Count Gyula István Cseszneky de Milvány et Csesznek, (Nagymajor, Austria-Hungary, 28 June 1914 – Brazil, after 1970) was a Hungarian aristocrat, poet, cavalry officer, who took part in the Hungarian reannexation of Northern Transylvania, served as aide-de-camp to King Tomislav II of Croatia, and then as Grand Voivode of Macedonia. He was also involved in anti-Nazi conspiracies and played an important role in the rescue of the European Jews.
Gyula Cseszneky was the son of Ferenc Cseszneky and Mária Handzsák. His father was an inventor and impoverished aristocrat, a member of the House of Cseszneky. His mother was the only daughter and heir of a wealthy grain merchant with extended commercial links throughout Austria-Hungary and the Balkans. After World War I, most of their properties were confiscated by the Serbian government, and then his father's sudden death even worsened their hardships.
Their financial difficulties nothwithstanding, Gyula excelled at school, and showed a great interest in literature and poetry. His family encouraged him to become a Roman Catholic priest, however, he shortly changed his mind and as a holder of the Boncompagni family's grant he went to Italy to a military school. In Italy he was introduced to the cultural élite and high society by an old family friend and senator of the Kingdom of Italy, Count Enrico San Martino di Valperga. Fascinated by the Italian language and culture, the young Hungarian cadet translated into his native language several poems of Gabriele D'Annunzio. Cseszneky admired the Italian poet, and probably his subsequent adventure in the Balkans was inspired by D'Annunzio's Regency of Carnaro in Fiume.
World War II
Reannexation of Northern Transylvania
In 1940 after the Second Vienna Arbitration as a Hungarian reserve officer, he took part in the reannexation of Northern Transylvania. For his braveness showed during the marching, Miklós Horthy, Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary bestowed upon him the title Vitéz and awarded him the Commemorative Medal for the Liberation of Transylvania and the Medal For Bravery.
Aide-de-camp to the King of Croatia
In 1941 after the collapse of Yugoslavia, the Independent State of Croatia was established and following negotiations between Italy and the representatives of the new state, Italian King Victor Emmanuel III’s nephew Aimone, Duke of Spoleto was elected King of Croatia under the regnal name Tomislav II. Gyula Cseszneky who spoke fluent Croatian, Italian, German and Hungarian, and had also met Prince Aimone during his years in Rome, was appointed aide-de-camp and privy counsellor to the new monarch. Nevertheless, since the King did not actually occupy his throne in Zagreb, Count Cseszneky, whose titles of nobility had just been confirmed, deeply disappointed by the brutality of the Ustasha régime, left the service.
Grand Voivodeship of Macedonia
In August 1943, due to his influential Italian friends and relatives in the Balkans, Count Gyula Cseszneky was proclaimed Grand Voivode of Macedonia and Regent of the Principality of the Pindus. His adventure was supported by Pietro Badoglio's antifascist government, because they needed any help in the evacuation of the Italian troops when the armistice between Italy and the Allied armed forces would be declared. The Grand Voivode's principal agenda was, that in case of supporting an Anglo-Saxon invasion in the Balkans, the Allied powers would consider the creation of an independent non-communist Macedonia, the borders of which should be established by a referendum. Since the hoped Allied landing failed to happen, in autumn 1943 the area was taken over by Nazi Germany, by whom the Grand Voivode was quickly deposed and found himself arrested by the Gestapo. However, he was released upon the intervention of General Edmund Glaise von Horstenau.
Against National Socialism
Count Gyula István Cseszneky de Milvány et Csesznek was a conservative monarchist with strong anti-communist persuasion, however, he always despised Nazism and anti-semitism. One of his sisters was married to a Hungarian Jew who later became a victim of the Holocaust.
His short-lived Macedonian Grand Voivodeship provided Jews living in Western Macedonia with a safe haven, but after its collapse the Jewish community - consisting mostly of Ladino speaking Sephardic Jews - was deported to concentration camps by the Nazis. Cseszneky also reportedly saved the life of several Jews in Croatia and Hungary. After the war his merits were recognized in Israel.
Count Cseszneky was aware of King Tomislav’s secret plan to make a separate peace agreement with the Allied Forces, and he hoped that opening a route for an Allied intervention in Macedonia would secure freedom not only for Macedonians, but also for Croatia and Hungary while saving them from the Red Army. Having this in mind, the Count also served as a contact person between Miklós Kállay’s Hungarian government and the participants of the Lorković-Vokić coup in Croatia. After Regent Horthy’s failed attempt to change side in the war he was searched for by the Gestapo.
The end of the war saw him in Budapest. In spite of his anti-Nazi credentials, in Russian-occupied Hungary, Gyula Cseszneky was declared enemy of the working class and was forced into exile. He went with King Tomislav II - then Aimone, Duke of Aosta - to Argentina and later died in Brazil.
- Cseszneky de Milvány et Csesznek
- Szilágyi Aladár: Operettállam
- Almanach de Gotha: House of Savoy
- Βοεβοδάτο της Μακεδονίας
- Hungarian Aristocracy
- Regnal chronologies: Macedonia
- World Statesmen: Epirus
- Bešker, Inoslav: I Morlacchi nella letteratura europea. Il calamo, Roma 2007, ISBN 978-88-89837-40-5.
- Michele Rallo: I “Regni-meteora” nell’Europa Orientale durante le guerre mondiali (“Storia del Novecento”, anno V, n. 89, settembre 2008)
- Ionuţ Ţene: Principatul Pindului: O istorie inedită a primului stat modern aromân din Balcani
- A cseszneki és milványi gróf Cseszneky család
- Macedonian Monarchist League
- Dean Kalimniou: Alkiviadis Diamandi di Samarina (in Neos Kosmos English Edition, Melbourne, 2006)