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The Ruined Village of Derenk and its Surroundings


Derenk and its Surroundings

Derenk is an abandoned Polish village in the vicinity of Szögliget and accessed through a former road leading from the Salamander House Environmental Education Centre and Hostel. Follow trail and then turn left when you come across the blue blazes at Vidomderenkáj-puszta. The village at one time were harvesting and selling fruit from 4000 fruit trees and herding more than 700 cows. As one of the consequences of the Trianon Treaty after WWI, the village was cut off from its orchards and markets to the north. They were soon down to 1000 fruit trees. With these changes, many turned to smuggling across the new border in order to market their goods. In 1938, Hungary's dictator Admiral Horthy decided he wanted to use the area for hunting (as he also did in Gyűrűfű), and forcibly removed the villagers by 1943. Derenk was the last village in Hungary with an ethnic-majority of Poles. On the other hand, this was probably the best thing for the survival of the villagers themselves. The settlement was extremely insular, resulting in inbreeding and a very high infant mortality rate. Evidence of this can be seen from the memorial erected in the cemetery listing both names and ages at death. While sad, the cemetery set within a mossy orchard is particularly beautiful. Horthy's order to abandon the village spread the population out and added fresh blood to the genes. Sites of the former houses and their owners are marked with white and red signs, which also identify where the previous owners moved to. The annual summer Derenk Bucsu (festival) brings back former residents and their relatives to honour the settlement and the families. There is a former school building still standing, and a small chapel. The school hosts a small exhibition about the former village. For more information, visit the memorial website (in Hungarian and Polish).
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