Home > Uncategorized > Ágnes Vadai’s interpellation in the Hungarian parliament,     May 29, 2012

Ágnes Vadai’s interpellation in the Hungarian parliament,     May 29, 2012

June 10, 2012

Ágnes Vadai, a member of the Demokratikus Koalíció but an independent MP by necessity of a new house rule devised by László Kövér,  addressed a question to Tibor Navracsics, minister of administration and justice, on May 29 on the new Horthy cult. The title of her interpellation was “Should we also be prepared for the rehabilitation of Szálasi?” Her speech at times was hardly audible due to the loud objections of Jobbik and Fidesz MPs . The presiding deputy speaker, István Ujhelyi (MSZP), had to interrupt the proceedings and adjust the time allotted for Vadai’s interpellation.

Ágnes Vadai (Demokratikus Koalíció)

Ágnes Vadai with a certain satisfaction announced on Facebook yesterday that her speech in parliament had made it to The Economist, where in a recent article (“Sickness on the Danube”) we read that in Hungary “hate speech and xenophobia are on the rise. Agnes Vadai, a left-wing MP, was howled down by right-wing and far-right opponents when she protested in parliament against the rehabilitation of Horthy.” I wouldn’t call Vadai a left-wing MP because DK is more of a liberal party, but that’s beside the point.

Here I will translate Vadai’s interpellation on the renaissance of Miklós Horthy as recorded in “Napló.” I left out only a handful of sentences not necessary for an understanding of the encounter. I should make it clear at the outset that it was Jobbik that began the Horthy cult a few years back, but now Fidesz politicians are lining up behind Jobbik as we can see in the parliamentary encounter below.

Ágnes Vadai:  It seems that we are witnessing a Horthy renaissance. Almost as if Miklós Horthy’s rehabilitation were a new fashion. (Tamás Gaudi-Nagy (Jobbik): “Yes, you are right.” Other Jobbik members:  “This is so!”)  They name a square after him, they set up a statue of him in Kereki, and in the Debrecen Reformed College with the assistance of the highest church leaders they dedicate a memorial plaque in his honor. (Interruption from Jobbik members: “This is so!”) So, not only is the extreme right promoting the introduction of a Horthy cult but Fidesz politicians and mayors are also taking part in the rehabilitation of the admiral on horseback. Fidesz parliamentary members agree to be patrons of a ball organized to collect money for a statue of Horthy on horseback.

I just want to be clear. Are we talking about the man who managed to seize power in the shadow of foreign troops?  (Enormous noise caused by  Jobbik and Fidesz-KDNP members.)  About the man who consolidated his power with the assistance of paramilitary detachments creating a bloodbath? (Noise, the presiding speaker rings the bell.)

The Speaker: Madame Member, I would like to apologize in the name of the majority of the House because I myself cannot hear what you are saying. (Interruptions from Jobbik and Fidesz-KDNP.) I think that the television audience is in a similar situation. That’s why I suggest to the ladies and gentlemen to wait until the madame member finishes with her question because at the end they will not know what she wants to ask from the minister. We can wait until the House calms down, I have enough time and I think Madame Member also. Can we continue? (Előd Novák (Jobbik): “Get to the point!”) Thank you, please continue.

Ágnes Vadai:  Let’s make it clear that we are talking about a man who seized power in the shadow of foreign bayonets. (Tamás Gaudi-Nagy: “What are you talking about?”) About a man who consolidated his power with the assistance of paramilitary detachments. (Interruption from a Fidesz MP: “Kádár.”) He was the man who agreed to sign the Treaty of Trianon that is called a national tragedy by the Hungarian right. It was during his reign that the first anti-Jewish law was enacted to be followed by three more. Horthy’s regime was rejected not only by writers of the left but also by the narodnik writers of the period who are greatly revered by the current Hungarian right. He is the man who led Hungary into the second world war and who allowed the deportation of almost half a million Hungarian citizens to perish in concentration camps. Finally, he passed power into the hands of the murderous hordes of Szálasi. I’m talking about the man who was saved only by Stalin from being labelled a war criminal.

