4 / 2015

Ádám Gellért – János Gellért

The anatomy of a mass murder – Kamianets-Podilsky, August, 1941

On 20th November, 1945, in the Nurenberg Palace of Justice the Soviet side reported on the war crimes committed in the territory of the Soviet Union. The Soviet list involved an event, having Hungarian relations. According to the list, the Germans “in the region of Kamianets-Podilsky shot 31,000 Jews, of which 13,000 having been transported from Hungary”. The order of magnitude is precise, because in the summer of 1941 German troops executed near Kolomea, Nadworna, Stanislau and other smaller settlements about the given number of those Jews who were expelled from Hungary. Regarding the number of the executed Kamianets-Podilsky excelled. According to the statement of the German general during the Nurenberg trial, there were 23,000 people shot in and around the city, among them 11,000 of Hungary.

The study presents the events of the three-day mass murder in Kamianets-Podilsky. The authors used mostly the documentation of the German prosecutor at the trial of the perpetrators, which can be found in Ludwigsburg Federal Archives in sixty volumes. Through thorough analysis and critical evaluation of the more than 10,000 pages investigation documents it finally became possible to reconstruct how the mass murder happened from the perspective of the perpetrators.

István Simon

“Who knows what the past will bring forward…?”
About some (socio-psychological) motifs of the derailment of the attempt of democracy between 1945-1948

It is not only the title of a conference held in the hall of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, concentrating on the events in 1945 in the country, which explains the importance of analysing some characteristics of the period, but also the often contradictory evaluation of it in the historiography of the previous 25 years. Scientific monographs, studies, source editions and a multitude of conferences prove that the evaluation of this period divides the scholars, just like in many other cases in Hungarian history. It is, however, not the different accents or debates, which generate difficulties, but the schematic, oversimplified evaluations, traps because the more schematic a description is, the more controversial its counterpart seems to be.

The study focuses on some “socio-psychological” aspects of the era, because the events of political history have already been analysed in memoirs, monographs and source editions. The aim of the author is to contribute to a more subtle picture of the age.

Péter Vukman

Observation, induction and show trials
Six Yugoslav political emigrants and the state security, 1948-1955
Part I.
Origin, social background, emigration

Cominform (Communist Information Bureau) published a verdict against Josip Broz Tito and the leadership of the Yugoslav Communist Party on 28th June, 1948. Subsequently emigrant communities were organized in the Soviet Union and in the satellite Eastern European states to take their share in the “mini cold war”: they actively contributed to political and propaganda attacks, prepared Southern Slav programmes, wrote anti-Tito articles and brochures, edited emigrant press and helped its delivery in Yugoslavia. An estimated 5,000 people were counted as pro-Moscow emigrants, of which about 450 found refuge in Hungary. According to Hungarian archival sources, however, only about 150 people constituted the political community of Southern Slav emigrants, who were actually in contact with the Hungarian political leadership in some ways.

Between 17th and 24th September, 1952, the county court of first instance held closed hearings of six emigrants of Cominform (Branislav Doroslovački, Ozren Krstonošić, Savo Novaković, Milutin Stevanović, Albert Svetina és Živorad Todorović). The individual show trials were based on fabricated prosecution and ended with condemning the six emigrants to jail for 5 to 15 years. In his study the author introduces the major events, political and other activities of the six emigrants.

Mária Palasik

A “John” changed into “Judith”, or a good deed of Mátyás Rákosi

At the end of February, 1956, seven months before the Revolution, Judith V. wrote a letter to László Piros, Minister of the Interior and offered her services as an agent. Such an offer was not unique, although not typical at all. The uniqueness of the case of Judith V. lies in her motifs, because it reveals her extraordinary life, assuming the realities of the 1950s. Judith V. was born as John V. in a small village in Somogy County in 1926, but her gender was specified wrongly and lived her life as a man in her first 29 years.

