Speech by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on the 176th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence of 1848–49

15 March 2024, Budapest

Fellow Celebrants, Hungarians around the world, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In March 1848, Europe was in flames: blood was flowing in the streets of its capitals, and in Vienna people were fighting on barricades. What were the Hungarians doing? We were writing a poem. We were compiling our Twelve Points. We were walking from Pest to Buda – that was our first Peace March. We freed political prisoners without firing a shot, we went to the theatre and watched a patriotic production, and in the interval we sang the “Nemzeti dal” [“National Song”]. And by evening we had won. Nine months later – to the day – Zoltán Petőfi was born. The Hungarian Revolution was not destructive but constructive, not negative but positive. It was true and beautiful. And in the end what sprang from it was not death, but life. This is what a revolution looks like when it is made by young Hungarians. Today’s Western world proclaims that the most important question in human life – or at least in political life – is what kind of world we leave to our children. What a colossal mistake! In fact it is the reverse: the question is not what kind of world we leave to our children, but what kind of children we leave to the world. In truth, everything depends on this. Everything also depended on it in 1848. One hundred and seventy-six years ago the Hungarians were able to stand up for the freedom of their homeland because – and only because – Uncle Petrovics, Mama Jókai, Papa Vasvári and Mama Irányi left to the world fine, free-spirited sons who loved their homeland. The parents of the Youth of March knew that there is only a homeland for as long as there are people who love it. They knew that the Hungarian homeland lived in the shadow of eternal threat. Its size was not large enough, its people not numerous enough, and its wealth not high enough to guarantee its survival. The Hungarian homeland is sustained only by the love of its citizens and the strength of their hearts; this is what makes us special. In the Western world today, millions of people think and live as if they have come from nowhere and are going nowhere. This is why they have no regard – and are convinced that they should have no regard – for anything or anyone: they start wars; they destroy worlds; they redraw the borders of countries; like locusts, they consume everything; they scorn the dead and deny the rights of those yet to be born. We Hungarians live differently, and want to live differently. We come from somewhere, and we are going somewhere. All that we have, we received from our ancestors – and together with it, the mission to maintain it and pass it on. This is the essence of Hungarian freedom. For us, freedom is not a pleasure or a passion: Hungarians do not consider themselves free just because they are not hungry, or because in their minds they are not tormented by misery. We are not made free by everyone doing what they feel like doing. For us this is not enough. For us freedom is to be able to build a country where we are not answerable to any landlord. And the survival in the world of what is Hungarian is important for no one except us. But we know that the Hungarian quality of existence is a special, singular, sublime form of human life. The greatest thing that can happen to us is to be born Hungarian. In the Western world it is imagined that people are just who they are unto themselves: only their free choice determines what states they become citizens of, they decide whether they will be boys or girls, family is whatever they invent for themselves, and the homeland is merely a field of operation. We Hungarians do not believe in all that; we know that if you stand alone in the world you are not free, but lonely. The young people of 15 March battered at the gates and shouted to the world the news that we Hungarians are companions not only in friendship and family, but companions in the homeland too: compatriots. Indeed, my companions are also those who went before me and those who will come after me; because the life of the Hungarians is a continuous chain, from Saint Stephen, through King Matthias, Sándor Petőfi and the Hungarians of 1956, right down to us and beyond. Glory to our ancestors!

Fellow Celebrants,

A traveller is touring around Europe. He sees a man at the side of the road, breaking rocks with a sledgehammer. “What are you doing?” he asks. “Can’t you see? I’m breaking rocks – that’s my job!” Later he sees another man breaking rocks. “What are you doing?” “Can’t you see? I’m building a cathedral!” Today the European Left – including the Hungarian Left – is breaking rocks. This is their life: robots with no higher purpose, deprived of past and future. But we are building a cathedral. This is our life: the collective effort of one thousand one hundred years. The cathedral of Hungary rises from the building blocks of forty generations. Saint Stephen founded it, King Matthias made it great. It was destroyed by the enemy forces in 1848–49, but was rebuilt by the Reform Era. It was fought for by Kossuth and Széchenyi, Petőfi and Jókai, Deák and Batthyány, Klapka and Görgey. They fought for us so that we, Dear Friends, could be here today. The heroes of ’48 saw the cathedral. They saw the homeland on high, which stands above the ordinary and gives a higher meaning to our finite lives. This is why they acted courageously even when their lives were at stake, and even when there was no chance of victory – or of them winning the victory themselves. Glory to the heroes of March!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Petőfi writes the following: “All fine and good words are in vain if you do not grasp the beginning, if you do not begin at the beginning.” But what is the beginning of things, the root from which everything springs, or the crucible in which we can see what the essence is? We know this from Petőfi: “Shall we be slaves or free?” Everything begins with this. A sword can be forged into a chain and a chain can be forged into a sword; but there is no such thing as something that is a little bit sword and a little bit chain. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. Shall we be slaves or free? Slavery or freedom? This is the first question we must answer. It is the same today. We long for the pleasures of a quiet, calm and secure life. We can have that, and I am sure that God will give it to us. But first there is a little work to be done. My Friends, you can see and hear that today Europe is not quiet. It is getting ever louder. Today the people of Europe fear for their freedom in the face of Brussels. Just as in Petőfi’s time, others want to impose on us something that is unnatural for Hungarians: something that is abhorrent to the Hungarian spirit, something that is alien to Hungarian life. They want to press us into a war, they want to saddle us with migrants, and they want to re-educate our children. But we shall not go to war, we shall not let in migrants, and we shall not hand over our children. It is as simple as one plus one and as clear as day, because Hungary is a free and sovereign country. And so it will remain.

