2 / 2019

Gyula Hegedüs

The Interrogation of Miklós Nyárádi at the American Legation in Bern in December 1948

Miklós Nyárádi served as Minister of Finance of Hungary from April 1947 to December 1948. He resigned while on an official visit in Switzerland, and some days later he expressed his willingness to speak to the representatives of the Western Powers. Two diplomats from the American Legation in Bern interrogated him. The outcome was a 72-page-long document, in which Nyárádi gave a comprehensive picture of the sovietization of Hungarian economy. This article provides a summary of this lengthy document.

Nyárádi explains the methods used by the Soviet Union to influence and control Hungarian economy: Moscow received reparations from Hungary, forced Hungary to establish Soviet-Hungarian joint ventures, and demanded millions of dollars on various excuses. Nyárádi was the head of the Hungarian delegation which negotiated with the Soviets in Moscow about their claims to Hungary. He gives a detailed account of the negotiations from May to December 1947. He highlights his own role in reducing some of the Soviet demands and describes how General Merkulov exerted continuous pressure on them.

Although the records of Nyárádi’s interrogation do not reveal too much new information and he tries to present himself in the best possible light, the document provides a very interesting summary of the process of the sovietization of Hungary and a snapshot of Hungarian economy in December 1948.

Judit Antónia Farkas

Hungarian Refugees in Ronald Searle and Kaye Webb’s Illustrated Report (1959)

Auguste R. Lindt, the United Nations High Commissioner (UNHCR) for Refugees, invited Ronald Searle, one of the most well-known British graphic artists, and his then wife Kaye Webb to participate in the UK programmes of the UN World Refugee Year, which began in June 1959. He was asked to visit refugee camps in Austria, Italy and Greece in order to publish their report in drawings and words. The objectives of the illustrated reportage were to raise money to close camps and to help “hard core” refugees and other difficult cases to resettle in another country or to integrate locally. The graphic report depicts Hungarian refugees as well, among whom I managed to find one family. The tragic case study of Csilla Demeter’s family – which is full of trauma and suffering even before their escaping to Austria – shows that like many other Eastern European refugees depicted in the report, the members of the Demeter family had faced persecution and been forced to flee repeatedly both within and without their homeland due to the Second World War and the communist oppression that followed. As a continuation of the report, their story is reconstructed on the basis of interviews made with the family and documents found in the Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security.

Tamás Szőnyei

Real network – virtual folder

A reconstruction of ’Zoltán Pécsi’s’ hidden Work-dossier

For fifteen years, one of the most knowledgeable figures of the Hungarian non-conformist art scene was a secret police informer, but his own dossier has not yet come to light. Just as archaeologists reconstruct animal skeletons from scattered bone fragments, so we attempted to collate the dossier documenting the activities of the undercover agent codenamed ‘Zoltán Pécsi.’ Copies of his reports can be found in ten dossiers covering five far-reaching cases between 1973 and 1987. Each of these dossiers document the surveillance of artists and intellectuals who did not conform to the frameworks of the one party system, and wanted artistic, academic, civic and political freedom. The 101 reports of ’Zoltán Pécsi’ and ’E-20’ (his code number after being promoted to strictly confidential officer) fill more than 400 pages. We printed and arranged them chronologically as if it were his „newly found” Work-dossier.

Milan Bárta

Outline of cooperation between Czechoslovakia and Soviet Bloc states on the issue of state security, 1945–1949

