The Gallery of the Church Persecutors
The Leaders of the Counter-intelligence against Churches,
1945–1956 Part I.
In his topical study Géza Vörös gathered together the biographies of those state security officers who led the counter-intelligence against the Christian churches in the political police of the party-state between 1945 and 1956. The biographies were written with a so-called prosopographical approach, which leads beyond the limits of archontology. Thus not only the strictly-speaking biography of an officer stands before us with his official data, but also data about his family origin, his studies and career come into consideration.
In the Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security the data about the open, the secret and the strictly secret officers of the political police extends to more than 150 running meter. In his study the author introduces the biographies of fifteen officers. However only nine of them had his personal files, therefore Vörös had to explore the missing information from different other sources like the signing of their reports at the end of different documents or at state security commands. Beyond the prosopographical biographies of the officers the author also introduces the short institutional history of counter-intelligence against churches.
The Seven Lives of an Agent
János Kaiser and the external group
In her study the author examines mainly the relationship between the special agents and their liaison officers, their lives, their career in the political police and their status within the hierarchy of the services. Therefore the study’s scope of attention goes beyond the analysis of the usual activity of agents and analyses the history of two special types of agent groups. In 1949–1950 a special external group was formed with six members and in 1955 two other groups, a five- and a three-member action group was also created. Their history could not be called customary. Among the operative groups there were no professionals, only network people, who were instructed to work together as an independent group.
In the first part of Gabriella Unger’s study she examines the external group. To understand the structure of the political police and a group within its hierarchy it is unavoidable to show the institutional framework – the place of counter-intelligence, external observation within it – with its establishment, its changes and to introduce the short history of the network actions.
The Organization and Activity of the Reconnaissance Department of the Frontier Guard of the State Security Authority between 1950 and 1956
At the end of World War II Hungary had only a limited sovereignty because of the Soviet military occupation. Its obligations were controlled by the Allied Control Commission. In his study, István Orgoványi examines the process of the re-organization of the Hungarian army and within its structure the re-organization of the Frontier Guard.
After its re-organization the Frontier Guard became the armed troop of the Hungarian Communist Party. It was the task of Department I/b in the Frontier Guard Headquarters to manage the reconnaissance. In regard of commandment and military discipline this department directly belonged to the Military Political Department of the Ministry of the Defence, the so-called “Katpol”. The author describes the structure of the Reconnaissance Department, its staff, leaders, their working conditions, their methods and the activity of the agents.
In the first part of the study Orgoványi also examines in detail the counter-intelligence work against Yugoslavia, writes about the “imperialist UDB-agents”, foreign trafficking groups, about the so-called frontier gates, which helped smugglers through the frontier. He also introduces “Titoist agents” and analyses Yugoslav military actions, too.
“Mozart” and “Black”
The strange story of an intelligence file
A very complicated and intricate political conspiracy started between the intelligence services of the state securities of the Warsaw Pact and the Western counter-intelligence in 1962. At that time the preparations for Vatican Council II were at hand and a cautious policy of opening from the side of the Holy See towards the Soviet block got started. A German origin journalist, Gottfried Kusen who was in touch with the Hungarian intelligence acted exactly at that time.
In the second part of his study, the author continues the elaboration on the voluminous archival material. He starts with the analysis of the information Kusen gave to the Hungarian security services and also analyses the biographies of the participants of the conspiracy and the mechanisms of the different political policies of the Warsaw Pact countries.
A Simple Story
The conspired flat under the code-name “Ranch”, 1968–1980
In his study the author reconstructs an absurd story of a flat, which the political police used for conspiracy. According to it, the leaders of Krisztina Telephone Center received a notice on 20th June, 1980 that a certain István Szabó waived his right to use the telephone in his flat. It was, however, uncertain that the owner will keep his word because in reality István Szabó never existed. His fictive life started in 1968 when “he was born” at the age of 42 and his life ended with this waiver of telephone rights in 1980. He “lived” only until the Hungarian state security needed a flat under this name.
The history of “Ranch” conspired flat is linked to the case of the so-called “House of Amor”. Its history did not reveal an omnipotent, manipulative and diabolic organization, though. Without the help of its agents, political police did not have the chance to obtain this flat. It was also almost impossible to get rid of it later. They were not able to create an identity number to the fictive owner of the flat. By reading this story, one has the impression that state security was far from a competent and omnipotent organization. They were only one among those actors who shaped the everyday life of the state-Socialist dictatorship and the social reality of the Kádár-era.
Cristina Petrescu – Dragoş Petrescu
The Debated Revolution
The Romanian Revolution of 16-22nd December, 1989.
The six system changes in the states of Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 have been among the most debated topics of historiography since then. The university professors of the Political Studies Faculty of the Bucharest University in their volume compare and contrast these political changes. The Central and Eastern European changes were started by the “negotiated revolutions” of Poland and Hungary, which led to a peaceful transformation to a democratic system in these countries. They started, however, “a snowball effect” and had a direct influence on the events in GDR and Czechoslovakia.
The authors claim that the revolutions of 1989 were peaceful with the exception of only one of them: the Romanian revolution, which led to violence and therefore it became probably the most debated of them. It is sometimes called “chaotic revolution” or “stolen revolution” or even “ruined revolution”. This study makes and effort to show the mechanism which led to this bloody Romanian revolution.
The Operative Group of Stasi in Hungary – and the Brigade „Balaton”
In her study, Ágnes Jobst analyses the activity of Stasi in Hungary by using Hungarian and East-German sources. According to the data of the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, in 1961 only about 500.000 foreign citizens visited Hungary. In 1972, however, the visitors’ number increased to 6.000.000. Hungary was a very popular holiday destination for visitors from GDR, too. Besides sightseeing and recreation, Balaton was an important meeting point, where friends and families from East and West-Germany could meet. After the construction of the Berlin Wall, already in 1962 more than 40.000 East-German visitors came to Balaton: 11.000 of them arrived through package holidays of the Deutsches Reisebüro (DER) and 30.000 entered Hungary individually.
Agents’ reports from the beginning of the 1970s emphasized the Western character of the Balaton region, where there was a certain quantity of products also from Western consumer goods. Comparing to GDR the state propaganda was almost invisible. Western tourists were very precious for Hungary because they spent a lot of money in the country thus increasing the economic revenue. From the point-of-view of GDR, however, the East-West meeting at Balaton was not considered so fortunate because they were afraid that emigration with the help of West-German connections would increase among East-German citizens.
East-German Citizens in the Shadow of Stasi, or Stories about Agents who shoot each other on the Butt
Gudrun Weber – Thomas Auerbach: „Genossen, wir müssen alles wissen!” DDR-Alltag im Spiegel der Stasi-Akten. Ein Lesebuch. Berlin, Lukas-Verlag, 2014.
The book “Comrades, we must know everything!” presents the everyday life in GDR through the mirror of the Stasi files. In his book review, Zoltán Eperjesi argues that the present volume gives a complex reading of the Stasi documents. The reader could see the rough and rude methods and the caused inconveniences as well, which characterized the everyday life in GDR. The authorities had an unbounded intention to control the society and possessed a grotesque conceit which came to the surface in each case. The authors of the book could very vividly reveal those morbidly humorous failures, which Stasi produced. By this, the book summarizes the bizarre, the fearful and the amusing cases, which have different effects on different readers.
The authors of the book, Auerbach and Weber, as researchers of Stasi files have more than a two-decade experience with processing secret service files. From time to time they could meet such documents, which did not fit into the official picture about Stasi. Instead of it, they revealed something in themselves because they illustrated well the everyday life of GDR citizens and how they coped with authorities.