4 / 2014

István Papp

The Hungarian Jud Süss
The history of the drama of Lajos Kádár: Guiltless?
Part II.

After the German occupation of Hungary and the establishment of the collaborator government of Döme Sztójay a new period started both in the life of the Hungarian Jewry and the Hungarian theatre. Anti-Semitic repertoire was not created in the Hungarian theatre, but certain dramas were re-interpreted according to Anti-Semitic expectations from time to time. László Endre, who advanced to the position of under-secretary of state in the Ministry of the Interior urged to stage the play “Guiltless?” after the beginning of the deportations, but before the transportation of Budapest Jewry into concentration camps. On the strength of the witness’s statement of Lajos Kádár, Béla Tompa and Lajos Dövényi Nagy, the re-staging of the play was the idea of Endre, the former sub-prefect of Pest County, who applied for support to Lajos Cselle, the secretary-general of the Artist Chamber.

In this second part of the study, the author, István Papp analyses in details the investigation taken after World War II and introduces the life of Lajos Kádár.

According to Papp’s evaluation, Lajos Kádár’s experiences and social anger formed a solid basis to such a career, although his qualities as a playwright or even his cultural education was less than moderate. Kádár’s desire for reputation, the lack of self control, his cult of money, or even his greediness made him capable of writing such a play, which summarized in itself all his anti-Semitic sentiments. Due to his cooperation with Endre and his circle, Kádár’s play “Guiltless?” was written as such a piece of work, which was capable of increasing anti-Semitic sentiments. But he was cunning enough to use the political debates and the help of his influential friends to avoid a serious punishment.

Éva Petrás

„Behind the Mask”
The Life and Thought of Töhötöm Nagy

Töhötöm Nagy was a Hungarian Jesuit (1908-1979), who lived an extraordinary and legendary life, which 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 uses newly discovered archival sources in order to supplement Nagy’s still fragmented biography.

After his intensive Jesuit studies, which included obtaining several doctorates in sociology, ethnology and church law, Nagy started his church career as the leader of the most successful Catholic corporative social association between the two world wars in Hungary, the KALOT (Catholic Society for Agrarian Youth). As he was engaged in the problems of the Hungarian peasantry, he and his fellow-Jesuits struggled for an agrarian reform policy and took part in the anti-fascist illegal movement during World War II. In 1944 he risked the crossing of the Soviet front-lines in order to meet Soviet military commanders to secure the future of KALOT. During 1945 and 1946 Nagy travelled six times between Budapest and Rome and became a chief negotiator between the Vatican and the Hungarian Catholic church.

Since he could not find terms with Cardinal Mindszenty and his policy, the Primate achieved at the Jesuit central principal in Rome that Nagy should leave Hungary and even Europe: he was “sentenced” to settle in South America. Nagy understood his position as an exile and left the Jesuit order in 1947. In Argentina he became a member of the Hungarian Free Mason community, but after the Hungarian political police offered him a chance to come back, he moved back to Budapest with his family in 1968. Until his death he was used by the political police as a secret agent on church matters.

Sarolta Klenjánszky

Our spies at the Grasmarkt
The second period of the agent life of Edmond Ferenczi – The observation of the western social democracy, 1953-1956

The main objective of the study of Sarolta Klenjánszky is not to reconstruct the second induction of Edmond Ferenczi, or to write his biography. The interpreter Ferenczi under the code name “János Telegdy” gave reports, which formed the basis of the western European spy activity of the state security during the time of the eastern-western dialogue. The author strives to put this spy activity into international political context, focusing mainly on the aims and sources of the state security organs. Furthermore, she draws conclusions on the information level of the organs.

To connect a new agent into the intelligence staff was not an easy project, since only a few had the necessary characteristics, state security experiences, high positions and social capital. That’s why Ferenczi, a diplomat and interpreter, was probably an ideal candidate. He had already worked for the Military Intelligence Service and was well-known because of his role played in the Rajk case. His second induction strengthens the view that if state security once tried to hook somebody, it finally managed to do so. His induction files are fragmentary, but it is clear that the police observed him and his family since April 1953 although he had been living in Bruxelles for ages, but came into contact with him only in February, 1954.

István Orgoványi

The establishment and activity of the political police in the Great Hungarian Plain in 1945-1946

In the autumn of 1944 parallel to the withdrawal of the Hungarian and the German armies, the former Hungarian administration structure collapsed. In many places the administration was disintegrated after the evacuation. Soviet troops occupied Debrecen on 19th October, 1944 and subsequently the new, provisional administration structure was established. The Red Army, however, established also its own military administration structure in the occupied territory, which made it necessary for the local administration to establish their structure and cooperate with the Soviets in order to keep and maintain public security.

