|AHF Leadership Retreat, Washington, DC|
8/20/2017 - Washington, D.C. -- The leadership of the 110 year-old American Hungarian Federation (AHF) held an all-day long retreat on August 19, 2017. “We wanted to review our mission and activities which for more than a century have successfully filled and continues to fill a gap in our community,” said AHF president Akos Nagy.
Also noted at the meeting was the Federation's increasing public footprint as an intellectual resource about Hungarians’ history, culture, and heritage. AHF's promotion of a recently published book about the heroic role of Colonel Ferenc Koszorus in preventing the deportation of thousands of Hungarian Jews by the Nazis was discussed as a recent case in point. Col. Koszorus statue was recently unveiled in Budapest.
AHF Vice-President and chair of the Information Committee gave a status report on technology outreach, referencing two AHF Twitter Sites: One, @AmerikaiMagyar, serves as our official voice on Twitter while the other, @RegiKepek, ("Old Pictures) offers a glimpse into the beauty of historic Hungary including Hungarian towns and presence across the Carpathian Basin lost at ill-fated Treaty of Trianon where Hungary lost 2/3 of her territory.
The members expressed their commitment to continue with such projects, including a three part film series documenting the tumultuous political and military scene in Hungary during the war years entitled, "A Becsulet Utjan."
Among the several aspects of AHF’s strategic planning discussed at the retreat, the participants put the finishing touches on AHF’s planned gala event celebrating the 110th history of the organization.
Shortcuts to Selected AHF History:
In 1902 a movement started to build a Kossuth statue in Cleveland spearheaded by the "Szabadság" Hungarian language newspaper and its editor Kohányi Tihamér. The needed funds were raised within few short weeks. Some 60,000 people attended the unveiling, but there were no representatives from Hungary.
As a sign of unity between the nations, Hungarian-American leaders conceived an idea to place a statue of George Washington in Budapest.
The newly established AHF and its "Statue Committee" was organized and construction began on a site in Budapest's beautiful City Park (Város Liget). In 1906, several hundred Hungarian-Americans traveled to Hungary for the unveiling led by AHF's first President, Kohányi Tihamér. [read more]
Tihamér Kohányi was born in 1863 in Saros, Hungary. He became an outstanding figure in the establishment of several major Hungarian-American institutions, among them the Szabadság, which became the largest Hungarian daily in the United States and the American Hungarian Federation. After a try in the legal profession, Kohányi departed for the United States in 1890 at the age of twenty-seven. At the time of his departure, he wrote:
I left [for America with light heart and baggage, with the strong conviction--on the basis of what I had heard from many-that no one has ever died of hunger in America. [read more]
July, 1931, newspapers all over the world reported on the front page that two Hungarian pilots, Alexander Magyar and George Endresz (Endres), had crossed the Atlantic Ocean from the United States to Hungary in a Lockheed-Sirius airplane named "Justice for Hungary." The flight was intended to call attention to the dismemberment of Hungary after World War I. It was a spectacular success. On July 15, 1931, the trans-Oceanic flight left Harbor-Grace for Budapest on a non-stop flight of twenty-six hours. The historic flight took 26 hours and 20 minutes (Charles Lindbergh's flight in 1927 took six hours longer) and marked the first time that an airplane crossing the ocean had radio contact both with the starting and landing aerodromes. It was also the first time such a flight was used for political purposes. The pilots were received as heroes in Budapest.
Where did this idea come from? [read more]
On the 31st of December 1940, the Amerikai Magyar Népszava, the most influential Hungarian language daily at the time, published a front-page editorial headlined “The Hour has Struck.” The editorial proclaimed that it was the “the historic mission of Americans of Hungarian origin to give voice to the cries of the silenced people of Hungary and to give their whole hearted effort to the liberation of their mother country which is clubbed into submission by the Nazi terror.”
