Have you ever asked yourself why there is a hole in the centre of the Hungarian flag on October 23rd? Now we give you the answer.
Today, Hungary’s flag is a tricolour (red-white-green) featuring a crowned coat of arms in the centre. In fact, red symbolizes strength, white is for fidelity while green represents hope. In the coat of arms, the Dexter (right side from the bearer’s point) features the so-called Árpád-stripes, four Argent (silver) and four Gules (red) stripes. Allegedly, the four silver stripes represent four rivers: the Danube, the Tisza, the Dráva and the Száva. Furthermore, the Sinister which is the left side from the bearer’s point consists of three hills and an Argent double cross on Gules base. The three green hills represent the Tátra, the Mátra and the Fátra, three mountain ranges of which only the Mátra is now in Hungary.
The first time that the tricolour was used as the official flag of Hungary was during the Revolution of 1848-1849, together with the above-mentioned coat of arms. In the era of the Republic, after WWII, the crown – symbolizing the monarchy – was removed from the coat of arms. However,
because of the Communist takeover,
the country used that only between 1946 and 1949. On August 20, 1949, a new coat of arms was introduced by Communist leader Mátyás Rákosi, without any grounding in Hungarian tradition or history. It featured a hammer and a stalk of wheat to symbolize the workers and peasants, which was topped by a giant red star symbolizing hope in the Socialist movement. In fact, this coat of arms was only
a copy of other Socialist states’ occupied by the Soviet Union.
Interestingly, slavishly copying the coat of arms was not an order from Moscow, it was simply Rákosi’s decision. For example, Communist Poland retained its eagle and so did Czechoslovakia its lion.
Of course, people hated the Rákosi coat of arms, not only because it had no connection to the Hungarian historical and cultural heritage but also because an era of terror and unspeakable horrors happened under the dictatorship it symbolised. Unsurprisingly,
university students already wanted to remove it on October 22, 1956.
On October 23rd, protesters starting from the Budapest University of Technology also demanded its removal. According to many eye-witnesses, when they arrived at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and saw the red flag on it, they started to chant “National flag on the ministry!”. Workers of the ministry substituted the red one with the tricolour flag, but with the Rákosi coat of arms on it. The crowd immediately shouted, “Not our flag!”. After this,
they cut out Rákosi’s coat of arms of the flag,
and the crowd followed them with pleasure.
Thus, the flag with a hole in its centre became one of the symbols of the Revolution of 1956, together with the Egmont Overture, for example. The Rákosi coat of arms was
replaced by the Kossuth coat of arms,
and Hungarians, hoping the Soviet troops will leave the country, painted it almost everywhere, from the sides of tanks to the walls of buildings.
However, euphoria lasted only for a couple of days since on November 4th, Soviet troops overran the country and brutally crushed all resistance. Still, the Kossuth coat of arms was so popular that even János Kádár, the new communist leader, promised to keep it. In the end, he did not do so, but many people placed a small Kossuth coat of arms under the collar of their coats in 1957 and 1958. Of course, they warned their children no to talk about it to anybody,
otherwise, they will go to prison.
Here is a short video about the Revolution of 1956:
Featured image: www.facebook.com/pg/magyarforradalom1956
Source: Daily News Hungary