1/2017

István Orgoványi

Escape through the Iron Curtain
Forbidden border crossings between 1945 and 1950

At the end of World War II, due to the ceasefire signed in Moskow on 20th January 1945, Hungary had to withdraw behind its frontiers having been in force on 31st December 1937. Hungary belonged to the losers and its sovereignty was strictly limited because of the Soviet occupation.

If a Hungarian citizen wanted to travel abroad, he/she had to hold a passport validated after 1st May 1945 and a permit signed by the Soviet authorities on behalf of the Allied Control Commission. The permission of pasports was the exlusive right of the Minister of the Interior until the end of 1946, when it was put into the authority of the Police Superintendant of Budapest. From the beginning, the Communist power looked upon the possibility of travelling abroad as a political question and therefore it belonged to the state security authority.

The study analyses the decrees to prevent forbidden border crossings and examines some cases consequent upon the chaotic situations after the war.

Erika Varsányi

An ambivalent career of a Social Democrat in the world of music and politics

Péter Csobádi, growing up in a family of the intelligentsia, met very early, in the beginning of the 1940, the Social Democratic youth movement. Later he became a participant in the antifascist opposition movement. From 1944 a period of political orientation started for him: first he joined a Zionist group, in 1945 he became a member of the Hungarian Communist Party for a couple of months, later he enrolled the Social Democratic Party where he soon became a secretary of workplace units. After the fusion of the two workers’ party, he became the member of the Hungarian Workers’s Party.

In 1947 Csobádi entered the official staff of the Hungarian State Police State Security Department. The state security organs saw a promising colleague in him because of his extra-ordinary intellect, exceptional foreign langauage and communicative skills. He worked for the state security for almost 25 years, but never became a reliable worker.

Csobádi emigrated in November 1956 and settled first in Austria, later in the Federal Republic of Germany. At that time, his life was characterized by indifference towards politics and a turn towards music. Due to this turn he became a well-known figure of music life in Vienna and Europe.

István Pál

The British front in 1967
The introduction of British agents in the operative textbook of Hungarian People’s Army Chiefs of Staff 2

The study introduces the life of the British agents as the textbook of the Hungarian People’s Army Chiefs of Staff 2 reflected it. The textbook was compiled in 1967 and mainly dealt with the situation of Security Service, the Special Group, the Ministry of Defence and the relevant military counter-intelligence and intelligence organs of Great Britain. It also analysed the data protection measures following the spy scandals of the 1960s and tried to give a kind of guide to the staff.

One of the two attachments of the textbook contained the description of the training of the land forces’ reconnaissance center. The over-simplified description originated very likely from open access library sources. The other attachment, however, summed the information which certain groups of Hungarian emigrants and their leaders gave to the Hungarian organs, though very schematically.

Péter Nagy

Observation in the cell
Mária Kerényi and cell agent “Lászlóné Pethő” in the Budapest Penitentiary Prison

Mária Kerényi, the employee of the German Referatura of the Institute of Cultural Connections, was arraested on 14th July 1970 because of spying for Federal Republic of Germany. In the first months of her arrest, cell agent “Lászlóné Pethő” was her cell mate in the Budapest Penitentiary Prison.

The study seeks to answer the question how cell agent system as the operative instrument of the department of investigation of the Ministry of the Interior was organized and worked, what kind of difficulties, advantages or disadvantages it had. The most important question was that in a certain case what kind of additional information the cell agent could gather. In the case of “Lászlóné Pethő” the investment returned, because she was able to gain Mária Kerényi’s trust. The psychological warfare worked perfectly, because Mária Kerényi told everything to her cell mate when returning from a questioning. She revealed the investigation tactics and showed her fears.
To sum up, the cell agency worked under conspiracy on a strictly organized basis but its success highly depended upon the personal skills of the cell agent.

