Bálint Ablonczy

Miss Málnási helps: Transylvanian support projects initiated by Hebe Kohlbrugge and members of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands before 1989

From the late 1950’s, Hebe Kohlbrugge, a faithful member of the Dutch Reformed Church and a resistance fighter during the Second World War, set up a network to help the Protestant communities behind the Iron Curtain. I my paper I focus on the relationship she built with the Hungarian Reformed Church in Romania. Thanks to her efforts, from 1968 to 1986 each year a couple of young Dutch theology students were allowed to study and live in the Hungarian-speaking Protestant seminary of Kolozsvár/Cluj-Napoca. After their return, these former scholarship-holders became members of the solidarity web animated by Kohlbrugge. They smuggled medication, cultural items (Bibles, psalm books) to Transylvania. Based on Kohlbrugge’s memoir, studies, Hungarian State Security Archives material and interviews I outline the links between Hungarians (from Hungary and Romania) and Dutch Protestants as well as the broader political context.

András Balogh F.

Notes on researching Romanian secret service documents: The example of Edgár Balogh and the periodical Korunk


The aim of the paper is to provide insight into the 70 volumes of Dossier I 259 212 held in the state security archives based in Bucharest (cnsas.ro). The dossier contains the interception transcripts of Edgár Balogh (1906-1996) together with the interception material of the Kolozsvár/Cluj-Napoca editorial board of the periodical Korunk. After examining the approx. 50,000 pages, the author concludes that even such a huge volume of material cannot guarantee that it contains data about important events of the era: for instance, the names of Áron Márton and Károly Kós are missing from the dossier in spite of their contact with the target person. The author also points out that the Hungarian conversations can be read in hastily-prepared Romanian translation, and therefore the corpus must be used with great caution, and although it can be a basis of reconstruction, it cannot provide an accurate picture of the authors and writers under surveillance. Nevertheless, these documents are still important because they contain action plans which were implemented and resulted in tension between the writers, for instance by spreading the accusations of anti-Semitism.

Ibolya Szamborovszkyné Nagy

Hungarians in the Reformed Church in the Soviet Union in the period of the persecution of churches under Khrushchev


After Stalin’s death there was a certain degree of liberalisation in the Soviet Union in the relationship between the churches and the state. Consequently, the activities of religious organisations became more intense. Members of the Reformed Church in Transcarpathia had managed to obtain state permission for their 26 unregistered communities by 1955/56, they could use the bishop titles officially again, the council of deans was re-established, the number of religious events increased, and confirmations were held again. But after Khrushchev gained total power in March 1958, a coordinated legislation process began with a series of consecutive laws, which later developed into a real persecution of religion. Religions and churches were declared to be one of the main enemies of the Soviet way of life, and they were preparing to “exterminate religious ‘deviations’ forever”. At the 21st congress of the CPSU in 1959, the first secretary said: “At the end of the Seven Year Plan we will show that last priest on television.”

In my research I used the documents of the representative of the Council of Religious Affairs were mainly used, which were prepared at various levels of the Soviet bureau of religious affairs. The largest amount of documents are held in the Central State Archives of the Supreme Bodies of Power and Government of Ukraine in Kiev, and almost the same number of documents can be found in the State Archive of the Russian Federation in Moscow. The smallest number are held in the State Archives of Transcarpathian Oblast. Unfortunately, none of the archival fonds are intact. These sources mainly shed light on the church organisation, the processes and events that determined the actions of the leaders, and some elements of the lives of communities and pastors in the Hungarian Reformed Church communities which were stuck in the westernmost end of the former Soviet empire in the Khrushchev era.

Sándor Oláh

“… the priest were all silent”

Dictatorship in everyday life: The fears of Unitarian Pastor Imre Gellérd

Fear was a fundamental social experience in Romania in the 1950’s as a result of the violence the power used to subdue the society and the various forms of retaliation. The state terror and repression exerted by the central power dominated life, and police violence and intrusion became a part and even a characteristic of everyday life, thus creating a feeling permeated with terror in the society which did not only change the social structure but also the behaviour of individuals. Between August 1958 and early November 1959, the Securitate arrested 17 Unitarian theology teachers, pastors and theology students in the Kolozsvár/Cluj Region and the Magyar Autonomous Region. This aggressive act of power had a direct consequence in orienting the active Unitarian pastors’ activities regarding their ecclesiastical and social engagements. The paper reveals how activities and attitudes were determined by the feeling of fear among rural Unitarian pastors. The changes of a pastor’s way of thinking illustrate it how powerful impact fear had on the decisions of a pastor who bravely stood up against the anti-clerical attacks in the early 1950s, how fear made him active or how it forced him to remain passive.

Júlia Orosz

The village peasantry: The characteristics of the inner life of a kolkhoz in Transcarpathia, 1948-1953

After the Second World War, the eastern half of Europe came under the sphere of interest of the Soviet Union, where the construction of the Soviet system began in a scenario-like manner. With the occupation of the Red Army in the autumn of 1944, Transcarpathia also entered the melting pot of the communist regime. By the Soviet-Czechoslovak Convention signed on 29 June 1945, it became part of the Soviet Union, and by a decree of the Presidency of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union of 22 January 1946, it became the Zakarpattia Oblast of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Transcarpathia was basically an agrarian region, where a significant part of the population lived from agricultural activities. The basis of the Stalinist system was nationalization, that is, the abolition of private property, from which agriculture could not be left out. With the establishment of kolkhozes, they gradually switched from individual to collective farming and joint (social) cultivation of land. The collectivization was based on the Stalinist model, between 1946 and 1950 the agricultural production of Transcarpathia was completely transformed into the Soviet model. With this measure of agricultural policy, a radical turn took place in agriculture and in the life of the peasantry. The present study explores the process and main features of the development of the kolkhoz system. It tries to show how a collective economy based on the Soviet model developed and functioned through the documents of the Bolshevik kolkhoz in Batiovo and through the recollections of the local population.

