By Kristof Kocs
The spring of 1848 was a very dark period of Europe’s history. All of the big cities of Europe (Vienna, Bratislava, Paris) had their own revolution. Young people were unhappy and wanted more freedom. Hungary was no different in this regard, as it was under the control of the Habsburg Monarchy’s leader, Franz Joseph.
Budapest had its own public community, which included well-known Hungarians (such as Petőfi Sándor, Vasvári Pál and Jókai Mór) who wanted to free the Hungarian Kingdom from the Habsburg Monarchy. For the revolution, Petőfi Sándor, who was a extremely famous Hungarian poet, wrote a poem: the Nemzeti dal.
The primary reason for this revolution was the Habsburg’s oppression of the Hungarian people. They decided to summarize their requests in a 12 point leaflet which also contained the Nemzeti dal.
At the time, the center of public life was the Pilvax Café. The morning of the revolution, the crowd marched from there to the Budapest universities. The growing crowd then went to the Landerer und Hechernast’s press, where they printed the leaflets containing the 12 points and the Nemzeti dal.
After this event, the crowd decided to walk to the Buda Castle, where they freed Táncsics Mihály, who had been imprisoned for his political crimes. In the afternoon, the crowd gathered at the National Museum and sang the Nemzeti dal. Then in the evening, the crowd went to the theater where they played the previously banned “Bánk Bán”.
A few days later, both the Habsburgs and Hungarian revolutionaries nominated Batthyány Lajos as the first prime minister of Hungary, who formed the first free Hungarian government. Unfortunately, the revolution turned into a “war of independence”, which only ended in the middle of 1849 with the Austrians defeating the Hungarian soldiers. Because of this, Franz Joseph achieved unlimited power over the Hungarians.
At our school, we celebrated in ordered to commemorate the March 15 holiday by having an Activity day. As part of the Activity day, the various classes competed against one another by participating in different activities. They took quizzes containing questions which relate to the revolution. They also got to learn about the scientific findings of the time, solved mathematical problems and could sing songs from that period. The Hungarian students could learn the Nemzeti dal in English, while the international students could learn it in Hungarian. They also participated in many other fun exercises.
I asked several students from different classes whether they liked the program. They responded by saying that it was both funny and interesting.