The current government could have stopped the spread of the Horthy cult in the spirit of the Paris Peace Conference, but you didn’t do it because you didn’t want to do it. (Interruptions from Fidesz-KDNP members.)  You for the sake of far-right votes (The speaker rings the bell again.) in a competition with Jobbik are ready to revive the heritage of Horthy. How long will that go on? At the end will you rehabilitate Szálasi? (Applause from MSZP and LMP members.)

The Speaker: Honored ladies and gentlemen of the government parties. When you look at the video of the last three and a half minutes you will be appalled by your own behavior. After all, the madame member’s interpellation has nothing to do with current politics (Tamás Gaudi-Nagy: “She insulted the governor and that’s enough!) and therefore one cannot understand why the Fidesz-KDNP members kept yelling. (Interruptions from Fidesz-KDNP members.) I will give Tibor Navracsics the opportunity to answer the question in four minutes.

Tibor Navracsics: Let me start with a quotation that has nothing to do with current politics. “I, the undersigned, admit that I was a member of the Arrow Cross Party between such and such dates. I realize now that this was contrary to the interest of the people and I made a mistake. I would like to correct my mistake and therefore I promise to spend all my time and energy for the building of the people’s democracy. I swear that I will be a faithful member of the Hungarian Communist Party.” (Laughter from Jobbik and Fidesz-KDNP members.)

Ladies and Gentlemen! When we are talking about the rehabilitation of the Arrow Cross Party in this house there is only one party and some members of the independents who should have to explain a thing or two. (Applause from the Fidesz-KDNP and Jobbik members.)  Here I’m talking about such independent members who chose such a leader [Ferenc Gyurcsány] who lives in a villa on Szemlőhegy Street that had been confiscated twice from its Jewish owner. Once by the Arrow Cross regime and once by the communists.

If Ágnes Vadai is seeking historical continuity then she should look into the Kratkii kurst of the Hungarian Communist Party and find out how many former Arrow Cross Party members ended up in the Communist Party. [The members of MSZP and DK] should ask themselves how they could possibly make common cause with the members of the Arrow Cross Party. (Long applause from Fidesz-KDNP and Jobbik. Interruptions. István Józsa (MSZP): “Is this the answer on Horthy?” Long live Navracsics, Long live Horthy! You don’t know what you are doing!)

The Speaker: Most likely he didn’t hear the question but there was an answer. Madame Member has one minute to give reasons for her acceptance or rejection of the answer.

Ágnes Vadai: I consider you, Mr. Minister, a very intelligent man. (Laughter in the Fidesz-KDNP caucus.)  But you just proved that your intelligence can be overwritten by party loyalty. You should be ashamed of yourself, Mr. Minister. I asked you … (Indignation and interruptions in the Fidesz-KDNP caucus.)  I asked you what you thought of the Horthy cult and whether there might be an introduction of a Szálasi cult. I had every right to ask these questions because in the last few days the Hungarian media were full of them.

You want to teach József Nyirő to the Hungarian youth when Nyirő was a member of Szálasi’s parliament and an admirer of Goebbels (Continuous interruptions from Fidesz-KDNP and Jobbik caucuses) and yet one of the prominent members of your party, the speaker of this house, a member of the Hungarian parliament in the last twenty-two years, takes part in the rehabilitation of this man. (Interruption from Fidesz-KDNP caucus: “He did the right thing!) You should be ashamed of yourself, my fellow members of parliament. I very much hope that your children will not have to answer one day for this abominable behavior you manifest inside and outside of parliament. (Further interruptions: Time! Time!) You should be ashamed of yourselves! I don’t accept the answer. (István Józsa (MSZP) pointing to Tamás Gaudi-Nagy (Jobbik): “Into the minutes! He said, ‘Start to get scared’” Tamás Gaudi-Nagy: “Go ahead!”)

The Speaker repeats again that Vadai didn’t accept Navracsics’s answer and then asks the House to vote. István Nyakó (MSZP) before the vote cried out: “Vote for Horthy!”  Another MSZP member, Zoltán Lukács, said: “What a shame!”  Navracsics’s answer was accepted by 239 members against 44. At this point Zoltán Lukács (MSZP) said, “That at least is clear!”

(Vadai’s assessment of Horthy wasn’t completely correct historically but Navracsics’s answer was totally unacceptable. This is what happens when politicians argue about history.)

