Vitéz Horvath Janos winner of the Golden Medal for Bravery, WW1 Austro-Hungarian Army

Published before on my Vitezi Rend website

Sergeant in the 44th Infantry Regiment (Erzherzog Albrecht Nr. 44). Awarded with the Austro- Hungarian Golden Medal for Bravery, the highest possible award in the  Austro-Hungarian Army for non commanding officers. 

Awards:

  • Golden Bravery medal
  • Silver Bravery medal 1st Class, 2 times
  • Bronze Bravery medal
  • Karl Troop cross

The short version of his citation as recorded in the Golden Medal award records in the Austrian Military Records.

Im Gefechte vom 12/3 auf den 13/3 (1915) am Brdo Bewies er beispeillose unerschrockenheit u. heldenhafte Tapferkeit. Kam bis auf 40x vor der fdl Stellung. Trat den Ruckzug trozt des Befehls erst nach 2 Stunden als letzte abt der Angr. Gruppe an.

Which translates into: In the fights of 12/3 and 13/3 in Brdo he showed unprecedented fearlessness and heroic Bravery. Came up to 40x before the enemy position. Retreated, despite the order, only after 2 hours as the last of the attacking group.

His feats where also published in a Hungarian book (A MAGYAR NEMZET ARANYKONYVE 1914-1918.” Budapest, 1921 – Golden book of the Hungarian nation 1914-1918 )

“He ran forward in the killing adverse drum-fire of the enemy as the head of his platoon and during the assault he exhorted his comrades. The regiment met irreplaceable and heavy losses, so sergeant Janos Horvath got the order to withdraw his fellows from the first line. Horvath was forty paces off the enemy and he sent back a message that they would not leave the line as long as the wounded comrades of the neighbouring Regiment (3rd Bosnians) could not be retrieved. Finally he withdrew his men two hours later, him being the last soldier to leave the front line.”

Replacement Golden Bravery Medal (gilded bronze in the Karl version). This came directly from the family but has to be a replacement as he would have been awarded a Franz Joseph version. Maybe the golden version was lost or sold at some moment and this was the replacement.

Hungarian public transport travel pass for winners of the Golden Bravery Medal.

    

Below the official request for the Golden Bravery Medal to Horvath Janos, this and the following documents are in the Hungarian Military Archives. They were so kind to deliver these pictures free of charge. Many thanks again!

Request for a silver bravery  medal

Request for a bronze bravery medal:

About the Vitézi Rend:

The Order of the Valiant (in Hungarian, Vitézi Rend) or Knighthood of the Heroes was the first and probably the most important Hungarian order established after the Great War. It was established in 1920 (Prime Ministerial Edict Nr 6650/1920) by the Government under Prime Minister Count Teleki and Admiral Horthy, the Regent of Hungary from 1920 till 1945. The latter also became the Captain of the order from its institution till its formal ending in 1945 (According to the rule 529/1945 but it was 1948 before it was practically disbanded).

(The word vitéz has several meanings in the dictionary. As noun: warrior, soldier, champion, hero, knight and as adjective: valiant, gallant, brave, fearless of danger. Therefore giving the name of the order an exact translation is difficult. The two translations used here I have seen used in several documents therefore I use them as well.)

Part of receiving the order was the granting of a title: vitéz. This title was used in front of the name. This title was also made hereditary to the first son in line. If the son were of sound physical and mental condition he would inherit the title at the age of 17.

In this way the order can be compared to a noble title especially as the title was accompanied by a grant of land of approximately 10 hectares, so even landed nobility. The granting of land to the vitéz members was part of a land reform executed by István Nagyatádi Szabó. In the early 20s much land was still in the hands of few and it was part of a modernization of land ownership that was badly needed to become a more balanced and modern nation.

In this way the order had a strong social impact as well. The redistribution of lands was combined with the recognition of individual contributions made by Hungarians for Hungary. This way a new class of “nobility” could be formed that had a very strong tie with the Hungarian nation and its leadership. The new order was bound by sword and land which is represented symbolically in the badge that belongs to the order. The badge will be described in more detail later on.

All the recipients were proven soldiers and there were minimal requirement for obtaining the title vitéz that was linked to the receipt of certain medals. In the beginning of the order this was still linked to medals won in the Austro-Hungarian dual Monarchy, mainly in the Great War that was concluded only two years before. The grants in the 1940s were still linked to obtaining certain medals but now in World War Two.

The medal requirements were more or less the same across those periods. The small silver medal for bravery (96.000 awarded in WW1 for Hungarians) in the case of soldiers, and the large silver medal for bravery (26.000 awarded in WW1 to Hungarians) from the rank of NCO. The Signum Laudis was minimal from the rank of Lieutenant and this continues, for higher ranks higher grades of medals were expected. The small silver medal for bravery only very seldom led to titles. It was too common to bestow the title on all owners of these. It was a minimal requirement.

This way of working made if possible to reward exceptional deeds of a previous period that would otherwise have passed unknown and unrewarded in a country that fought on the losing side of the war.

Below the excerpt from the 1939 Vitéz Albuma:

Large Vitézi Rend diploma

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Vitézi Rend Award Certificate

Vitézi Rend Award and miniature. The full size award is numbered and has the initials of Horvath.

   

 

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