WWII memorial, Miska huszár, Reenactment of the battle,wild boars, ingókövek
North of Lake Velence, between Pákozd and Sukoró, a great battle took place between the Austrian Emperor’s army, led by Bán Josip Jellasics (Jelačić), governor of Croatia, and a new Hungarian army led by Móga János.
The Habsburg Empire consisted of many ethnic groups that all wanted independence, which gave a chance to the Emperor to attack Hungary. The Hungarian government wanted to avoid the conflict. Deák Ferenc and Count Batthyány Lajos went to Vienna to negotiate with the Emperor, but they were unsuccessful.
On September 11th, Jellasics crossed the Dráva River with 30,000 men, heading toward Székesfehérvár. Kossuth Lajos sent a proclamation to Hungarian soldiers to return to Hungary; he also recruited soldiers from the Great Plains. By the end of September, 16,000 men were on the hillside with their leader, Lieutenant General Móga János.
The Croatian and the Austrian army were defeated by the Hungarians in battle on September 29th, and Jellasics retreated toward Austria.
The battle was a minor one, but it was a very important part of the war for Hungarian independence. It provided encouragement to the Hungarian cause and was a significant contributing factor to the outbreak of the Vienna Revolution of October 6th. Of course, according to Austrian historians, the battle was insignificant.
September 29th became Honvédség Napja (National Defense Day) in Hungary, but was later changed to May 21st, the day of the 1849 Battle of Buda.
The idea of a memorial was first suggested in 1874 by a patriotic group; donations were slow in coming and it was unveiled only in 1890. The National Defense Memorial Park, the only one in Hungary, is located at the battle site on Mészeg-hegy and established in 2002. The main purpose of the park isn’t just to memorialize the victims of the battle, but honor all who were the victims of the absolutism that followed. It is a memorial to the heroism of Hungarian soldiers of the last 150 years.
The Don Chapel memorializes the heroes of WW II. There is also a memorial for peacekeepers. The 41-ft tall Miskahuszár statue is the world’s largest huszár statue, made of 100 tons of concrete. It stands on Bogár-halom (Bogár-mound). According to legend, it is the same place where Jellasics’s tent was located, in front of which he watched the battle.
The X. Honvédfesztivál will be celebrated between September 23rd and 29th. The program will include competitions for school children, “war of numbers” (a Hungarian children’s game), a youth street patrol competition, a military history competition, remembrance of the Pákozd Battle, reenactment of the battle, exhibits, programs for children and much more… A wreath laying ceremony and an ecumenical prayer service will also be taking place.
The mountain and lake area is very is rich in wildlife – animals, birds such as the darázsölyv and kabasólyom (types of hawk and falcon) and vegetation (miniature irises, black kökörcsin – wild anemone). Some 250 varieties of trees and shrubs can be found there.
After you visit the Memorial Park, you might want to see the 240-acre arboretum and vadaspark (wild animal sanctuary) nearby on the Sukoró side of Mészeg-hegy. There you can see red deer, wild boar, wild turkeys, and pheasants close up.
One part of the museum houses an exhibit dealing with the lives of fishermen and their tools, and another explains the forming of Mészeg-hegy and the ingókövek (rocking stones). The ingókövek, which form what is sometimes called ‘a Magyar Stonehenge’, have actually nothing mystic about them. The giant granite rocks were formed naturally when, over thousands of years, the soft minerals were washed away by the elements, leaving the rocks balancing on one another.
There are playgrounds, picnic areas, trails to walk, and a look-out tower providing a panorama of Lake Velence and Sukoró. It is a beautiful place to visit any time of the year, but why not during the Honvédfesztivál to remember all the great men who fought in the Pákozd Battle 171 years ago?
If can you stay longer, on October 4th there will be a memorial remembrance of the 170th anniversary of the execution of Count Batthyány Lajos and the Martyrs of Arad.
Karolina Tima Szabo is a retired Systems Analyst of the Connecticut Post newspaper and Webmaster of Magyar News Online. She is the proud grandmother of two.