3 / 2018

Gábor Tabajdi

Department group photo
The personnel of counter-intelligence against the churches in the 1980s

This is the first time when an author in his study attempts to introduce a whole section of the state security, the III/III-1 Department of the Ministry of the Interior, which dealt with counter-intelligence against the churches and was dissolved in 1990. The reconstructed and visually also constructed virtual department group photo identifies those secret officers of the state security, who dealt with churches in the 1980s. The study strives to reconstruct their activity by staff, organizational and party documents. It also gives an example how in the possible lack of operative documents (the so-called agent files) it is still possible to reconstruct this network and their everyday work.

The department struggled for its existence in the end of the 1980s and even in 1989 they overtly expressed their own aims: the manipulation of the churches and subversion of their informal network. The so-called “policy of alliance” that was connected to János Kádár and the church policy, which was supported by strong state security means could be demonstrated through the history of the department staff and its working mechanism, although sometimes it is only the lack of the sources which is certain. As a consequence, cases, network, covered meeting flats and payrolls could also be rendered to each member of the department who belonged to the third generation of counter-intelligence officers.

The study shifts the focus of historical investigation from concrete cases to introducing a reconstruction of real time working mechanism of the state security.

Konstantin Medgyesi

A trial for local democracy:
The scandal around Pfeiffer’s visit in Makó – crisis and condemnation

The study analyses a chain of local events from a micro-historical perspective, which illustrates well the public debates, atmosphere and the depressing and at the same time inspiring everyday life of the coalition era in Hungary.

In 1946-1947 it was a real trial for local democracy what happened in Makó with the scandal and consequences of Zoltán Pfeiffer’s visit. A harsh communist group of about a dozen members prevented that Pfeiffer, one of the leading politicians of the Smallholders’ Party, could hold his speech in a public assembly in Makó on 21 July 1946. This case is significant due to two reasons: on the one hand, it was the first such assembly of Pfeiffer, which ended up with a scandal. (Later it became a routine.) On the other hand, local party representatives decided not to continue their work in the town council after the scandal and this way they resigned from their coalition with the left-wing parties and seceded from the most important local institution of democracy. This decision was unique in the country.

The passive resistance of the smallholders of Makó is only a small, but remarkable event but it shows the national resistance against the totalitarian ideologies and practices. That’s why it has a place in the history of the Hungarian parliamentary democracy.

Attila Novák

The Engländer case, or the Zionist underground in the Stalinist Hungary as reflected in the state security documents (1949-1953)

Tibor Engländer was arrested on 29 January 1953 by the Budapest Headquarter’s of the State Security Authority. The later famous psychologist led an illegal Zionist movement in the beginning of the 1950s, or at least it was illegal at that time.

The study analyses how different Zionist groups developed after the dissolvation of the Hungarian Zionist Association in 1949. The role of the embassy of Israel became crucial in this period not only because it was observed but also because they had active relationship with Budapest Jewry. Hungarian authorities also paid a special attention how the expatriation process was conducted according to the agreement of the two countries. Cultural attaché Joszef Walter was a special targeted person of the Hungarian state security organs, who was expelled from Hungary in the beginning of 1953.

Smaller groups, such as study groups of Hebrew were also observed and they were labelled as zionist. From the autumn of 1951 Tibor Engländer and his community was also observed, which was then dissolved within a year.

Éva Argejó

A portrait of Dr. István Bálint, the physician of the State Security Authority (ÁVH)

Dr. István Bálint started his career as the physician of the Budapest Jewish Hospital. As a psychiatrist he belonged to the so-called “Stekelist” group of psycho-analyst school and he preserved his professional contacts until his death. He started to work at the political police in March 1945. At first he worked at the political police’s Medical Division, and since 1 September 1950 he became the leader of the Health Department of ÁVH. On 25 January 1952 a united Health Department was created, which he headed until his arrest in January 1953. In the first months of 1953 a Soviet pattern medical show trial started in Hungary, of which Bálint’s arrest was an initial step. During the interrogations he was accused of provocateur activity, espionage for American intelligence services and multiple murders. Finally, he was sentenced for eight years in prison, ten years of interdict from public affairs and for confiscating half of his properties. The argument was built on crime against the nation, malfeasance, bribery and violation of personal liberty.

He was released from the prison of Vác on 15 October 1956, where he spent his penalty as a doctor. At the end of 1956 he left the political police. Since then he became the chief medical professor of Psychology of the Labour Health Institute until his retirement. In the meanwhile he also established the Budapest Anti-Alcohol Centre, where he worked even after his retirement. He died at the age of 72, on 5 May 1984 in Budapest.

The documents of the here published source edition report about his trial and about Bálint’s reply from 1957, during his appeal procedure.

Róbert Ehrenberger - Péter Kis

A contribution to the Hitler-Horthy meeting, based on a testimony from 1945

The two source editions, which are published here, were created during the political impeachment procedure in Hungary. Both belong to the trial of adjutant László Magasházy, who was a confidential staff member around regent Miklós Horthy. The first document was born during the interrogation of Magasházy on 23 August 1945, the second one is however a newspaper article based on the previous document and published in the newspaper of the Hungarian Communist Party, the Szabad Nép on 26 August 1945. Their main importance lay in the report about Horthy’s meeting with Adolf Hitler in the beginning of the 1920s in Budapest. The fact of the meeting was not, however, proven by later historiography. Two decades later of the supposed event, Magasházy’s testimony was very likely forced to prove it because the establishing, communist dominated new political regime, which directed also the impeachment procedures needed proofs, which supported their concept that Horthy-regime equalled Nazism and fascism, and moreover, to show the responsibility of the former in the birth of the latter.

József N. Pál

A contribution to the Hitler-Horthy meeting, based on a testimony from 1945

The two source editions, which are published here, were created during the political impeachment procedure in Hungary. Both belong to the trial of adjutant László Magasházy, who was a confidential staff member around regent Miklós Horthy. The first document was born during the interrogation of Magasházy on 23 August 1945, the second one is however a newspaper article based on the previous document and published in the newspaper of the Hungarian Communist Party, the Szabad Nép on 26 August 1945. Their main importance lay in the report about Horthy’s meeting with Adolf Hitler in the beginning of the 1920s in Budapest. The fact of the meeting was not, however, proven by later historiography. Two decades later of the supposed event, Magasházy’s testimony was very likely forced to prove it because the establishing, communist dominated new political regime, which directed also the impeachment procedures needed proofs, which supported their concept that Horthy-regime equalled Nazism and fascism, and moreover, to show the responsibility of the former in the birth of the latter.

András Kristóf Kósa-Grimm

A bookreview about Rolf Müller: Az erőszak neve: Péter Gábor [Violence called Gábor Péter] Debrecen, Jaffa Kiadó, 2017. 292 p.

Rolf Müller’s book that was published last year by Jaffa Kiadó redeemed a long and serious debt of Hungarian historiography, since there had not been a fully comprehensive biography about the infamous leader of the State Security Authority (ÁVH), only studies focusing on a particular period in Péter’s life had been written before.

It is inevitable for a good biography to explore as many primary sources as the biographer can concering the given person. From this perspective criticism cannot reach the book because Müller used a convincing amount of sources: beside archival sources he also used relevant monographs, studies and memoirs.

The author starts his book with the statement that he did not write psycho-biography, so to say he did not want to draw hypothesis, uncertain statements in connection with the person(ality) of Gábor Péter. One of the greatest achievements of the book is therefore that through the life of Péter it gives a lively insight into the illegal communist movement of the interwar period, into the institutional development of the political police after World War II and into the backstage stories of the show trials.

English