Personally, I don’t have much to say about RFK, so I’ll leave that to others. On Tiananmen: I was nearing the end of college, full of hope that the student protests would lead to serious reforms. My college job was as a bellman at the Boar’s Head Inn in Charlottesville, and I learned about the suppression of the protests as I was “on the floor,” wandering between the reception desk and restaurant entrance, where a large TV in a lounge area carried the sad news. But there was a glimmer of hope globally: Poland had conducted its first (reasonably) free elections, and non-communist candidates had done surprisingly well at the polls. Hungarian officials had begun cutting down the border fence with Austria, which helped lead to the Fall of the Berlin Wall that autumn.
The Czech press reported on an event of 75 years ago: in a town called Postoloprty, about an hour northwest of Prague, at least 763 Germans were tortured, killed and thrown into mass graves. Much of the Czech population had harbored a simmering grievance, as the town was annexed to the Third Reich, along with the rest of the Sudetenland, in 1938, and the German-speaking population had mostly welcomed the move. Of course this sort of vengeance solves nothing. But the fact that Czechs are willing to examine this history is encouraging. There had been an inquiry into the massacre in 1947, as well as exhumation of the bodies, which gives us the 763 figure. Czech and German historians conducted a joint study of the issue in 1996, and a committee from the Louny region of Bohemia examined the event yet again in 2009.
This leads to the Treaty of Trianon defining Hungary’s post-World War I borders, which was signed a hundred years ago. The former Kingdom of Hungary lost 72% of its territory, including all of present-day Slovakia and considerable portions of Croatia, Serbia and Romania. Even Austria was awarded a strip of western Hungary, including the town of Eisenstadt/Kismarton and Sopron/Ödenburg. Only after locals forced authorities to allow a plebiscite did Sopron become reattached to Hungary, in accordance with the will of the people. This was the only town that managed to do so.
While most of those areas were majority-non-Magyar, some of them, such as a swath of southern Hungary, remain majority-Hungarian to this day. Hungarians became Europe’s largest minority living beyond the borders of the mother country. This became a major source of resentment among ethnic Magyars. There are questions about why Hungary should have lost so much territory; however, I give no quarter to Magyar revanchists. I also have little patience with Hungary allowing ethnic Magyars in neighboring countries to vote in Hungarian elections, which has encouraged the growth of nationalist parties with revanchist agendas.
Another concern is that the successor states respect the rights of the Hungarian minorities. Since 1990, Slovakia has passed a number of language laws asserting the use of Slovak as the official tongue. Most have been too sweeping in my opinion. One from the mid-1990s could have been interpreted as calling for the punishment of two bus drivers speaking Hungarian just between themselves from the windows of their vehicles. Many Slovaks insist that it should be prohibited to use Hungarian names for Slovak towns, such as Pozsony for Bratislava and Kassa for Košice. I would say that forcing them to speak their language incorrectly is a violation of human rights.
It's a rather long complicated history. I have covered these issues in a series of three articles on the downfall of the Habsburg Monarchy.
The End of World War I and of Austria-Hungary: But the Tragedy Continues
The Troubles of (Dividing) Empire
Austria-Hungary's Nations: From Resentment to Reconciliation?