4/2016

Gyula Kosztyó

The Jewry of Uzhhorod in the Shoah
Ghetto Life, Deportation and the Case of the Jewish Wealth in 1944

Uzhhorod was the center of North-Eastern operational war theatre in 1944. The city became a significant strategic, logistical, political and cultural centre by that time.

Uzhhorod had a typical Eastern European ethnic and religious diversity. In 1941, 1/3 of its population was Roman Catholic, 29% Greek Catholic and 27% Jewish. 77% of the people spoke Hungarian, 11,5% Ruthenian and 5,1% Hebrew as a mother tongue.

Jewish community had a leading role in civil administration and in different professions, like tourism. All of the great hotels in Uzhhorod was in the property of Jewish families, hundreds of Jewish families pursued commerce, Jewish lawyers had a decisive role in the civil administration and a numerous Jewish cultural, charity and devotional associations worked.

After the deportations, Jewry totally disappeared from Uzhhorod, which meant the loss of 9,576 individuals, while the city was among serious economic miseries. The study introduces the history of this period after giving a historiographical review. It introduces the history of the Jewry from the start of the German occupation, shows the deportations, the life of the ghetto and the case of the Jewish wealth by using yet unknown historical data.

István Simon

“Con-temporaries”
Some Aspects of the Activity of a Literary Journal in the 1960s

In the years of retaliation after 1956 both sides sought its place: power and opposition appeared also in the literary life. For Kádár’s consolidation the rebirth of Nagy Imre’s circle and its appearance as opposition seemed to be a threatening reality. It could have united the national comminists, popular and urban opposition groups against the official lines of the Kádár regime.
From 1 January 1964 István Simon was proposed instead of István Király to lead the literary journal Kortárs (“Contemporary”). By that time, István Simon could meet the requirements for the position due to his talents and the critical reception of his works.
As a representative of the generation of so-called “bright winds”, he tried to create a colourful, receptive and open-minded journal with his mild temper, who did not provoke conflicts but helped solving them when they occured. He was also a dedicated representative of building contacts with readers. From October 1971 Sándor Kovács followed Simon in this position.

The study analyses the period of Simon’s heading the editorial at Kortárs between 1964-1971.

István Pál

A Trip in the Negev Desert
A Hungarian Attempt for Mobilizing the Scientific-Technological Intelligence against Izrael, 1965-1967

In the middle of the 1960s, the Hungarian state security tried to get more intelligence in the Near East. With the view to build a penetration channel, they started to form cooperations with research institutes in 1965. Although they had some success but it could not be called a break-through. After the six-day war, the leader of the III./1-5 Department of the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior closed the file concerning the closing-down of the residence. But the operative actions in some cases, e.g. cooperation with certain institutes, had not been finished. These, however, did not have future and were finished afterwards. The study introduces some of such cases.

The study analyses the period of Simon’s heading the editorial at Kortárs between 1964-1971.

Ildikó Zsitnyányi-Cserényi

Secrets Loaded with Debts
The Bribery Case of the American Company Ralston Purina in Hungary

In the second half of the 1960s, in the period of the new economic mechanism, new forms of cooperation evolved between the farmers’ co-operatives and different other companies. Previously all firms produced forage according to central farming supply obligations, but at the end of the 1960s this came to an end, and first the state farms, later also farmers’ cooperatives started to produce their own mixture of forage. Moreover, international producers appeared in the Hungarian market. In 1967, the Meat Industry and Distributor Trust together with the State Poulterer Company started negotiations with the American company, Ralston Purina.

However, the application of former rules among new circumstances caused problems. The interest of companies in foreign products and technologies were independent of state foreign companies’ mediation because there was no legal regulations to co-ordinate their work. Therefore, companies often started direct connections with the representatives of foreign partners. In the 1970s, however, more than thousand of the management of these companies were called to account in criminal proceedings because of their direct contacts with foreign partners. The study analyses one of these cases.