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  1. Ferenc Gyerek
    June 10, 2012 at 5:14 pm | #1

    Quite a few Hungarians are tortured by the pain of the fathers and grandfathers from the Communist era.

    The Horthy memories are a like a medicine for these people.

    That is the source of their embracement of Horthy.

    Stupid but true

  2. June 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm | #2

    Ferenc Gyerek :

    Quite a few Hungarians are tortured by the pain of the fathers and grandfathers from the Communist era.

    The Horthy memories are a like a medicine for these people.

    That is the source of their embracement of Horthy.

    Stupid but true

    Don’t let yourself to be fooled. Most of these fierce anti-communists didn’t suffer a bit during the Rákosi and Kádár regimes. Kövér’s family would be a good example. I bet that 99% of the people who were screaming in parliament during the interpellation suffered no ill treatment whatsoever. Perhaps even the opposite. Their families were beneficiaries of the regime.

    Actually it would be an interesting exercise to conduct family research on the current members of parliament.

  3. Some1
    June 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm | #3

    Ferenc Gyerek :
    Quite a few Hungarians are tortured by the pain of the fathers and grandfathers from the Communist era.<
    That is the source of their embracement of Horthy.

    I would live to hear how Orban’s family suffered? THey were after all serving the communist regime with great success. How did Kover’s family suffer? Any detail on the suffering Jobbik and Fidesz members would be welcomed. on this blog, because we are all curious.

  4. Mutt Damon
    June 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm | #4

    Navracsics’s answer was totally unacceptable is an understatement. It’s primitive, childish and idiotic.

    If he thinks the communist party had anything common with the Hungarian nazi party, the Arrowcross Party, he might want to explain why do we see so many ex-communists among the FIDESZ members. Viktor Orban was a communist too – how much does he approve from the ideas of Ferenc Szalasi? You know what? This continuity theory actually explains how the views of the arrow cross movement got carried over all the way to the today’s FIDESZ leadership.

    Foreign readers probably don’t understand what is wrong with Ferenc Gyurcsany’s house.

    The house was built and owned by the Sebestyen family. It was confiscated by the Hungarian nazis as Jewish property. After the end of the war part of the family was able to move back but the got evicted again by the communists later. Then for a while the villa hosted a little garment factory, a dozen or so seamstresses worked there. Then Antal Apro, a minister of the Janos Kadar government received it as a “payout” f you know what I mean. Here is the Gyurcsany connection. Gyurcsany married Antal Apro’s granddaughter Klara. Klara purchased the house in 1995 with the same trickery as everybody else. Many houses and flats were owned by the state and people rented them in the communist era. After the regime change the state wanted to get rid of these houses, for many reasons, but the regulations were very relaxed so to speak. So many made outrages deals buying the flats from the state for peanuts. The people who lived there were offered the houses first. This is how Klara Dobrev got the villa for 9 million in 1995 with cheap financing. Ttoday it is worth over 200 million. This was very common by the way. The Orban family also purchased their state owned dwelling for cheap. Yes, that’s the one that was sold for 65 million later to the son in law of the guy who was the Hungarian ambassador to France during the first Orban regime and sold with big losses later …

  5. Kirsten
    June 10, 2012 at 6:25 pm | #5

    To read this interpellation and then listen to it is already quite shattering. Agnes Vadai is brave, and at some point in the future more people will be able to appreciate her dedication. This parliament is a catastrophe. I bet most of those people screaming and shouting are capable of other behaviour, too, but times are such that they have lost their inhibitions. That is terrifying. The answer of Mr Navracsics proves that those people live in the 1950s at best. People who do not care about politics really get the worst idea of a parliament’s work – and yet it will be necessary that these same people will demand change.

    To Ferenc Gyerek: Interesting to learn that Hungary has never been the “happiest barrack in the socialist camp”. And another point: The fact that Communist rule in the 1950s may have terrified many people does NOT mean that people who PRETEND to have been in opposition to the system can devise ANY policies based on that fact alone to be considered trustworthy and “good”, and it does mean NEITHER that these people are always right in whatever they do. I read here on the blog that one should not think in terms of black and white, but somehow it appears that the “grey” is meant for the nationalists who wish not to be seen as what they are (close-minded nationalists) but to appear as if the nonsense that they preach contains some hidden but extremely intelligent thought. I am sorry, it does not.

