KLAPKA, General Gyorgy (1820-1892). An important series of one hundrd and forty-six autograph letters signed to Colonel Alexander Mednyanszky, Paris, Lucerne, Geneva, Gent, Brussels, Constantinople, London and other places, 8 June 1850 - 29 September 1874, in German, writing of his plans for a Hungarian Legion, his efforts for the Hungarian independence movement, his intense dislike and mistrust of Kossuth, 'In what concerns Kossuth I am totally indifferent to what the world thinks about our discord; indifferent to someone who in an unpardonable way wants to dispose of the future and the fate of Hungary, himself in charge of the country, his vanity and moods ruling over commonsense. The opinion of Europe will help us little when the largest part of our country is at war', also discussing the political situation in Europe, planning the second uprising, appointing his correspondent as his agent to purchase arms in Europe, transferring his headquarters from Geneva to Paris, referring to financial problems, his friends and family and on personal matters, with an account by Mednyanzsky of expenditure on arms, and a French translation of Klapka's denunciation of Kossuth, altogether approximately 435 pages, mostly 8vo.
General Klapka, the great Hungarian patriot and heroic defender at the eight week siege of Kurnow in the war of 1848/49, continued throughout his exile to try by every means to work for the independence of Hungary, particularly at moments when war broke out in Europe (1854, 1859 and 1866) and to build up a Hungarian legion in Italy and later in Silesia. In this important and fascinating series of letters he writes with total frankness to a close friend and supporter in London. 'In trauer Freundschaft gelebt hat wie so hat man auch des Recht sich gegensuitig die Wahrheit su sagen' ('We have lived a friendship of trust, so that we have the right to tell one another the truth').
Throughout his letters, Klapka is frequently and vehemently critical of Kossuth, 'The crazy agitator Kossuth, and this you can be sure of, is scaring even the most energetic patriots...Most say better Austria than Kossuth's unbridled dictatorship and the work of his satellites. Under these circumstances if we want to save our country, it is our duty to form a strong party'. In 1859, as 'legion affairs' in Italy enter a decisive phase, he analyses the political situation, 'we are still on uncertain ground, so that there is no possibility whatsoever for Kossuth to obtain the position he requested. Officially nothing can be done, unofficially everything...The main point is to have a strong Hungarian military division and bring it to the line'.
Travelling from one capital to the next, Klapka issues a stream of instructions, writing of his need of Hungarian officer prisoners whom he can use, of weapons and uniforms, ordering Mednyanzsky to arrange the movement of transports from various Italian ports, as the Austro-Italian war of 1866 appears to offer an opportunity for Hungary to seize the initiative while Paris is in agreement with Prussia and Italy ('Der in Paris ist vollkommen mit Prussen und Italien einverstanden. Fur Ungarn ist nun der Moment gekommen'). Later, as financial problems become more acute - #20, he writes, can save a whole existence - Klapka begins to despair of success, 'I don't know any more if I should continue to act, or everything can go to hell, and I'll leave for America for ever' ('Nach weiss ich nicht ob ich weiter wirken oder Alles zum Teufel wefen und fur immer nach Amerika gehen sell').
Permitted to return to Hungary by the amnesty of 1867, Klapka died at Budapest in 1892. His book on the Crimean War was translated into English by his correspondent, Mednyanszsky. (146)