Hungary–Poland relations

Hungary–Poland relations are the foreign relations between Hungary and Poland. Relations between the two nations date back to the Middle Ages. The two Central European peoples have traditionally enjoyed a very close friendship, brotherhood and camaraderie rooted in a deep history of shared rulers, cultures, struggles, and faith. Both countries commemorate their fraternal relationship on the 23rd of March.

Hungarian-Polish relations



From 1370 to 1382 the Kingdom of Poland and Kingdom of Hungary entered into a personal union and were ruled by the same King, Louis the Great. This period in Polish history is sometimes known as the Andegawen Poland. Louis inherited the Polish throne from his maternal uncle Casimir III. After Louis's death the Polish nobles (the szlachta) decided to end the personal union, since they did not want to be governed from Hungary, and chose Louis's younger daughter Jadwiga as their new ruler, while Hungary was inherited by his elder daughter Mary. A second personal union with Poland was formed for the second time from 1440 to 1444, when King Władysław III of Poland was also King of Hungary.

Both countries are full members of NATO, joining it on the same day (March 12, 1999) and are also both members of the European Union, the OECD, the Council of Europe, the Visegrád Four (along with Slovakia and the Czech Republic), the Bucharest Nine and the OSCE.

Polish and Hungarian high-ranking officials usually meet several times a week. The leaders of the two countries have been holding regular secret meetings to improve bilateral relations and work more closely together. Hungarian-Polish political scientist Dominik Hejj states: “The relations are very strong, and almost every week a Polish minister visits Hungary and vice versa”. One political expert said the two countries were putting the European Union on the spot by working towards their own power hub with Brussels “unable to do anything about it”.

Country comparison

Hungary (Magyarország)
Republic of Poland (Rzeczpospolita Polska)
Flag & Coat of arms
Population 9,830,485 38,433,600
Area 93,028 km2 (35,919 sq mi) 312,696 km2 (120,733 sq mi)
Population Density 105.9/km2 (274.3/sq mi) 123/km2 (318.6/sq mi)
Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic Unitary Semi-presidential constitutional republic
Capital  Budapest – 1,759,407 (2,524,697 Metro)  Warsaw – 1,764,615 (3,100,844 Metro)
Largest City
Official language Hungarian (de facto and de jure) Polish (de facto and de jure)
First Leader Grand Prince Árpád (895–907, traditionally) Duke Mieszko I (960–992, traditionally)
Current Head of Government Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (Fidesz; 1998–2002, 2010–present) Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (Law and Justice; 2017–present)
Current Head of State President János Áder (Fidesz; 2012–present) President Andrzej Duda (Law and Justice; 2015–present)
Main religions 38.9% Catholicism (Roman, Greek), 13.8% Protestantism (Reformed, Evangelical), 0.2% Orthodox, 0.1% Jewish, 1.7% other, 16.7% Non-religious, 1.5% Atheism, 27.2% undeclared 87.58% Roman Catholic, 7.10% Opting out of answer, 1.28% Other faiths, 2.41% Irreligious, 1.63% Not stated
Ethnic groups 83.7% Hungarian, 3.1% Roma, 1.3% German, 14.7% not declared 98% Poles, 2% other or undeclared
GDP (nominal) $132.683 billion, $13,487 per capita $614.190 billion, $16,179 per capita
External debt (nominal) $32.600 billion (2012 Q4) – 80 % of GDP $362.000 billion (2017 Q4) – 80 % of GDP
GDP (PPP) $265.037 billion, $29,500 per capita[1] $1.353 trillion, $35,651 per capita[2]
Currency Hungarian forint (Ft) – HUF Polish złoty (zł) – PLN
Human Development Index 0.838 (very high) – 2017 0.865 (very high) – 2017

Historic relations

Stephen Báthory was a member of the Hungarian Báthory noble family and was crowned King of Poland following his election to the Polish throne in 1576

