Hungary (Magyarország). A landlocked country in the Danube River Basin of Eastern Europe sharing a common border with Ukraine of 105 km. Its capital is Budapest. Until its partition in 1920 so-called greater Hungary had an area of 325,400 sq km and a population of over 21 million consisting of Hungarians and several other nationalities, including the Ukrainians of Transcarpathia. The Hungarian People’s Republic was a Soviet-bloc country between 1946 and 1989, when it became a democratic parliamentary republic. Today Hungary has an area of 93,030 sq km. Its population in 2021 was 9,730,000.
Relations with Ukraine. During their migration westward to the lands they now inhabit, the ancient Hungarians (Magyars) came into contact with the Ukrainian tribes of Kyivan Rus’ and even passed through Kyiv in the late 9th century. Hungarian warriors are known to have served in the retinues of various Rus’ princes. After Grand Prince Volodymyr the Great of Kyiv died in 1015, King Stephen I of Hungary extended his realm to Transcarpathia. The generally amicable political and economic relations between medieval Hungary and Kyivan Rus’ were strengthened by dynastic ties. Volodymyr the Great’s daughter Premyslava married Stephen’s cousin and rival, Duke Vászoly. From 1034 to 1046 two of Vászoly’s sons lived in exile in Kyiv; one of them, later King Andrew I, married Anastasiia-Agmunda, the daughter of Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise. During the reigns of Andrew (1046–60) and his son Salomon (1063–74), Rus’ influence at the Hungarian royal court and in Hungarian cultural and religious life (particularly in spreading Byzantine Christianity) grew. Grand Prince Sviatopolk II Iziaslavych’s daughter Predslava married Duke Álmos in 1104. Yevtymiia Volodymyrivna, the daughter of Grand Prince Volodymyr Monomakh, married King Kálmán (1095–1116) in 1112. Suspecting her of adultery, Kálmán banished Yevtymiia to Kyiv, where in 1113 she gave birth to a son, Borys, whom Kálmán refused to recognize as his. From 1131 until his death in battle in 1155, Borys was a pretender to the Hungarian throne. His last opponent, King Géza II, married Yevfrosyniia Mstyslavna, the daughter of Grand Prince Mstyslav I Volodymyrovych, in 1145.
The Galician princes of Rus’ initially had good relations with Hungary, but they were eventually forced to confront Hungary’s intrusion into the internecine wars of Rus’ and its encroachment into their lands. In 1099 the Rostyslavych princes (sons of Rostyslav Volodymyrovych) defeated Kálmán’s army at the Viahr River near Peremyshl, and in 1151 Prince Volodymyrko Volodarovych routed the Hungarian troops supporting his enemy, Grand Prince Iziaslav Mstyslavych, at Dorohobuzh. In 1188 King Béla III (1172–96) seized princely Halych and declared himself king of Galicia, but in the ensuing conflict he was forced to withdraw in 1190. Prince Roman Mstyslavych was supported by the future King Andrew II (1205–35) in his efforts to consolidate his rule in the Halych principality and Volodymyr-Volynskyi principality. In 1205 Roman’s widow Anna turned to Andrew for help in securing the united principality for her young sons Danylo Romanovych and Vasylko Romanovych from the intervening Novhorod-Siverskyi princes. Andrew, however, proclaimed himself ‘king of Galicia and Lodomeriia,’ although he did give Anna and Danylo refuge at his court. In 1211 Andrew’s forces helped the Galician boyars defeat the Novhorod-Siverskyi princes Roman Ihorovych, Sviatoslav Ihorovych, and Volodymyr Ihorovych. In 1215 Andrew’s son Kálmán II was crowned king of Galicia on the basis of an agreement to partition Galicia between Andrew and Prince Leszek the White of Cracow in Spiš in 1214; he ruled there with great opposition and difficulty until being driven out by Prince Mstyslav Mstyslavych in 1219 and again in 1221.