By analysing her biography, it turns out how she could not accept her forced masculine gender, which caused her conflicts. It also shows her self-justification, the ways how she tried to change her life. She writes: “In my utmost despair I decided to turn to Comrade Rákosi for help. I am grateful for his help and for the help of the Communist authorities that according to the decree of V-953-162/1-0955 declared me a woman and changed my name to Judith V.” She reached her aim when she put her case into a larger social-political context, because Mátyás Rákosi, the omnipotent first secretary of the Hungarian Workers’ Party (MDP) understood her problem and helped her. Judith V. described her life and expressed her gratefulness.

Károly Vekov

The testimony of personal data
Facts and data about the convicts of the Szoboszlay trial

The study provides details about some seemingly formal, but decisive aspects of the Romanian political police, the Securitate, which lay in the background and gives data for the social context and the individuals concerned. Solidarity actions and movements, supporting the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, were retorted and punished in Romania. Reprisals (arrests, trials, sentences, persecutions, etc.) lasted for years after the Revolution. The most important among them was the Szoboszlay trial, regarding the number of detentions and witnesses, and most importantly, in the number of death penalties, because 57 individuals were convicted during the trial, 10 people were condemned to death, the others for life imprisonment, forced labour or heavy imprisonments.

The study analyses a special group of sources about the accused persons, which have not received enough scholarly attention, yet. Namely, the personal data of the accused, which can be found in their files, in the records of hearings, registries and receipts.

Pál Szeredi

The attempt for the induction of an emigrant National Peasant Party politician in Canada. The case of István Mikita

Undoubtedly, the Revolution of 1956 caused an enormous upsetting among the lines of the political police, but by the end of 1957, the action potential of the authority was re-established. They intended to fulfil the expectations of the political leadership and weaken the positions of the emigration.

The study examines an action of the reconnaissance against the emigration, which aim was to weaken the peasant democratic emigrant community. The peasant democratic emigration was considered as the most dangerous group. Especially the influence of Imre Kovács and his circle seemed influential. The members of the National Peasant Party emigrated from Hungary between 1947 and 1949. Most of them lived in Europe, but Imre Kovács and Pál Szabó Sz. settled in USA, István Pap and István Mikita in Canada. State security tried to induce almost all of them. In case of István Mikita, however, they failed. Mikita returned home, but could not be used either in the political propaganda, or in the efforts for the weakening of the emigration.

Mikita’s case represents the desperate efforts of the Hungarian state security. At the same time it gives insight into the exact knowledge of the state security about emigration.

Éva Sz. Kovács

Letters from Turkey
Reports of a diplomat, 1957-1961

On 14 April, 1951, the State Security Authority (ÁVH) prepared a proposal for induction of a young man, who stood in diplomatic service. This man was observed since 20th February, 1951. Originally, Ferenc Gémes had ciphering tasks at the embassy, but previously he had worked as a consul. The state security wanted to use him in the intelligence, giving reports from the embassy. According to the proposal for his induction, state security planed to use Gémes’ holiday and asked for the help of the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs to create the circumstances. The induction happened according to the plans on 18th June, 1951. Thus a very long “state security career” had its beginning (1951-1980). The study introduces only a short period of Gémes’ cooperation with state security, the period between 1957 and 1961, when he wrote his reports from Turkey.

Ágnes Jobst

The last victims of the Iron Curtain

The Iron Curtain symbolised the antagonistic contradiction of the two world order. The member states of the Eastern bloc built a technical border safety defence system, which consisted of barbed wire, mines and high-stand observation points. These objects made the crossing of the border impossible from both sides. In the Hungarian border, the first technical defence system was built in the Western and Southern section of the border in the summer of 1949. By the end of 1950, 1,000 kms barbed wire fence “protected” the two border sections. 871 of the 1,000 kms got also mines, and 291 high-stand observation points were built. The Iron Curtain had its victims, just like the Berlin Wall. We have exact data about the Berlin Wall: between 1961 and 1989, 268 attempts of escape were registered. 125 concluded with death, 62 individuals unambiguously died by being shot down. However, we do not know exact data about the Hungarian section of the Iron Curtain, although the Hungarian National Archives preserves the documentation of the Political Department of the State Attorney on the question. The study presents a couple of cases, connected to the East German refugee crisis, which contributes to the interpretation of the problematic through analysing the rules of the use of firearms.

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