Two footnotes: Hungarian education and the burial of István Csurka

After I wrote my piece yesterday on Hungarian education I saw a photo I thought I should share with you because it seems to me to fortify my strong suspicion that Viktor Orbán has made HÖOK, the official nationwide student union, his willing instrument. I described HÖOK as the Orbán regime’s KISZ.

HÖOK has often been described as a breeding ground for young Fidesz cadres, although in certain universities some of the HÖOK leaders leaned toward Jobbik and eventually accepted high positions in that party. During the socialist-liberal governments Fidesz used HÖOK effectively: with the help of these young and not so young politicos Viktor Orbán guaranteed that all governmental attempts at the reform of higher education would fail. Once Fidesz assumed power HÖOK had to be co-opted because if it had continued its obstructionist activities it could have been a serious impediment to the Orbán government’s attempts at restructuring higher education (including curbing the powers of HÖOK).

Months of negotiations between Rózsa Hoffmann and Dávid Nagy, the president of HÖOK, led nowhere. It seems that Nagy, the greying and balding undergraduate, was still trying to represent the interests of the students. But then something happened. First, Orbán sent Tibor Navracsics to talk with him. Nagy was enthusiastic about the encounter. He announced that in one hour more was accomplished than in the previous five months. Moreover, Nagy announced that the prime minister himself would meet with him.

The meeting took place and Dávid Nagy, who had been a frequent guest on Olga Kálmán’s Egyenes beszéd, was a changed man. Here is the photo that I think speaks volumes.

Orban, Nagy David, Csiszar Imre, Hoffmann

Aren’t we friendly? 

Pictured are Rózsa Hoffmann, Dávid Nagy, Viktor Orbán and Imre Csiszár, secretary of the National Association of Graduate Students. It’s obvious that Orbán decided to charm the until then intractable Dávid Nagy. It may have been during this meeting that a deal was struck: HÖOK and Dávid Nagy can stay, but Nagy has to play ball.

Of course, there is the new student organization, Hallgatói Hálozat, that will be more difficult to control. These are really young kids. The chief organizer, Andrea Kóbor, was born at the very end of 1989. She never experienced the Kádár regime first hand and wasn’t in an “official” position in HÖOK. Moreover, most likely she has a very low opinion of the whole organization and its leaders at the various universities. As she said in a recent interview, HÖOK president Nagy didn’t manage to achieve anything except to keep his own organization intact.

The other photo I thought you ought to see was taken at István Csurka’s funeral this afternoon. He was buried in the Kerepesi Cemetery (official name Fiumei úti nemzeti sírkert or Fiume Road National Graveyard.) Not everybody can be buried there nowadays. Only famous people. The cemetery, by the way, is certainly worth a visit, in part because of its spectacular statues. For those who prefer online tourism, I recommend this fantastic pictorial tour of the 56-acre cemetery.

In any case, Csurka was buried in Kerepesi Cemetery–in the area reserved for the heroes of the 1956 revolution. As we know, he did take part in the student movement in 1956 and spent a few months in a camp, but unfortunately we also know that after his release he became an informer. For his good services he received the apartment of István Angyal, a real hero of 1956, who had already been arrested and was later executed. In any case, Csurka was buried as a hero and “hundreds of people followed him on his last journey,” as MTI reported.

Csurka temetese

As you can see, a lot of people attended the funeral. If I am correct, right in front with a white hat and sunglasses is the revolutionary heroine Mária Wittner, Fidesz member of parliament. The MTI reporter spotted the following politicians among the mourners: János Lázár, leader of the Fidesz caucus; Zsolt Németh, undersecretary in the Foreign Ministry; Máté Kocsis, MP and mayor of District VIII who is responsible for the harsh treatment of the homeless; László L. Simon, MP in charge lately of cultural affairs and in civilian life apparently a writer; Ferenc Papcsák, MP and mayor of District XIV (Zugló); Mária Wittner; Károly Nemcsák, a theater director known for his right-wing sympathies; and Zsolt Bayer.

Csurka was a Protestant (református, Calvinist) and thus a Reformed bishop, István Bogárdi Szabó, performed the ceremony. Sándor Lezsák, deputy speaker of the House, delivered a eulogy in which he talked about his “friend and fighting companion” who was “a radical but not an extremist … radical in defending the Hungarians.” Lezsák, a minor poet himself, compared Csurka’s radicalism to that of Endre Ady and Dezső Szabó, an interesting pairing since Ady was a genius and Szabó was not. Moreover, Szabó was an anti-Semite and a nationalist while Ady was anything but. Well, let that be Lezsák’s problem.

Lezsák also mentioned the happy fact that Csurka could still see “the hundreds of thousands of the Peace March,” which was an uplifting sight and had to be “a historical fulfillment for István Csurka because he knew full well that only a healthy human fear of danger is able to unite people in such a way.” According to Lezsák, the Peace March was a manifestation of the “calm national strength that defends Hungarian independence, national self-determination” and showed that the Orbán government is on the right track.