In 1225 Andrew’s son Andrew married Mstyslav’s daughter Maria and was given Peremyshl. From 1226 the Hungarians again tried to conquer Galicia with the help of pro-Hungarian Galician boyars. Danylo Romanovych defeated them at princely Halych in 1230 and 1233, but even after his decisive victory in the Battle of Yaroslav in 1245, the Hungarian kings continued using the title of ‘king of Galicia and Lodomeriia.’ In 1247 King Béla IV made peace with Danylo; his daughter Constance married Danylo’s son Lev Danylovych, and Danylo helped Béla in his war with Austria. Lev extended his domain into Transcarpathia, and Ukrainian rule in the Mukachevo region lasted for 50 years. Lev’s grandchildren Lev Yuriiovych and Andrii Yuriiovych were unsuccessful candidates for the Hungarian throne that Charles Robert ascended in 1308. King Louis I the Great (1342–82) helped Poland contend with Lithuania over Galicia; after he became the Polish king in 1370, Galicia was governed by Władysław Opolczyk and Hungarian viceroys until 1387, when it was finally taken over by the Poles.
After the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia collapsed in the mid 14th century, and particularly after most of Hungary came under Ottoman rule in the 16th century, Hungarian-Ukrainian relations were negligible. It was not until the 17th century that relations were revived between the Cossack Hetman state and the autonomous principality of Transylvania; in the latter the Ukrainians of Transcarpathia took part in a number of Hungarian uprisings and wars with Austria.
Hungary’s earlier contention for Galicia, its occasional rule there, and its dynastic links with its Ukrainian rulers gave the Habsburgs of Austria, who ruled most of Hungary from 1699, the legal argument for claiming Galicia during the partition of Poland in 1772, and they assumed the title ‘Rex Galiciae et Lodomeriae.’ Under the Austrian Empire, Ukrainian-Hungarian relations were determined by the dominant and repressive role the Hungarians played in governing Transcarpathia. The anti-Habsburg Hungarian national movement was also hostile to most other national minorities in the empire and to their aspirations (except those of the Poles), and thus did not arouse much sympathy among the Ukrainian masses. Consequently, during the Revolution of 1848–9 in the Habsburg monarchy, Ukrainians (whether as conscripts in the Russian army that intervened in Hungary or as members of the National Guard) found themselves in the antirevolutionary, pro-Habsburg camp. The empire’s Ukrainians did not benefit from the 1867 Austro-Hungarian Compromise and the creation of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. As Hungarian chauvinistic policies in Transcarpathia and Hungarian-Polish amity grew, even more Ukrainians were drawn into the pro-Habsburg or pro-Russian (Russophile) camps.
In the 20th century, the presence of Hungarian military forces on Ukrainian soil during the two world wars left memories of severe repression amidst the populace. During the First World War, the anti-Russian, émigré Union for the Liberation of Ukraine propagated the idea of Ukrainian independence in Hungary and won the support of a small number of prominent Hungarians (who did not view Transcarpathia as part of Ukraine). A popular journal, Ukránia, was edited and published in Budapest in 1916–17 by Hiiador Strypsky. After the war, in 1919 and 1920, the Ukrainian National Republic and Western Ukrainian National Republic (ZUNR) had diplomatic missions in Budapest, headed by Mykola Halahan and Ya. Biberovych respectively. The ZUNR government had trade relations with Hungary, to which it mainly exported oil, and formally appeared neutral on the question of Transcarpathia while supporting the movement for its inclusion in the Ukrainian state.
During the Communist regime of Béla Kun in Hungary (March–August 1919), a newspaper, Chervona Ukraïna, was published for Ukrainian soldiers in prisoner of war camps and internment camps. The Soviet Russian government attempted to come to the aid of the Hungarian Communists, but its efforts were blocked by the Ukrainian Galician Army, the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic, and the anti-Bolshevik uprising led by Nykyfor Hryhoriv. With the demise of the ‘Soviet Republic’ in Hungary, some of its supporters immigrated to the Soviet Ukraine.
Perhaps because of historical antipathy, very few Ukrainian political émigrés lived in interwar Hungary, despite the anti-Bolshevik sentiments prevailing there. Most Magyarized or pro-Hungarian Transcarpathian intellectuals did, however, and formed their own political organization opposed to Czechoslovak irredentism. Among the Trancarpathian intellectuals active in Hungary in the interwar period were the historian Antonii Hodinka and the Slavists Sándor Bonkáló and Hiiador Strypsky.
