The exhibition entitled ‘Final Surrender’ aims to honour the memory of those heroes who, during the 1848-49 revolution and war of independence, fought for a national cause that resulted in the creation of a civil and newly free Hungarian homeland for their compatriots.
In the spring of 1849 of the protracted war, the Hungarians were poised for victory over the Austrians and yet the struggle would end in blood due to the Russian intervention that gave numerical superiority to the enemy. Hungary had already been continuously at war for a year when the Russian Tsar, Nicholas I, sent such a large army that it guaranteed the success of the campaign through size alone.
On 13 August 1849, the Hungarian army led byArtúrGörgei, which some months before previously had freed the homeland through a series of decisive victories, laid down its arms before the Imperial troops of General Rüdiger on the plain of Szőlősbesides Világos.
It is little known that at the time of the surrender at Világos, the side arms of the Hungarian officers were not taken away, in recognition of their “heroism and unwavering steadfastness”.The full surrender of the detachment of over two thousand officers took place when the Russians handed them over to the Austrians. This sad event took place in the city of Gyula, in the square between Gyula castle and Harruckern-Wenckheim-Almásy mansion and in a large ground-floor hall of the mansion.
The exhibition shows the fate of the army officers who ended up in Gyula on 19-20 August 1849 and who, a few hopeless days later on 22-23 August, were forced to relinquish their weapons before the Tsar’s army and in the presence of the Austrian general Montenuovo, carrying out orders from Field Marshall Lieutenant Haynau. The importance of the exhibition is, on the one hand, that a century and a half later the relics, personal effects and weapons of the heroes have been returned to precisely the building in Gyula where they were surrendered and, on the other hand, that such a large number of the items can be seen for only the third time at an exhibition space in Hungary.
On August 24-25 1849, the army officers were transferred to Arad’sGolgotha, where Haynau and his Blood Council waited for them all.
Between 7 October 2016 and 19 March 2017, an exhibition of the priceless objects of the former Arad Museum of Relics will be held in the Visitor’s Centre of Almásy Mansion in Gyula. A small group of patriotic locals founded the Museum of Relics at the beginning of the 1880s. The collection later gave cultural status and a role as a shrine tothe city of Arad. The commemoration in Arad of the 40th anniversary of the deaths of the martyrs demonstrated such broad social desire to cultivate the cult of the heroes that it could never again be neglected. Country-wide interest grew in the following years and in 1890 the unveiling of the Liberty statue made Arad the main location of the cult of the war of independence. 1891 was the year of the birth of the Arad Museum of Relics – the collecting of relics spread across the country and the number of donations increased significantly. The temporarily-housed relic collection first appeared before the general public on 6 October 1892 and the official opening only took place on 15 March 1893. There was tremendous interest in the museum and so it was further developed. The collection soon outgrew the building that was only intended to house it temporarily, therefore in 1909 the city of Arad made a promise to the Museum of Relics to build the Palace of Culture, which the collection took possession of in 1913. Roughly though the tempest of history treated the unparalleled collection of the Arad Museum of Relics, it never managed to destroy it.
The exhibition is on view until 19 March 2017 during the opening hours of the Almásy Mansion.