Csaba Gy. Kiss, one of the leaders of the Hungarian Writers’ Union, in which hardly any truly important writers can be found, compared Csurka’s stature to that of the Polish Sławomir Mrożek and the Czech Milan Kundera. According to Kiss, Csurka is one of the greats of the Central European theater of the absurd. László Kovács, deputy chairman of MIÉP, compared Csurka to the Spartan hero-king Leonidas. György Dörner, whose name was spread far and wide after his appointment to be director of Új Szinház, recited a poem by Sándor Reményik, a Transylvanian poet. The ceremony ended with the national anthem, and the crowd bade farewell to Csurka by applauding as in a theater.

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21 comments

  1. “Csurka was buried as a hero and “hundreds of people followed him on his last journey,” as MTI reported.”
    I guess now MTI is underreporting the numbers, the photo shows more.
    I find this hopeless…

  2. I guess HÖOK will become like Fidesz. HÖOK should stand for students, and we should assume its representatives would be students that would fit the general category even in age. THe Fid form Fidesz means Young Democrats. Originally the cut off line was 35 years of age for that party, until Orban figured out that he he has it to good as a politicians and that very likely he would fail as a lawyer. (Maybe the name soon change to Retired Ex-Democrats..) With HÖOK, maybe the organization’s name will be changed from the current Student Union to Alumni Union. See, it is easy in Hungary.
    It is very disturbing about Csurka’s funeral. He is not a hero! He is a disgrace for uniting Hungarians. While he enjoyed his life as informer to save his skin, while real heros like Istvan Angyal was executed. The interesting twist about this, that Angyal was a “true communist”, who beloved in the idea but did not agree wit the implemented communism in Hungary. He remained communist. So, he was a Jew, a communist, remained a communist but killed by the communist. (Angyal was a friend of my aunt by the way.) Csurka on the other hand was whatever he was, saved his skin by informing on those who were against the communists, served the communists, then when they were gone, he reformed as a nationalist. He died as an informer for the communists, a racist, and a nationalist. Sickening!

  3. GDF: “I guess now MTI is underreporting the numbers, the photo shows more. I find this hopeless…”
    Don’t worry Heti Válasz corrected it: The headline says “thousands.”

  4. Eva:”GDF: “I guess now MTI is underreporting the numbers, the photo shows more. I find this hopeless…”
    Don’t worry Heti Válasz corrected it: The headline says “thousands.” ”
    I am afraid you misunderstood me (actually I should have written it clearer). I stopped caring about the MTI. I find the whole situation in Hungary hopeless.

  5. Nice proof of the FIDESZ closet anti-Semitism that their caucus leader, “Laser Johnny” Janos Lazar was there along with the biggest racist (now that Csurka is dead) Zsolt Bayer.
    Only on Planet Hungary is possible to bury this beagle in the pantheon of the 56 heroes. No self respect whatsoever. What a nation. Becoming an informant after the 56 revolution was so widespread that nobody cares. It’s like chicken pox. Did you have it? Oh, yes, it was bad, but it’s over.
    ationalism.

  6. Mutt Damon says, “There are no values”.
    Oh! Yes there are. Big, juicy cash “values”: from dodgy property deals, from selling off state assets to the advantage of the few, from related asset-stripping, from hanging around at the centre of “power” for 20+ years, from getting a cushy position in Brussels (and elsewhere), from being an MP and a mayor at the same time, from being an individual with any number of pompous personnae in the ranks of the predestined ….and so on….
    Most of these new “surplus values” have hardly benefited the mass of the Hungarian people (who, as we have been told, can “stand on their own feet” without any outside assistance).
    Of course Mutt…I know what your are really talking about and you are spot-on right. It is the above “rotten” values that have in part been responsible for draining the “real” values” you miss, like so many of us!

  7. “Shortly after 9/11 István Csurka, chairman of MIÉP, made a speech in parliament in which he said that the United States got what it deserved. Viktor Orbán, who was in the chamber, remained silent.” Hungarian Spectrum
    Happy to hear that Max Teleki briefed the US congressional delegation visiting Budapest next week (MTI). Are they going to shake hands with Zsolt Nemeth who has just arrived from the Csurka burial?

  8. @koeszmeod, I just want to say that even though you were questing from Hungarian Spectrum, it was all over the news that the USA (with Bush as a President) had real problem with Orban sitting silent after Gyurcsany’s disgraceful comments.
    From the telegram from Geza Jeszenszky (Hungary’s Ambassador at the USA at the time):
    “THey know Csurka, and they are clear about his worldview, actually there is nothing else could be expected from him, but they expected something else from our Prime Minister.” ” Regarding. After Csurka’s comments following the September eleventh terror attack, the lack of any comment from the head of the State, strengthen the impression in the Republican leadership, that for internal political reasons, specifically the next year’s elections win has absolute priority for the Hungarian Prime Minister, and therefore he will subordinate everything else to this” .
    “[Csurkat] ismerik, és tisztában vannak világnézetével, tőle tulajdonképpen mást nem is lehetett várni, de a minisz-terelnökünktől mást vártak”. „a szeptember 11-i terrorcselekmények utáni Csurka-nyilatkozatokkal kapcsolatban hiányzott kormányfői megszólalás megerősítette a republikánus vezetésben azt a benyomást, hogy a magyar miniszterelnök számára a belpolitikai megfontolások, s konkrétan a jövő évi választások megnyerése bír abszolút prioritással, s ennek minden mást kész alárendelni”.
    Well, lets put it this way, nothing has changed, and although become slightly more sly, so he did not show his face at the funeral, he certainly had no problem with his cabinet members attending, and supporting an open anti-semite, a hater of the USA, hater of the EU. So, I can only hope when the delegation from the USA arrives they will be able to stand up whatever is right.
    (My daily movie quotes… West Side Story, Bernardo to Riff:
    ” Look: I don’t go for that pretend crap you all go for in this country. Every one of you hates every one of us, and we hate you right back. I don’t drink with nobody I hate, I don’t shake hands with nobody I hate. Let’s get at it.”

