2 / 2016

Ádám Gellért – János Gellért

„Partisan hunt” in the Jewish Quarter
Mukacheve, 24th June 1942

In the evening 24th June 1942, the 8th Company of the 3rd Battalion of the 54th National Hungarian Royal Regiment and some other forces made an “anti-partisan” manoeuvre in the Jewish quarter of Mukacheve. According to the order of the battalion commander, the unit which was about to be placed to the Russian front-lines should have completed a night manoeuvre in the woody parts out of the country. However, the manoeuvre got a totally different turn: the team crowded the Jewish quarter of Mukacheve, where they smashed everything, beat and humiliated the Jews and stole smaller or larger valuables and money.

The case was followed by a quick and sudden impeachment. The commander of the national army staff, Ferenc Szombathelyi arrived on the spot next day and ordered an investigation. The proceedings happened with the exclusion of publicity and this made a possibility for putting a gloss on the truth. Although the atrocities had hundreds of participants and sufferer, history knows hardly anything about the matter.

The study analyses the case by using the remaining contemporary investigation documents, which make it possible to reconstruct the exact details of the action, such as for example how two responsible military officers and a policy guard on duty tried to prevent the anti-Jewish turn of the manoeuvre.

Éva Petrás

Determined to a conflict
The relationship of Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty and Töhötöm Nagy

Töhötöm Nagy was a Hungarian Jesuit (1908-1979), who lived an extraordinary life that included several stages first in the Jesuit order, later as an emigrant free mason in South America, and finally in Hungary again as a secret agent of the communist political police. The study focuses on his relationship to Cardinal Mindszenty, whom he counted among his adversaries. From Nagy’s book “Jesuits and freemasons” and from other sources, which are available in the National Széchényi Library, in the Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security and at other places, their problematic relationship could be reconstructed genuinely. Since Nagy could not agree with Cardinal Mindszenty and his policy, the Prince Primate saw to it that Nagy should leave Hungary and even Europe in 1946: he was “sentenced” to exile in South America. Nagy interpreted this initiative as a part of a conscious aggression from Mindszenty’s side and this trauma influenced his life later. In her study the author introduces the process how Nagy’s conflict with Mindszenty unfolded and shows how this trauma influenced Nagy’s life and his cooperation even with the communist secret services.

Duncan Bare

Angleton’s Hungarians
A Case Study of Central European Counterintelligence in Rome 1945–1946

This article, published in English in the Journal for Intelligence, Propaganda and Security Studies in 2015 recounts the affairs of a small band of influential Hungarians and Hungarian-Americans who from 1944 until 1946 engaged, to varying degrees, with American intelligence services, foremost among them, the wartime Office of Strategic Services (OSS), its postwar offspring, the Strategic Services Unit (SSU) and the transitional Central Intelligence Group (CIG). The group under discussion was based around the chief of Counterintelligence Balkans (X-2 Balkans) Francis Kalnay and his lieutenant, Stephen Streeter, both of who were of Hungarian extraction (to varying degrees). Kalnay reported in Italy to the legendary James Angleton Jr., America’s ‘first’ Counterintelligence chief. Angleton Jr. took a great interest in the exploits of Kalnay and Streeter’s so-called “JA-Group” as they signaled one of America’s first forays into gathering intelligence behind the Iron Curtain from within Soviet occupation zones. The fruits of their labor, in particular the high quality of their work, was greatly appreciated by all involved, however, owing to the rigors of history, the JA Group, Angleton’s Hungarians, has remained unknown and unheard of (in declassified sources) until now.

Gábor Tabajdi

Christian Democratic Tradition and the State Security Files

Betekintő surveys methodological and theoretical questions regularly concerning state security files. The author of the study summarizes his experiences in connection with researching state security files of the representatives of the Christian democratic tradition. He touches upon three main points: firstly he describes the given files, then explores their chronological coverage and finally suggests an interpretation of them. There is a recurring debate in Hungary about the lack of the investigation of the state security files, which often influences both public opinion and politics of memory. The significance of the state security files is either still underestimated (the files may still contain secret information), or overestimated because of public interest. Consequently their real value is uncertain, although often rather overestimated in contemporary historiography. The author approaches the topic in order to find the variety of historical sources in state security documents and to estimate their limits in historiography meanwhile he admits the validity and utility of the debate. In the Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security there are dozens of keywords concerning Christian democracy. At the moment hundreds of relating items can be rendered to these keywords. When we want to do researches about Christian democracy in a broader sense, however, there are even more items, which could be added, such as files containing information on political ideology, cultural heritage and personal convictions. The author, who is an expert of Christian democracy for more than a decade offers his experiences in this broad field.

