February 25 - March 3, 1919. Visiting Szatmár

Barkóczi Janka

This week's most important news were about Mihály Károlyi's Szatmár visit. The videos are interlinked by French descriptions, which suggests that the surviving copy was made for guests of the French peace conference.

A fine example on how they already discovered the power of moving image in the 1910s, and used it consciously when needed.

Mihály Károlyi visits Colonel Kratochwill's székely brigade in Szatmár

The president's train arrived to Szatmárnémeti on March 2, 1919 Sunday morning to visit the székely battalions. The delegation included Károlyi's wife, Katinka Andrássy, Szatmár-born Interior Minister Vince Nagy and his wife, Vilmos Böhm Defense Minister, Col. Gen. Aurél, Colonel Károly Kratochwill and writer Oszkár Gellért who was Károlyi's Press Secretary since January 1919. Government Commissioner László Kossaczky and Mayor István Lénárd welcomed them at the train station.

By 11:00 thousands gathered to meet the delegation. They erected a podium on front of the gorgeous art nouveau Hotel Pannónia, the ceremony was opened by the laborers' choir who sang the Marseillaise, than the civil choir sang the National Anthem. After accepting the warm welcome, Károlyi spoke first, then the Defense Minister, who was followed by Government Commissioner József Pogány and the Interior Minister. While Károlyi spoke, the székely brigade's airplane threw flowers on the square and one landed on the President's hat. Károlyi was more enthusiastic than usual, saying that foresight and common sense demands laws to secure the country's unity.

He also mentioned that he trusts President Wilson's decision, and is convinced that "the democratic and socially sensitive United States and the Entente will not allow an entire nation and country to be destroyed. I want the entire world to listen and understand once and for all: a nation can not be wiped out; the instinct of self-preservation can not be exterminated. If the Paris peace conference decides against the Wilsonian idea, the nations' right to self-determination and peace, we will be ready to fight for our freedom.”

Vilmos Böhm was even more tough, warning Western powers if they rob the country, the region will go up in flames and put the entire continent in danger. Speeches were often interrupted by ovation and shouting, then the crowd eventually burst out in a long lasting ovation celebrating the guests. At the end of the program, the president talked to the székely troops, and promised he will never sign a treaty which would divide Hungary. The delegation watched the cheering battalion's parade then headed for a banquette at Pannónia.

Károlyi and Böhm at the demarcation line in Transylvania

After lunch, Károlyi and his company went to Szinérváralja to visit the demarcation line between Szatmár and Nagybánya on the city's border, and meet soldiers of the székely infantry, machine gun squad and artillery who were stationed there. Both local and international newspapers were present, such as Bartlett and the Daily Telegraph. Military Commander of Transylvania, Károly Kratochwill informed the delegation about their situation. Kartochwill was born in Brno, started his career at the Vienna Military Academy, and during war instead of staying at the court, he chose to fight. He appeared with his troops in Galicia and Isonzo, and led his soldiers back to their Nagyvárad station at the end of the war. For his heroism, he was awarded the Military Order of Maria Theresa between the two wars and in autumn 1918 he became leader of the 5th Military District Command of Transylvania. When the Romanians came in through Transylvania, he started supporting székely recruitment, and those who later fought on his side against Romanians between November 1918 and April 1919 were called the Székely brigade. The troops had a more complicated relationship with the government, than what the media suggested. Politicians did not trust the battling autonomous troops, and also failed to properly supply them.

On the newsreel, the President asked the soldiers to be patient, but also be prepared. Defense Minister Vilmos Böhm told them to be aware of the fact that they do not have a problem with the Romanian population. The real enemies are Romanian capitalists, who exploit Romanians and Hungarians alike. After the visit they were informed that a military funeral was held close by and on Károlyi's spontaneous suggestion the entire delegation headed to say farewell to corporal Lajos Ungvári, who died the day before at Sikárló. The Szatmár trip ended with a tea party at the women's charity association and dinner before heading back.

The year's first "field running"

In 1906 Népszava published an advertisement which called for a new laborers' sports club. The MTE, as in Laborers' Training Association was founded two years later to popularize sports amongst laborers. Gymnastics was their most popular department, but tourism, athletics, wrestling, football and swimming were also well-liked. They rented a gym in the capital, held their athletics training on Millenáris, swimmers used Rudas, and they also had their own hospice in Nagyszénás. The Association had a revival after the war with a growing number of members. The "field running" on this footage was a popular sport although in 1913 Az Újság's reporter was troubled by the fact that such events are attended by thousands abroad, while here we only have a few people and called the Hungarian race piteous. The reporter recommended shortening the 12 km race and lowering the entry fee, and he also would have preferred if associations joined such races in a specific order. Even without reaching the Western standard, field running was included in athletic championships where amateurs could also try their luck. The 1919 spring season's first 6 km run was held at the FTC field on Üllői út with 12 MTE, 10 Harmony Sport Club and 9 FTC members. Both team and individual races were won by FTC. The final image shows István Uglár, who came in first with 24 minutes and 15 seconds. The young construction worker was a shining star of the club's youth league, and even though he broke his leg a year earlier when the scaffolding collapsed on him at a construction site, he was still able to win the game.