  6. June 10, 2012 at 6:26 pm | #6

    Thank you Matt Damon for explaining the story of the house in which Gyurcsány and his wife have an apartment. I think Klara’s mother lives in the other apartment. Only one thing. I don’t think that there was any trickery here. They did what everybody else did, including the owners of a “panel” apartment of 54 square meters. The state wanted to get rid of these houses and apartments for obvious reasons.

  7. Some1
    June 10, 2012 at 10:04 pm | #7

    Eva S. Balogh :
    Only one thing. I don’t think that there was any trickery here. They did what everybody else did, including the owners of a “panel” apartment of 54 square meters. The state wanted to get rid of these houses and apartments for obvious reasons.

    Very true. Every single person was able to purchase the units they rented from the government for a very reasonable sum. Some people were luckier then others. It is more interesting what happened after this period. Eva had several great blog entries on how the Orban family got rich through various questionable practices, coincidentally at the time when Orban was minding his country…. Fidesz always had selective memory.

  8. Karl Pfeifer
    June 11, 2012 at 2:34 am | #8

    It is a fact, that many arrow cross members were recruited after 1945 into the communist party. However MP Vadai is not a communist, was never a communist and it is cheap polemics of the minister to come with this “argument”
    I do not think that the Horthy cult favored now by Fidesz is motivated by sufferings during Rákosi and Kádár. On the contrary almost all the leaders of Fidesz come from families which were eagerly participating in Kádárs system.
    Fact is that during the time of Kádár a new Hungarian middle class was created, who did well. And the families of Fidesz leaders belong to this class.
    Fidesz was once a left liberal party but when their market researcher found out, that there is no more vacant place on the left but they could achieve success on the right, they went suddenly to the right.
    Now while the socialists can say they continue the good traditions of Hungarian socialdemcrats, the liberals those of Jászi. So Fidesz is now trying to revive the tradition of Horthy. This is problematic, because only a small segment of Hungarian society looks on Horthy as a model politician.
    So now Fidesz politicians participated in a dinner and dancing event of the vitéz rend the order of the brave, founded in 1920 for non-Jewish soldiers and officers. Horthy nominated his Prime Minister Döme Sztójay on June 23, 1944 – five weeks after the deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau started – as member of this “order of the brave”. This dinner and dancing event at the beginning of May 2012 in the XVI. Budapest district was to collect the money necessary to put up a statue of Horthy on a horse. They were dressed in fancy uniforms. Find the pictures on
    http://pusztaranger.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/horthy-kult-und-krieg-der-statuen/
    The opposition should publish such pictures to show what the minority enjoying the Orbán-Matolcsy economic disaster is doing.
    By opting for Horthy, Nyirö, Wass they isolate themselves in Europe. In the end they could even loose the support of the conservative people parties in Europe.

  9. Odin’s Lost eye
    June 11, 2012 at 6:06 am | #9

    The actions of the Government and their supporters during Hon M/S Vadai question in the house was disgusting.
    Professor you wrote that in her reply to the Minister’s answer the Hon Member said ** “I very much hope that your children will not have to answer one day for this abominable behavior you manifest inside and outside of parliament. (Further interruptions: Time! Time!) You should be ashamed of yourselves! I don’t accept the answer” **. I too echo that hope.

    To put things into their correct perspective, Horthy cane to power supported by the muzzles of Romanian rifles. From my reading and understanding of the situation is that the Romanians were in Hungary after Bela Kun’s ‘outfit’ attacked Romania in order to spread ‘The (Red) Revolution’. The Romanians put ‘paid’ to that nonsense and had followed it up by a policy of ‘hot pursuit’ and not allow Hungary to become a safe haven for the ‘Red Revolution’.. You must not forget that Bela Kun had previously attacked the Czechs.

    The Romanians now had three alternatives.
    Firstly they could have continued as an ‘Occupying Power’.
    Secondly they could have just let the Hungarians ‘get on with it’. That alternative was an utter nonsense as they would have had total instability on their new North Western frontier which would have spread into their frontier districts.
    Quite pragmatically they chose the third alternative. This was the Hungarian National Army under Horthy. Since this outfit was busy with the ‘White Terror’, putting down what was left of the ‘Hungarian Soviet Republic’, the Romanians were quite happy to let it go on as it removed a further problem from their list.

