September 10-16, 1918. Last moments of the Austrian-Hungarian connection

Barkóczi Janka

These chronicles from 1918 were mainly covering local issues, but they were also up to date on international news. Cameramen were happy to record events representing Hungary's strong international relationships, particularly with allies.

On most of these images, Hungarians are portrayed as a hospitable and generous nation, who are proud of their beautiful country and enjoy inviting likeminded folks for a friendly chat, or engaging in some noble rivalry. The 4th edition of Az Est News introduces a delegation of German journalists and an Austrian composer, bids farewell to the Austrian children who spent their summer in Hungary, and brings us to a bicycle race. 

Journalists' day at the National Park

The Journalists' day on September 10, 1918 was called „The season's biggest arts festival” by local papers. The charity event at National Park was organized to raise money, which would cover journalists' insurance, and an immense amount of people attended who were thirsty for entertainment. The festive footage reveals a schnitzel eating contest, a wonder wheel, rollercoaster, a magic castle, cabaret, masked ball at the Casino de Paris and everything else that calls for a unique experience. „A late carnival's violins were crying and the rhythm of a long gone dance was liberated. This beautiful night made us forget about everything - most importantly; war.” – reported the newspaper, Budapesti Hírlap. Biggest names on the lineup were Frigyes Karinthy, Dezső Kosztolányi, Kornél Tábori and Pufi Huszár (1884-1940?), who appears in this footage with his distinctive figure. He did a speech at the Rollercoaster with three military bands constantly playing next to him. Comedians Sándor Rott and Géza Steinhardt were at the Flea Theatre, and rookie Lajos Zilahy was performing at the Free stage. The "paperboy-cabaret" donkey cart rode around Angol Park all day and the "Food lottery" started at midnight, where people had a chance to win a sack of flour, a goose, 2 kilograms of coffee, 1500 kilograms of coal and enough material for a woman's dress.

German journalists cruising on the Danube

Maintaining a good relationship with the press was always important, especially in wartime. The German journalists' delegation arrived to Budapest on September 14, 1918 to a warm welcome. Mayor Tivadar Bódy was greeting the representatives of prominent papers at Nyugati Train Station before they went on a cruise from Eötvös square to admire the city in autumn colors. While the Franz Joseph I steamer was cruising between Budafok and Margaret Island, the guests were sipping on tea, which is quite strange considering the fact that newspapers were writing about a nation-wide tea shortage the same week - with no milk left, people started drinking tea, which eventually caused the tea shortage. After docking, the delegation was invited for a feast with 150 guests at the Grand Hotel Hungaria. Counselor Miksa Márkus said a toast before dinner, praising the emperor and the king and speculating on what to expect from 1918. He was obviously no psychic, as he envisioned that Germans were going to win this war and have glorious times ahead, especially because "they were destined to go down that road with Hungary".

Famous Austrian composer, Leo Fall becomes a Hungarian citizen

Born in Olmütz, Leo Fall (1873-1925) was a world famous composer, whose operettas were always on show at Hungarian theaters, even nowadays. The Brüderlein fein, The Merry Farmer, The Divorcée, Madame Pompadour - just to name a few of his works from the "Silver Age". Fall, who rose from a composer dynasty, loved the Hungarian audience and theater, and the affection was mutual. The intensely popular The Dollar Princess, which premiered in February, 1918 was playing at the National Theatre of Szeged, and he also conducted a military band at the Journalists' day on September 10. If you would like to listen to old gramophone records with his works, you will find a number of his cheerful melodies on this link.

Austrian children travel home on the Danube

We mentioned The King Charles Children's Summer Vacation Initiative earlier, which was operating in good will, but certainly caused a lot of dispute. The news were mostly covering the Hungarian children's trips abroad, but this time we take a look at the Austrian kids who stayed here. They became malnourished during war and were sent on a forced vacation with Hungarian families, who lived in towns on the Danube shore. They sailed home from Budapest in September. This is what the newspaper, Pécsi Napló wrote about guests at Sellye: „The cheerful little Germans were absolutely beloved. They mostly ate bread and fruits, did not like the taste of paprika first, but they got so used to it, some of them even brought a couple home in their pockets. Their skinny little bodies became curvy by the end of the trip. Most of the children tore up during goodbyes and promised their hosts to visit them next year and never forget their kindness.” This segment is also related to the history of shipping, as the children were travelling with the Laudon steamer, a unique ship on the Danube. It was made that year, so it might have been its first ever cruise. It was later renovated and ran under the name, Linz from 1937 to 1955.

Hungarian-Austrian bicycle race on Millenáris

Another way of fostering international relationships was through sports, a recurring subject in the news for it was eye-catching, eventful and wildly popular. Dynamic and exciting cycling events were often covered from the 1910's. This championship was organized at 15:00 on September 15 on the beloved Millenáris with a 3x3 km Austrian-Hungarian race, motorcycle, tandem and obstacle races. Joseph Kokoll from Vienna was present beside other famous Austrian cyclists. The sight of these fast and gorgeous machines had the exact effect on viewers they expected from a new medium; revealing the beauty and powerful technology of both the subject and the medium presenting it.