  9. Meanwhile on Planet Hungary …
    Another day another scandal.
    First the awesome news. Bence (Benedek) Fligauf, Hungarian director’s movie the Just the Wind won the Jury Grand Price in the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival! The film is based on actual events, serial killings in Hungary in 2008-2009, when Roma families were murdered by extremist. The plot however is fiction and focuses on a Roma family living close by.
    And now Ladies and Gents, the usual Orban news: Zoltan Balog, undersecretary of something in the Orban government came and dumped in the middle of the celebrations. On the press conference the KIM (Ministry of Justice) distributed a 3 page flier in English and German explaining that the film is just fiction and the Hungarian authorities did an outstanding job finding the perpetrators and by the way there were similar things in other countries, like in Germany. The flier was also bragging about the Orban government’s great efforts and professional (sic!) Roma strategy.
    Pusztarager has the scans of the original documents. Scroll down for the English version:
    http://pusztaranger.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/seltsame-flugblattaktion-des-staatssekretariats-fur-soziale-integration-auf-der-berlinale
    Needless to say Fliegauf was shocked and had no idea.
    I wanted to write something clever and funny at the end but I’m still speechless. I think I just go a bang my head into the wall. It’s cheaper than the Hungarian “palinka” …

  10. I wanted to post something on this too. lol
    First the Hungarian Ambassador for Hungary sends his protest letters protesting against two HUngarian journalists International awards.
    Now, Balog is hacking the press conference of Filgauf..
    I guess I will comment when Eva’s post comes out.

  11. Re -“Hungarian authorities did ……..by the way there were similar things in other countries, like in Germany.”
    Just because similar crimes exist in other countries doesn’t make it alright!

  12. Most people in Germany (me included) still can’t believe how this nazi killer group stayed undetected for so long – now parliamentary committees are on it.
    I’m almost sure that they had some kind of protection from some people in the “Verfassungsschutz” etc, our kind of secret service …
    An almost unbelievable story!

  13. London Calling!
    This is a shocking damage limitation exercise by the Hungarian Government.
    As the vigilantes and (Jobbik?) thugs intimidated the residents of the Roma village where were the police?
    In any decent EU democracy the police would have been deployed in such great numbers that the thugs would have had limited options. The police would have been sufficiently non-partisan to stop breaches of the peace. Including the acts of urinating in the snow.
    I doubt if any film could portray the sheer terror of these thugs – and from the real clip I saw – the villagers behaved with real dignity; knowing they could have sparked off worse consequences. No wonder that they all want to emigrate to Canada.
    So is this the reality that the Hungarian Government is so proud of? We don’t have as many Roma killings as other countries. So that’s all right then.
    Goodness – What a disgrace – What a ‘Democracy’ – What a country.
    Regards
    Charlie

  14. Maybe it’s just me, but the photo above looks like three adults talking and a kid running around them, actually he is just hitting one of the adults’ behind.

  15. Minor note regarding the Hungarian govt’s press release for the film “Just the Wind”. I note that it talks about an incident in “the capital of Slovakia”. They obviously couldn’t bring themselves to refer to this city as “Bratislava”…

  16. Paul: “Freud would be proud of you, Some 1!” bahahaha I was actually reading about how Gyurcsany actually tried to convince Bush that what Orban did not do it was a mistake.
    According Gyurcsany, it was BUsh who inquired about Hungary’s interior political situation, and in hiss response the Prime Minister [Gyurcsany at the time] defended the opposition, by saying that those debates are over, ”
    Still the opposition had its doubt that it was bush who brought up the subject. Now, that is interesting again, as the opposition did not feel ashamed that they did not say anything to neo-nazi Csurka, but nose got out of joint when they thought that anyone dared to bring up with Bush how they behaved. (THis is how I mixed Gyurcsany’s name in it.)

  17. GDF: “Maybe it’s just me, but the photo above looks like three adults talking and a kid running around them, actually he is just hitting one of the adults’ behind.”
    Well, Orbán is trying to charm the president of HÖOK and it worked. I just read that Dávid Nagy was an invited guest at the meeting of the Fidelitas top brass. Fidelitas is the youth organization of Fidesz.

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