After the Second World War there was a measure of co-operation between Hungarian and Ukrainian émigrés in the West. Gen F. Farkas headed the Council of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations, and Hungarian publicists had their articles published in the Ukrainian émigré press.
Relations with Soviet Ukraine. As Nazi Germany’s ally, Hungary declared war on the USSR on 23 June 1941 and dispatched an expeditionary force to the Eastern front. A Hungarian occupational authority functioned briefly in southeast Galicia. The main Hungarian forces (two divisions) were annihilated during the Soviet Voronezh offensive in 1943. While retreating through territory controlled by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in April 1944, the Hungarian command entered into a neutrality and aid agreement with the latter.
Between September 1944 and April 1945 Hungary was completely occupied by the Soviet Army and forced to surrender. Transcarpathia, which Hungary had taken from Czechoslovakia in 1938–9, was ceded to Soviet Ukraine. Hungary’s defeat was sealed in the Paris Peace Treaties of 1947, which imposed on it 200 million dollars in reparations payable to the USSR.
Soviet-Hungarian agreements in 1945 and 1948 integrated Hungary’s economy with the Soviet Union’s, and in 1949 it became a member state of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. About 30 percent of Hungary’s exports went to the USSR. The Ukrainian SSR imported steam locomotives, communications and medical equipment, textiles, footwear, breeding livestock, and food products from Hungary. Of Soviet exports to Hungary, Ukraine provided almost 100 percent of the iron ore, coke, and coal, 81 percent of the hydroelectric power, 80 percent of the manganese, and 58 percent of the ferrous metals. Ukraine also exported lumber, heavy machinery, and industrial equipment to Hungary. Hydroelectric power was transmitted to Hungary by the Mir system through Mukachevo, and oil and natural gas were transferred via the Druzhba and Bratstvo pipelines. The main railway transit center for Hungarian-Soviet import/export trade was Chop on the Hungarian-Ukrainian-Czechoslovak border. The Danube River also served as a trade conduit.
Official ties of friendship and co-operation were established between the Hungarian counties and Ukrainian oblasts of Csongrád-Odesa oblast, Zala-Kherson oblast, Baranya-Lviv oblast, Szabolc-Szatmár-Transcarpathia oblast, Bács-Kiskun-Crimea, and Fejer-Luhansk oblast, and between the cities Szeged-Odesa and Pécs-Lviv.
A new chapter in the Hungarian-Ukrainian relations began with Ukraine’s proclamation of independence in 1991.
Ukrainian-Hungarian cultural relations. The highlights of these relations outside Transcarpathia include Hryhorii Skovoroda’s stay in Hungary in 1745–50 and the publication of the first Galician-Ukrainian almanac, Rusalka Dnistrovaia, in Buda in 1837. Otherwise, cultural contacts were minimal. The Transcarpathian figures Yurii Zhatkovych and Hiiador Strypsky began translating Ukrainian literature into Hungarian in the early 20th century, and already before the First World War, works of Hungarian literature (by S. Petőfi, J. Arany, M. Jókai, K. Mikszáth) had been translated into Ukrainian by Pavlo Hrabovsky, Marko Cheremshyna, and Ivan Franko. Works by Hungarian Communist writers about life in Transcarpathia appeared in Soviet Ukraine in the 1920s, including those of M. Zalka, E. Madarász, and B. Illés. In the 1920s and 1930s Volodymyr Sosiura and Leonid Pervomaisky translated Hungarian literary works into Ukrainian; the latter also wrote a cycle of poetry entitled ‘Uhors’ka rapsodiia’ (Hungarian Rhapsody, 1936).
The creation of a chair of Ukrainian language at Budapest University in 1945 marked the beginning of systematic scholarly and scientific co-operation. Kyiv University established official relations with Debrecen University, and Uzhhorod University with Szeged University and the Nyíregyháza Pedagogical Institute. Academic exchanges and co-operation existed between the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. G. Rado has been a prominent Hungarian specialist in Ukrainian studies and translator of Ukrainian literature. V. Scher has written on Ukrainian literature, and J. Perényi has written several studies on Transcarpathia’s history. The writer S. Weöres has translated many of Taras Shevchenko’s poems for the 1953 Hungarian edition of the Kobzar; and A. Hidas has published several translations of Shevchenko’s poems and a selection of Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky’s stories. Other notable Hungarian translators of Ukrainian literature include E. Grigaśsy, Zs. Ráb, and S. Karig. Mykola Bazhan, Dmytro Pavlychko, Ivan Drach, Vitalii Korotych, Yu. Shkrobynets, Ivan Chendei, Mykhailo Tomchanii, S. Panko, Mykola Lukash, and others have translated Hungarian literature into Ukrainian. In 1972 the Debrecen journal Alföld devoted two of its issues to modern Ukrainian literature.
