Kossuth’s Letter Returns to Hungary

The city of Békéscsaba welcomes the return of a 140-year-old letter hand-written by Revolutionary Hero Lajos Kossuth. A rare historical document was returned to where it belongs on August 17, 2012, when Ambassador Szapáry presented one of Lajos (Louis) Kossuth’s letters addressed to the leadership of Békéscsaba, a town in southeast Hungary. Kossuth was one of the principal leaders of the 1848-49 revolution for Hungarian independence and was briefly Governor of Hungary.

The letter, written in 1868 in Turin, Italy, where Kossuth was in exile after the revolution, is a humble response to a request by the town leadership of Békéscsaba for Kossuth to sit for a painted portrait. In the letter Kossuth politely declined the request and offered instead to allow himself to be photographed, which, he wrote, is less of an imposition on his time as well as on the finances of the commissioning civic organization. He asked the association to donate the funds earmarked for the painting to the poor, the war veterans and the talented youth of Békéscsaba.

The original letter has been carefully preserved by Zoltán Móra, a Hungarian-American descendant of Mihály Kemény, Békéscsaba’s parliamentary representative, one of the original addressees of the letter.

“This letter of local and national historical importance is an extremely valuable addition to the history of our town. […] We thank Mr. Zoltán Móra for this generous and great gesture,” said Mr. Gyula Vantara, the mayor of Békéscsaba, who lead the festive ceremony last Friday where Kossuth songs and folk dance reminded the participants of the rich cultural heritage of that period.

Mr Móra, a refugee of the 1956 revolution who currently lives in Washington, D.C., originally donated the letter to the Hungarian Embassy in Washington, but gladly agreed to return the letter where it belongs, in Békéscsaba, Hungary. The historically significant document will be on public display for several weeks in the town’s Munkácsy Museum. washington.kormany.hu/

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