1919 : Harry Hill Bandholtz Saves Hungary’s National Museum Treasures

October 5, 2018 all-day

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Statue of H.H. Bandholtz

Born in Constantine, Michigan on December 18, 1864, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy in 1890, and an instructor at the Michigan Agricultural College from 1890 to 1898, Harry Hill Bandholtz  went on to earn many honors, including a statue in a foreign land.

The statueis located in the center of the park on Szabadság tér, facing the American Embassy.

On August 11, 1919, General Bandholtz arrived in Budapest as one of four generals (English, French, Italian, American) to become the Inter-Allied Control Commission for Hungary, primarily to supervise the disengagement of Romanian troops from Hungary.

He became famous in Hungary when, on the night of October 5, 1919, as President of the Day of the Commission, mainly through bluff, armed only with a riding crop, he prevented a group of Romanian soldiers from removing Transylvanian treasures from the National Museum.

The statue was erected in 1936, and stood throughout World War II with the inscription, in English, “I simply carried out the instructions of my Government, as I understood them, as an officer and a gentleman of the United States Army.” In the late 1940s the statue was removed “for repair.” It lay in a statue boneyard until the 1980s, at which time it was placed in the garden of the U.S. Ambassador’s residence, at the request of then-Ambassador Salgo. It was re-placed in Szabadság tér at its original location in July 1989, just a few days before the visit of President Bush.

The new inscription on the back reads: “General Harry Hill Bandholtz, head of the American Military Mission, who on October 5, 1919 blocked the removal of the treasures of the National Museum to Romania.”

Each year, the U.S. Embassy’s Defense Attachee lays a wreath honoring Bandholtz on his birthday.


Statue of Harry Hill Bandholtz, U.S. Department of State Embassy in Hungary.

Harry Hill Bandholtz wikipedia entry

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