Prof. Arkadiusz Adamczyk publishing his latest book “János Esterházy. Politician, parliamentarian, martyr” had taken part in the discussion on the role of individuals in the societies’ life.
Being an another voice in the debate, the book is also a story about the Count János Esterházy’s life, son of a Hungarian and a Polish woman, “entangled” in five political systems. By his book, the author has undertaken a polemic with the present, full of emotions and simplifications, and narrative views on the Count’s history through newly discovered sources and the prism of his contemporary times.
János Esterházy was born into an aristocratic family during the monarchy. When he was four his father died, and then, as a result of the Trianon’s treaty the Esterházy family fortune was seriously reduced. Engaged in political activity, in line with family tradition, the Count became involved with the Christian-conservative movement. After the division of the Empire, he headed the Hungarians who found themselves in the Czechoslovak state. As a pragmatic politician and parliamentarian, he was a co-creator of the concept of the coexistence of many nations within the Czechoslovak state and an important participant in the international game, thanks to his aristocratic connections and personal relations with figures such as: regent Mikloš Horthy, Karol Sidor, Galeazzo Ciano, Józef Beck or Lord Runciman. The Hungarian government also used him as its informal representative in particularly difficult and confidential negotiations. Esterházy proved to be a ruthless fighter for national rights, not only of Hungarians, but also of Slovaks and Ruthenians living in Czechoslovakia.
After Czechoslovakia’s fall up to the end of World War II, Esterhazy formally remained the only representative of local Hungarians in the parliament of independent Slovakia and the only deputy demanding respect for democratic principles and compliance with international obligations under the conditions of an undemocratic regime. He broke the unanimity of the parliament by his objection to the Holocaust regarding the act of 15th of May, 1942 and the deportation of approx. 800 thousand Slovak Jews, the vast majority of whom ended up in the Nazi concentration camps in Oświęcim and Treblinka. He also stopped the Hungarian diaspora from following the Slovaks through political cooperation with the German party. Despite his openly anti-Bolshevik attitude, he opposed the military service of Hungarian youth and its participation in the Nazi “crusade” against the USSR.
Esterházy’s political activity coincided with the period of Czechoslovak democracy, Czecho-Slovak and later Slovak authoritarianism and Nazi totalitarianism. Being Hungarian, the count was truly involved in the activities for the Hungarian minority in Czechoslovakia (after 1939 – in Slovakia) and did not hesitate to openly confront the most important decision-makers of Masaryk and Beneš and ruled by priest J. Tiso Slovakia. In a false trial in Moscow, he heard a ten-year drudgery verdict. After four years of exile, the physically exhausted, count Esterházy spent his last years in Czechoslovak prisons, and the communist authorities tried to make his person one of infamy and oblivion.
Prof. Arkadiusz Adamczyk – historian and political scientist, humanities’ habilitated doctor, associate professor at the Jan Kochanowski University in Kielce. Chairman of the Scientific Council the Visegrad Foundation and Law4growth. Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Wacław Felczak Institute for Polish-Hungarian Cooperation. Member of the editorial board of the “Przegląd Sejmowy”.