Thirty years after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, writing about cooperation between Czechoslovakia and Soviet Bloc states on the issue of state security and intelligence following WWII remains difficult, chiefly due to a lack of documents that would serve as a starting point. Prior to the end of the war the Communists had managed to acquire the post of interior minister. Once the war had ended the Czechoslovak Communists heading the security services continued to collaborate with the Soviets, informing them about the situation in Czechoslovakia, their work and the democratic opposition, while receiving all kinds of advice, suggestions and orders from Moscow. The Soviets were therefore able to obtain a good overview of all that was going on inside the Czechoslovak security service. Such cooperation was chiefly fostered by people with experience of the Soviet security, for the most part having served as collaborators or informers (frequently in the war period) or as staff at the Soviet Embassy. The Communists also maintained strong connections with the security forces of other states in the nascent Soviet Bloc, in particular Yugoslavia, Poland and Hungary. These countries built up security apparatuses on the Soviet model and were visited by Czechoslovak Communists seeking “inspiration”. Soviet influence on security, and especially on state security units, intensified greatly after February 1948, when a Communist putsch took place in Czechoslovakia. During an extensive reorganisation of the security services that followed the Communist Party takeover, at the end of 1948 and particularly in early 1949, the structure and system of security work was predominantly imported from surrounding so-called people’s democratic countries, not directly from the USSR. The turning point came after the Rajk trial in Hungary, when Soviet advisors arrived in Czechoslovakia, bringing with them Soviet experience and methods. These were soon adopted in the work of the StB. In no time, the advisors exerted indirect control over the leadership of the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of National Security. Thus in the early 1950s the Czechoslovak security forces were fully incorporated into the Soviet Bloc’s system of security apparatuses, in which the Soviet security force naturally played the leading role.

Anna Marcinkiewicz-Kaczmarczyk

The Documents of the Women’s League in the Institute of National Remembrance in Poland. Their Specific Characteristics and Thematic Scope.

After the end of the WW II the government institutions in Poland were taken over by Polish politicians who were controlled by the Soviet Union. Most of society did not accept a new government and methods which were used at that time. For this reason, communists tried to force society to accept new political system and to establish special organizations which promoted their policy.

The Social-Civic Women’s League (later the Women’s League) was established in September of 1945. The main goal of its members was a popularization of governments policy and encouragement of women to participate in a consolidation of new political system. Those goals, tasks of members of the Women’s League and its structures were included in statement which was issued in the same year.

Sections of the Polish Women’s League were established also in structures of the army and the state security bodies. For this reason, many interesting documents were collected by archives of the security bodies and later they were transferred in to the Institute of National Remembrance. There were instructions, orders, guidelines and propaganda documents which were created by that organization. They exhibit its activity and scope of tasks. They are an interesting source of knowledge for historians not only in Poland but also in the other countries because they show forms of manipulation of society in communism.

Tamás Felicián Sárhegyi

Snapshot from 1956: the impairment of Soviet heroic monument of Szabadság tér

The subject of my essay is the abuse of the Soviet heroic monument in the Szabadság square in 1956 which includes the monitoring of the symbolic square and the analysis of the monument and the square through via theoretical frame of memory study. The aim of the essay is to analyze photographs about a demonstration and abuse as sacred-political action in the revolution. I was looking for the answer how could be a photograph interpretable as an exact historical document and one moment how bitten to the main historical narrative of the 1956 revolution. The essay is a part of my previous research about the memory of the soviet heroic monument in the Szabadság square.

Péter Nagy

Placing a Hungarian intelligence agent in Israel

György Kiss, under his pseudonym, "Öntevékeny" offered his services to Hungarian intelligence in 1957. He did this because his wife had gone to Israel with an emigrant passport, was expecting a child, and his emigration was out of question because of big powers political games. In my work I was looking for the answer if the training and installation of the agent was the desire of demonstration of the Hungarian government after the revolution, or it contained real intelligence potential.

The research pointed out that Kiss had appeared as an agent at the most adequate time, since the secret service, which was reformed but not yet strengthened after the revolution, had applied him with unfavorable antecedents. At the time of the 1962 revision, the system was self-criticized when they found the "Öntevékeny" affair basically a mistake. On the one hand, the deployment of the agent was forced, but the biggest problem was caused by inadequate and not gradual training, which resulted an agent with minimal English and Hebrew language proficiency, moreover he was refused to be sufficiently supported by money. The result was the agent's disengagement and exclusion from the network.

The "Öntevékeny" affair was an attempt of the early Kádár-intelligence, which demonstrates perfectly the need of the system modernization in 1962.