From a Special Correspondent Hungary, homeland of the martyred Cardinal Mindszenty, is itself being martyred, at the hands of the Russians, who wish to destroy it as a national unit.
But just one hundred years ago, in 1849, the Russians tried to break her people, without success. And the same spirit of resistance is alive there to-day.
Among the many nations of Eastern and Central Europe exposed to a similar fate, Hungary is only a case in point, although a
very striking one. Not without reason have the Magyars been called the "loneliest people in the world."
To-day they are threatened in their very existence as an independent national unit. Their ethnic origin, history, monarchial traditions and religious convictions militate against them.
They are reduced to less than onethird of their former land area and proportionately decreased in numbers, hemmed in on the north, east and south by Communist-dominated countries inhabited by hostile populations. open to attack on the part of Russia, which now has a long stretch of common frontier with Hungary; cut off from the West by the Russian zone of Austria. Shorn of all natural defences, they are completely at the mercy of their Soviet tormentors.
The larger holdings covering, in 1930, about one-third of the agricultural area, have been expropriated without compensation, but the peasants or " smallholders," have not gained economic security since, in view of the fact that the demand for land by far exceeds its supply, the lots assigned to them are too small to make them self-supporting.
• The landless peasantry, on the other hand. is particularly amenable to Communist indoctrination, especially as regards collectivisation schemes. The organisation of the " National Peasant Party," forming the Communist fraction of the " Smallholders' Party," is a step in this direction.
The industrial workers have become directly dependent on the regime. The Social Democratic Party has been made to vote itself out of existence, and those of its members as have not been " purged" have joined the Communist Party.
Many industrial plants are inoperative, because of lack of equipment carried off to Russia. Larger industries have all been nationalised, only small factories and shops, employing a limited number of workers, are still in private hands. A number of so-called joint enterprises, comprising mining and transportation, have been subjected to Russian management on the pretence that they constitute "German assets."
This applies also to navigation on the Danube, so that Hungary is deprived of the free use of her main waterway linking her with foreign markets. A Russo-Hungarian commercial treaty has tightened the Soviet's stranglehold on Hungarian economy. Banks have been nationalised.
AU free manifestations of national life, involving the Press, radio and the right of assembly, have been suppressed and key positions in the administration have been filled by Moscow-trained Communists, well acquainted with Hungary and the mentality of the local inhabitants.
The former leaders of all nonConurtunist parties, including the numerically preponderant Smallholders' Party, have been weeded out and the parties themselves subjected to a process of interior disruption conducive to their submissiveness. All active opposition to Communist dictates has been stamped oat.
Whoever has not known the Hungarian people before the war can hardly realise the unspeakable anguish this vivisection of their national body is undoubtedly causing them.
Their spirit of resistance against Russian oppression in 1949 is equal to what it was, just a hundred years ago, in 1849. when their national leader, L. Kossuth. buried the Crown of St. Stephen in Hungarian soil after having been forced to lay down arms, before the invading forces of Tsar Nicholas I, at Vilagos.
The inherent aversion of the Magyars to Communism is illustrated by the results of the elections held in 1945 and 1947, when the Communists polled no more than 17 and 21 per cent of the total votes respectively.
Whatever the failings of the Magyars, their patriotism, love of freedom and staunch adherence to their ancient constitution symbolised by the mystical properties ascribed to their Crown, allegedly given to St. Stephen by Pope Sylvester, have asserted themselves alike against Germans and Austrians, Turks and Slays. • They are a proud race, incapable of hiding their contempt from those whom it would rather be to their interest to propitiate.
It is against this background that the tragedy of Cardinal Mindszenty should be viewed. He is not only the saintly martyr who willingly lays down his life in defence of his Faith and all it stands for in the hearts of his people.
He is the national hero who, by his sacrificial resistance, has drawn the attention of the civilised world to the cruelties and indignities inflicted on a nation no longer able to speak for itself.