Talent and experience – The cooperation between Artúr Görgei and Lajos Aulich in 1848/1849
The cooperation and relationship between generals Artúr Görgei and Lajos Aulich was almost unprecedented in the Hungarian military leadership during the Hungarian War of Independence of 1848-49. This is especially surprising since they were different in almost every way, such as their age, personal motivations, family background, social background, personality, and life goals. While the 30 years old Görgei, who did not only leave the military earlier but also rejected its way of thinking and behavioral norms, was made the country’s most important military leader by the revolution in Autumn 1848, his 55 years old compatriot embraced the military lifestyle, and he was an officer of the Austrian army with rich practical knowledge and significant experience as a battlefield commander. Görgei was a scion of one of the oldest Hungarian noble families, even though he came from an impoverished branch, therefore he became a soldier out of necessity. Aulich was born into a wealthy bourgeois family, and he joined the military because he wanted to, choosing the career of the professional soldier. Görgei’s progress was facilitated by the revolutionaries who considered him one of their own, while they were suspicious of Aulich, and they only gave him limited opportunities out of necessity due to the lack of trained military leaders. Despite all of this they could learn to work together quickly because of their mutual respect based on the acknowledgment of each other’s merits. Despite being his superior for the majority of their relationship, Göregi did not consider Aulich a mere subordinate, but a significantly more experienced peer. However, the’elderly’ soldier did not only subordinate himself to the younger soldier but also trusted his ability as a leader and gladly carried out his ideas he considered appropriate. The first phase of their cooperation was the winter campaign when Aulich became the second most important commander of the army corps led by Görgei. It earned him a promotion to the rank of general as well, and this period from late February to early April also strengthened their respect for each other. The new general was still Görgei’s primary aide, and he also didn’t become his rival when he was no longer his direct subordinate. The spring campaign was the most successful period of their cooperation, this campaign yielded significant results. This period made Aulich a real military leader, on whom the main commander could rely to carry out tasks independently. The last phase of their relationship took place during the direst times, but their mutual respect didn’t fade, and by that time they have developed a bond of friendship as well. Aulich reached the top of the military hierarchy – he took over the position of Minister of War from his former superior, who was forced to resign –, but he remained Görgei’s admirer while supporting him to the best of his abilities, and even served his efforts for Kossuth’s rebellion with deep conviction. However, the rebellion’s last Minister of War could not resolve the conflict between the two leaders. He became a martyr of Hungarian independence in Arad as Kossuth’s general and Görgei’s loyal friend.
“I can’t lose my trust in him…” – the relationship between generals Artúr Görgei and Count Karl Leiningen-Westerburg during the Hungarian War of Independence of 1848–49
Conflicts between the military leaders of the War of Independence of 1848-49 were quite common. However, 31-year-old Artúr Görgei and 30-year-old Count Karl Leiningen- Westerburg formed a close friendship. They first met on 26 March 1849 at Poroszló, and despite their different backgrounds, Görgei made a good first impression on Leiningen. Görgei came from a gentry family, while Leiningen was the son of German aristocrats. Both of their immediate families had financial difficulties, and career as a military officer was a possible way to break out of this situation. However, Görgei left the military as a lieutenant in 1845, and first he started studying chemistry, then he became the manager of the domains of one of his aunts. Leiningen, who was an enthusiast of German national ideas, got married in 1844 and became a landowner in Hungary through his wife, Eliz Sissány. He wanted to retire to his lands and planned to leave the Habsburg military as a captain in 1848. The Revolution of 1848 and the war of self-defense following it changed both of their lives. Görgei began his service in the Hungarian Revolutionary Army as a captain in June 1848. His career advanced quickly, from November 1848 he was one of the most important leaders of the Hungarian army as a general. At the time of their first encounter, he was the commander of the VII Corps. Leiningen only volunteered to the Hungarian Minister of War in October 1848 because of the Serbian rebellion threatening his wife’s lands in Délvidék. He fought valiantly in the battles in Délvidék, even though he was treated with distrust. When he met Görgei he was a lieutenant colonel and one of the brigadiers of the III Corps. At the end of March 1849, Görgei was appointed temporary main commander of the Hungarian main army. Under his command, the Hungarian forces drove out the Austrians from the country in April, and in May they even managed to retake Buda. Görgei was the main commander, while Leiningen was one of the most successful and valiant subcommanders of the the successful counterattack. Their shared victories increased the two soldiers’ respect for each other, and their relationship evolved into friendship. They did all they could during the less successful summer campaign as well. On 20 June Leiningen assumed command of the III Corps, which consisted of excellent units, and he was soon promoted to the rank of major general. Leiningen considered Görgei his role model and identified with his political and military views. Görgei could always count on Leiningen’s support, even in the most difficult times. After the surrender to the Russians on 13 August, the Tsar could only secure the life of Görgei. The generals and officers handed over to the Austrians were court-martialed. Despite the accusations against Görgei Leiningen did not lose faith in his friends until his execution on 6 October.
