Educating Apostles of the Homeland: Tourism and "Honismeret" in Interwar Hungary

Andrew Behrendt

Abstract


Promoters of domestic tourism in Hungary between the world wars laid blame for poor business at the feet of many causes. But their loudest and most persistent accusation was that Hungarians did not travel their homeland because they did not properly “know it.” At the same time, geographers, educators, and politicians made the nearly identical claim that Hungarians were lacking in honismeret, or “knowledge of one’s homeland,” and needed to banish their ignorance if they were to truly and adequately love their country. This article explores one confluence of these two streams. Between 1934 and 1942, metropolitan authorities sponsored an ambitious educational program, the School Excursion Trains of the Capital City of Budapest [Budapest Székesfőváros Iskolai Kirándulóvonatai], which aimed to improve the honismeret of high school students by giving them first-hand experience of dozens of Hungarian cities and regions. Through a close analysis of the 31-volume series of guidebooks produced for the benefit of the Excursion Train passengers, this article argues that the fundamental goal of the program was to transform Hungary from an abstract territorial space into a set of concrete places to which students could feel personally attached, and therefore better “know.”

Keywords


Tourism in Hungary, Education in Hungary, "Honismeret", Historical Memory in Hungary, Space and Place

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5195/ahea.2014.168

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