The editorial called upon the American Hungarian Federation to unfurl the banner of a Free Hungary Movement without hesitation or delay. In January 1941 AHF 's Executive Committee sent a letter to President Roosevelt expressing the loyalty of the Hungarian-American populace and proclaiming,“The Executive Committee of the [AHF] as representative of the American citizens of Hungarian origin…consider it our sacred duty to lead a movement for the preservation of an independent Hungary for the freedom of it’s people.” [read more]
WWII and the American Hungarian Relief Program... According to estimates, 50,000 Hungarian-Americans served in the U.S. military during the Second World War. The newspapaper Szabadság (Liberty) commemorated the Hungarian-American dead by printing their name, rank and state of origin in a separate column on the front page of each issue. On the basis of this documentation alone, an average of 150 Hungarians died each month in 1945 alone. By all calculations, this is a conservative estimate.The American Hungarian Relief Program, under the auspices of the American Hungarian Federation, collected and sent $1,216,167.00 (over $10.7 million in today's dollars) in clothing, medicine, foodstuffs and money. In all, 200,000 care packages were sent by countless local and national groups. Total estimated costs of the relief program exceeded three million dollars. [read more]
Hungary's 1956 Revolution marked the first tear in the Iron Curtain. Hungarians from all walks of life rose up against the mighty Soviet Union in a desperate fight for freedom. Thousands died, many othes tortured and jailed, 200,000 would flee, bringing untold talents to the shores of many nations, some 38,000 coming to the U.S.
AHF, member organizations and the entire community sprung into action. Building on its experience during WWII, AHF activated its second Hungarian Relief Program, raising over $525,000 and,working closely with the International Relief Committee, found beds and supplies to aid in the resettlement effort. At Madison Square Garden 10,000 people gathered to raise one million dollars for Hungarian relief. [read more]
"The spirit of our age is Democracy. All for the people and all by the people. Nothing about the people, without the people. That is Democracy, and that is the ruling tendency of the spirit of our age." - Louis Kossuth, spoken before the Ohio State Legislature, February 16, 1852, more than a decade before Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
The American Hungarian Federation commisioned a bronze bust of Lajos Kossuth and presented it to U.S. Congress. The dedication ceremony took place on March 15, 1990, Hungarian National Day, under the magnificent dome of the Capitol Rotunda. The bust is one of only two honoring non-Americans in the Capitol. The base reads, "Louis Kossuth, Father of Hungarian Democracy." [read more]
A Most Painful Division... Although brother and sister have lived in the same village all their lives, Maria Ivan and her brother, Arpad, have been able to hug each other only twice in the past 53 years. As a result of a post-World War II treaty, a barbed wire fence marking borders has divided them.
AHF attended this historic meeting and signed a joint declaration by ethnic Hungarian political parties and human rights organizations from successor atates in an appeal to the Hungarian Government for more coherent support, coordinated planning, and dual citizenship. AHF was among fifteen organizations from Europe, North America, and Latin America that met January 5-6, 2005 in Szabadka (Subotica) in the Vajdaság (Vojvodina), a formerly autonomous region in Serbia-Montenegro, and joined forces to persuade the Hungarian Government to coordinate with them efforts aimed at assisting ethnic Hungarians living as national minorities in Rumania, Slovakia, Serbia- Montenegro, Ukraine, Croatia, and Slovenia. The meeting marked the first time ethnic Hungarian political organizations met independently of the Hungarian government. [read more]
The 1907 Kohányi Szózat (Appeal)
“Amerika egy millió magyarja, nemcsak hogy követeljük, de keresztül is visszük azt, hogy Magyarország népének ugyanabban a szabadságban, ugyanabban az igazságban, ugyanabban a jólétben legyen resze, mint amely szabadság, igazság, es jólét abban az Amerikában van amelynek lakósai, polgárai vagyunk.”
“We, America’s 1 million Hungarians, do not just demand, but will work to ensure that the people of Hungary may partake in the same freedom, the same justice, the same prosperity as we, citizens of America, partake.”
AHF's 100 YEARS
Help us help the community!