Péter Nagy

The Connections of a West German Commercial Counsellor in Hungary as the State Security Saw It

Hans Joachim Vergau served as a commercial counsellor of West Germany in Hungary between 1967 and 1970. Being responsible for cultural contacts, he developed a wide-range social network. That’s why the Hungarian state security observed him as a Western intelligence agent.

The author of the study tries to discover who Vergau could know and why he built his network. It is also an important question, what results his activity had. State security wanted to prove that Vergau did so-called “covered” intelligence, but researches revealed that it was not the case. Dispite this, Vergau did indeed intelligence and gathered information for West Germany from high-ranking journalists, employees of the Institute of Cultural Contacts (KKI) and Hungarian Radio and Cable Service. As a result of the researches we can claim that Vergau gathered intelligence information in Hungary legally.

As a consequence, West Germany had very useful information about the Hungarian administration, which helped the Hungarian-West German talks, but contradicted the Warsaw pact. The mistake was put right by an “alibi lawsuit”.

Gábor Tabajdi

The Returned Analysis
Béla Kovrig: National Communism and Hungary. The Way of an Idea. Budapest, Gondolat Kiadói Kör – Barankovics István Alapítvány, 2016.

The 60th anniversary of the Hungarian revolution and freedom fight of 1956 enriched historiography with a number of monographs and other scientific publications. In this series the publication of Kovrig’s book was a kind of unexpected surprise. The reason for its unexpectedness is partly that its manuscript was unknown to public, and partly the richness and depth of his approach. The sociologist and social politician Béla Kovrig’s now published book “National Communism and Hungary” is definitely one of the greatest surprises of the anniversary. The book was published after 60 years of its birth and can take its deserved place in the Hungarian historiography and discourse now.

The history of the revolution of 1956 is one of the most often analysed events in Hungarian historiography. Kovirg’s analysis was based on large-scale data and examines to what extent the Hungarian events influenced the international and American academic life including sovietology and politology. Nowadays, when historiography on 1956 is almost inconceivably wide, his book offers a better understanding of how conceptual frames and traditions developed.

István Papp

The Grand Essay of the Revolution
János Rainer M.: Az 1956-os magyar forradalom. (The Hungarian Revolution of 1956.) Osiris, Bp. 2016. 187 pp.)

It is not certain what motivated János Rainer M. when writing about 1956, more exactly when re-thinking what belongs to it, its causes and consequences, concepts, actors, symbols and memory. His book is not a synthesis, but an introduction, as the author defines his book. It is certainly an introduction, a very short one, indeed. However, it is not a historical propedeutics, but an outcome of a three-decade long research experience.

In the reviewer’s opinion, the writer’s professional career makes his book special and unique. In spite of his scholarly discipline, cool elegance, diligence and eloquence, Rainer is not a mere historian of 1956. However, it is not a problem, but such an advantage which makes his career track richer. The book does not serve with much novelty, data or context, but gives an account of the lacks of our historiography, asks questions and motivates further research.

Szilvia Köbel

The Intellectual Concept of a State Founded on the Rule of Law

More than 25 years have passed since the systemic transormation from party-state to democracy in Hungary. This time is enough to be a basis for necessary perspective to examine it from the point of view of the history of law. At the same time, the period of the systemic transformation still belongs to the realm of constitutional law. Systemic transformation is both a period of transition and a concrete date, 23 October 1989, when the republic was proclaimed. We count democracy from this date. Similarly, different processes ran side by side in this period, such as the changes of state administrative system, the codification of fundamental laws, the reform of economy, society and political life. However, these processes have some shifts in different fields.

As most of the historical changes, the systemic transformation of 1989 raised numerous dilemmas. We have to agree when it really started and when ended, what we mean under the notion “systemic transformation”, what kind of scientific methodolody can be used, etc.

The book review reports about a book, which was published in 2016 with the title: “A rendszerváltozás államszervezeti kompromisszumai” (“The State Administrative Compromises of the Systemic Transformation). The book consists of seven studies on the topic, approaching the theme from its general characteristics, i.e. its compromises. The reviewed texts put the process of the changes into a broader context of political history and constitutional law.