Home > Uncategorized > A close reading of István Csurka’s antisemitic play, The Sixth Coffin

A close reading of István Csurka’s antisemitic play, The Sixth Coffin

August 24, 2012

Thanks to a friend of Hungarian Spectrum, yesterday I received a copy of István Csurka’s Hatodik koporsó (The Sixth Coffin). Since just the other day one of the commenters complained that we are discussing a play that none of us has read, I was mighty glad to have an opportunity to do so.

It is only forty pages long and I could have read the whole play in less than an hour, but I was taking notes and kept checking  the historical accuracy of some of the characters and events Csurka describes. So it took me about an hour and a half to go through the play’s rather bizarre plot.

The play is about a fantastic invention of two Hungarians that allows its users to recapture every word, every movement, every person from the past. Centuries later we can find out precisely what happened at any moment in history as long as the invention is on the spot where the event took place. The falsifiers of history can thus be eliminated and the past becomes completely knowable without any distortion. In addition to this “truth machine”–my own description of the invention–these two Hungarian geniuses are also able to make people and objects invisible.

The two inventors bring their machine into one of the conference rooms of the Palace of Versailles. They also employ a young Hungarian who is referred to as Apród (Page) whose grandfather was executed in 1958 because of his involvement with the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. They also drag in a huge coffin which, in addition to the grandfather’s remains, contains a few pieces from Stalin’s smashed statue. Interestingly enough, the dead grandfather in the coffin can merrily converse with Georges Clemenceau, and among his otherworldly possessions he even has a lighter tucked away.

The day that this “truth machine” focuses on is February 17, 1919, when there is a meeting of  the committee that was entrusted with coming up with the new frontiers of Romania and Yugoslavia. I assume that Csurka’s source was Francia diplomáciai iratok a Kárpát-medence történetéről, 1918-1919, a collection of French documents pertaining to the Paris Peace Conference, edited by Magda Ádám and Mária Ormos.

Csurka couldn’t have read the text very carefully, however, because he even makes mistakes when recounting the names of the participants. Reginald Leeper of Great Britain becomes Lepper, Sir Stuart M. Samuel becomes Sir Samuel Stuart, and Lieutenant Reuben Horchow of the United States Army becomes Harchow. Horchow was one of the eight secretaries for territorial questions; his job was most likely recording the meeting in shorthand. Csurka pegged him as a Jew and Horchow/Harchow became Csurka’s main villain. According to Csurka, Harchow officially handled the service personnel, but in reality he was a spy. He was originally from Poland and trained in the United States but paraded as part of the French delegation. According to one of Csurka’s inventors, Harchow visited Hungary only once when he apparently got in touch with the people in the Galileo Circle. Naturally! The evil Harchow was spying for the British secret service and later passed on a wealth of information to “the secret services of the burgeoning Israel, Russia and Great Britain.”

It turns out early in the play that “”four American Jews and Arthur Balfour were responsible for the dismemberment of Hungary.” How does Csurka manage to find four Jews among the top decision makers?  Jews and quasi-Jews come and go throughout the play, so I’m not sure who the real American villains were. Charles Seymour, history professor at Yale University and later its president, wasn’t Jewish; even Csurka doesn’t try to convert him. Csurka thinks that he was “a shyster of a lawyer in New York.”  However, according to Csurka, Seymour reports to Edward (Colonel) House. Csurka makes a Jew out of House, whose ancestry goes back to Dutch immigrants of the colonial period. The family’s original name was Huis, Dutch for “house”. Not so for Csurka who decided that House’s original name was Mandel and that he was the son of a rabbi. In fact, House’s father was the mayor of Houston. Another Jew in this company was actually Jewish, Bernard Baruch. But Baruch had absolutely nothing to do with the territorial questions at the peace conference. He advised President Woodrow Wilson on economic matters and in fact argued against the exceedingly harsh reparation payments Germany had to pay after the lost war.

