The local bookstore with a Global Conscience

Fiction, non-fiction, environment, poetry, history, mystery, biography, travel guides, children, young adult... and much, much more!

Wide selection of quality second-hand English paperbacks at reasonable prices. The most "dangerous" street in Budapest: good books and gourmet food

Derenk Bucsu

derenkAfter learning about the Derenk Bucsu from our neighbors in Perkupa last weekend, we returned to Borsod County with high hopes of a fun if not enlightening time. In 1943 Admiral Miklos Horthy wanted a hunting park developed for himself and visiting dignitaries - and so bulldozed the village of Derenk for it. One would think he had more important things on his mind in 1943, but apparently not. The village mostly consisted of ethnic Catholic Poles for some reason. Residents were forcibly packed off to nearby villages such as Budoskutpuszta, Martonyi, Szendro, Szogliget, and elsewhere. For the last few years they have held a festival in remembrance of the village and its survivors including Polish bands, lots of food, and of course a mass.

The "red force" storm had mostly played itself out the evening before. Our Mediterranean bogracs derenka la Jeroen had just finished cooking around 8pm, just as our friend Jon G. pulled in to join us the next day at the festival, and then the heavens opened up. We did not get it nearly as bad as in Budapest. We got hit with the high winds and rain, but no hail. But the rain did soak the ground pretty well, and it was a bit of a slip-and-slide up the mountain past Szogliget into the parking lot, then a slosh through the mud. Our first exposure to Derenk proper was the 50m of gumibear salespeople on either side of the track, broken up occasionally by bright red plastic-wrapped penis and vagina lollipops for the kids. A big open field, now marsh, marked where the afternoon festivities were to take place, with cooking tents, private tents for returning Derenk families, and tables off to one side. Lining the path were what I at first nervously mistook for land mine warning signs, but were in fact markers where the houses used to be and where the families moved to. After a muddy slog up through the beautiful lichen-covered forest, we came to the cemetery. Mostly unmarked wooden crosses mark the graves, with just a few headstones in evidence. An alarming wooden memorial tablet lists some of the Polish dead - alarming because many did not live past the first few weeks after birth. Life expectancy in Derenk was generally 25.6 years, and rose to an all-time high of 31.9 just before the village was destroyed. 1865 people are buried here, of which 960 were under ten, and 471 were under one year old! Furthermore, the rate of endogamy (in-breeding) was extremely high at 68-70%! Derenk is also the site of the ruins of Szadvar, a castle, first built by King Istvan V. in 1268.

We finally wandered over to the Catholic open-air mass, but spent our time looking around the museum. In an otherwise beautiful setting, the organisers saw fit to rope off the priest with a thin white string, and for some reason this really pissed me off. I mean, I am an atheist and a rabid anti-religionist, but are the believers really going to mob the priest? Isn't the point to be closer to God? The museum is in a nicely renovated building with a great view but intentionally left open to the elements without doors or windows, only the frames. I call it museum, but it was really a temporary picture exhibition. Surprisingly, all the information was also available in English.

Back by the food tables we had very reasonably priced lunches - a piece of chicken and a bunch of fries for only 600 huf. I am happy we went, even if it was just to see the place and learn about some of the history we would have be oblivious to otherwise. But I must say the highlight was when we had to push the car out of the mud and Lennard got covered head to toe (sorry!). The countryside around Derenk, Szogliget, and basically Aggtelek National Park is amazing and really worth checking out. There are some lovely villages like Varboc and Josvafo, the second largest karst cavern system in Europe, some nice B&Bs, and opportunities to swim in various lakes like Rakacai-to and in Dobodel. derenk