Fighting in the Carpathian mountains in hellishly cold winter temperatures with inadequate supplies is about the last place I'd like to be in the world, tragically hundreds of thousands of Austro-Hungarians had to do just that.
Bonjour encore! In relation to what the title suggests, this blog post is all about the first meeting of the New Zealand ambassadors for the Following Family Footsteps programme, but also, I will be delving into my plans for my research: what precisely will I be researching, and what is my ultimate objective in my research so that when we arrive in France, I’ll actually have something half-decent to say in front of the camera, to be recorded on a video that may be seen by hundreds of people in France and New Zealand (I know, nobody panic).
17th March 2018, 10 am. This was the time and date when the New Zealand Ambassadors were to meet for the first time. Let’s just say, I was quite nervous. Before the meeting, I was terribly anxious to be on time, and although I like to think that I am punctual even for a punctual person (although this is shamefully not always true), I made a particular effort that morning to make sure I set the right impression. As such, I arrived at 9:40 am outside the Sovereign House building on Manners Street, only to find that the automatic sliding doors refused to open! Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long before Robin, one of the adults accompanying us on the trip and our film-director, came to my rescue. We walked into the building and I saw the rest of the Ambassadors excitedly and perhaps somewhat nervously and awkwardly (dare I say it) crowding around the elevator. Right from the start when I first saw the rest of the New Zealand ambassadors, these nerves and awkwardness were soon dispelled as we all took to each other’s personalities naturally, and from that point, I knew that we would all get along well. Fortunately, throughout the long day spent inside the French Embassy, I couldn’t have been proven more correct in my initial assumption.
We began the day with a briefing of the trip to France from Pascale Seignolles, who works at the French Embassy of New Zealand, in French, which I fortunately understood well (seeing as the details of the trip might be pretty important to understand). Madame Bush-Daumec, the teacher from Wellington College also accompanying us on the trip to France, then played a game with us to get as all to get to know each other, which was so confusing I was surprised no one threw their hands into the air in distress. The morning was spent getting to know each other and was topped off by a magnifique French lunch of baguettes, grapes, cheeses and salad. In the afternoon, we began to map-out and see the places we were going to in France, the significance of these places, and began organising our own personal projects.
This brings me to my second point: my personal project. I am departing on this trip the ancestor of someone who fought on the German side. My ancestor was László Nádasi (in English: Leslie, with the last name being pronounced as “nah-dah-she”), a Hungarian foot soldier who fought and died in the town of Rostov-on-Don in Russia. In my personal project, my goal is to discover more about my great-grandfather. Specifically, I am going to call my grandmother in Hungary and ask her these questions: Where was he born, what kind of personality did he have, what course of study did he pursue, what job(s) did he have and why did he choose this/these profession(s), how old was he when he was drafted for the war, how did he feel about being drafted in the war, what was his general opinion about the war, was he a supporter of the German side or of the “enemy,” how long was he fighting in Russia before he died, how did he die as well as when, and if we know, where specifically in Rostov-on-Don, do we have any letters sent from him or any relevant war memorabilia and what did they say/show, and above all, was his body ever recovered from Russia, and if so, how did that affect my grandmother and her family at the time, and if not, how does she feel about that and why? Through exploring my ancestry, I hope to gain some more insight into my own history and feel more deeply connected to my ancestors that sacrificed their lives in the war, even if I never have the opportunity to meet them, or if I never have the opportunity to find out more.
Furthermore, through the research I will conduct through the internet, my family, family war memorabilia and readings exploring the perspective and fate of my ancestor, this research will also provide me with insight into the sentiment of the Austro-Hungarian armies, an especially important army seeing as one of the most significant causal factors of World War I was the assassination of the Austro-Hungarian Archduke, Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28th June 1914. Additionally, an aspect of the war that particularly interests me is how and why World War I would cause dissent between Hungary and Austria that would eventually lead to the decline of the Austro-Hungarian empire on 31 October 1918. In addition to this, I will conduct research into how others, outside of myself and my family, view the relationship between Austria and Hungary now: is there any hope of reconciliation?
Much has already happened, and so much more is still to pass. However, the prospect of this trip is an exciting one both on a personal level and on an educational level. I’m excited to see what this trip of discovering and educating brings, and I also hope that my project will show others that perhaps, there was no per-say “winner” of the war, as at the end, both sides lost in some degree, like my family lost László. Indeed, as is said by Elizabeth Peters in “Lord of the Silent”: “… the best of her young men, future scholars and scientists and statesmen, and ordinary, decent men who might have led ordinary, decent lives. And how will it end, when you tire of your game of soldiers? A few boundaries redrawn, a few transitory political advantages, in exchange for an entire continent laid waste and a million graves!”
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Last modified on Saturday, 07 April 2018 17:52