My Report on Spreading Hungarian History between 2016 and 2022
Spreading Hungarian history in the English language in the jungle of Facebook: a report and summary of my work done in the last six years (2016-2022)
These days the majority of people, for example, 74% of Americans, obtain information about nearly everything including history, entertainment, shopping, and politics from Facebook. I also write most of my posts there. In the new Millenia, there is a need to pay attention to the role of Facebook regarding how it is spreading information and its effect on how people create their opinions.
According to data from 2013, there are 1.7 million Hungarians living in the U.S.A. alone and altogether four million people worldwide have Hungarian ancestors. Making Hungarian history known, and popular, helps many of them find, or strengthen, their identity. Many second or third-generation Hungarians are looking to find information about their heritage. It seems they first start reading posts on social media instead of looking to academic sources on the topic.
At the same time, many non-Hungarians in the world are very much interested in Hungarian history. It is good to have unbiased and proper historical knowledge for everyone because it can clarify misunderstandings between nations in Central Europe. If we know the historical causes, modern-day tensions can be eased. By all means, it seems necessary to make fundamental historical information about Hungary available in the English language. It would also serve our country’s image, and on Facebook, we could reach out to people whom we could not address otherwise.
I am a teacher and culture event organizer from Budapest, Hungary who has traveled extensively in Eastern Europe since the 1980s and lived in the U.S.A. in the early 1990s. I love castles, reenacting, and practicing HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts), hence my interest in sharing history.
I launched the Facebook page „Hungaries 1632” in 2016 which currently has 21,719 followers. For the sake of better understanding, I’ve changed its name to “Hungarian History 1366-1699”. You can find it here:
As a rule, I translate articles written by Hungarian historians into English focusing on the period of the Hungarian-Ottoman wars. Everything I share or write I verify as much as possible for accuracy. Presently, I reach about 95,000-500,000 people a month with my posts, depending on Facebook bans.
I also run two Facebook groups. There are 12,544 members in the first one, while there are 5,386 of us who are discussing Hungarian history in the second group I started just last year. Here is the “Hungarian-Ottoman Wars 1366-1791” FB Group:
…and here is the new one, the “Spreading Hungarian History, Culture, and Castles in the World”:
It was necessary to launch a self-hosted page in 2019 where I have about 6,000-9,000 visitors a month. It is the page where I salvage my posts from my Facebook page:
At this time there are English descriptions of 292 Hungarian castles on it, along with hundreds of articles about various events in Hungarian history. However, the goal is to provide an English description of all the Hungarian castles in the Carpathian Basin.
The Reception of my pages:
Let me outline what I have experienced regarding Hungarian history’s presence in the English-speaking social media at large since 2016. My pages grew quickly because my work seemed to have filled a gap in social media. There is a demand and lots of people are interested. First of all, I would emphasize the communities of Hungarians living abroad and their relatives and friends who do not necessarily speak the Hungarian language.
Information regarding Hungarian history in the English-speaking world:
Sadly, there is not much about this subject on Facebook and what we have is not always friendly or positive. I have encountered many saddening and fake posts. Let us begin with the posts of nations living around the borders of Hungary:
Mostly, we are ignored, but when they write about us, it is often not done in a positive context when it comes to history. If they mention our presence in their area at all, then the oppressive, tyrannical characteristics of our history’s effects are emphasized. It is possible to find many posts on Facebook about our castles but you won’t read much about their Hungarian history. At the same time, the stories about Vlad Tepes and Dracula flood Facebook, they are portrayed as the greatest heroes of anti-Turk fights.
Nations in Western Europe and Turkey:
Here, we can find two kinds of information surfacing about us on Facebook, many times in the form of Youtube videos.
The Turkish usually recognize the Hungarians’ efforts in repelling Ottoman expansion into Europe. Nevertheless, their perspective says that the Ottoman Empire’s conquest was the best thing that could have ever happened to the small divided nations of Eastern Europe.
On the other hand, when reading about the Ottoman wars in posts written by West Europeans, you will find Hungary’s role in Europe’s liberation unmentioned or belittled.
Seeing this sad tendency, I felt necessary to make effort and provide the truth on my pages. I am glad to say that on my Facebook page and in my Facebook groups these above-described attitudes are being altered and changed for the better. My non-Hungarian readers and group members appreciate reading about the unbiased way of talking about history. To create a friendly environment, I have Admins from different nations in my first Facebook group, one of them is a Romanian gentleman, and there is a Slovakian, too. During our discussions and common work, I have acquired several Slovakian, Romanian, Serb, and Croatian friends. Not to forget our Polish brothers, of course. There was a Turkish Admin in the Group for a long time as well. Also, I have received friendly help from the sons and daughters of all kinds of nations.
I regularly share my posts in hundreds of non-Hungarian Facebook groups where these writings about Hungarian history are regarded as unique and are well received. People recommend my page as a gap-filling and important tool for spreading Hungarian history, a page that changed their opinions about Hungary.
Hungarians living outside of Hungary:
Fortunately, their Facebook groups have been extremely supportive and friendly. I have received lots of encouragement and love from them. Without their support, I would have likely quit this work a long time ago. They gave me the strength to work 3-4 hours a day, researching, writing, translating, and building my pages. I have published two books about Hungarian history in English during these years, and I am very grateful for the editing of their text by an American-Hungarian lady, Suzanna Lahner King.
In spite of my inquiries, there is no contact between me and the various associations of Hungarians in the western world. Hopefully, it is likely to change because I have been able to get more credentials because the National Fund of Hungary (Nemzeti Kulturális Alap Igazgatósága) acknowledged my work in March 2022. Their support enabled me to change my laptop and their recognition might help me to acquire the trust of other Hungarian associations.
The Friends of Hungary Foundation came also to my help by organizing a webinar. As for other Hungarian internet forums and groups, I have been mostly welcomed. Many lovers of castles have kindly helped me and allowed me to use their photos. There were only a couple of groups where I met with hostility.
Based on the above-mentioned data and observations, I dare say that my work is the only organized and voluminous activity in the English-speaking part of Facebook where one can find quality content about the history of the Hungarian people.
Regardless of how dedicated I am to continue with this work on my own, it will simply not be possible as the project is slowly surpassing my limits. It is why I need help, including all sorts of cooperation and financial support.
Finally, I would not like to miss this opportunity to spread Hungarian history and culture. Allow me to call to your attention this short story by Dezső Kosztolányi, titled „ The Heavenly Advocate” which I translated into the English language a mere 101 years after its birth. I believe I am the first to have done so.
You can find both the Hungarian and the English versions on my page:
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Update in January 2022: I’ve changed the name of my Facebook page for the sake of better understanding. Now it is called “Hungarian History 1366-1699”
My work has recently (March 2022) been endorsed by the National Fund of Hungary (Nemzeti Kulturális Alap Igazgatósága) http://www.nka.hu