound influence on Hungarian politics and society and, for example, figured among the reasons why Hungary entered WWII on the side of Germany. Hungary became part of the Soviet bloc after the war ended and Trianon became a taboo subject. However, the Trianon trauma remained in the Hungarian consciousness. It emerged in the 1980s, when the Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu launched his brutal assimilation campaign against the Hungarian minority in the country.

Trianon reemerged in Hungary’s political discourse after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, and continues to occupy a crucial place on the agenda for political parties on the extreme right of the spectrum. In 2010 Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban introduced a “Day of National Unity” on June 4th, timed to coincide with the day when the Trianon Treaty was signed. There is an on-going debate among Hungarian historians about the Trianon phenomenon and the question of Hungarian minorities, both of which destabilize Hungary’s relations with its neighbours even today. Why is the 93 years old treaty still so prominent in Hungarian political discourse? In which forms does the Trianon heritage appear, and can Hungarian society ever overcome the trauma?

Balla is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Institute of International Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague, where he teaches courses on Central European history. He has published several articles in Czech peer-reviewed academic journals. In his research, he concentrates on the problems of historical legacies in contemporary Hungary, Hungarian minorities and the position of Hungary in contemporary Europe.

LeChase Hall, Genrich-Rusling Room, University of Rochester River Campus
Free and open to the public.