Gyula Andrássy Foundation

Speech of chairman Mark Odescalchi at the statue unveiling

Mr Speaker, Mr Mayor, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen –

I am honoured to thank the Government on behalf of the direct descendants of Andrássy Gyula for returning a fine replica of the original statue to its original site.

The original statue disappeared after the War as Comrade Rákosi had it melted down with other statues to provide the bronze for the massive statue of Comrade Stalin

In a way the same thing happened to Andrassy Gyula’s descendants.

The youngest granddaughter of Andrássy, my grandmother Countess Klára Andrássy, Princess Károly Odescalchi disappeared from Budapest in 1941. She helped Polish servicemen and refugees escape the Nazis and was warned by British Ambassador Owen O’Malley that she was on the Gestapo hit list and should leave Hungary. The British helped her escape as far as Dubrovnik where she was fatally wounded in an Italian bombing raid in April 1941.

Her son, my father, Prince Paul Odescalchi, as a student in Budapest, fought in the resistance against the Nazis in 1944 to ‘45. Then the Soviets imprisoned him in the camp at Gödöllő where he nearly died. On his release in 1946 he disappeared from Budapest and moved to England.

My cousin and great grandson of Andrássy, Marquis György Pallavicini, was imprisoned in Dachau for anti-Nazi activities in 1944. Shortly after his release and return to Budapest in 1945 he was imprisoned by the Soviets and disappeared from Budapest. He died in the Lubyanka in Moscow in 1948.

As a liberal politician Andrassy would have had no sympathies for dictatorships of either the right or the left.

His achievements and legacy in Hungary were hidden and forgotten under the Communist dictatorship. After the failure of the 1848-49 Revolution Andrássy spent 10 years in exile and was hung in effigy. Upon his amnesty and return in 1858 he worked with Ferenc Deák on the Compromise which was implemented in 1867 when Andrássy was appointed Prime Minister. Deák described Andrássy as being providential – sent by God for the task.  The resulting stable relationship between Austria and Hungary was further enhanced by Andássy with the series of alliances he forged as First Hungarian Foreign Minister of the Dual Monarchy. A role in which his international outlook and experience and diplomatic skills could be used to the full.  A leading role played by Andrássy at the Congress of Berlin of 1878 is celebrated in the bronze relief you see today. The almost half a century of peace that followed resulted in an unparalleled period of prosperity with people from all over the Empire being attracted to a Budapest which was expanding rapidly. The layout of Pest as you see it today was designed then following the vision of Andrássy of a metropolitan city.  

We are reminded of the legacy of Andrássy as one of Hungary’s great statesmen by the return of his statue. This will be further assisted by the first biography to be written on Andrássy in over a century. Norman Stone (who is here today), a prize-winning former professor of history at Oxford University and adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, is writing a biography of Andrássy due to be published in Hungarian and English next year, the 150th anniversary of the Compromise. This work, is supported by the Andrássy Gyula Alapítvány.   

The family are proud to see Andrássy back on his horse in front of Parliament once more and grateful to the Government for making this possible.