In a pair of stories that together are all the more bizarre for being apparently unrelated, Hungary’s legendary “hussars” (huszárok) came under suspicion of torture and political assassination.
The stories involve groups of civilians who dress up like members of the light cavalry which originated in Hungary in the 15th century, and then lent its name to similar units around the world. While some have suggested that Hungary officially reestablish the hussars as a crack fighting/PR force, in this case we’re only talking about historical reenactors.
Earlier this week one such group of hussars was detained by the authorities in the small Swedish town of Åmål, following reports that they had mistreated the horses they had ridden from Hungary to Scandinavia on. This unit of hussars is said to have arrived after an extremely long final leg that left the animals with hoof wounds. While the group was accompanied by a three-person team seconded from the Hungarian Defense Ministry, the government denied that it had provided any money for the group, whose members deny they are guilty of animal torture. They were quickly released from custody, though their horses may be held in Sweden for some months so they can recuperate.
Meanwhile, last Friday a group of hussars were the subject of a strange incident during the unveiling of a memorial in Kecskemét for Hungarian farmers persecuting under Hungary’s communist regime in the 1950s. The horsemen had been set to provide a special ceremonial greeting to Speaker of Parliament László Kövér, who presided over the event. But when Kövér’s bodyguards told them to “lay down their weapons,” the group rebelled, and took their swords and went home. Apparently something similar happened during an earlier visit by former speaker Katalin Szili, but the hussars were able to convince her guards that their 19th century swords presented no threat. Like we said, bizarre. [index.hu, baon.hu, Photo by HatM/Flickr]