“Protest” against the main commander? Artúr Görgei, Lajos Asbóth, and the declaration of the II Corp officers (22 June 1849)
General Artúr Görgei, the commander of the Hungarian Felduna Army, was generally loved and trusted by his subordinates early Summer 1849. His decisions were questioned neither by his officers nor his men. Still, on 20 June 1849, at the end of the first day of the Battle of Pered, when he removed Colonel Lajos Asbóth, the commander of the II Corps from his position, several high ranking officers of the corps also resigned, and two days later the officers paid respect to their former leader by releasing a document that might even be interpreted as a “protest” against the main commander’s decision. This study examines the circumstances of the creation of this document (and its copy), and its afterlife. Meanwhile, it also discusses the career of Lajos Asbóth, the brilliant, but somewhat extravagant officer, with a special focus on the military operations at the river Vág in June 1849, especially his performance on the first day of the Pered, which resulted in his removal and the creation of the document. Finally, the appendix contains the text of the original document, as well as the copy made by Asbóth.
The general’s spouse –Artúr Görgei’s wife, Adéle Aubouin
Present study summarizes the life of Artúr Görgei’s wife, the Alsace-born Adéle Aubouin, based partially on the memoires of Mrs. Görgei, and partially on the family correspondences kept in the Hungarian public archives. The first chapter discusses the youth of the orphan Adéle Aubouin up to her marriage to Artúr Görgei. The two young people might have first met in 1845-1846. Görgei proposed to the woman who worked as a governess at that time in January 1848, they got married in March in Prague, then returned to the estate of Görgei’s aunt in Toporc. At the end of May Görgei went to Pest and joined the army. The second chapter looks at the period of Mrs. Görgei life between May 1848 and August 1849, when the young woman lived the life of an average army wife. They spent most of the War of Independence apart from each other. At the end of August 1849, when it became clear that Franz Joseph I will pardon Görgei, they set out together to his designated place of residence, Klagenfurt, Carinthia. After 1849 Görgei had little room for activity. Between 1849 and 1867 he lived under police surveillance in Klagenfurt, Carinthia, then in Viktring with his wife and two children Berta (1850-1934) and Kornél (1855-1933), who were born there. The third chapter examines this period. During these eighteen years his wife kept the family together, she was the one to help her husband get over his regular periods of despair and guilt. After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise the wife facilitated the homecoming of Görgei as well, she even visited Ferenc Deák and Count Gyula Andrássy, the Prime Minister of Hungary. The Hungarian circles accepted the spirited woman. Furthermore, the son of Görgei’s former “hostess” at Világos, Antónia Szőgyén, the wife of János Bohus, got engaged to, then married their daughter, Berta Görgey. This year is the topic of the fourth chapter. However, the long exile and the excruciating return home eroded the couple’s relationship. Görgei came home in December 1867, and his wife in February 1868, but they lived separately for the most part. When their daughter’s marriage ended Görgei blamed his wife for this, among others. The fifth chapter discusses this. After 1875 we have no information about their relationship for about 20 years, but they had more or less regular correspondence from January 1893 until Adéle’s death. Görei even offered to move in together again. However, he did so on the condition that she stops supporting their son, Kornél financially. Mrs. Görgei died on 21 July 1900 in Lőcse, and she was buried in the graveyard of Toporc, in the parcel of the Görgey family. The sixth chapter discusses this period. The final chapter summarizes the complicated story of Mrs. Görgei’s memoires. At the end of her life she dictated her memoires to her son, Kornél, who sold the manuscript after his mother’s death, but the general’s brother, István Görgey managed to buy it back. He gave it to his nephew, Albert Görgey, who later lent the manuscript to Samu Kardos, a lawyer and amateur historiographer from Debrecen. Even though he put it down in writing that he won’t publish any parts of the manuscript without the permission of István and Albert, in 1911 he published a summarized translation of the work in the newspaper Az Est (The Evening) in 16 parts. The original manuscript has been lost since then, but due to this publication, the majority of the text is available to us.