Róbert-István Antal

Lajos Jordáky’s arrest and his prison years

The paper is about the detention, interrogation and trial of Lajos Jordáky in the 1950’s. Jordáky was a Transylvanian Hungarian communist politician, whose main idea was the autonomy of Transylvania inside Romania. Also, Jordáky was a deeply committed left-leaning intellectual, who thought that the communist ideology was the only way for achieving the equality of rights for the Hungarian community in Romania.

But the Romanian Secret Police, the Securitate saw it differently. Jordáky was arrested in 1952, and he was brutally interrogated for a year. The main charge against him was high treason. The Securitate tried to prove that Jordáky, together with other Hungarian intellectuals, tried to help the Hungarian authorities in the annexation of Northern Transylvania to Hungary in 1945. In the end, they were tried and sentenced to many years of hard labour and imprisonment.

András Kristóf Kósa-Grimm

The Hungarian Communist movement in Transylvania in the interwar period based on the P-dossiers of Hungarian state security documents


Many documents of the so-called P-dossiers held in the Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security deal with the Hungarian Communist movement in the interwar period, including suspected Communist persons living in the territories returned to Hungary between 1938 and 1941. The Hungarian Communist movement, which weakened in many respects in the mid-1930’s, had considerable supply of manpower from the regained territories in the years of revision: intellectual party organisers arrived from Czechoslovakia (mainly Kassa/Košice) and Northern Transylvania. On the returned territories the social embeddedness of Communists was considerably higher than in the mother country. The importance of these territories is perfectly proved by the fact that out of the three leaders of the Communist Party of Hungary, two were from the “Felvidék” (“Uplands”, the territory attached to Czechoslovakia after the First World War).

The material of the dossiers dealing with Communists from Transcarpathia and the “Uplands” are very fragmented and heterogenous, and not very significant from the perspective of the history of the Communist movement. The majority of dossiers referring to Communists in the “Délvidék” (“Southern territories”, the territory attached to Yugoslavia after the First World War) can be linked to the partisan movement dominated by Serbs. Therefore, this paper focuses on Hungarian Communists from Northern Transylvania, partly because of the characteristics of the researched documents and partly because the Northern Transylvanian Communist movement could gain more significance compared to that on other returned territories in the period.

Nándor Pócs

Prometheus from Nyárádmente

A book review on József Gagyi: Aki tudta, vitte. Lopás, közösség, társadalom. [Whoever could take it, took it. Stealing, Community, Society.] Csíkszereda, Pro-Print, 2018. 280.

The author’s main theory is based on the perception that stealing may create communities and in specific cases it is not regarded as a sin. How could that be? In the mid-1960’s the (agricultural) collectivization in Romania profoundly changed the relations of people and property. Due to the often violent and unreasonable implementation (which did not bring higher living standards), people stopped respecting collective property. Although the communities of the „classical order” almost disappeared, through the act of „ritual stealing” new ones were created. Gagyi’s primal sources were those personal stories which had been told by Pál Balogh and Domokos Sztrátya, two so called „speaking men” from a smaller region of Szeklerland, Nyárádmente. He also used archival documents and theoretical works for modelling the process that finally led to the „great vanishing” of (East-European) peasantry. Even if the task was enormous and vulnerable at some point, Gagyi’s work has an outstanding importance in better understanding the last decades of the classic rural society.

János Fodor

An institution interrogated


Bartha, Katalin Ágnes ed.: Egy nemzetiségi könyvkiadó a diktatúra évtizedeiben (1969–1989). Beszélgetések a Kriterion munkatársaival. [A Publishing House of a National Minority in the Decades of Dictatorship (1969–1989): Interviews with the Staff of Kriterion.] Polis Könyvkiadó, Kolozsvár, 2020, 408 o.

Being the single Hungarian-language publishing house in Romania, the importance of the activities of Kriterion Publishing House established in 1969 is unquestionable as it has been providing popular books for the bookshelves of generations of Hungarians, mainly in Romania, and, to a smaller extent, in Hungary, for decades. The reviewed book was compiled and edited by Ágnes Katalin Bartha. Until the regime change of 1989, the publishing house, which was based in Bucharest and had an office in Kolozsvár/Cluj-Napoca, had altogether 81 employees, 16 of whom were interviewed by the author. They talk about their everyday lives at work and the various tribulations of the Ceaușescu era. A 50-page-long introductory study helps the reader interpret the interviews, discussing the methods, the interviewees, the institution, the phenomena that the questions addressed as well as the findings and conclusions which can be derived from the interviews. This book is not only an important source publication spiced with individual historical delicacies for researchers, but it is also recommended to all readers who are interested in the history of Hungarian culture in Romania in the state socialist era.