3 / 2019

Konstantin Medgyesi

Seventeen minutes that broke Károly Grósz's career

On August 28, 1988, Prime Minister Károly Grósz, Secretary General of the MSZMP, sat down with Nicolae Ceauşescu, a Romanian communist dictator in Arad; the outcome of the discussion is well known: "Arad" has become synonymous with failure in diplomatic history. The public faced the fiasco when, after the meeting, Grósz gave an interview to Hungarian Television in Hungarian territory in Szeged. Before the meeting in Arad, Károly Grósz was victorious in political terms; however, after this failure, he loses public battles after public battles. The Prime Minister and Secretary General is on the slope after an interview in Szeged following "Arad", from where there was no coming back for him. The meeting with Ceauşescu lasted for a total of 450 minutes and the interview in Szeged took only 17 minutes. Even in turbulent Hungarian history which is full of twists and turns, the image of a leading politician collapsing in such an extremely short time is virtually unprecedented. In our study we look for the causes of this failure; we examine the sweep of Károly Grósz and the components of the Grósz brand’s collapse.

Péter István Pap

The oppositions fifteenth of March in 1989

Anatomy of a demonstration

March 15, 1989 was the "first free March 15" in Hungary for forty years. The commemoration day of the 1848 Revolution was overshadowed in the Kádár era, but at the time of the Hungarian system change it became again centered on its obvious symbolism. However, despite its indisputable importance in the process of transformation, a summary description of the events of the oppositions’ demonstration has not been completed. It is important that this work focuses only on the oppositions demonstration, documenting and analyzing its exact course. It only considers its duty to explain the politics of the state party (MSZMP), and the official ceremony they held, as much as is absolutely necessary for understanding. Actually, the most elementary question discussed here is: what novelty in the oppositions' action having taken on March 15, 1989 in the process of system changes was and in the behavior / relationship of opposition organizations; and how, through what practical and symbolic acts, did all this happen?

Krisztina Slachta

From friends to adversaries?

The Hungarian change of regime through the East-German Perspective

The political changes in Hungary made the leaders and also the state security in East Germany more and more concerned from as early as the second half of the 1980s. In Hungary more and more western or westernish phenomena appeared due to which, besides the ever rising prices, Hungary became a dangerous place for the EastGerman tourists and exchange students: more and more western visitors, cars, newspapers, German speaking radio stations, western style fashion, wider and wider ranges of products, an Adidas store, the Goethe Institute, DAAD-lecturer. In the year of 1989 the events that happened in Hungary also brought the end of East Germany closer. For the East-German government the demonstration on 15th March and the forming opposition clusters were startling. After the announcement of the demolition of the Iron Curtain the “omniscient” state security could only get some sketchy information about Hungary joining The Geneva Conventions, while they followed the changes within the our Interior Ministry with incredulity. Since Hungary stepped on the road towards democratization, it became more and more dangerous from the perspective of the so-called “friendly” socialist countries. As for East Germany Hungary, although East-German citizens were trying to find the road to escape towards the West right here, by the end of the summer, became an adversary.

Ágnes Jobst

Reports about the reception camps

The organization of East German refugees' care in Summer 1989

The handling of the situation of the refugees from the German Democratic Republic constituted one of the most significant aspects of Hungarian foreign policy during the system changes. At the time of the demolition of the Iron Curtain and Hungary’s joining to the Geneva Refugee Convention nearly 60,000 GDR citizens were staying in Hungary. 12,500 of them got some kind of refugee support: 6,500 refugee petitioners lived in refugee camps and 6,000 individuals were taken care by private hosts. The role of the Charity Service of the Order of Malta is wellknown, but the history of the organization of the refugee camps has not yet been reconstructed. The introduction of the publication surveys the organization of the refugee camps as they could be reconstructed by the documentaion of the International Department of the Hungarian Red Cross. These sources were published by BStU, the Berliner office of the Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic. The published sources represent the Stasi’s non-official collaborators’ view, give an overview of the refugee camps and West Germany’s refugee proceedings. Both Hungarian Red Cross documentation and Stati intelligence records confirmed the great contribution of the Hungarian state, which exceeded the amount that had been presupposed previously. The International Department of the Hungarian Red Cross directed this huge Hungarian support.

Ádám Kurucz

Gömbös Ernő, Szálasi Ferenc’s adjutant

The son of former prime minister Gyula Gömbös, as a military officer, took part in the foundation of the Hungarian Assault Artillery, and later, following the ArrowCross Party’s rise to power, served as the adjutant of Ferenc Szálasi. In 1945, he was sentenced to 10 years in a maximum-security prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity. In 1946, showing remarkable wit, he managed to escape the Csillag prison of Szeged. After fleeing west, he participated in the organization of the emigrant Hungarist Movement, where he remained a core member until the end of his life. Despite his extraordinary life, the events he witnessed and the personalities he became acquainted with, always proved more interesting in the eyes of researchers of the period. This paper aims to collect and organize the material published to date about Ernő Gömbös, as well as to draw a picture of his personal history. Previously, his name was most often referred to in relation to his heritage, while his face became mostly known from photographs of Ferenc Szálasi, recognizable as the person walking behind the leader in glasses, wearing the badge of the Order of Vitez and Arrow-Cross armband.

Éva Argejó

A bookreview about Réka Sárközy: Kinek a történelme? Emlékezet, politika, dokumentumfilm (Whose history? Memory, politics, documentaries) Budapest, Országos Széchényi Könyvtár – Gondolat Kiadó, 2018. 285. p.

The book of Réka Sárközy: Kinek a történelme? Emlékezet, politika, dokumentumfilm (Whose history? Memory, politics, documentaries) brought four such topics into the focus, which generated political and social tensions in the Hungarian society. All of these topics belonged to the taboos until the system changes. In the part “World War II” the documentaries dealing with the disaster of the 2nd Hungarian Army at the Don River and Holocaust were analysed, then Gábor Koltay’s film about the Trianon Peace Treaty was examined. The third part of the book makes an account about the documentaries dealing with the 1956 Revolution and Freedom Fight, taking also the reprisals into the limelight. The book seeks to answer the questions how film directors saw these historical traumas from the 1980s to the first years of the millenium. By reconstructing trends of interpretations the role of the films in memory narratives and memory techniques are specified, which can help in overcoming the traumas.

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