Culture


Culture

As an integral part of the Hungarian Kingdom, Transylvania was drawn into the Western Christian Culture Circle at the beginning of the eleventh century. The architecture of old Transylvanian cities, such as Nagyvárad (today Oradea), Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca), Brassó (Brasov) or Dés (Dej) bear witness to this fact.

 

Besides a few scattered ruins of Roman fortifications, destroyed by the retreaing Roman legions in 271 A. D., no sign of any kind would indicate a trace of an older established culture preceding the arrival of the Hungarians. Not even the legends, folk tales, ballads or folk songs of any one of the cohabiting ethnic groups suggest anything of this kind, except the oldest Hungarian (Szekely) legends which date back to the time of Attila and the empire of the Huns.

 

If we examine the folk art, which is the most tell-tale expression of early influences, we find that the embroideries and architecture of the Transylvanian Germans relates to the embroideries and architecture of those districts of Germany where these settlers came from in the 12th and 13th centuries. In the same way, the folk art of the Transylvanian Rumanians is identical with those of Moldavia and Wallachia, and they clearly show the Slavic influences, the Bulgarian, Greek, and even the Albanian motifs, picked up by the migrating Vlach herdsmen on their way from the Albanian border to their present location. On the other hand, the famous art creations of the Transylvanian Hungarians, like those of Kalotaszeg, Csik, Haromszek, Udvarhely carry a basic similarity vith those of other parts of Hungary, and clearly relate back to ancient Turanian (Scythian) motifs.

 

Due to the close relations of the medieval Hungarian Kingdom with the West, talented Transylvanians found their ways to the Universities of Europe as early as the 12th and 13th centuries. The very first student whose name became offlcially registered at the University of Oxford in 1193, was Miklos of Hungary, son of Kende, nobleman of Transylvania. During the 15th century there were three famous Hungarian doctors on the faculty of the University of Bologna, and one of them, Peter Paul Apati of Torda, later founded the "Free Collegium of the Noble Sciences"' established in his hometown, Torda, then moved to Kolozsvar (Cluj) by King Mathias. After the two Hungarian Universities were established, Pecs in 1367, and Buda in 1389, many Transylvanians sent their sons there, some of whom, after returning home, founded one by one the "Collegiums" of High Learning in Nagyenyed, Gyulafehervar, Kolozsvar, Nagyvarad, Brasso, Arad, Zilah and Marosvasarhely.

 

Due to the ecclesiastical domination of Rome, as in other Western empires, the offlcia1 1anguage of science and administration in the Hungarian Kingdom was Latin. Therefore it was only in 1527 that the first book was printed in the Hungarian language in Kolozsvar. In 1598 there were already 24 printing establishments in Transylvania, pub1ishing by that date 382 books, of which 368 were in the Hungarian language.

 

There were 18 Transylvanian Hungarians enrolled at the Wittenberg University in the year of 1586. Many Transylvanian Hungarians were teaching at famous Western Unyersities, while several famous Western scientists, such as Martin Opitz, John Alstead, Henry Bisterfeld and Isaac Basire taught in Transylvanian colleges during the 16th and 17th centuries.

 

In 1545 the complete translation of the Bible appeared in the Hungarian language, printed in Kolozsvar. Shortly after, in 1582, financed by Hungarians and translated by Hungarians, the Bible was published in the Vlach language.

 

In the 14th century two Transylvanian Hungarian brothers, Marton and Gyorgy Kolozsvari, were famous sculptors. Most of their works were destroyed through the many wars, except the well known statue of St. George in the city of Prague, which is today recognized as one of the greatest monuments of Gothic sculpture.

 

Thus Transylvania, as part of Hungary, became the center of Hungarian culture. During the most troubled times of Central European history, when the conflict betveen Catholicism and Protestantism set fire to the emotions, in Transylvania the Hungarian preacher and philosopher Ferenc David (15351579 was able to found and establish the Unitarian Church, and persuade the Congress of Torda in 1568 to declare, for the first time in the world, the freedom of religion.

 

It is indeed not accidental that man's God-given right to choose his own religion and to worship freely and undisturbed was first recognized and legalized in Transylvania. This was a direct result of the Hungarian concept of freedom, as well as the respect toward the freedom of others, which permeated the entire Hungarian state-concept, and enabled the Hungarians to rule the Carpathian Basin successfully for a thousand years. This secured free development to every ethnic group which asked permission to settle within the Hungarian borders.

 

Even after 1711, when Hungarian political independence was comp1etely lost to Habsburg oppression, Hungarian culture in Transy1vania not only kept in step with the cultural evolution of the rest of the country but in many instances it became the guiding force of spiritual and cultural resistance. In fields of sciences, art and literature, Transylvania became the torch-bearer to the rest of oppressed Hungary. The same phenomenon repeated itself after 1849, when the Liberty War was crushed by the combined forces of Austria and Russia, and the darkness of revengeful oppression fell upon Hungary for the second time.

