Pole and Hungarian brothers be

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Poles [left, and] Hungarians, by Johann Wilhelm Baur, Czartoryski Museum, Kraków

"Pole and Hungarian brothers be" (the Polish version) and "Pole and Hungarian, two good friends" (Hungarian version) are respective forms of a popular bilingual saying about the traditional kinship, brotherhood, and camaraderie between the Polish and Hungarian peoples.


The Polish text of the saying reads:

Polak, Węgier — dwa bratanki,
i do szabli, i do szklanki,
oba zuchy, oba żwawi,
niech im Pan Bóg błogosławi.

The full, two-couplet Hungarian version reads:

Lengyel, magyar – két jó barát,
Együtt harcol s issza borát,
Vitéz s bátor mindkettője,
Áldás szálljon mindkettőre.

The Polish text may be rendered:

Pole and Hungarian brothers be,
good for fight and good for party.
Both are valiant, both are lively,
Upon them may God's blessings be.

—or, more word-for-word:

Pole and Hungarian — two brothers,
good for saber and for glass.
Both courageous, both lively,
May God bless them.

A shorter, two-couplet Hungarian version,

Lengyel, magyar – két jó barát,
együtt harcol s issza borát.

may be rendered:

Pole and Hungarian — two good friends,
joint fight and drinking at the end.

—or, without rhyme, meter, or syllable-count, and rendered word-by-word:

Pole, Hungarian — two good friends,
together they battle and drink their wine.

The saying's Polish version comprises two couplets, each of the four lines consisting of 8 syllables. The shorter Hungarian version comprises a single couplet, each of the two lines likewise consisting of 8 syllables.

The Polish version's bratanki today means "nephews (one's brother's sons)", but at one time bratanek (the singular) may have been a diminutive of brat, "brother". The Polish bratanek differs in meaning from the Hungarian "barát" ("friend"), though the two words look similar.

The Polish version given above is the one commonly quoted by Poles today. In the Hungarian language, there are 10 distinct versions, most of them comprising a couplet, and most again comprising 8 syllables.



Hungarian Lady [left, and] Polish Cavalryman, by Georg Haufnagel, Czartoryski Museum, Kraków

In its several variants in the Polish and Hungarian languages, the saying speaks to the special relations that have long obtained between Poland and Hungary.

The saying literally signifies that the Pole and the Hungarian are brothers, in regard both to saber and to wineglass. The saying was a 16th- or 18th-century invention of the Polish middle and minor nobility. The Poles recognized that the two countries had the same political structure, the "nobles' republic" (the Polish Rzeczpospolita, the Hungarian natio Hungarica)—a democratic parliamentary system wherein the state and king were controlled also by a non-aristocratic noble class. The Polish term rokosz— for a semi-legal armed rebellion against Poland's king, in defense of the nobility's political rights—derives from the name of Hungary's Rákos (hu), a field near the city of Pest, Hungary, that had been the medieval venue of mass parliamentary meetings of Hungarian middle and minor nobility.

The Poles also recognized that both countries' noble classes employed similar military tactics, weaponry, lifestyles and share common history, again making them "two brothers". When the Poles had elected the Hungarian, Stephen Báthory, Prince of Transylvania, as King of Poland in 1576, the new king had introduced military reforms, creating Poland's "winged hussars", and had brought in from Transylvania Poland's first saber-makers, thereby promoting use of this superior sword. In Poland, the szabla became known as the szabla węgierska ("Hugarian saber") or batorówka, after King Stephen Báthory (it was subsequently also called the zygmuntówka after Poland's King Sigismund III Vasa, and the augustówka after King Augustus III).

Members of the nobility in both countries also liked good wine (in the Middle Ages, imported to Poland mainly from Hungary), resulting in similar temperament and lifestyle, and in understanding between them. In Hungary, the saying became widely known outside nobility circles only at the end of the 19th century.