Sándor Pethő’s encounter with Artúr Görgei
Sándor Pethő was one of the most important publicists of the period between the two World Wars. He is part of the national memory as the founder and editor in chief of the anti- Nazi newspaper Magyar Nemzet (Hungarian Nation). He received a thorough education in history as a student of Sándor Márki and the recipient of a state scholarship, his historical works drew a lot of attention in the 1920s and 30s. Pethő quickly developed sympathy for Artúr Görgei, the great figure of 1848-49, and he even visited him personally at Visegrád. From that point on he constantly studied the deeds and personality of the general of the War of Independence for more than 20 years in more and more accurate and deep works, until he wrote the– even to this day – only full biography of Artúr Görgei in 1930. While examining Pethő’s works on Görgei we can find connections to historiographic antecedents, as well as contemporary evaluations, and we can learn a lot about the changes in Görgei’s public image. As a supporter of independence, in the final years of dualism Pethő joined the moderate opposition based on the Austro-Hungarian compromise of 1867, the circle of Gyula Andrássy the Younger. After 1920 as a follower of Andrássy he was a legitimist, hoping for the restoration of the unity of the Danube basin. This is important to mention, because, sadly, the perception of Görgei has been influenced by the conflicts between political parties, and these changes and discrepancies can be seen in Pethő’s works as well.
From traitor to national hero: The perception of Artúr Görgei at the national assemblies, 1861–1990
General Artúr Görgei’s (1818–1916) role in the Hungarian War of Independence, and the baseless accusations of betrayal he had to endure until the end of his life, and even longer, are all well known to professional audiences and laypeople alike. This study aims to examine and interpret the changes in Görgei’s perception in lawmaking from 1861, the first national assembly after Hungary’s defeat in the War of Independence, to 1990, the end of communism in Hungary. In the era of dualism Görgei’s name meant more than itself in the opposition’s political discourse: it was a synonym of betrayal, a trope that everyone understood, along with the betrayal at Világos, and everyone could decode its message. The opposition categorically refused the Austro-Hungarian Compromise and equated the politics of the Tisza government with the accusations of betrayal and false myths around the late commander. With the passing of time after the Compromise, as most figures of the War of Independence died, the accusations of betrayal got rarer, and a calm, impartial approach became prevalent. Görgei’s place in national memory changed drastically between the two World Wars, the accusations of betrayal died off. His merits as a commander and exemplary behavior were already respected in the era of dualism, and between the World Wars, his role and merits as a soldier became indisputable in the national assembly. After World War II his name wasn’t mentioned a single time until the Regime Change, which might seem like a missed opportunity in the creation of the totalitarian system since the traitor myth was renewed and raised into official ideology status by the communists. In about 75 years the perception of Artúr Görgei’s historical role changed from traitor to national hero in the national assembly.
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