The day of the dead

The summer colony Mátyásföld was founded in 1887, at that time still beyond the boundaries of Budapest, by the upper middle class cottage owner’s association of the city. The colony became part of Budapest only in 1950. On the lands south of the settlement a sports airport was established, which from 1920 – when the peace treaty forbade Hungary to develop the army air service – was transformed into a secret military airport.

Mátyásföld on the map of Budapest of 1910 and its place within the boundaries of modern Budapest. The church square is marked

The Neo-Gothic church of the colony was consecreated in 1905 in honor of Saint Joseph. In its garden, at the statue of Jesus a votive table was offered on 18 June 1944, when the advancement of the Red Army crossed the Soviet border. In front of the table on every 2 November candles are lit in memory of the dead.

“Holy heart of Jesus, King of the world, have mercy on us!”
“We have offered Mátyásföld to the holy heart of Jesus on 18 June 1944.”

The Red Army reached Mátyásföld in November 1944. The military airport became the central airbase of the Soviet army: the arrested Prime Minister of the fallen revolution of 1956 Imre Nagy was for example deported from here to the Soviet staff in Snagov. The military zone and the housing estate built around it for thousands of its officers and employees just a hundred meters from the national road towards the Ukraine, became the headquarters of the Soviet army in Budapest.

In 1991, after the withdrawal of the Soviet army from Hungary several hundreds of former Soviet officers and civil employees remained in Mátyásföld together with their families. They made efforts for a while to maintain the Russian school, and some officer’s wives even established an excellent Georgian restaurant. But then all this closed. Nowadays only the extra soft Hungarian accent of some extra kind saleswomen evinces their local presence. And the candles which they light in front of the statue of Jesus on every 2 November in memory of the dead.

2 comentarios:

Araz dijo...

Interesting post and interesting photos, Studiolum. The sad story of the Georgian restaurant and the name on the second piece of paper - Ilias suggest that some of these "Russian"s might actually be Georgians, although these names also sound like Greek: Ilias, Konstantin, Kostakis. Ilyas is how we Azeris, as many other nations, call the prophet Elijah. Georgians have quite few male names taken from their neighbours i.e. Teymuraz, Tengiz, Murad, Omar, Iskander.

Studiolum dijo...

Thanks a lot for solving the mystery of the Greek-sounding names. Until now I thought they were Greeks, either from the northern shore of the Black Sea, Mariupol etc., or sons of the Communist Greeks fleeing to the Soviet Union in 1948 (although I was uncertain whether these latter had to fulfill military service in the SU: here in Hungary they did not).

While the small Georgian restaurant was working – for about two years in 1995-96 – I often visited it both for the pleasant atmosphere and the good food, and usually I was the only guest, I mean the only paying one, because always there were three-four friends of the owners, all women, chatting either in Georgian or Russian. There I also got to know some “real” Russian ex-officers, an Ukrainian and a Kazakh as well, so the composition of the fort must have been really multinational.