István Papp

An Agent’s Story Planted into a Family Saga
(A book review about György Miklós Száraz: My father in pieces. Scolar, Budapest, 2016.)

Ever since the debate about the state security agents has been on the agenda, there have been tries for the literary elaboration of the topic. The most influential approach prescribes a kind of moral narrative, which however, naturally distorts the interpretation by narrowing the perspective. György Miklós Száraz broke with this petrifying literary tradition wisely and positively when writing about his father, mother and other relatives in his gross saga. The “father” in the title of the book is György Száraz, a playwright, editor, public writer and decisive figure of the second half of the Kádár era, whose role has been definitely forgotten since then. György Száraz was born in the 1930s and was a representative of a politically and socially active intellectual who wanted to seek way-outs for the hot issues of contemporary Hungary. The book review of István Papp is certainly not that of an aesthetical one, which might go beyond the capacity of the reviewer, but applies an interpretation of a historian, because the book of György Miklós Száraz has a lot of consequences of historical kind.

Gusztáv D. Kecskés

“A Unique Opportunity” A Confidential Article of CIA Concerning the Secret Service Utilization of Hungarian Emigrants of 1956

The foreign intelligence agency of the United States, CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), started a large-scale survey after the Revolution of 1956 with the help of those Hungarian emigrants who arrived to the USA. The covered action took place between December 1956 and May 1957, when during thorough interviews, they wanted to explore the potential intelligence use of the emigrants. The activity had a lot of results, some of which was published in the winter edition of CIA confidential journal, Studies in Intelligence and which is now published in Betekintő. Firstly, the article introduces the reception of the Hungarian emigrants in the United States, describes their characteristics and specifies the motifs of the interest of the American Government. Then, it focuses on the problems that occurred during the covered action and discusses the participant units and institutions. The publication of the article was justified not only by the valuable information of the emigrants, but also by the high quantity of the intelligence agents actively involved in the action.

István Pál

The Invisible Counter-Intelligence The Security Situation of the Hungarian Foreign Diplomatic Body in Tel-Aviv (1950–1967)

The People’s Republic of Hungary opened its embassy in Tel-Aviv in May, 1950, when the Soviet Union had already followed the pro-Western policy of Israel with a growing uneasiness. As a consequence, Hungary had to give up its intention to reach friendly terms with Israel and the state security organs acted in order to document the hostile actions of Israel against the Hungarian embassy in Tel-Aviv. The Intelligence Department prepared for hostile attempts of penetration mainly in connection with the Hungarian commercial branch-office, suspecting Israeli attempts to change sides of some of the staff. This, however, was proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The residence ended its activity when, after the Israeli victory in six days war on 10th June, 1967, the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Hungary broke their diplomatic relationships with Israel. The documentation of the state security activity was ended and the material was put into the archives. The study mainly focuses on the period between 1950 and 1967. Although some documents concerning the Tel-Aviv Hungarian embassy are missing, since the counter-intelligence documents between 1950 and 1956 were demolished during the revolution of 1956, there is still enough material to write an exciting story about it.

Liviu Țăranu

The changes of institutional history of Securitate, 1948–1989

Securitate was set up by the Romanian Communist Party on 28th August, 1948 as a consequence of creating an observing, threatening and oppressive institution in the period between 1945 and 1948. Securitate was formed eight months after the proclamation of the Romanian People’s Republic and influenced the history of Romania and the life of hundred thousands or million Romanian citizens for four decades. However, its inner development was not linear, because Securitate was re-organized several times and the goals of the institution was always re-shaped according to the changing needs of the political regime. The study analyses the four periods of the institutional history of the Securitate in details, each consisting of a decade.

English