With the help of diary excerpts from soldiers on the frontline and newspaper articles, the book Onward to the Úz Valley (Előre az Úz völgyében in Hungarian) precisely reveals, almost hour by hour, what happened in the Úz Valley during World War I. The book, released at the beginning of the year by the Háromszék Vármegye (Háromszék County) publishing house in Sepsiszentgyörgy (Sfântu Gheorghe) and Csíkszentmárton (Sânmartin), was also introduced in Csíkszereda (Miercurea Ciuc) last week. The book launch took place at the Consulate General of Hungary in Csíkszereda, where, among others, Consul General László Tóth and President of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (known by its Hungarian acronym of RMDSZ) Hunor Kelemen gave a speech; Military Attaché of Hungary in Bucharest, László Kiss, was also present.
The 385-page book, edited by Károly Kocsis, is richly illustrated with works by Gyula Kövér that were drawn on the spot and photos of the period from the collection of the Hungarian Military History Museum in Budapest. Historian and archivist Barna Gottfried takes readers through the military history of the time, while map collector Sándor Tamás shows the cartographic history of Úz Valley.
Consul General László Tóth said in his opening speech that it is not necessary to introduce Úz Valley to Hungarians because everybody knows something about the history of the small settlement: about its war-time happenings, its once flourishing life or the large industrial logging in the area at the beginning of the 20th century. But most people – unfortunately – have heard about Úz Valley because of the 2019 incident.
“As the Consulate General of Hungary, we find it important that such books are released, and they even might be able to give us answers to some still open questions, as to what led to the recent incidents in the Úz Valley,” said the Consul General, adding that
the only way of settling these contentious issues is to answer the evidence-based scientific questions.
According to RMDSZ President Hunor Kelemen, the publisher has gifted Hungarian readers across the Carpathian Basin with an extraordinary book, saying that: “…it is important to see past events from a historical distance as well, but in the case of books like this one, the most important thing is that we can see these historical happenings from the perspective of those people who actually participated in them.”
170 photos, 40 drawings, 20 caricatures and 18 maps
The book itself was introduced in the ceremonial hall of the consulate by its editor, journalist Károly Kocsis; Kovászna (Covasna) County President Sándor Tamás, who contributed to the book with his cartographic history of Úz Valley; and historian Zoltán Nagy, as the moderator of the event. The third co-author of the book, historian Barna Gottfried from Nyíregyháza, Hungary, could not be personally present due to the pandemic restrictions, but he also gave a short online presentation for the audience.
In his presentation, Sándor Tamás explained the history of Úz Valley starting with its first written document from 1702 and ending in 1914. He also clarified some geographic elements of the name, as “Úz Valley” (“Úz völgye” in Hungarian) means two things at the same time. On the one hand, it refers to the 50-kilometer-long valley of the Úz River; on the other hand, it is also the name of a small settlement (“Úzvölgye” in Hungarian, “Valea Uzului” in Romanian) that belongs to Csíkszentmárton, a Szekler village 35 kilometers away in Hargita (Harghita) County.
The area has been a source of conflict basically for centuries between Transylvanians and Moldavians.
– he said, adding that, taking this into consideration, what happened two years ago in the Úz Valley was not some kind of novelty.
The book also contains 170 photos from the period, 40 drawings, 20 caricatures and 18 maps. “Nearly 250 illustrations altogether, 120 out of which have never been published before. So, now we can hold such a book in our hands, a book about the Úz Valley that previously had never been published in the last 100 years,” said Sándor Tamás. (szekelyhon.ro)
Title image: Onward to the Úz Valley (“Előre az Úz völgyében” in Hungarian) was introduced in Csíkszereda on March 11, 2021. (Photo: Facebook page of the Consulate General of Hungary in Csíkszereda)