Do you know what may be the spot where most people visiting Hortobágy stop? It is the T-34 tank set up at the border of the settlement along Route 33 in 1978, which commemorates the Battle of Hortobágy, which took place in 1944 during World War II.
In October 1944, one of the largest armoured battles of World War II took place here between the Hungarian and German divisions, on the one side, and the Soviet forces led by Marshal Malinovsky, units of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, on the other side. The Germans tried to stop the advancing Soviet troops, but they were defeated. To commemorate the Soviet victory, a T-34 tank, like the one used in the battle, was erected as part of a monument at Hortobágy. The vast Hortobágy puszta provided an excellent opportunity to deploy the armoured troops. On the part of the Hungarian side, the 1st Hungarian Royal Armoured Division – more precisely, the 16th Replacement Division, i.e. the Rétság Tank Battalion – fought in the battle. Some sources indicate that the battle lasted from 14 to 19 October 1944, while other researchers claim it ran from 9 to 20 October. Among other things, the tank battle was fought by Soviet T-34 and German Pz-IV tanks. The Soviet troops, many times outnumbering their opponents and also supported by Romanian troops fighting on Malinovsky’s side, eventually destroyed the German and Hungarian armoured units. According to some historians, the tank battle of Hortobágy had a decisive effect on the course of Hungary’s history, as it was at this time that Miklós Horthy, regent of Hungary, decided to withdraw from the war. On 15 October 1944, Horthy announced that Hungary had signed an armistice with the Soviet Union. The Russian consulate in Debrecen recently renovated the memorial. Signs in Hungarian, English and Russian languages provide information on the battle of Hortobágy.