Another villain is Sir Stuart M. Samuel, formerly high commissioner for Palestine, who was entrusted with minority rights in Poland. Csurka certainly doesn’t like the idea of protection for the rather large Jewish minority in Poland. Csurka talks about a Rothschild without being more specific, but I guess he is talking about Edmund James Rothschild, a great supporter of  Zionism. Csurka puts the following words into Rothschild’s mouth: “The tribe of Jews always accepted suffering for the survival and realization of the whole nation. If suffering awaits the Jews of a dismembered Hungary, they should bear it or should emigrate to the United States, but the matter of power over the whole world must go on.” Csurka’s Rothschild also makes it clear that Trianon is really the work of American Jews who try to shift the blame onto the French. Another American Jewish financier, Jacob Schiff, enters the scene in a conversation with Bernard Baruch and Arthur Balfour. It is about Wilson’s idea of setting up the League of Nations. Schiff is originally opposed to the idea but eventually relents on the condition that “the first president of the League of Nations will be Jewish.” Baruch inquires from Balfour whether this is possible or not, and Balfour assures him that it is possible. As far as I know, the first president of the League of Nations was Léon Bourgeois, former French prime minister, and I don’t have the foggiest idea of his ethnicity.

Léon Trotsky is also mentioned by these Jewish conspirators. Referring to him by his original name, Leon Bronstein, he is described as a close friend of Rothschild, Baruch, and Schiff. Granddad in the coffin and grandson Apród keep asking members of the committee questions. One concerns Trotsky who was, according to Csurka, financed by the American Jews who later advised Wilson on matters of state. And all the Jewish immigrants working in sweatshops talk about Trotsky whom they consider to be the real leader of Bolshevik Russia. Apród wants to know who the first and second presidents of Soviet Russia were, and naturally both were Jews.

Eventually Clemenceau enters the stage and has a long conversation with the dead revolutionary from 1956. He tells the French president that he was killed by Hungarians on Soviet orders. Clemenceau thinks that the man in the coffin is Romanian. Our revolutionary proudly retorts: “Thank God, no. I’m a Hungarian.” The conversation turns to Stalin and thus Clemenceau: “Oh, I remember him from the early days when he was an insignificant character. He was a Georgian, not Jewish and not a freemason. I never thought that he would ever amount to anything.”

Granddad informs Clemenceau about 1956 in this vein: “Stalin out of revenge delegated power to four Muscovite Jews–Rákosi, Gerő, Farkas, and Révai–who not only introduced a dictatorship but robbed the country blind.” This was also the peacemakers’ fault, including Clemenceau, because “if they hadn’t torn Hungary apart, the Russians would never have occupied Budapest.” Well, that’s an interesting theory. Hungary would have been able to stand against the mighty Soviet Union? On Germany’s side? And win the war? Is that what Csurka is getting at?

Throughout the play Edvard Beneš is lurking in the background. In Csurka’s theory the Czechoslovak foreign minister is behind everything–or at least everything that the Jews don’t control. He feeds false information to the peacemakers who robotically accept all his recommendations, even those concerning the future Romanian-Hungarian border. The February 17 meeting deals with the controversial decision to leave about 200,000 Hungarian speaking people on the Romanian side for the sake of a north-south railway line. The much abused Americans in fact wanted to leave the territory with Hungary but they were outnumbered: the British, the French, and the Italians all voted in favor of Romania. Beneš’s name did come up during this particular discussion, but Csurka’s Clemenceau gave him a commanding, prescient role. Bidding goodbye to the members of the delegation, Csurka’s Clemenceau said, “Continue with your work according to the Beneš decrees.” How unhistorical can you get?

In brief, István Csurka’s truth machine came up with a grotesque re-creation of  the twentieth century. What is truly frightening is the reaction of the play’s director, Zsolt Pozsgay. To him “Csurka only used a historical event in its historical reality.” As for its antisemitism, to Pozsgay “there are no antisemitic thoughts in the play. There are only historical facts.”

There is history and there is fiction, and sometimes the two can be bedfellows. But Csurka’s play doesn’t even begin to rise to the level of historical fiction. It is propaganda pure and simple. History is not a bedfellow of fiction but a rape victim.

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  1. Some1
    August 25, 2012 at 7:14 pm | #1

    spectator :
    @Some1 – I hear what you saying and I still don’t agree.
    Today we accept a “little” antisemitic play, tomorrow we’re supposed to accept a little more, – see, it wasn’t that big impact – and before long we will find ourselves in a spot, where we have no chance to stop it anymore.
    Just look at the images what Bowen linked above – to me the 7/18 is the most frightening – this is Budapest, Hungary in 2012.

    You do not have to convince me about how bad anti-semitism is. I can show you moe photos of you wish. I simply do nor agree that a writer’s disillusioned play should not be played. The theatre should not have this director at the helm, but he is. THis play will fail on iit’s own and very fast, not because it is anti-semite, because it is full of misinformation, simply because it is badly written, it is full of . It is bad and boring. It is badly written and it will find no audience to keep it playing. THis play will do more harm if someone will try to stop it then by people watching it. How anti-semitic it is? It is anti-semitic, anti-liberal, anti-American, but it is less harmful than most articles by Magyar Hirlap, and look at it it is still in print.

