Beginning at 10 a.m., Wednesday, 8th March 2020, the Rákóczi Association held a commemorative ceremony in honour of the inter-war ethnic Hungarian politician János Esterházy in the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly.
Each year since 1991, the Rákóczi Association has presented the Esterházy Award in honour of the lifetime achievement and personality of János Esterházy to individuals and institutions that have done outstanding service to Hungarian communities in the historical Upper Hungary and carried out exemplary work in order to present and popularize the legacy of the martyr politician. At this year’s commemoration, the Esterházy Award was presented to Roman Catholic Bishop László Bíró and the Czech Jesuit monk František Lízna.
Esterházy Memorial ceremony 2020
The commemorative meeting was opened by Minister of State for the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyás, who in his speech pointed out that “The legacy of the Felvidék politician János Esterházy is universal and national at the same time; he deserves obeisance everywhere and from everyone to whom freedom and human dignity of unquestionable value”. According to rational reckoning, János Esterházy’s politics was doomed for failure during Communism, Mr. Gulyás stressed, pointing out that “he, however, acted on the basis of not success but the pertinence of his actions in the face of eternal standards”.
Eulogies were delivered by Miklós Soltész, State Secretary responsible for church and ethnic minority relations, and Jesuit monk Szabolcs Sajgó, director of the House of Dialogue in Budapest.
Prior to the commemorative ceremony, a Holy Mass for the beatification of János Esterházy was celebrated in the Ferenciek tere Franciscan church by Roman Catholic bishop Ferenc Cserháti at 15:00 p.m., 7th March. Following the Mass, wreaths were laid at the Esterházy memorial plaque at Szép utca an hour later.
Count János Esterházy (1901-1957) was the political leader of the Hungarian community in interwar Slovakia. He was arrested in the aftermath of World War II extradited by Czechoslovak authorities to the Soviet Union, where he was sentenced to forced labour and sent to the Gulag based on trumped-up charges. In 1947, he was sentenced to death by the Slovak National Tribunal for collaboration with the fascists. He later received a presidential pardon and received a full-life sentenced, later changed to 25 years in jail during a general amnesty. He passed away in the prison of Mírov, Moravia, on 8th March.