Outlines of the conceptual history of the labour service
Labour service has belonged to one of the frequently examined fields of history. Since the 1960s, also in Hungary many historians have investigated the history of the labour service, which came into force by the law II of 1939 (the law about national defence). Elek Karsai, Randolph L. Braham and Szabolcs Szita have major achievements in this field. They cooperated in examining the political history of labour service mainly in connection with the holocaust. In this study the author analyses their major achievements, but also goes further, because neither their, nor other researchers’ analysis have explored suitably the social historical aspect of the compulsory labour service and its history of mentalities. These aspects should gain a greater emphasis when discussing labour service and should emphasize that the compulsory labour service, which existed between 1939-1944 was very heterogeneous in nature. In the second part of the study the author strives to give a new approach to labour service: on the basis of European examples he introduces the history of the movement of the Voluntary Labour Service of University Students (since 1937), which had its origin in comradeship movements at the universities and the Turul Association’s voluntary movement since 1935. The study tries to defend the thesis, sometimes against the stereotypes of other researchers, that the compulsory labour service and the Voluntary Labour Service of University Students have a close connection, sometimes even a kind of continuity.
The Hungarian Jud Süss
The history of the drama of Lajos Kádár: Guiltless?
It has been still a difficult and decisive question of the Hungarian holocaust how the vast majority of Hungarian non-Jewish population was made passive and uninterested in connection with the deportations. Generally, the historiography gives its reason in the increasing anti-Semitism of the interwar period. Anti-Semite journalism determined mainly the mentality of the middle classes and the intelligentsia. The question of the so-called “popular” anti-Semitism (the mentality of the petit bourgeoisie, the peasantry and the working class) has come to the limelight of historiography not so often. In this study the author introduces us a drama, which by its absolutely simplified message, aimed at these social strata. The biography of the playwright is also shown in relationship with the boom of the genre. His accusation after 1945 by a People’s Tribunal represents how such a case became a part of political struggles.
Éva Sz. Kovács
The sufferings of a rescuer
In memoriam dr. János Pétery (1892-1975)
The life of János Pétery exemplifies the tormented fate of a man living in the twentieth century. Pétery who came from a middle class family and worked in the financial sphere took part in rescuing persecuted people during World War II. With the help of the International Red Cross and cooperating with Friedrich Born and Lipót Baranyai he provided free passes to many people or hid them until the end of the war. He also supported Gábor Sztehlo, the Lutheran pastor, who saved children. János Pétery’s name nevertheless was forgotten and even it can be claimed that he had a tormented life after 1945. After the world war he suffered poverty, and could hardly escape deportation in 1951. He was arrested and sentenced to prison during a show trial. He spent four years in prison and was made free only during the revolution of 1956. He died in Austria, but his life should deserve a greater attention nowadays. In her study the author shows his life and focuses mainly on the years of 1944 and 1951-52.
László Csatári and the deportations from Košice in 1944
In 2012 László Csatári appeared as the number one suspect on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of most wanted perpetrators of World War II atrocities committed against Jews. Csatári served as a police officer in Košice in 1944 and was alleged to have committed serious crimes as commander of the city ghetto. He was indicted by the Hungarian prosecution service in the summer of 2013 but passed away shortly after the issuance of the indictment. The research note provides the first comprehensive overview of his involvement in the deportation process based on post-war trial and contemporaneous documentation culled from several archives in Hungary and Slovakia. His activities are discussed against the background of ghettoization and deportation of the Jews of Kosice and its environ.
“Cross roads of infernal package holidays” The early narratives of wartime persecutions
The silence in Hungary about holocaust and Nazi genocides belongs only to the myths, because surprisingly many deportees wrote and published their stories after returning to Hungary. It is true, however, that the historical evaluation of the early narratives has not happened, yet. The study of the author tries to contribute to this research and analyses seven publications form 1945 and 1946, which were based on personal memories. Taking into consideration the representative character of these memoires, the study shows how the early narratives reported about the “cross roads of their infernal package holidays”, as György Parragi called them. At the same time, the comparison of the stories shows relevant differences of the persecuted persons’ forced journeys, just like of the differences of the perspectives where from they tried to understand what had happened with them.
Hungarian Jewish refugees and Hungarian Jewish mass graves in Austria after World War II
The activity of Viktor Schwarcz, 1945-1949
The Hungarian political police proceeded against Viktor Schwarcz, who lived in Vienna at that time, but was a farmer in Kiskőrős, Hungary before his deportation. He played a decisive role in the activities of DEGOB, the National Committee for the Care of Ex-Deportees. He was the leader of the Vienna office and as such helped ex-deportees return home. He provided them with foodstuff and home. The biggest wave of Eastern European Jewish emigration happened between 1945 and 1947. Therefore it is not surprising that we find Schwarz in a different position in 1948, when the political police started the proceedings against him. Meanwhile after 1945 he mainly dealt with Jewish survivors and the raped Jewish possessions (in the former he was successful, in the latter not at all), after 1948 he dedicated himself to explore the mass graves of Hungarian Jews in Austria, to identify the murdered people by exhumation. In her study the author analyses the less well-known activity of Viktor Schwarcz based on the documentation preserved in the archives of Yad Vashem.
„Szlavkó” and the State Security Authority
The story of the induction of the former Arrow-cross party activist Miklós Ferenc Megadja and of his escape to the West
Miklós Ferenc Megadja, as a former Arrow-cross party middle level leader lived in incognito between 1945 and the summer of 1952 thus avoiding judicial proceedings. He used the South part of the Great Hungarian Plain to his aims meanwhile his mother and some of his relatives knew exactly where to find him in the farmer network. His case cannot be said typical although it was not altogether unimaginable. His further life turned, however, into such a direction, which could not be explained very easily: he was inducted as a secret agent in the intelligent service.
The State Security Authority sent him as an agent to that country where he had also wanted to settle earlier with the aim of ending his incognito in Hungary. He also wanted to solve his private life this way. Thus he went to Australia but the reaction of the state security could not be explained easily in this case, either. Megadja, under the code name “Szlavkó”, never gave a sign or a report. He was later reported to be seen in Italy in 1955, and consequently the organs planned to use him in Europe, i.e. in West Germany. His case was finally finished in the 1960s.
Taking responsibility never happened
A review about the book of Judit Molnár: Csenderőtiszt a Markóban. Ferenczy László csendőr-alezredes a népbíróság előtt (A Gendarme Officer in the prison “Markó”. László Ferenczy, gendarme lieutenant colonel in front of the people’s tribunal) Budapest, Scolar - ÁBTL, 2014.
Publication of sources is a traditionally a strong part of the Hungarian historiography on holocaust. Documentations of the judicial proceedings of numerous politicians who played key roles during the holocaust (like László Endre, László Baky, Döme Sztójay and prime minister Béla Imrédy) have already been published. Judit Molnár had a crucial part in this work and therefore it seemed a logical step to publish the documentations of the proceedings of László Ferenczy, gendarme lieutenant colonel, who had a major role in the practical organization of deportations. Ferenczy’s name is probably not so much well-known among the wider public as that of those who had political positions, but as a colonel in the gendarme, it can be claimed that he could have decided about the life of more than 100,000 people. The book of Judit Molnár gathered together a rich primary source collection, which is published together with the introductory study of Molnár. As a consequence the personality of Ferenczy gets shape, which most shocking element is that he could not face the responsibility of his deeds, just like many of his contemporaries.