 

It might be interesting to note that the first English-Tibetan dictionary was published in 1834 by a young Transylvanian Hungarian explorer, Sandor Korosi Csoma. The era between 1820 and 1867 is also regarded by many as the "golden age" of Hungarian national literature, brought forth by Habsburg oppression. Many of the great names in Hungarian literature were from Transylvania, such as Ferenc Kazinczy (17591831), Ferenc Kolcsey (17901838) Mihaly Tompa (18171868) and others.

 

In 1867 the "reconciliation" between Emperor Franz Joseph and the Hungarian nation opened the gates toward industrialization and economic upswing. Though economic progress was much slower reaching into Transylvania than in other parts of Hungary - due to distances, lack of roads, etc. - the revitalization of the Hungarian culture reached a new peak in Kolozsvar and the other Transylvanian cities. During the glorious years of the "millenium", Transylvania proudly celebrated its thousand-year-old cultural heritage within the framework of the thousand-year-old Hungarian national frontiers.

 

When in 1919 the Rumanian army occupied Transylvania, and the brutal persecution of Hungarian officials, clergymen, educators and other intellectuals began with unprecedented Balkanic ferocity, Hungarian stamina was put to test.

 

Within a few weeks all geographical locations were renamed, from cities down to the most remote villages. Kolozsvar was changed overnight into Cluj, Nagyvarad into Oradea, Temesvar into Timisoara, etc. Many names were simply translated, such as Disznos into Porcu, Medvepatak into Ursu, Nagybanya into Baia Mare, Szentegyed into Sinte Jude, etc. Streetmarkers were replaced and streets renamed. Those who were born and raised in one of the Transylvanian towns, and lived there all their lives, suddenly had to change their old established home-address to a new one, in a foreign language they did not even know how to pronounce.

 

City halls, court houses, district offices, post offlces, railroad stations were filled with new of ficials, imported from across the mountains, who did not speak the language of the population. Huge signs appeared everywhere: VORBITI NUMAI RUMUNESTI! Speak only Rumanian. Those citizens who were unable to obey these signs because did not speak the Rumanian language, were refused service, abused, and sometimes even beaten by the new police.

 

The urban intellectuals of Transylvania suffered the most. Put out of their jobs, many of them were forced to leave the country. Others shifted into commerce or industry. Some of them became laborers, while many rallied around the only bulwarks left for Transylvanian culture: the churches, church-affiliated schools, and other cultural institutions, such as libraries, museums, civic societies, benevolent organizations, etc. which were not yet dependent on the State.

 

Rigid censorship was instituted by the Rumanian government toward Hungarian publications of any kind. In spite of this, by 1926 Transylvania had more Hungarian monthly periodicals, weekly publication, and daily newspapers than ever before. It was the automatic reaction of Hungarian national consciousness taking refuge in culture against the brutal oppression of a foreign and inferior civilization.

 

Gy. Zathureczky writes in his book "Transylvania, Citadel of the West" (Danubian Press, 1967) page 46: "The Transylvania (Hungarian) Press, suffering under heavy censorship, lost its provincial character and rose to European level. The Transylvanian Literary Guild and the Transylvania Helicon gathered the writers and established a Hungarian Publishing Co-operative. A new and specifically Transylvanian literature was born. Struggling against poverty, and harrassed by Rumanian authorities, the Transylvanian Hungarian stage reached an unprecedented peak against all odds."

 

In spite of the brutal political and economical oppression of a Balkan force, Transylvania remained part of the Western Culture. Just as an Austrian journalist aptly observed in the "Wiener Tagblatt", July 27, 1934: "Travelling through Transylvania one cannot help noticing that whi1e the policeman on the street corner speaks only Rumanian, within the walls of old town houses there is a very lively Hungarian cultural life going on, discussing with foreign guests Western ideas, Western literature, Western art, sometimes in three or four languages in the same time - none of which happens to be the language of the policeman down on the corner ..." Further down he stated: "The very fact that in those highly cultured Transylvanian circles everyone knows the names of German, French, English and American writers, scientists, actors, painters, but no one seems to know anything that goes on in Bucharest, shows clearly that in spite of the so-called 'peace treaties' the cultural boundaries between East and West are still firmly drawn on the ridges of the Carpathians ..."

 

Even 20 years after the Rumanian take-over, Transylvania supported 38 periodicals in the Hungarian 1anguage, 5 Hungarian 1iterary societies, and 12 Hungarian publishing houses. Twenty-seven Hungarian writers in Transy1vania had one or more books pub1ished in foreign countries, whi1e the Hungarian theatre of Ko1ozsvar was regarded by talent scouts all over the world as the springboard to fame for talented actors and actresses. Hungarian painters of Transylvania frequently toured Europe with their exhibits, and the Hungarian folk art of Kalotaszeg, Csik, Haromszek and Udvarhely reached the foreign markets with their embroidery and wood carvings.