Good relations between Poland and Hungary date back to the Middle Ages. Both countries shared a border for nearly 800 years, from the 10th century to the First Partition of Poland in 1772. The Polish and Hungarian ruling dynasties (such as the Piast dynasty or House of Árpád) often intermarried. Louis the Great was king of Hungary and Croatia from 1342 and king of Poland from 1370 until his death in 1382. He was his father's heir, Charles I of the House of Anjou-Sicily (King of Hungary and Croatia) and his uncle's heir, Casimir III the Great (king of Poland – last of the Piast dynasty). King Casimir had no legitimate sons. Apparently, in order to provide a clear line of succession and avoid dynastic uncertainty, he arranged for his nephew, King Louis I of Hungary, to be his successor in Poland. Louis' younger daughter Saint Jadwiga of Poland inherited the Polish throne, and became one of the most popular monarchs of Poland. In 1440–1444, the two countries shared the same King again, after King Władysław III of Poland became also King of Hungary. He was eventually killed in the Battle of Varna in which a coalition of Central and Eastern European countries led by Poland and Hungary was defeated by the Turks. From 1490 to 1526, both countries were ruled by separate but closely related branches of the Jagiellonian dynasty, after Polish prince Władysław, son of Polish King Casimir IV Jagiellon, became King Vladislaus II of Hungary. In 1576, Poland elected the Hungarian nobleman Stephen Báthory as its king, who is regarded as one of Poland's greatest rulers. The famous Polish hussars were modelled after Hungarian hussars.

Hungarian Revolution of 1848

In the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, a Polish general, Józef Bem, became a national hero of both Hungary and Poland. He was entrusted with the defence of Transylvania at the end of 1848, and in 1849, as General of the Székely troops.[3] On October 20, 1848 Józef Wysocki signed an agreement with the Hungarian government to form a Polish infantry battalion of about 1,200 soldiers. After agreement Wysocki organized in Hungary "Polish legion" of volunteers contained 2,090 foot soldiers and 400 Polish uhlans. They took part in the siege of the Arad fortress in the spring of 1849 and participated in all important battles at Szolnok, Hatvan, Tápió-Bicske and Isaszeg. After the Battle of Temesvár in August 1849, and the Hungarian capitulation at Világos, eight hundred of the remnants of the Legion escaped to Turkey.[4][5]

Interwar years 1919-1939

Polish and Hungarian military officers in Warsaw in 1930

Friendship between Poland and Hungary typified the interwar period. However Poland was among the victors of World War I, and therefore supported the status quo, while Hungary suffered unparalleled losses, and therefore pursued a revisionist policy. The ruling forces in both countries suppressed all revolutionary movements, and forced the Communist Party underground. As a result, both were hostile to Soviet Russia and Czechoslovakia. Support for a pro-Hungarian policy in Poland came mainly from conservative aristocratic centers in Kraków and Wilno. Anti-Czech feelings led Poland and Hungary to support Hitler during the Munich crisis in 1938. However pro-Polish feelings made it impossible for Hungary to side with Hitler against Poland when it invaded in 1939.[6]

During the Polish–Soviet War (1919–21), after the Béla Kun government in Hungary was overthrown, Hungary offered to send 30,000 cavalry to Poland's aid, but the Czechoslovak government refused to allow them through the demilitarized zone that had existed between Czechoslovakia and Hungary since the end of the First World War. Nevertheless, Hungarian munitions trains did reach Poland.

In the beginning of July 1920, the Hungarian government of Prime Minister Pál Teleki made a decision to help Poland, delivering for free and at a critical moment of war at Hungary own expense through Romania's military supply: 48 million rounds to Mauser, 13 million rounds to Mannlicher, artillery ammunition, 30 thousands of Mauser rifles and several million spare parts, 440 field kitchens, 80 field ovens. On August 12, 1920, Skierniewice received transport, among others 22 million rounds to Mauser from the Manfréd Weiss factory in Csepel. It was the single most important foreign military contribution to Polish war effort. Hundreds of Hungarian volunteers fought on the side of Poland in the war, and some stayed in Poland after the war.[7]

