George A. Olah was a scientist and a patriot
20. 09. 2017.
The funeral of the chemist and Nobel laureate George A. Olah (György Oláh) – who also received the Corvin Chain and the Széchenyi Grand Prize from the Hungarian state – took place on Tuesday. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán delivered an oration, in which he said: “He will be fondly remembered not only in the annals of science, but also in the book of great Hungarian patriots. He was a man of unbending character, who always followed his own path, and never allowed himself to be diverted from it.”

In his eulogy in Budapest’s Fiumei Street Cemetery, Mr. Orbán said the following:

“When he reached the pinnacle of scientific life and won the Nobel Prize, he responded to this worldwide recognition with a sense of proportion and humility befitting such a great character. At the height of his career he remained the same open-hearted and genial man who lived for his work and his family, and who searched for the eternal laws of the workings of the Universe with the unending curiosity possessed by the alchemists of old.”

“George A. Olah firmly entrusted his whole life to love, friendship and his calling”, the Prime Minister declared, noting that in the terrible winter of 1956 a country had slid away from under his feet, his already successful academic career, and also his country.

Photo: Zsolt Szigetváry/MTI

Outlining Mr. Olah’s subsequent life in America, Mr. Orbán said:

“While remaining true to his earlier bonds he then assumed new ones, and continued forward on his own path. The higher he rose on the academic ladder, the prouder he was of having started out from this mysterious Martian colony – just like Jenő Wigner, Leó Szilárd and Ede Teller had done some decades earlier. And we Hungarians still see him as one of our own.”

The Prime Minister highlighted the fact that George A. Olah was one of an exclusive group of Hungarians whose lives and scientific careers mirrored the best qualities of the Hungarian nation, proving that only Hungarians’ talent, knowledge, vitality and will to live can help them to keep their heads above the surface in the world’s turbulent seas.

Illustrating Mr. Olah’s continued links to Hungary, the Prime Minister observed:

“His hope was that, like many great men before him, he too could succeed in creating something useful, noble and valuable for the whole of humanity. At the pinnacle of the academic world, as an acknowledged member of American intellectual life, he remained a true Hungarian patriot: the doors of his institute were open to every talented Hungarian chemist, and he even spent the majority of his Nobel Prize money on establishing a new award for chemists here in Hungary.”

Fotó: Zsolt Szigetváry/MTI

Speaking of the legacy left by George A. Olah, Mr. Orbán said that the secret of the future is high-quality education, and “it should be in this spirit that we plant in the hearts of the coming generations the passion for scientific research which professor Oláh embodied throughout his life”.

George Andrew Olah passed away on 8 March in Beverly Hills in the United States. In accordance with his wishes his ashes were laid to rest in Budapest; the funeral was organised by the National Heritage Institute.