István Orgoványi introduces the contemporary police forces and the increasingly developing political police departments in the region of Bács-Bodrog and Dél-Pest counties. He also examines the personnel of the new departments. The author analyses reports on public mood in 1945-1946, which give an insight into the local life in these years in Kecskemét, Baja, Kiskunmajsa, Kiskunfélegyháza, Kiskunhalas and Kalocsa. It gives a survey of the investigations of the political police as well, about the demonstrations in Kecskemét, Bácsalmás and Madaras, the investigations after the participants of the “White Terror” in 1919, etc.

Stefano Bottoni

“Mozart” and “Black”
The strange story of an intelligence file
Part I.

On 4th July, 1962 the embassy of the United States in Rome held a reception for diplomats accredited to the capital. During the reception Loneslati Slaheddin, the consul of Tunesia introduced a German journalist working at the Radio Vaticana to the Hungarian counsellor, Ferenc Garzó. The accidental encounter became the starting point of a complicated plot, which gave work to a group of intelligence officers of the Warsaw Pact in the crucial period when the preparations for Vatican Council II happened and when the rapprochement from the Vatican’s side towards the Soviet block had its start.

The author, Stefano Bottoni, in his study gives a fresh and multi-level reading of the immense intelligence file under the covername “Mozart”, which the Hungarian intelligence services opened about the German journalist, Gottfried Kusen. The journalist gave a number of analyses to the Hungarian state security services, but Bottoni examines the methods of cooperation between the different political polices of the Warsaw Pact as well.

Judit Pihurik

The “Horthyist officer” as potential spy in the Rákosi era

The fate of the officers of the former Hungarian Royal Army was decided by their “Horthyist past” after 1945 and by the fact that they took part in the war against the Soviet Union. They had to pass justification processes, many of them were interned even in those cases when they did not have to confess their wartime activity before People’s Tribunals. After the communist seizure to power, mass processes started against them. Some of the impeachments were dated backwards, before 1945, judging the activity of the officers from a point of view of class struggle. These impeachments did not precise themselves to war crimes, or pro-fascist sentiments. Anti-Soviet commitment and activity against the people’s democracy belonged to the crimes, just like being the member of the Hungarian Community, or being a member of one of the democratic parties, church membership, espionage and sabotage. Very often they were accused of taking part in an Anglo-American military action, or of believing in the reestablishment of the Horthy regime and having the intention to reckon with the leaders of the communist party.

In her study, Judit Pihurik distinguishes between the realistic accusations for the Horthy era and the anachronistic enemy hunting of the Rákosi era. By analysing the documents the author shows us the mechanism of jurisdiction and the creation of a show trial’s documentation.

Zoltán Eperjesi

An East German woman in search of Stasi files
Marianne Birthler: Halbes Land. Ganzes Land. Ganzes Leben. Erinnerungen. Hanser Verlag, Berlin, 2014. 432.

In his book review, Zoltán Eperjesi introduces the memoires of Marianne Birthler, the former German Federal Commisioner of BStU, the institute on behalf of examining the Stasi files. The book could be seen as a kind of struggle against oblivion, since its author, Marianne Birthler was almost forgotten after her retirement. Using the strength of wonder, Birthler once more asks for public attention and her memoire thus fits into the line of commemorations on the 25th anniversary of the demolition of the Berlin Wall. The reviewer shares his impression that it is a true story of a brave woman, who was engaged in the East German opposition movement and sacrificed a lot in her life. Birhtler was brought up in East Berlin, but she could enjoy the most important historical and political events of the re-unified Germany as well. She could even form the new Germany..

The volume illustrates well the interesting intellectual and opposition paths between East and West Germany, which had its share in the process of re-unification; summarizes the East German alternative intelligentsia’s thoughts on unification.

Szilvia Köbel

The great story
Net(work) 2 – Church leaders 1. Documents and studies on the relationship of the Hungarian Lutheran Church and the State Security (1945-1990). Luther Kiadó, Budapest, 2014.

In her book review, Szilvia Köbel introduces a volume, which analyses the relationship of the Lutheran church leaders and the communist state security organs. The volume “Net(work)” contains studies and documents, which try to answer such questions as for example what kind of deeper aspects of analysis can help understand this complicated relationship twenty-five years after the system change, which go beyond the facts, and how these new aspects of reflection can contribute to the evaluation of the growing quantity of new information on the matter?

In the volume the reader may find a rich reflection to this problematic. Katalin Mirák, one of the authors of the book, in her hundred-and-fifty pages study about the early Kádár era (1956-1972) analyses the “tight relationship” of the Ministry of the Interior and the Office of State-Church Relations (ÁEH) and characterizes it as follows: “It was like a dense fabric, to which the churches also had one or two threads.” Mirák’s study and the whole volume in fact, is “a kind of experiment to unbind these hidden threads” and to show the fabric’s “inside out”, i.e. the main characteristics of the system.

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