March 15 petőfi
Photo: Wiki Commons By László Bellony

Petőfi is undoubtedly the most famous Hungarian poet, his works have been translated on most foreign languages, but we do not know how, where and exactly when he died. Can we resolve this mistery?

Hard to tell

This is why his offsprings started a petition because even they do not agree on the questions mentioned above – reported. In fact, today Petőfi has approximately 200 descendants everywhere in the world, and each of them would like to know what happened to the poet after the battle of Segesvár, on July 31 1849.

What seems to be sure is that one of the Hungarian generals, Jozef Bem and his army of 6,000 strong met with the Russian Imperial Army of 12,000 near Segesvár (Sighișoara, Schäßburg) on that day. Petőfi, who served as messenger under Bem, was around the general without a horse or any weapons until the afternoon when he received orders to leave the battlefield. He was seen after the final charge of the Russian forces began but

his body was never found.

Therefore, in Hungary, there is a saying: “Eltűnt, mint Petőfi a ködben” (“Disappeared, like Petőfi in the fog“).

Photo: Wiki Commons By Orlai Petrich Soma

Some say that Petőfi was killed by Cossacks who – after the defeat – started to chase the Hungarian army. According to the Viennese archives, an Austrian major named Heydte, and a Russian general, Lüders, testified after the battle that the poet died because captive Hungarian officers identified a low-statured, bearded man stabbed in the chest as Petőfi.

Alternative versions

In contrast, Franz Fiedler, an intelligence officer of Hungarian general Bem said that he saw through his binoculars when two Cossack horsemen caught up with the poet and wounded him badly. Afterwards, he sent two of his men to bring the still living Petőfi to a house in Segesvár from where

the Russians took him as a prisoner of war –

but they did not know who their captive was.

The latter story gave ground to speculations that Petőfi did not die in the battle but was taken to Siberia with 1,800 other Hungarian POWs. According to some experts, Petőfi died there of tuberculosis in 1856. In 1990, an expedition was organised to Barguzin, Buryatia, Siberia, where archaeologists claimed to have unearthed Petőfi’s skeleton. However, in 1990, Hungarian and Russian, in 1994, American experts of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and the University of Pennsylvania determined that

the skeleton belonged to a woman.

Still, many did not accept the results, so they wanted the DNA comparison of the Barguzin skeleton and the parents of Petőfi. This was finally undertaken by Chinese experts who found that the skeleton found in Barguzin was Sándor Petőfi’s. However, their results were not accepted by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Therefore, not many people took part in

the reburial of Sándor Petőfi in 2015

in the Fiume Road National Graveyard.

Offsprings want to know the truth finally

Even they are divided in the issue, some claim that Petőfi had a daughter and a son in Siberia. In fact, he had one, Zoltán, in Hungary, who was born in 1849 and also became a poet.

Therefore, descendants of Sándor Petőfi found by Historian Tibor Borzák gathered together in Kiskunfélegyháza. Among them, there are famous water polo players living in the United States and teachers of Hungarian literature and language, as well. They want the Hungarian authorities to

permit the exhumation of the poet’s parents.

Source:, Daily News Hungary

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