Pákozd (Hungary/Magyarország) - Don Chapel (Doni Kápolna)

by Björn Roose June. 17, 2019 745 views

Look up Pákozd on Wikipedia and you'll find close to nothing. Yes, it is a Hungarian village, but the "encyclopedia" doesn't even mention it is bordering Lake Velence (to the top right of Lake Balaton) and next to Székesfehérvár (see here, here, here and here).

However, Wikipedia does mention that the Hungarian revolutionary army defeated the Croatian army in the Battle of Pákozd in 1848. Did the Croatians particularly dislike the Hungarians ? Not that I know of, but the Austrian emperor promised the Croatians more autonomy if they helped him deal with the Hungarians that fought their war for independence. The Croatians apparently were not smart enough to team up with the Hungarians and thus help each other gain independence and fought the war for the Austrians. Thus in the end - not in the Battle of Pákozd however - the Hungarians were defeated ... but got more autonomy out of the war than the Croatians. History ... is tragical and funny and it just keeps on repeating itself.

Since Wikipedia mentions that battle, it is however strange that it does not speak of the Katonai Emlékpark (Military Remembrance Park), which is mainly about the 1848 and 1956 uprisings. And since it doesn't even do that, it surely doesn't mention the Doni Kápolna.

That memorial chapel, the Don Chapel (not the Nashville singer), is right outside that Military Remembrance Park, and remembers the fallen men of the Hungarian Second Army at the Russian river Don in 1942. Good thing Wikipedia has something to tell about that:

"The Hungarian Second Army is probably the best known Hungarian wartime army because of the part it played in the Battle of Stalingrad. Before being sent to Russia, the rank-and-file of the Second Army had received but eight weeks of training. The only tactical experience for many of these soldiers were the manoeuvers held just prior to the departure for the front (...)".

Still, this Hungarian Second Army "was given the task of protecting the 8th Italian Army's northern flank between Novaya Pokrovka on the Don River and Rossosh". This in turn allowed the German Sixth Army to continue its attack on Stalingrad. Since the German Sixth Army however didn't succeed in taking Stalingrad, transportation for the Hungarian Second Army collapsed and "failed to supply even the basics (food, winter, clothing, heating fuel, building materials) for the frontline units". And that while the Hungarian Second Army "had to defend ever longer and longer stretches of the frontline as more and more German units were sent to Stalingrad" (and the Italian army was pretty worthless).

When the Soviets launched their Operation Uranus, they drove through the Romanian Third Army north and Fourth Army south of Stalingrad, thus cutting off the German Sixth Army. As a counter move the Germans launched Operation Winter Storm on December 12, 1942 to relieve their Sixth Army, but the Soviets counter-attacked on December 16, 1942 with Operation Little Saturn, penetrating between the Italian Eight Army and the Hungarian Second Army near the junction "held" by the Italian Alpini.

The Soviet advance was stopped at the Don river, but on January 13, 1943 they launched the Voronezh-Kharkov Strategic Offensive Operation (the Soviets had so many men to loose that stopping them was only a temporarily thing) and nearly annihilated the Hungarian Second Army near Svoboda. The losses of the Second Army were especially severe since Colonel General Vitéz Gustztáv Jány "forbade any sort of withdrawal, in spite of seeing the neighbouring German and Italian Armies pulling back. Most of the Hungarian units were encircled and either annihilated or forced to open terrain where they succumbed to the extreme cold (-30C - -40C). The 1st Armored Division was reduced to a single operational tank within a few days, and most of the personnel of the 1st Air Group died on the ground when their airfields were overrun by Soviet tanks."

No more than 40.000 men of an initial force of 200.000 managed to return to Hungary only to be ... blamed by Hitler for the defeat at Stalingrad. Did I mention that history is a tragical and funny thing that just keeps on repeating itself ?

Anyway, as you know, the Axis lost the Second World War and Eastern and Middle Europe were occupied for nearly half a century by the Soviets. Hungarians were not even allowed to mourn the men they lost fighting the Soviets. That had to wait until the "liberators" were finally gone. So, the soldiers of the Hungarian Second Army got their remembrance fifty years later: the Don Chapel was officialy opened on May 30, 1994.

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Camellia Staab 1 year, 12 months ago

Very pretty and colorful chapel.

1 year, 12 months ago Edited
Björn Roose Replied to Camellia Staab 1 year, 12 months ago

It is indeed. smile

1 year, 12 months ago Edited
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