    Horthy’s subsequent career was one of self preservation.

    What really puzzles me is ‘why in the name of ‘makum’’ has Fidesz and its leadership started to dabble and rake up the Hungarian past (none of which is too savory)? Is it to justify their policies?

    Fidesz had a chance to invent a totally new Hungary. One which would be “newly new and freshly fresh”. A future free from any hint or taint of past evils and corruption and supposed ‘glories’. A new Hungary with a new, bright polished chrome future! But no they have to go and wallow in the cesspits of Hungary’s past.’ WHY, why, why?

    Can anyone tell me?

  10. CharlieH
    June 11, 2012 at 8:47 am | #10

    London Calling!

    O/T but not totally unrelated.

    Could the ‘gearing’ effect of the Fidesz political gerrymandering funding changes mean that Orban has shot himself in the foot?

    This analysis seems to suggest it – or is it wishful thinking? (What’s this political analyst’s pedigree?)

    http://www.politics.hu/20120611/quotable-gabor-torok-on-the-potential-for-an-opposition-landslide-in-2014/

    Might it be the unexpected ‘left field’ event which could change the politics radically, and unexpectedly? We can live in hope.

    Otherwise it’s more:

    Cultural Learnings of Hungary for Make Benefit Glorious Thousand-year-old Victorious Nation of Hungarystan

    Regards

    Charlie

  11. June 11, 2012 at 10:35 am | #11

    OK Dr Balogh, I am awaiting the details on “Their families were beneficiaries of the regime” I hope you can prove it at least for the half of that 239…….or should we accept that you have stated a “historical” fact????

  12. June 11, 2012 at 10:43 am | #12

    Odin’s lost eye. Jpurnalistic knowledge of history is generally wanting. Please check up the 1917-1920 events from original sources. You are miskaken on several points.
    However, I can not answer why Horthy became an issue in Hungary, perhaps because it was not permissible to talak about him for a long time.

  13. Mutt Damon
    June 11, 2012 at 10:54 am | #13

    Louis Kovach :
    OK Dr Balogh, I am awaiting the details on “Their families were beneficiaries of the regime”

    Our fierce commie hunter, Kovach, now is protecting communists. Nice.

    Party members and “faithful” communists (on paper) all benefited. Jobs, promotions, raises, business trips, kids admitted to universities … we all know the perks. That’s why we went to school after work to study Marxism-Leninism (foxi-maxi anyone?). High schoolers became members of the KISZ (Communist Youth Organization) to make sure they are admitted.

    Your anti-communism is a joke, Kovach.

  14. Karl Pfeifer
    June 11, 2012 at 11:33 am | #14

    Louis Kovach. Already at the end of the seventies and during the eighties of the last century a lot of open discussion was going on in Hungary on history and the Horthy period. There was for instance a consensus, that there was no Horthy-Fascism. The Horthy regime was of course not democratic, but it was not a oneparty system, social democratic party was operating legally until the 19th of March, 1944.

  15. CharlieH
    June 11, 2012 at 11:45 am | #15

    London Calling!

    Kovach – Stop having a pop at Eva – It’s clear you have some agenda here.

    And many of us are finding it tiresome.

    Allez-vous en.

