to War Graves, Debrecen Municipal Cemetery


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Debrecen’s first public cemetery - situated in the Great Forest, along the road leading to Nyíregyháza - opened on 15 July 1932. Many families in Debrecen had their dead, some of them soldiers, reinterned here from the closed-down denominational cemeteries. The tombs of these soldiers and those buried here in the natural order can be found sporadically on the entire ground of the cemetery. The first plot dedicated to heroes is the resting place of the hundreds of victims killed by the aerial bombing of 2 June 1944. The plot of Hungarian heroes, where the heroic soldiers from places other than Debrecen are laid to rest, was also established during WWII. Not far from here is the plot containing the individual and shared tombs of the soldiers of the Red Army, where the bodies of Soviet soldiers of several nationalities, including Hungarians, are interned along with some prisoners of war. Until the 1990s this plot was the burial ground for the Soviet army stationed in Debrecen.

Aerial View: Csaba Szabó and Jr. Csaba Szabó - Compiled by: Csaba Imre Ilyés - Created: April 2016

Debrecen’s first public cemetery built for the civilian population of the town opened in 1932. The burial spaces for families and individuals established among the artistically designed forest walkways did not at the time include separate plots for burying people of different religious denominations. The offspring of deceased loved ones who were reinterred from the Calvinist and Catholic cemeteries, closed at the same time as the new cemetery’s opening, did not have them buried in separate rows of graves. The strict regulation governing this was overwritten during World War II, when the town was drawn into the military conflict. After the older military cemeteries were full, parts of the new public cemetery were separately allocated for the large number of fallen soldiers. The town of Debrecen, which was responsible for maintaining the Public Cemetery, designated special plots, e.g. on 2 June 1944 for the victims of air raids and a graveyard for fallen heroic Hungarians. The victorious Soviet army utilised a separated part of the cemetery for its dead on its own initiative.

Apart from the exclusively military graveyards of Debrecen’s Public Cemetery, there are numerous military graves to be found among the various other plots.1 Although the cemetery opened in 1932, we encountered a good many names of national guard and army officers who fought in 1848/49 and who after the failure of the struggle for freedom returned to their civilian professions; these include musicians, pharmacists, doctors, mayors and preachers. One can also read the names of fallen heroes from the first and second world wars on the graves, who do not necessarily lie there as in some cases their families only erected a memorial stone to them. One can also find names of former soldiers who were born in the city or who stayed in Debrecen after retiring, as well as the names of regimental commanders from World War I and Debrecen garrison commanders who were once known and esteemed individuals in the town. Their graves were removed to the public cemetery after the denominational cemeteries were closed. Perhaps the most interesting among them is the k.u.k. Hussar captain and later Hungarian royal bodyguard officer, who fought in the Italian campaign of 1866. His name had once been well known throughout the Monarchy. The ‘Sebetic-fencing system’ was named after him, while an instruction manual on sword fencing, published three times, and a rule book on duels, published four times, are also linked to his name.

There are fallen soldiers in the cemetery from the interwar period. For example, a former soldier of the k.u.k. 39th infantry regiment lies here, who in 1900 was reallocated to the Hungarian royal 3rd infantry honvéd regiment (regiment of the Hungarian army in the revolutionary war of 1848-49) and finally retired as the commander of the 23rd Nagyszeben infantry regiment. One can also find heroes from World War I who returned home from the Great War and passed away after the cemetery was opened. The commander of the 2nd Hussar home defenders also lies here, as well as the commander of the 3rd territorial infantry regiment and the commander of the 39th infantry regiment, which was Debrecen’s local infantry regiment. It is also the cemetery and final resting site for soldiers of the former 39th infantry and for the 3rd home defender and 2nd Hussar regiments of the Hungarian army. Some of them were buried in honorary graves, while the graves of others – who did not have relatives at the time of their burial – were either forgotten, or terminated according to the regulations of the cemetery.

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