 

In spite of the political oppression and the strong economical discrimination, the dominant culture in Transylvania remained the Western oriented Hungarian culture, followed by the German in the German districts. Those few Rumanian authors, poets and artists who were born Transylvanians, were absorbed by Bucharest and the "Regat" (Old Kingdom), and had no contact whatsoever with the representatives of either the Hungarian or the German cultural circles in Transylvania. The name of Octavian Goga, the excellent Rumanian poet, who though born in Transylvania, became known only among Hungarians and Germans after he was selected by the king of Rumania to be the prime-minister of the country.

 

In August 1940, when Northern Transylvania was returned to the Mother Country, it took only one day for such cities as Kolozsvar, Nagyvarad, Marosvasarhely to wipe off every trace of a Rumanian occupation, and turn back into the thriving Hungarian cities they had been for hundreds of years.

 

However, after World War II when the Russian army handed Transylvania over to the Rumanian government as a compensation for Bessarabia, all this has changed drastically. Hungarian publishing establishments were shut down. Within the new Rumanian framework one single state-owned publishing establishment was formed to "serve the Hungarian cultural needs", not in Transylvania, but in Bucharest. This establishment, named "Kriterion", was allowed to publish only government-approved material, mostly translations from Rumanian and Russian, and only a few ideologically sterilized Hungarian authors in limited editions.

 

Today the Hungarian population of Transylvania is completely isolated from the West, not just politically and economically, but also culturally. No publications of any kind are allowed to enter. Even Hungarian language Bibles, donated by American Presbyterian Churches to the Transylvanian Calvinist Church were recently confiscated and burned.

 

Public monuments, statues, historic markers were systematically destroyed and replaced with new ones, reflecting the new Rumanian dictated atmosphere. OId tombstones are destroyed, ancient churches "remodelled" in such a way that they lose their Hungarian character. The entire history is re-written, and the newly created false "history" is systematically introduced to the new generations. Even those very few Hungarian-language schools which are still left to operate must teach this falsified history to their pupils, according to which Transylvania is the "original homeland" of the Rumanian people, and the Hungarians were the "intruders" who ruled the native Rumanians by terror.

 

According to the law, the presence of two Rumanian children in any school suffice to have the language of instruction changed from Hungarian to Rumanian. In schools where the language of instructions is Rumanian, the children are forbidden to speak Hungarian among themselves, even during recess. Those children who disobey this rule are severely beaten by their teachers. Since the Rumanian government has already brought more than 600,000 new Rumanian settlers into Transylvania from Bessarabia, Bukovina and other parts of "old Rumania" while in the same time deporting more than 300,000 Hungarians from their native land, it is clear that there is a well-planned cultural genocide going on, fully using the "unlimited possibilities" and brutalitics of a totalitarian regime.

 

In order to destroy every trace of the past, the Rumanian government first nationalized, then systematically destroyed every old document preserved in Church archives, museums, libraries or private homes.

 

It is indeed fortunate that many of the ancient Transylvanian documents, dating back as far as the 11th century, were transferred to the Hungarian National Archives in Budapest, some before World War I, and others during World War II. Thus, in spite of all the Rumanian efforts to eradicate the past, the true history of Transylvania can still be proven by thousands of ancient documents and the traces of the once great Western-oriented culture of the Hungarians in Transylvania can still be found in libraries and museums, not in Hungary alone, but also in Austria, Germany, Italy, France, England, and the United States of America.

 

The Rumanian culture is entirely different from that known as the "Transylvanian culture", which is in reality a regional diversity of the West-oriented Hungarian culture. The Rumanian culture is Balkan oriented, and specifically Rumanian, based on the history of the Vlach migration from Southern Italy across to Albania, and from there up to Wallachia and Moldavia. It was brought forth by Balkan influences, just as the Rumanian language itself, which is composed, according to the Rumanian linguist Cihac, "of 45.7% Slavic, 31.52% Latin, 8.4% Turkish, 7% Greek, 6% Hungarian and 0.6% Albanian words."

 

Even today, the Rumanian culture as such, has no roots in Transylvania. It is being "imported" constantly and purposefully from Bucharest into the Transylvanian province in order to crowd out and replace the traditional Hungarian culture of this conquered and subjugated land.


Szerkesztés dátuma: hétfő, 2010. december 27. Szerkesztette: Kabai Zoltán
Nézettség: 2,388 Kategória: Irodalom » Documented facts and figures on Transylvania
Előző cikk: History Következő cikk: Population


   







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