    Regards

    Charlie

  16. Odin’s Lost eye
    June 12, 2012 at 9:38 am | #16

    In terms of war there are very special dates which I call ‘Cardinal war dates’, these are the dates to which the final the final victory can be directly attributed. In the war we are talking about the first of these dates is 4th August 1914. This was the date on which the Royal Navy was ordered to commence hostilities with Germany. This order was effective by 1916 and fully effective by 1918 when Germany had exhausted its stocks and supplies raw material and famine stalked the land . The similar thing happened by late 1943.
    In WW1 the second cardinal date was the second cardinal date was 8th August 1918 which was the start of the battle of Amiens and the beginning of the end for the German armies in Flanders. (They were wrecked). The third was the 19th September 1918 in Palestine -the battle of Megiddo. This led directly to the Armistice with the Turks on the 30th October 1918 and the opening of a supply route to Romania via Constanta.
    It is those five dates, the first being 4th August 1914. On which day ‘Central Powers’ were effectively cut from the rest of the world for supplies. The 8th August 1918 which was the day when the Hindenburg line was effectively breeched. This resulted in the 100 day offensive which destroyed the German Army in Flanders. The 16th September 1918 Battle of Megiddo, which effectively destroyed Ottoman Turkey. the 30th October 1918 when Turkey was given an armistice which incidentally and allowed the resupply by sea of Romania in the East. Finally the 11th November 1918 when the leading power of the ‘Central Powers’, Germany, called ‘Uncle’.
    So what happened in Romania in 1917 has nothing to do with it at all.
    Remember it is those who are sitting at the table, when those who seek an armistice and wish to stop fighting arrive, ARE THE WINNERS (and write the history.!

  17. June 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm | #17

    I would like to return to the historical fallacy that “Horthy acquired power with the assistance of foreign troops.” The reference to the Romanian forces which by August 6, 1919 reached Budapest. An incredibly confusing few months followed. I spent hundreds of pages on the next three months.

    In Budapest there was a coup d’etat that removed the six-day-old government of Gyula Peidl that took over after Béla Kun and most of the leaders of the Hungarian Soviet Republic had fled to Austria. The western politicians in Paris were convinced that the Romanians were the culprits but I spent quite a bit of time on the subject and came to the conclusion that although the Romanian military knew about the impending coup they had no hand in the coup itself.

    During the same period the “National Army” of Miklós Horthy with the blessings of the French occupying forces in Szeged crossed into Transdanubia and set up headquarters at Siófok at Lake Balaton. They were very careful to avoid the Romanian forces which went beyond Budapest and occupied some parts of Transdanubia. If, for example, Horthy wanted to go Budapest he could do it only incognito because otherwise he feared that the Romanians would arrest him.

    The Romanians were very suspicious of Horthy and his detachments and if they had a free hand they would have eliminated Horthy’s forces. But they did not, The Inter-allied Military Mission sent by the Paris Peace Conference to Budapest shielded Horthy. If the Romanians didn’t like Horthy, Horthy and his officers hated the Romanians. And here I will quote from my own work: ” The officers serving under Admiral Horthy, almost without exception, hated their eastern neighbor. ‘The troops are not only enthusiastic but feverish; at all costs they want to attack the Romanians,’ wrote Miklós Kozma, one of the officers, in his diary. (Kozma, “Összeomlás, p. 401.) Pál Prónay [another officer] was advising Horthy to push the Romanians across the Danube, (Prónay, Fejezetek, p. 21) and Horthy himself was ready for an armed defense in case the Romanians continued their westward march.(Conversation between Horthy and Schnetzer, August 27, 1919, Iratok 1: 135-126).”

    And here is a footnote to the above. ” In October Horthy summarized his plans on diplomatic matters and presented them to the government in a long, detailed memorandum. He announced that ” at the moment and in the near future our chief enemy is Romania,” and he advised the Hungarian foreign minister to conduct his foreign policy in view of “the encirclement of Romania.” Horthy to Minister of Defense, Foreign Minister, and Prime Minister, October 28, 1919, Iratok 1:200-201. Horthy’s attitude towards Romania became widely known, and therefore the admiral was forced to deny the basis of any rumors accusing him of planning to attack the “Roumanians with the help of the Serbians.” He assured the member of the Inter-allied Military Mission that he had never entertained such an idea and that “he intended to be loyal.” Report on a visit to the Hungarian Army, September 23-25, 1919, National Archives, Record Group 549, M820/190/509).”

    I guess that will give you an idea that Vadas’s accusation in this respect is baseless.

  18. CharlieH
    June 12, 2012 at 7:54 pm | #18

    London Calling!

    Eva, you said in an earlier reply that the (definitive) biography of Horthy had yet to be written.

    Have you considered writing it yourself? I am sure, with your encyclopaedic knowledge of Hungary, that it would be an objectively-written readable read.

    You have so many resources it seems (which I hope you have securely backed-up!) that it would be a riveting read; that only someone outside Hungary looking in could write.

    Regards

    Charlie

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