On 23 September, one of the most important Hungarian WWI restored memorial sites of the Doberdo Plateau was inaugurated in a ceremony on Monte San Michele in Italy. The Ministry of Defence Military History Institute and Museum (MoD MHIM) supported the renovation of a memorial pyramid erected on the northern slope of Monte San Michele in memory of the Hungarian Royal Nagyvárad 4th honvéd infantry regiment.
The inauguration ceremony of the memorial pyramid was attended by MoD Parliamentary State Secretary, Deputy Defence Minister Tamás Vargha; Dr. Géza György Bathó, Deputy State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Jenő Csiszár, Hungary’s consul general in Milan; Lieutenant Colonel Roland Maruzs, Deputy Commander, MoD MHIM; Raffaele Ricciardi, Prefect of Gorizia; Gianfranco Simonit, President, Gruppo Speleologico Carsico (Karst Speleological Association) as well as the representatives of Italian local governments.
Tamás Vargha greeted the participants of the commemorative event. In his ceremonial speech, the MoD State Secretary, MP of the town of Székesfehérvár said that “For the Hungarian soul, Doberdo is one of, if not the most painful battlefield, which entered Hungarian public awareness as »the hell on Earth« during the First World War. However, it is a fact that we can consider Doberdo not as the symbol of defeat, but rather as that of military steadfastness and perseverance. The losses suffered in the battles were immense, yet the soldiers heroically persevered in trying to stand their ground in a self-sacrificing and relentless fight. They were the troops of the Royal Hungarian 20th infantry division, among them those of the legendary 4th Nagyvárad infantry regiment and the legendary 17th regiment of Székesfehérvár, my town. To pay tribute to the soldier heroes of the division and its regiments, after the recapture of the surrounding area in 1917, former regimental commander Károly Kratochvil ordered the erection of four memorial pyramids. One of these monuments is located here, on Monte San Michele. The erection of the memorial pyramid, as well as its renovation completed in the recent months help us to remember, to recall the military past and our soldiers’ heroism”.
Tamás Vargha pointed out that we owe thanks to our allies, our Italian friends for actively and helpfully participating in the worthy preservation of our heroes’ memory, thereby keeping the past alive for the generations of the present age and the future.
One hundred and eight years ago, on 23 June 1915, a series of battles to last for more than two years started along the River Isonzo in North Italy, and claimed the lives of more than half of the hundreds of thousands of Hungarian troops who fell in the First World War. After the Caporetto breakthrough and following the recapture of Monte San Michele and the surrounding area in November 1917, former regimental commander Károly Kratochvil had four pyramids erected out of the Karst stones and of shrapnel strewn across the battlefield, in memory of the fallen heroes and the glorious fights of the 4th Nagyvárad honvéd infantry regiment.
Two of the four monuments are located in the area of present-day Italy (Monte San Michele, San Martino del Carso), whereas the other two in Slovenia (Monte San Gabriele, Nova Vas). The Ministry of Defence also supported the reconstruction of the memorial pyramid erected on Monte San Gabriele – which belongs to present-day Slovenia –, and it was also MoD Parliamentary State Secretary Tamás Vargha who inaugurated that memorial in 2014.
Most recently, it was in 2019 when the MoD MHIM provided financial support for the conservation refurbishment of the memorial built on the one-time Church Hill in the village of San Martino del Carso, which was inaugurated on 7 December 2019.
The refurbishment of the memorial pyramid located on the northern slope of Monte San Michele started in cooperation with the Gruppo Speleologico Carsico in May 2022.