After the 1950s Ukrainian and Hungarian singers, choirs, orchestras, bands, and dance, theater, and opera companies toured each other’s country. In 1960 the first Ukrainian Culture Week was celebrated in Budapest, and in 1965 the first Ukrainian culture days were celebrated throughout Hungary. The first Hungarian culture days were celebrated in Ukraine in 1959. A few hundred Hungarian students studied each year at Ukrainian postsecondary schools (240 in 1968), but few Ukrainians studied in Hungary. Exhibits of Hungarian art were mounted in Ukraine and vice versa, and the Transcarpathian Art Museum in Uzhhorod has a large collection of works by Hungarian painters, particularly M. Munkácsy and S. Hollosi (under whom Heorhii Narbut studied).
The Hungarian composer Franz Liszt used Ukrainian folk song motifs in some of his works, particularly in the symphonic poem Mazepa. Béla Bartok performed in Odesa and Kharkiv in 1929, collected and arranged Ukrainian folk melodies in Transcarpathia, and corresponded with Filaret Kolessa and Klyment Kvitka.
Ukrainians in Hungary. Only a few thousand Ukrainians lived in Hungary after the Second World War (about 3,000 in 1960). They were mainly Ukrainians from Transcarpathia who remained after 1945 and their offspring; they had no organized community life. Ethnographic islands with certain Ukrainian linguistic and cultural traits exist in certain regions of Hungary; they are remnants of now completely assimilated settlements that were still identifiable as ethnically Ukrainian in the 18th and 19th centuries. These settlements were populated by Ukrainians and Slovaks who had fled during the Turkish invasions into the Hungarian lowlands, and by a small number of Transcarpathian participants in the Revolution of 1848–9 in the Habsburg monarchy. Although they constituted majorities in certain villages, they never constituted more than 4 or 5 percent of the population of any particular county. In 1836–40 there were approximately 35,000–40,000 Ukrainians living in Borsod komitat, Abaúj komitat, Zemplén komitat, Szatmár komitat, Bereg komitat, and Makó komitat in 21 wholly Ukrainian, 28 Ukrainian-Hungarian, 1 Ukrainian-Hungarian-German, 2 Ukrainian-Slovak, and 2 Ukrainian-Slovak-Hungarian villages. The number of Byzantine-Catholics in these counties was markedly greater than the number of Ukrainians; most likely many of them were assimilated Ukrainians in addition to Byzantine Catholic Hungarians, Serbs, Greeks, and Romanians. The southernmost settlement of Ukrainians was the city of Makó close to the Romanian border, which served as a transfer point for Transcarpathians migrating to the Bačka region in present-day Serbia.
Hungarian assimilation pressures were intensified from the mid-19th century with the Magyarization of the Byzantine Catholic church after the founding of Hajdúdorog eparchy and after the Hungarian Republic was created in 1918, when the population of the Ukrainian ethnographic islands was completely isolated from their compatriots in Czechoslovak-ruled Transcarpathia (Subcarpathian Ruthenia) and an administration for the Byzantine Catholics of Borsod komitat was established in Miskolc. The introduction of the use of Hungarian in the liturgy resulted in the almost total assimilation of the remaining Ukrainians in Hungary. Today only the elderly in certain villages still understand Ukrainian. Extant traces of Ukrainian folkways and folklore and the existence of Ukrainian surnames and even certain religious traditions hint at the origin of these people. In the 1960s, E. Bálecki of Budapest University investigated the dialect of the village of Komloska in Abaúj komitat. In the mid-1970s, Bishop Yoakym Segedi of Zagreb visited various Ukrainian settlements in Hungary and documented a number of indicators of Ukrainian identity he found there.
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[This article was updated in 1995.]