Archives of Memories: Presentations of the History of Novi Bečej through Anecdotes, Photographs and Untold Stories

Breathe life into the forgotten stories of Novi Bečej through our rich collection of articles dedicated to people and events from the past. Travel through the ages, exploring the colorful array of historical moments that shaped our city. Here, memories and reality meet, bringing old streets, stories and events to life through interesting anecdotes, untold legends and rare photographs. Experience Novi Bečej from a new angle, through the eyes of the past that shaped our present, while we try to preserve the spirit and heritage that makes our city unique.

Count Leiningen-Westerburg Károly (1819-1849)

Count Leiningen-Westerburg Károly (1819-1849)

Count Károly Leiningen of Westerburg was a scion of the famous aristocratic family from Hesse, whose lineage can be traced back to the late 11th century. The Leiningen family even had connections with the English royal house, through Queen Victoria. The Leiningen family was characterized by the fact that many of its members pursued military careers in the Habsburg Monarchy.

Count Leiningen-Westerburg Károly (1819-1849)One day, in Vienna, at the imperial ball, Károly Leiningen met his future wife, Countess Aliza Sissányi of Novi Bečej, with whom he would marry in 1844 in Pozsony (Pressburg). The dowry of the seventeen-year-old bride consisted of 2000 acres of land in the vicinity of Novi Bečej. Aliza was one of the three granddaughters of Pavle Hadžimihajlo, a wealthy Greek-Vlach merchant who, in 1798, acquired the Novi Bečej estate of 10,000 acres at an auction from the Austrian crown. Her sisters were Kler and Konstans. Upon arriving in Novi Bečej, the young couple began to manage a large estate. They received significant assistance from the Feher family, who provided useful advice, especially from László Feher, who leased a lot of land and was known for being the first to bring a threshing machine from England to the Habsburg Monarchy, specifically to Novi Bečej. Aliza had two children with Károly Leiningen. Their daughter, Liza, was born in 1845, followed by their son, Armin, in 1848. Aliza's sister Kler was married to Lipót Rohonci and lived on Biserno Island, while Konstans was married to the landowner Gyula Urban. At that time, these families, not only through balls, hunting, and other activities but also through their social circles, were connected with the Karácsonyi landowners from Beodra and Baron Cyril Bilot from Toba.

With the outbreak of revolutionary events in Hungary in 1848, Károly Leiningen, as an Austrian officer, had to decide whether to defend the interests of Hungary or continue to serve the Austrian Empire. He opted for the former, as did his brother-in-law Lipót Rohonci, and joined the Hungarian units of János Damjanich, where he was promoted to major by the end of 1848. After several battles with Serbs, especially near Jarkovac, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and in July 1849, he became a general. After Russian assistance to the Austrian imperial army in suppressing the Hungarian uprising and the Battle of Világos, the Hungarian revolutionary uprising was crushed. Initially, it seemed that the Russians would not hand over the Hungarian rebel generals to the Austrians. Among them were Karoly Leiningen, Erne Kiš, Erne Poeltenberg, József Dessewffy, Lajos Aulich, György Lahner, Ignác Terk, András Gašpar, József Nađsandor, József Schweidel, Karoly Knezić, János Damjanich, and Vilmos Lazar, who were transferred to the dungeons in Arad.

The death sentence was read on October 5, 1849, at 7 o'clock in the morning, and it was executed the next morning at 6 o'clock. Four generals were executed by firing squad, while nine generals were hanged. Leiningen was the fifth in line to have the death sentence executed. It is interesting to note that he secretly transferred the body of his brother-in-law Gyula Urban and buried him on his estate, later transferring him to the crypt of a church in 1876. Only in 1974 were his mortal remains returned to Arad to rest with his fellow martyrs.

The citizens of Novi Bečej paid tribute to their famous son-in-law only on September 17, 1911, when a bronze monument was unveiled in the park in the city center, created by the renowned Hungarian sculptor Béla Radnai. The pedestal bore the inscription: "Count Károly Leiningen of Westerburg, a Hungarian general who was executed as a martyr in Arad on October 6, 1849, for the liberation of his new homeland." After the First World War and the establishment of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, the monument was removed from the central park and stored in the basement of the municipal building. When the Municipal Administration was moved in 1944 to the Schlesinger House (today's administration building of Potisje), the Leiningen monument was also moved. After that, the monument was left locked in the backyard shed. During the demolition of these annexes in 1954, the Novi Bečej archaeologist and museum curator Sándor Nađ, knowing the artistic and historical value of the monument, informed the Institute for the Protection of Monuments and Culture of the People's Republic of Serbia "that the Leiningen monument of inestimable value" was still intact. Unfortunately, according to some testimonies, through the intervention of the Novi Bečej public prosecutor, the monument was given to the local football club, whose management ordered its destruction and the sale of the valuable bronze to a scrapyard in Zrenjanin, using the proceeds to buy sports equipment.

 

Text written based on the series by Zoltán Kalapiš, which appeared in Magyar Szó from October 6 to 8, 1995.

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