According to one source, the proverb's original Polish version was, Węgier, Polak dwa bratanki i do szabli i do szklanki. Oba zuchy, oba żwawi, niech im Pan Bóg błogosławi.[1]

The saying probably arose after the 1772 collapse of the Bar Confederation (1768–72), which had been formed to defend the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth against aggression by the Russian Empire. According to Julian Krzyżanowski, the saying was inspired by the sojourn, in Szepesség, Kingdom of Hungary (today Spiš, Slovakia), of the Confederation's leaders, who found political asylum there.[2] Another source states that it "comes from the period when the Generality of the Bar Confederation [the Confederation's supreme authority] took up residence in Eperjes (now Prešov in eastern Slovakia) between 1769 and 1772."[3][4]

Convergent interests

Grave of a Hungarian Honvéd captain and six of his men who fell fighting on the Polish side in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising

Good relations between Poland and Hungary date back to the Middle Ages. After the invasion of the Huns deep into Scythian-Sarmatian-Slavic territory some of their nomadic warrior clans adopted the sedentary agriculturalist culture of the Sarmatians and Slavs and settled since known as Magyars or Hungarians at plains of Pannonia populated by White Croats, e.g. current Poles, Slovaks, Slovenes, Croats & Moravians, and the Sarmatian Iazyges and Serboi or White Serbs, e.g. the current Sorbs and Serbs. The Magyar clan chiefs soon adopted pre-schismatic Christianity and intermarried with Byzantine Komnenos and Polish Piast dynasty.

Bolesław V the Chaste married Kinga, the daughter of Béla IV of Hungary and Maria Laskarina and his knights of the Gryfici (Świebodzice) clan built together with their Hungarian companions of the Aba, Csák and Záh clans fortifications against Turko-Mongol and Germanic raids.

In 1243 Klemens z Ruszczy of the Gryfici (Świebodzice) clan returned from fighting the Turko-Mongols in Hungary with his Hungarian companions of the Záh clan. They rebuilt Będzin Castle and founded garrisons at Zyhcych (Żychcice) and Wojkowice to protect the silver mines of Rosperk (Duchy of Bytom). They built further garrisons along borders and main trade routes, e.g. Żychlinowo & Żychlinek in direct neighbourhood to Jadwiga's conspirative shelter at Radziejów, Żychowo, Żychlin, Żychów & Zychy, to the north: Żychce (where the clan Żychcki was founded, later spreading into Lithuania and Samogitia), along the borders between Silesia (raided and controlled by Teutonic Order) and Greater Poland: another Żychlin, another Zychy & Żychlewo, along the way to the Polish capital of Kraków: Zychorzyn, Wólka Zychowa, Zychówki & another Zychy and directly to the north of Rosperk (an area occupied and exploited since 1623 by the same Saxon Henckel von Donnersmarck clan which in 1310 assassinated Amadeus Aba): Żychcice and countless others like: Węgry, Węgrzyny, Węgrzynówek, Węgrzynice, Węgrzynowo, Węgrzynowice... (meaning: Hungarian-/of Hungarian origin).

The future Polish king Władysław I the Elbow-high fighting terrorists of the Teutonic Order found shelter at courts of the Aba and Záh (Nógrád Castle) clans in Hungary. Záh knights were also personal guards of Władysław's family. Władysław married a Polish-Byzantine-Hungarian princess Jadwiga of Kalisz. Maria of Bytom and Władysław's own daughter Elżbieta became the Queens of Hungary (or rather hostages of Hungary's first German ruler). Survivors of those Hungarian clans living in Poland eventually became the Polish Amadej coat of arms (survivors of the murdered family of Aba Amadej), Czakański (survivors of the Csák clan) and Zych (also Zach, Zoch, Zech… survivors of the genocide performed 1330 on the Záh clan) respectively.

In the 15th century, the two countries briefly shared the same king, Poland's Władysław III of Varna, who perished, aged barely twenty, fighting the Turks at Varna, Bulgaria. In the 16th century, Poland elected as its king a Hungarian nobleman, Stephen Báthory, who is regarded as one of Poland's greatest kings. In the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, a Polish general, Józef Bem, became a national hero of both Hungary and Poland.