From the Middle Ages well into the 20th century, Poland and Hungary had shared a historic common border. In the aftermath of World War I, the victorious allies had, at Versailles, transferred Upper Hungary as well as Carpathian Ruthenia, with its Slavic population, from defeated Hungary to Slavic-German-Hungarian nascent Czechoslovakia. Following the Munich Agreement (September 30, 1938) — which doomed Czechoslovakia to takeover by Germany — Poland and Hungary, from common as well as their own special interests, worked together, by diplomatic as well as paramilitary means, to restore their historic common border by engineering the return of Carpathian Rus to Hungary.[8] A step toward their goal was realized with the First Vienna Award (November 2, 1938).

Grave of a Hungarian Honvéd captain and six of his men who fell, fighting on the Polish side in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising

Until mid-March 1939, Germany considered that, for military reasons, a common Hungarian-Polish frontier was undesirable. Indeed, when in March 1939 Hitler made an about-face and authorized Hungary to take over the rest of Carpatho-Rus (which was by then styling itself "Carpatho-Ukraine"), he warned Hungary not to touch the remainder of Slovakia, to whose territory Hungary also laid claim. Hitler meant to use Slovakia as a staging ground for his planned invasion of Poland. In March 1939, however, Hitler changed his mind about the common Hungarian-Polish frontier and decided to betray Germany's ally, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, who had already in 1938 begun organizing Ukrainian military units in a sich outside Uzhhorod, in Carpathian Ukraine, under German tutelage — a sich that Polish political and military authorities saw as an imminent danger to nearby southeastern Poland, with its largely Ukrainian population.[9][10] Hitler, however, was concerned that, if a Ukrainian army organized in Carpathian Rus were to accompany German forces invading the Soviet Union, Ukrainian nationalists would insist on the establishment of an independent Ukraine; Hitler, who had designs on Ukraine's natural and agricultural resources, did not want to deal with an independent Ukrainian government.[11]

World War II

Polish troops withdrawn to Hungary in September 1939

Hitler would soon have cause to rue his decision regarding the fate of Carpatho-Ukraine. In six months, during his 1939 invasion of Poland, the common Polish-Hungarian border would become of major importance when Admiral Horthy's government, on the ground of long-standing Polish-Hungarian friendship, declined, as a matter of "Hungarian honor,"[12] Hitler's request to transit German forces across Carpathian Rus into southeastern Poland to speed that country's conquest. The Hungarian refusal allowed the Polish government and tens of thousands of military personnel to escape into neighboring Hungary and Romania, and from there to France and French-mandated Syria to carry on operations as the third-strongest Allied belligerent after Britain and France. Also, for a time Polish and British intelligence agents and couriers, including Krystyna Skarbek, used Hungary's Carpathorus as a route across the Carpathian Mountains to and from Poland.[13]

The old, and famous Hungarian-Polish Brotherhood

Revolution of 1956

A student demonstration in Budapest in support of the Polish October and asking for similar reforms in Hungary was one of the events that sparked the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.[14] During the revolution, Poles demonstrated their support for the Hungarians by donating blood for them; by 12 November 1956, 11,196 Poles had donated. The Polish Red Cross sent 44 tons of medical supplies to Hungary by air; even larger amounts were sent by road and rail.

Friendship Day

On March 12, 2007, Hungary's parliament declared March 23 the "Day of Hungarian-Polish Friendship", with 324 votes in favor, none opposed, and no abstentions. Four days later, the Polish parliament declared March 23 the "Day of Polish-Hungarian Friendship" by acclamation.[15]

2016 – Year of Hungarian-Polish solidarity

Standing ovation in the Hungarian Parliament after passing into law: 2016 - the Year of Hungarian-Polish Solidarity

The Hungarian Parliament on the 29th of February, 2016 adopted a decree in a unanimous vote that declared 2016 a year of Hungarian-Polish solidarity. Under the order, state celebrations were organized throughout the year to mark the 60th anniversary of the anti-communist uprising in Poland's Poznań in June 1956. Hungary's anti-Soviet revolution was four months later. The decree was submitted by the House speaker, the Polish minority in Hungary and the group leaders of the five parliamentary parties. An order with the same content was adopted by the Polish Senate and by the Sejm earlier that month.

