Appeal to the Hungarians

Louis Kossuth

Our Fatherland is in danger! Citizens! To arms! To arms! Unless the whole Nation rise up, as one man, to defend itself, all the noble blood already shed is in vain; and, on the ground where the ashes of our ancestors repose, the Russian whip will rule over an enslaved people! Be it known to all Hungary, that the Austrian Emperor has let loose upon us the barbarous hordes of Russia; that a Russian army of forty-six thousand men has broken into our country from Gallicia and is on the march, that another has entered Transylvania, and that, finally, we can expect no foreign assistance, as the people that sympathise with us are kept down by their rulers, and gaze only in dumb silence on our struggle. We have nothing to rest our hopes upon but a righteous God, and our own strength. If we do not put that forth that strength, God will also forsake us.

Hungary’s struggle is no longer our struggle alone. It is the struggle of popular freedom against tyranny. Our victory is the victory of freedom – our fall is the fall of freedom. God has chosen us to free the nations from bodily servitude. In the wake of our victory will follow liberty to the Italians, Germans, Poles, Wallachians, Slavonians, Serbians and Croatians. With our fall goes down the star of freedom over all. People of Hungary! Will you die under the exterminating sword of the savage Russians? If not, defend yourselves! Will you look on while the Cossacks of the far North tread under-foot the bodies of your fathers, mothers, wives and children? If not, defend yourselves! Will you see a part of your fellow citizens sent to the wilds of Siberia, made to serve in the wars of tyrants, or bleed under the murderous whip? If not, defend yourselves! Will you behold your villages in flames and your harvests destroyed? Will you die of hunger on the land which your sweat made fertile? If not, defend yourselves!

We call upon the people, in the name of God and the country, to rise up in arms. In virtue of our powers and duty, we order a general crusade of the people against the enemy, to be declared from every pulpit and from every town-house of the country, and made known by the continental ringing of the bells. One great effort, and the country is forever saved! We have, indeed, an army which numbers some two hundred thousand determined men, but the struggle is no longer one between two hostile camps, it is the struggle of tyranny against freedom, of barbarism against all free nations. Therefore all people must seize arms and support the army and united, victory of freedom for Europe may be won. Fly, then, united with the army, to arms, every citizen of the land, and victory is sure!

1849

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