Magyar Szó

"Documenting the life of the Hungarian community in New Zealand"
- Az új-zélandi magyar közösség lapja.

Issue 81 - September 2005

November in Hungarian History

6-3 For nearly every Hungarian these figures will mean a great deal and need little or no exclamation. They are resonant and recall a glorious chapter in the history of Hungary. For Hungarians, these two numbers have a meaning beyond the events that happened on that November day at Empire Stadium, Wembley, London, England. On the 25th of November, Hungary hammered the English soccer team, 6-3, and changed the game of soccer forever. It was more than a match that marked the first time the English had been defeated on their home soil; it was the manner in which the Hungarian soccer team inflicted defeat. The "golden team", as the team lead by the legendary Puskás is known, defeated the rigid, structured English play with free-flowing, innovative play for which there was no answer. Total football was thus born and the team would go on to inflict an even heavier defeat on the English when they won 7-1 in Budapest the following year.

There are bars in Budapest today that are simply called "6-3". The patrons who frequent such places may dream of those glory days as they sip their beer or pálinka; for three years later on a dark November day the giddy heights established for Hungary by its football team, would be shattered by arrival of Soviet tanks into Budapest. And another number would become as indelibly entered into Hungarian consciousness: 56.


November marks the birthday of Rezso Seress who was born in Budapest on the 3rd in 1899. He is of course most well-known for being the composer of Gloomy Sunday (Szomorú vasárnap), the so-called suicide song that has been sung by many singers since it was first composed in the 1930s. Seress's life and the impact of this song have notably been made into a film (Ein Lied von Liebe und Tod or Gloomy Sunday) that continues to enjoy a great deal of popularity several years after its release.

Other notable Hungarians to have a birthday in November include the recent Noble Prize winner for Literature, Imre Kertész who was born on 9 November 1929; pianist György Cziffra, born in Budapest on 5 November 1921; poet and contemporary of Ady, Lajos Áprily, was born 18 November 1887 along with another colossus of that generation, poet Mihály Babits, who was born on 26 November 1883 in the southern town of Szekszárd. Last but by no means least, the greatest ceramist of Hungary, Margit Kovács, was born on 30 November 1902.

Paul Hellyer

Magyar Szó Issue 81 - September 2005