Statement by the Ombudsman for the Rights of National Minorities on the occasion of the Day of German Unity

Celebrating the Day of German Unity on October 3, we commemorate not only the 1990 reunification of a European nation divided by the cold war and power politics, cut in two by a wall, but also the positive role that the German people played in the years following World War II, contributing to the rebirth of the European idea, the strengthening and uniting of the continent. Konrad Adenauer, Helmut Schmidt, and Helmut Kohl will all go down both in German and European history as major political actors of the 20th Century.

Ever since the Conquest, Hungary’s western orientation has always manifested itself primarily in its multitier relationship with the German nation and the various incarnations of German statehood – from the principalities to present-day Germany. The German knights and priests following Gisela of Bavaria, spouse of King Saint Stephen, to Hungary and spreading Christianity, the German  craftsmen and traders facilitating medieval urban development, then the diligent German settlers resurrecting areas devastated by the Ottoman occupation have contributed, throughout the centuries, to our country’s growth and prosperity. In the entire course of our historical co-habitation, Hungarian mainstream society has always considered measured and industrious Germans as an example to follow.

Although the period of disenfranchisement and forced displacement following World War II may seem but a small spot on the time horizon of Hungarian–German relations spanning a thousand years, it has left many Hungarian families of German descent with emotional scars that are difficult to heal. However, the solidarity and strong sense of identity of the German minority, as well as their attachment to their chosen Hungarian homeland are demonstrated by the fact that nowadays the German nationality living in Hungary – not dwelling on but not forgetting, either, the tragic historical past – practices the constitutional rights to national education and to use their mother tongue on a wide scale, operates an extensive self-government and institutional system, and maintains fruitful relations with its mother country.

Therefore, on the Day of German Unity, I would like to extend my congratulations not only to the people of Germany but also to our compatriots preserving and cultivating their German and Hungarian identity.

 

Elisabeth Sándor-Szalay

Ombudsman for the Rights of National Minorities