Payments have started from a HUF 2 billion grant scheme dedicated to the restoration of war graves and heroes’ memorial sites of Hungarian soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Tamás Vargha, Parliamentary State Secretary of the Ministry of Defence said that last year the government had issued a decision about the restoration of WWI war graves in the area of Hungary, and allocated a budget of HUF 2 billion for this purpose.

In order to manage the application process – which is open to local governments of settlements and churches maintaining cemeteries – a Centenary Grant Directorate was set up in the organization of the Ministry of Defence Institute and Museum of Military History. Last November, the directorate invited applications for restoring, refurbishing and repairing WWI war graves and memorial sites in burying places around Hungary. 

In the first round of applications, until 31 May, 135 Hungarian settlements applied for grants totaling more than HUF 1.2 billion. The first contracting processes have started, and payments of more than HUF 316 million have already been made for the restoration works. At a ceremony, the MoD state secretary presented the documents symbolizing the grant to the representatives of settlements, denominations and maintainers – to Ákos Kriza, Mayor of Miskolc; Szabolcs Komolay, Mayor of Debrecen; Margit Mária Antalné Keresztes, Mayor of Sántos; Gábor Hodos, Presbyter, Evangelical Church of Irsa; Péter Kunos, Managing Director, Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities; and László Németh, Vicar of Hódmezővásárhely.

The state secretary announced the continuation of the program aimed at restoring the war graves and heroes’ memorial sites of Hungarian soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War, and added that applications are still invited from settlements, denominations and maintainers.

The state secretary divided the works into three types. By way of example, he mentioned that although there is a cemetery in Pécs, it is in need of restoration. The soldiers’ graves at Csót, however, have barely survived, so a major restoration is needed there, whereas the plans for Komárom include the establishment of a memorial site.