“Like our forebears did once in the trenches of the Great War, today we, Croatians and Hungarians stand here again side by side in remembrance of our common officer, Marcell Szigethy Halper”, said Tamás Horváth, Head of Military Heritage Department, Ministry of Defence in Croatia on 15 April.
The memorial plaque of Croatian Infantry Colonel Marcell Szigethy Halper – the commander of the Imperial and Royal 48th Infantry Regiment between 1914–1918 – was wreathed and unveiled with military honors at his grave in Škarićevo, where many people paid their tribute in spite of the pouring rain. After the words of welcome, Head of Department Tamás Horváth delivered a speech, in which he outlined Marcell Szigethy Halper’s path of life and military deeds. He pointed out that the last stand of the Imperial and Royal 48th Infantry Regiment was in the Piave Delta, where it finished its combat operation after the coming into force of the armistice on 3 November.
“To the credit of the regimental commander, he used his charisma to lead his unit in foot march formation as a well-disciplined group all along to Nagykanizsa after the collapse, although several units had got dispersed by that time”, said Tamás Horváth.
He added that the infantry colonel bravely fought throughout the war, as attested by his several decorations. He was a good military officer and a proactive commander, who, while striving to carry out the received orders, also boldly made independent decisions that were necessary in a given combat situation.
“His historical figure has become a role model for posterity. He is a role model whom we must remember, because it is not only our task but also our sacred duty”, said the Head of Department in concluding his speech. Marcell Szigethy Halper passed away in Škarićevo on 8 April 1929.
After the consecration of the memorial tablet, Chief Advisor Dr. Andor Bíró, Head of Department and Deputy Director, Research and Customer Service Department, MoD Military History Institute and Museum War Grave Care and Heroes’ Cult Directorate and Mayor of the Town of Krapina Zoran Gregurović jointly unveiled the tablet. The event closed with a wreath-laying ceremony. The flowers of remembrance were laid, among others, by Marcell Szigethy Halper’s descendants, Vitéz Count Márió Festetics de Tolna, Staff Captain of Tengermellék and Croatia Region of the Order of Vitéz, and by Brigadier General Davor Kopanji, Defence Attaché at the Embassy of Croatia in Budapest.
In front of our camera, Tamás Horváth told us that it is very important to hand down the deceased comrades’ memory and to bring it back to public awareness, since we have many WWI and WWII heroes who were forgotten by historians after 1945. “It is our important duty to bring these forgotten heroes back to public awareness. Soldiers need good weapons and good uniform, but they also need a kind of intellectual content as well that makes them proud of being Hungarian soldiers”, underlined the Head of Department.
The commemoration was organized by the Zalaszántó Patriot Association.