Fellow Celebrants,

Brussels is not the first empire to cast its gaze on Hungary. Ours is a proud and self-respecting people. To make us bend, to make us bow and to squeeze the breath out of us is a double success, and is seen as a way to discourage rebels elsewhere who show signs of restlessness. Over the past five hundred years, all empires have realised – sooner or later, but they have realised – that they will get nowhere with us through oppression, blackmail, violence, “Bach hussars” [foreign officials posing as Hungarian hussars] or “padded jackets” [communist paramilitaries]. The [Ottoman] crescent moon waned to nothing, the claws of the [Habsburg] double headed eagle were worn down, and the Red Star is gone. We are the grain of sand in the machinery, the stick jammed between the spokes, the splinter under the fingernail. Others break their teeth and blades on us, and their axes stick fast in our trunk. We are the David whom Goliath had better avoid. We trampled the Ottoman banners at Nándorfehérvár, in Pest on 15 March we turned the world upside down in a single day, in 1956 we holed world communism below the waterline, and in 1989 we knocked the first brick out of the Berlin Wall. In Stamboul, Berlin, Moscow and Vienna they realised that it is good for everyone if we are left in peace. And with the Compromise of 1867 we showed that if we are accorded respect we will reciprocate in due measure, and we will create a peaceful, prosperous era for as far as the eye can see.

My Friends, 

It seems that only Brussels does not want to understand this. Therefore, if we want to preserve Hungary’s freedom and sovereignty, we have no choice but to occupy Brussels. In 1848 we stopped at Schwechat. We will not do so now. Now we will march on Brussels and we will make the change in the European Union ourselves. We are not exactly rookies, as we are a state which is one thousand one hundred years old, we are experienced and shock-resistant, and we know which gate to march through and how to reorganise the European Union. It is time for the Council of Lieutenants in Brussels to see fit to tremble. We cannot accept that Brussels has abandoned Europeans, and even turned against them. We shall not tolerate them ruining farmers, dispossessing the middle classes, running European companies into the ground, purloining the rights of nations, enslaving our children to debt – and, what is more, taking the whole of Europe to war. We here in Budapest know what war is: hundreds of thousands killed, people maimed for life, widows, orphans, destroyed bridges, bomb craters, tens of thousands made homeless. A lifetime and a generation of lives were spent in the last war. Hungary can only prosper with peace. We do not want war!

Fellow Celebrants,

Instead of peace we have war, instead of security we have a rule of law ruckus, instead of prosperity we have financial blackmail. We have been cheated. It is time to rise up. It is time to restore the self-esteem of the European people and the self-respect of the European people. We are not alone. The Poles may have been swept away by the tidal wave of the Soros Left, but the Slovaks are back on their feet, the Czechs are awakening, the Austrians are preparing, the Italians are finding their bearings, the Dutch are already on their feet, and the Americans are rebelling. This will be a watershed year. At the beginning of the year we were alone; by the end of the year we will be the majority in the Western world. Great opportunities are opening up to us. Ahead of us is a sovereigntist turn in America and Europe. Normality can be restored in both Europe and America, and we can usher in a great new era for Western nations, in which everyone can find their own way forward. Everyone except those who have erased themselves from history. Those who have broken their oath to serve the nation. Those who have treacherously attacked their country from behind. Those engaged in sabotage in Brussels to take money from teachers and kindergarten teachers. Those who would open the gates to migrants. Those who would hand our children over to unhinged gender activists in return for thirty pieces of Brussels silver. Those who have sold themselves and those who have bought them by the pound to gain power. Those who were worse than the enemy forces and fifth columnists in 184849. No, they will not find their way forward: they are destined to be remembered as traitors. Magda Szabó writes: “The traitor is forgotten, the traitor is no more, dead, never known.”

Fellow Celebrants,

Since the time of Petőfi, for every generation of Hungarians and every young Hungarian the time comes when a decision must be made: are you on the side of justice, or are you asking to join the global flock of bleaters? You have to decide whether you will follow the path of Hungarian justice, or whether you will take the boulevard of the Soros Empire. Will you break rocks or build a cathedral? Brussels’ baby walking harness or Hungarian freedom? War or peace? The European elections are on 9 June. You must not hide away! You must decide! Will you stand up for your country or be fed by strangers? And we parents will get the answer: what kind of children we have left to the world.

God above us all, Hungary before all else. Go Hungary, go Hungarians!