Gabriella Müller

A recent contribution to the tragedy of Ilona Tóth and her fellow-fighters
The summary of the Special Department of KGB of South Army Group about the elimination of a “counter-revolutionary” group

The published document contains information of a summary written by a leader of KGB South Army Group, which group was commanded to suppress the revolution of 1956. The summary was written on 12th December 1956 and could motivate researchers to think over certain points of the trial of Ilona Tóth and her mates. The significance of the new source lays in the fact that Ilona Tóth, a medical student and her two mates, Miklós Gyöngyösi and Ferenc Gönczi were executed because of murder and illegal organization activity. According to the charge they killed a man in the auxiliary hospital in Domonkos street on 18th November 1956, whom they thought to be an agent of the State Security Authority. If it happened or not has still been a topic of controversy.

As the Soviet authorities’ summary states, however, the companion of the two men was not Ilona Tóth, but a third woman, called “Eta”. With the help of the comparison and contrast of other sources, “Eta” should have been the cover name of Erzsébet Csontos, whom we still don’t know but certainly it was not Ilona Tóth.

Ákos Bartha

Variations on a murder
A book review about Tibor Takács: A párttitkár halála: Egy 1956-os gyilkosság történetei [The death of a party secretary. Histories of a murder in 1956], Budapest, Jaffa, 2016.

The book is the result of a ten years long research, following a number of previous studies of the author on the topic, The death of a party secretary, which defines well the position of the author by its subtitle: Histories of a murder in 1956.

Edited by Jaffa Publishing House, though being much thicker than the publishing house’s other volumes, Takács’s book let a special look into the countryside history of the revolution and freedom fight of 1956. It concentrates on Gyón, a village in Pest county, where on 10th December 1956 the regional party secretary, Miklós Biksza was shot. His death is the main, but certainly not the only one topic of the book. It tries to answer more general questions, like “What kind of stories the new power after 4th November 1956 created and what was the main direction of retaliation?” The author of the book put the communicational situation into the forefront of his attention, in other words, he does not only reconstruct the Biksza case, but also examines its narratives.

Krisztián Ungváry

The witness of agents writes a book.
A book review about László Bálint: A 6-os karton. Az „ügynökkártya“ aduásza? [Cards 6th. The agents’ card as trump ace],Budapest, [EFO Kiadó], 2016

The former counter-intelligence officer of Headquarter III/II. thought it necessary to express his view in a question, which, incidentally, is a hot topic of nowadays Hungarian society. He does so in opposition with the “average readers” of the state security documents, and the so-called “experts with academic degrees”, however. Since the systemic transformation, the agents’ trials were based on the documentation of the “cards 6th”, which was the record keeping method of state security network.

The book consists of 186 pages and contains mostly the definition of basic categories. The author evaluated more than 500 cards from a statistical point of view. Consequently, the reader cherishes the hope of learning a lot of interesting details. But there is a serious disproportionateness in the book, since its title suggests that its main topic will be the functioning of cards 6th, and it takes them into account only in chapter V. In fact, it takes only two and a half pages in the book, where the author claims that false cards were also put into the registry at the time of the system changes.

The author knows well that such a falsification was not possible technically, because to each card an increasing numbering file was renderred and no other cards could be put into it afterwards. He does everything in order to show state security files as unreliable documents. The former collaborators must be very grateful to him for this deed.

Liviu Ţăranu

The establishment of Foreign Affairs Intelligence Bureau in Romania in 1978.
Outlines of its organisation system

The changes in the leadership of Securitate in the beginning of 1978 contributed to the escape of General Ion Mihai Pacepa. Pacepa, when staying on mission in the Federal Republic of Germany, sought contact with the representatives of CIA, resident in the embassy of the United States in Bonn, and asked for political asylum on 28th July 1978.

His escape influenced the work and structure of Romanian spy system in the 1980s. Many were put into retirement or sentenced during the investigation after Pacepa’s flight. The organisation structure was rearranged and the staff was changed, too. In his study, the author compares the pre- and post-Pacepa period, introduces the Romanian intelligence services, their leaders and shows some cases until December 1989. It should be emphasized, however, that the archival sources have still been fragmentary.