During the Polish–Soviet War (1919–21), Hungary offered to send 30,000 cavalry to Poland's aid, but the Czechoslovak government refused to allow them passage through the demilitarized zone that had existed between Czechoslovakia and Hungary since the end of the Czechoslovak-Hungarian war a few months earlier. The government of Romania took a similar stance, and refused passage as well. When the Hungarians attempted to send ammunition trains, Czechoslovakia once again refused, but Romania agreed, under the condition that the Hungarians use their own trains.

From the Middle Ages well into the 18th century, Poland and Hungary had shared a historic common border between Poland and Carpathian Ruthenia (also known as "Carpathian Rus"), ruled by several Hungarian states. In the aftermath of World War I the allies had, at Versailles, transferred Carpathian Ruthenia from Hungary to Czechoslovakia. Poland has never ratified the Treaty of Trianon. Treaty with Hungary was not signed till 4 June 1920, it did not come into force at all till 26 July 1921, and it was never published in the Journal of Laws by Poland. Following the Munich Agreement (30 September 1938) — which doomed Czechoslovakia to takeover by Germany — Poland and Hungary, from common as well as their own special interests, worked together, by diplomatic as well as paramilitary means, to restore their historic common border by engineering the return of Carpathian Rus to Hungary.[5] A step toward their goal was realized with the First Vienna Award (November 2, 1938).

Until mid-March 1939, Germany considered that, for military reasons, a common Hungarian-Polish frontier was undesirable. Indeed, when in March 1939 Hitler made an about-face and authorized Hungary to take over the rest of Carpatho-Rus (which was by then styling itself "Carpatho-Ukraine"). Hitler meant to use the puppet state Slovakia as a staging ground for his planned invasion of Poland. In March 1939, however, Hitler changed his mind about the common Hungarian-Polish frontier and decided to betray Germany's ally, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, who had already in 1938 begun organizing Ukrainian military units in a sich outside Uzhhorod, in Carpathian Ukraine, under German tutelage — a sich that Polish political and military authorities saw as an imminent danger to nearby southeastern Poland, with its largely Ukrainian population.[6] On 17 September 1939, pursuant to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and the Gestapo–NKVD conferences, the Soviet Union entered and took control of eastern Poland, including southeastern Poland. That former southeastern part of Poland now comprised western Ukraine. Hitler, however, was concerned that, if a Ukrainian army organized in Carpathian Rus were to accompany German forces invading the Soviet Union, Ukrainian nationalists would insist on the establishment of an independent Ukraine; Hitler, who had designs on Ukraine's natural and agricultural resources, did not want to deal with an independent Ukrainian government.[7]

Polish armored unit evacuated to Hungary, September 1939

Hitler would soon have cause to rue his decision regarding the fate of Carpatho-Ukraine. In six months, during his 1939 invasion of Poland, the common Polish-Hungarian border would become of major importance when Admiral Horthy's government, on the ground of long-standing Polish-Hungarian friendship and as a matter of "Hungarian honor", declined[8] Hitler's request to transit German forces across Carpathian Rus into southeastern Poland. The Hungarian refusal allowed the Polish government and tens of thousands of military personnel to escape into neighboring Hungary and Romania, and from there to France and French-mandated Syria to carry on operations as the third-strongest Allied belligerent after Britain and France. Also, for a time Polish and British intelligence agents and couriers, including Krystyna Skarbek, used Hungary's Carpathorus as a route across the Carpathian Mountains to and from Poland.[9]

After World War II, during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Poles demonstrated their support for the Hungarians by donating blood for them; by 12 November 1956, 11,196 Poles had donated. The Polish Red Cross sent 44 tons of medical supplies to Hungary by air; and still larger amounts were sent by road and rail.

The links between Poland and Hungary remain strong, and Hungarian politicians and political analysts often speak of "the Warsaw express," in reference to the fact that, in the modern history of Hungary and Poland, developments in Hungarian politics, such as shifts to the right or left, or political unrest, often follow similar developments in Poland. Both nations joined NATO on the same day (March 12, 1999), with only Slovakia separating them geographically – Slovakia itself joined NATO just over five years later, on March 29, 2004.

