The Thirteen Martyrs of Arad
András Szabó (17 year-old exchange student from Hungary, in America)
In 1848, there was unrest in many parts of the world. Revolutions broke out with the slogans of Freedom and Democracy. Most people remember the uprisings of this period that took place on the streets of Paris, which, although they had lofty goals, soon fell apart. The world has very little knowledge of the events which took place in Hungary, which was part of the Austrian Empire at that time. In the streets of Budapest, a revolution also broke out against the oppression of the Austrians, which soon spread throughout the country. At that time, Austria had the largest army in Europe, if not in the whole world, and the Hungarian army, hastily gathered mainly from citizens and peasants, small in number and poorly equipped with weapons, battled for a year and a half and defeated the overpowering enemy, defeated it because the citizens united in the same goal – freedom -- which is a rare event in the history of Hungary. However, the Habsburgs incited the ethnic groups living within the borders of Hungary, Croatians, Germans, Romanians, Serbs and Tóts (at that time there was no Slovak people) to rise up against the Hungarians. The Hungarians had lived for almost a thousand years in harmony with these ethnic groups, but this increasing antipathy led to Trianon, and continues to this day. At the same time, the Austrian Emperor, Franz Jozsef I., humiliated himself and begged the Czar of Russia to help him fight the Hungarians with his army of 200,000 men. Today, this would be a large army, not to speak of 150 years ago. The poorly armed, small Hungarian army, exhausted from fighting, was unable to hold off the overpoweringly large Russian force and capitulated. At Világos, General Görgey laid down his arms before the Czar of Russia, to prevent further bloodshed. The Habsburgs, feeling humiliated, took revenge on the Hungarians. On October 6, 1849, in Arad (now in Romania) they ordered the execution of thirteen generals of the Hungarian Army, some of them of Austrian, Polish, German, even Serb origin. In Budapest, on the same day, Count Lajos Battyányi, the first Prime Minister of independent Hungary, was executed.
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Last Words of the Thirteen Martyrs of Arad
In the following quotations, you can read the last words of the Arad Thirteen and learn their thoughts as they said farewell to their country and the Revolution.
The Thirteen Martyrs:
First Row: Károly Leiningen-Westerburg, Lajos Damjanich, Ignác Török, Lajos Aulich, Károly Vécsey
Second Row: Vilmos Lázár, Arisztid Dessewffy, József Nagy-Sándor, Károly Knézich, József Schweidel
Third Row: Ernő Kiss, György Lahner, Jenő Poeltenberg
Their last words before their execution:
Leiningen-Westerburg Károly: The world will come to understand when it sees the executioner’s work.
Damjanich János: We have defeated death because we were always ready to face it.
Török Ignác: Soon I shall stand before the Highest Judge. My life is just a tiny weight, but I know that I have always served only Him.
Aulich Lajos: I have served and served, always just served. And I will continue to serve with my death. My most beloved Hungarian people and homeland, I know you will understand that service.
Vécsey Károly: God gave me my heart and my soul and they burn to serve my homeland.
Lázár Vilmos: Who is responsible that Hungary suffers such a fate? As the souls of Christ’s followers matured into apostles at the foot of His cross, so the souls of Hungarians must mature into revolutionaries at the foot of the gallows.
Dessewffy Arisztid: Yesterday there was a need for heroes, today for martyrs. The homeland demands this service.
Nagy-Sándor József: If I had done nothing in my life, it would now be terrible to think about passing away. I now humbly sink to my knees in front of my God, for He made me a hero, a fine person and a good soldier.
Knézich Károly: How strange it is that Haynau is a Christian, just as I am. Only the devil could shuffle the cards in this way.
Schweidel József: The world of today is Satan’s world, where the gallows is the reward for honor and power is the reward for treason. Only a true Revolution, a new Revolution of Mankind can sweep clean this cursed world.
Kiss Ernő: Oh my God, will the youth of the New Age become a complete man? Glorious saints of the House of Árpád, keep vigil over the young people of Hungary, so that they might give their hearts to Christ and their lives to their mother country.
Láhner György: Christ’s Cross and the gallows are very much alike. Compared to the Lord’s sacrifice, my sacrifice is minute.
Poeltenberg Ernő: We were brought to this point by the furious vengeance of the enemy.