In February 2021, Hungary returned to Poland the Renaissance armor of Polish King Sigismund II Augustus, which ended up in Hungary in the interbellum as a result of a misunderstanding, as it was believed to be the armor of King Louis II of Hungary.[16] The gesture is perceived as another example of Polish-Hungarian friendship.[16]

Resident diplomatic missions

See also


  2. "Report for Selected Countries and Subjects". Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  3. Kálmán Deresnyi, General Bem's Winter Campaign in Transylvania, 1848-1849 (Hung.), (Budapest, 1896)
  4. Józef Wysocki, "Pamiętnik Jenerała Wysockiego, dowódcy Legionu Polskiego na Węgrzech z czasu kampanii węgierskiej w roku 1848 i 1849" digital version of Wysocki memoirs
  5. E. Kozłowski, Legion polski na Węgrzech 1848–1849, Warszawa 1983
  6. E. Kovács, "Hungarian—Polish Relations between the Two World Wars." Acta Historica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 18.1/2 (1972): 161-169 online.
  7. "Wsparcie Węgier dla Polski w wojnie polsko-bolszewickiej". Portal (in Polish). Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  8. Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia", East European Quarterly", vol. XXIII, no. 3 (September 1989), pp. 366-67, 370. Józef Kasparek, Przepust karpacki: tajna akcja polskiego wywiadu (The Carpathian Bridge: a Covert Polish Intelligence Operation), p. 11.
  9. Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia", p. 366.
  10. On 17 September 1939, pursuant to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, the Soviet Union entered and took control of eastern Poland, including southeastern Poland. That former southeastern part of Poland now comprises western Ukraine.
  11. Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia", pp. 370-71.
  12. Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia", p. 370.
  13. Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia," pp. 371–73;Józef Kasparek, Przepust karpacki (The Carpathian Bridge); and Edmund Charaszkiewicz, "Referat o działaniach dywersyjnych na Rusi Karpackiej" ("Report on Covert Operations in Carpathian Rus").
  14. "United Nations report of the Special Committee on the problem of Hungary", Page 145, para 441. Last accessed on 5 August 2012.
  15. Uchwała Sejmu Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej z dnia 16 marca 2007 r. (in Polish)
  16. Małgorzata Wosion-Czoba; Karol Kostrzewa. "Renesansowa zbroja młodego Zygmunta II Augusta trafiła na Wawel". (in Polish). Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  17. Embassy of Hungary in Poland
  18. "Konsulowie honorowi". Ambasada Węgier Warszawa (in Polish). Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  19. Embassy of Poland in Hungary
  20. "Konsulaty honorowe". Portal (in Polish). Retrieved 3 April 2021.

Further reading

  • Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia", East European Quarterly", vol. XXIII, no. 3 (September 1989), pp. 365–73.1
  • Kovács, E. "Hungarian—Polish Relations between the Two World Wars." Acta Historica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 18.1/2 (1972): 161-169 online.

Other languages

  • Józef Kasparek, Przepust karpacki: tajna akcja polskiego wywiadu (The Carpathian Bridge: a Covert Polish Intelligence Operation), Warszawa, Wydawnictwo Czasopism i Książek Technicznych SIGMA NOT, 1992, ISBN 83-85001-96-4.
  • Edmund Charaszkiewicz, "Referat o działaniach dywersyjnych na Rusi Karpackiej" ("Report on Covert Operations in Carpathian Rus"), in Zbiór dokumentów ppłk. Edmunda Charaszkiewicza (Collection of Documents by Lt. Col. Edmund Charaszkiewicz), opracowanie, wstęp i przypisy (edited, with introduction and notes by) Andrzej Grzywacz, Marcin Kwiecień, Grzegorz Mazur, Kraków, Księgarnia Akademicka, 2000, ISBN 83-7188-449-4, pp. 106–30.