Sports diplomacy and education for peace
There are two memorial plaques on the Physical Education building of the Faculty of Law of Péter Pázmány Catholic University, which was once home to the National Gymnastics Association. One tells the story of the building and the other commemorates the ‘Committee Preparing the Olympic Games’.
The National Gymnastics Association was founded in 1863 by Elek Matolay, Dr Ábris Szontágh and Dr Tivadar Bakody. The association used Hungarian as its official language. Its functioning was crowned in 1870, when its new Gymnastics Hall was completed (built from donations), which made it possible to institutionalise the training of gym teachers. More than 800 teachers were trained under professional supervision within a few years.
It is the third oldest still functioning NGO in Hungary, created in 1895. It was the sixth national Olympic committe (created after the French, Greek, American, German and Australian ones). When the International Olympic Committee was created (23, June, 1894), it had a Hungarian member in the person of Ferenc Kemény, who was also appointed secretary of the Hungarian Olympic Committee. HOC was created in the building of the National Gymnastic Association.
“Be the leaders of your students on the way to find the true and the good.”
– Ferenc Kemény
Ferenc Kemény (1860-1944), educator, sports diplomat and the greatest figure of the Hungarian civic peace movement in the 19th century. He was a real ’eminence gris’, a leading figure of the peace movement and peace education in Hungary as well as abroad. He made initiatives for and organised peace conferences and peace organisations. A close friend of Baron Coubertin, he worked with him on the realisation of the Olympic ideal in modern times. He was a member of the then created national and international Olympic committees. He led the Hungarian delegation at the first Olympic games and was one of the five members of the team that decided in disputed issues during the games. His work written in 1906 entitled ‘World Academy – a potential solution for the problem of peace; The philosophy of war’ earned him a Nobel Prize nomination. After the extreme right Arrow Cross movement’s takeover in Hungary in 1944, Ferenc Kemény, 84 years old at the time is assumed to have committed suicide – rather than going to live in the ghetto.
Questions: How in your opinion is it worthwhile to educate for peace?
What does the idea of peace education mean to you?
Recreation spot: the cafés of Mikszáth Kálmán square