During the 2009 world economic crisis, Poland's President Lech Kaczynski stated that Poland's diplomats should have shared Hungary's view when requesting 18 billion euros from the European Commission.[clarification needed]

Friendship Day

Polish-Hungarian-friendship monument, Eger, Hungary, with "Pole and Hungarian" saying inscribed on the step risers

On 12 March 2007, Hungary's parliament declared 23 March "Hungarian-Polish Friendship Day", with 324 votes in favor, none opposed, no abstentions. Four days later, the Polish parliament declared 23 March "Polish-Hungarian Friendship Day" by acclamation.[10]

Friendship Day is celebrated regularly, alternately in the two countries. This day is commemorated throughout Poland and Hungary, with concerts, festivals, and exhibitions. Some Polish music groups, e.g. SBB feature Hungarian musicians, e.g. Tamás Somló, Gábor Németh and vice-versa Hungarian bands as Locomotiv GT and Omega feature Polish musicians, e.g. Józef Skrzek.

See also


  1. ^ Michał Czajkowski, Dziwne życie Polaków i Polek (The Strange Life of Polish Men and Women), Leipzig, F.A. Brockhaus, 1865, pp. 155, 193.
  2. ^ Julian Krzyżanowski, Odrodzenie i reformacja w Polsce (The Renaissance and Reformation in Poland), vol. 36–38, p. 161.
  3. ^ Henryk Markiewicz, Andrzej Romanowski, Skrzydlate słowa (Winged Words), 1990, p. 830.
  4. ^ Janusz Tazbir states: "The Commonwealth was partitioned into three parts, subjected to three annexing powers. It was then that the popular proverb came into being, which appears in a number of variants: Polak, Węgier — dwa bratanki..." Janusz Tazbir, Sarmaci i świat (The Sarmatians and the World), vol. 3, 2001, p. 453.
  5. ^ Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia", East European Quarterly", vol. XXIII, no. 3 (September 1989), pp. 366–67, 370. Józef Kasparek, Przepust karpacki: tajna akcja polskiego wywiadu (The Carpathian Bridge: a Covert Polish Intelligence Operation), p. 11.
  6. ^ Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia", p. 366.
  7. ^ Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia", pp. 370–71.
  8. ^ Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia", p. 370.
  9. ^ Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia," pp. 371–73;Józef Kasparek, Przepust karpacki (The Carpathian Bridge); and Edmund Charaszkiewicz, "Referat o działaniach dywersyjnych na Rusi Karpackiej" ("Report on Covert Operations in Carpathian Rus").
  10. ^ Uchwała Sejmu Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej z dnia 16 marca 2007 r. (in Polish)


  • Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia", East European Quarterly, vol. XXIII, no. 3 (September 1989), pp. 365–73.
  • Józef Kasparek, Przepust karpacki: tajna akcja polskiego wywiadu (The Carpathian Bridge: a Covert Polish Intelligence Operation), Warszawa, Wydawnictwo Czasopism i Książek Technicznych SIGMA NOT, 1992, ISBN 83-85001-96-4.
  • Edmund Charaszkiewicz, "Referat o działaniach dywersyjnych na Rusi Karpackiej" ("Report on Covert Operations in Carpathian Rus"), in Zbiór dokumentów ppłk. Edmunda Charaszkiewicza (Collection of Documents by Lt. Col. Edmund Charaszkiewicz), opracowanie, wstęp i przypisy (edited, with introduction and notes by) Andrzej Grzywacz, Marcin Kwiecień, Grzegorz Mazur, Kraków, Księgarnia Akademicka, 2000, ISBN 83-7188-449-4, pp. 106–30.
  • poznaj prawdę o wydarzeniach 1956 roku Poznań – Budapeszt 1956
  • Polak, Węgier dwa Bratanki, relacja IAR z wystawy o podstawach przyjaźni polsko-węgierskiej
  • e-Bratanki, słownik węgiersko-polski i polsko-węgierski
  • [1]
  • [2][permanent dead link], homepage Polish-Hungarian friendship
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