  2. August 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm | #2

    Apropos, Magyar Hirlap. Even Zsolt Bayer, the “doyen” of the Hungarian anti-Semitism, suggested that some parts of the play should be rewritten. I think the extra right is cautiously distancing itself from it already anticipating a big time flop.

  3. August 25, 2012 at 7:47 pm | #3

    Eva S. Balogh :
    Kirsten: ” I started to wonder already whether the “true Hungarian”, true to his traditional rural life, has defined himself against the background of the strengthening importance of the typically non-true Hungarian towns and urban life, so that the Hungarian “cultural” anti-semitism was a reflection of the uneasiness with modernisation (and urban life).”
    Excellent observation. You put your finger on it. Just think about the népies ~ urbánus controversy. The népiesek were first generation intellectual of often peasant background. Among the urbánusok there were many intellectuals, writers of Jewish background but not exclusively. The same controversy was renewed at the at the 1980s: MDF versus SZDSZ.

    A quick sketch of the complexity of the situation in The Politics of Backwardness in Hungary: 1825-1945. In line with Slezkine’s views in The Jewish Century, which is primarily about Russia, but certainly worth reading. Plus, the rush to modernity (and emancipation) was highly disputed within the jewish ‘community’ itself, which was also going through a serious identity crisis at the same time.

  4. August 25, 2012 at 8:58 pm | #4

    Dr Balogh” “Would you be good enough to go into the details.”

    I will in the very near future, now is a very busy time. I do not only want to give generic references.

  5. Arany-One
    August 25, 2012 at 10:05 pm | #5

    The Petofi1 presented the truth.
    Kovach is a Hungarian prince, and a thief of many identities.

  6. Some1
    August 25, 2012 at 10:09 pm | #6

    Mutt Damon :
    Apropos, Magyar Hirlap. Even Zsolt Bayer, the “doyen” of the Hungarian anti-Semitism, suggested that some parts of the play should be rewritten. I think the extra right is cautiously distancing itself from it already anticipating a big time flop.

    I do not read Bayer. Mutt, would you be kind to let us know more about what Bayer refers to? Is it the content, the writing style, the historical errors Bayer has problems with or he feels it needs more “csardas” or even gypsy music (coincidentally) to be entertaining to the target audience?

  7. Some1
    August 25, 2012 at 10:16 pm | #7

    Louis Kovach :
    Dr Balogh” “Would you be good enough to go into the details.”
    I will in the very near future, now is a very busy time. I do not only want to give generic references.

    Don’t take Eva too serious about this request. I think we would all prefer if you spare us the details. Csurka’s play is good enough for us to know what kind of true Hungarian history we are faced with. I hope you will be able to make it in time to see the show. I suggest the first week.

  8. August 25, 2012 at 10:50 pm | #8

    Some1 :
    I do not read Bayer. Mutt, would you be kind to let us know more about what Bayer refers to? Is it the content, the writing style, the historical errors Bayer has problems with or he feels it needs more “csardas” or even gypsy music (coincidentally) to be entertaining to the target audience?

    He wasn’t really specific about the details. He feels the “ending” should be reworked in line with Csurka’s talent (Bayer’s words). Here is the link:

    http://www.magyarhirlap.hu/velemeny/gyulolkodok_.html

  9. CharlieH
    August 26, 2012 at 2:29 am | #9

    London Calling!

    I think the troll has gone into pseudo-’busy’ mode because Kirsten has called his bluff.

    ………And he will not answer Eva directly as is the usual problem.

    Mutt and others are correct – a true troll – and a doubtful troll, not worth the candle.

    Regards

    Charlie

  10. Some1
    August 26, 2012 at 8:06 am | #10

    Mutt Damon :
    He wasn’t really specific about the details. He feels the “ending” should be reworked in line with Csurka’s talent (Bayer’s words). Here is the link:
    http://www.magyarhirlap.hu/velemeny/gyulolkodok_.html

    OK, so I took a stab at it. Oh my goodness. Bayer is right there with Csurka about the writing style, so I am sure he did not have problem with to much buy the ending.
    DO you remember when I mentioned my intention to jump out the window if I need to read one more time “falsifiers of history” one more time in one page? Well “hate-masters” and “hate-ideologists” are Bayer’s “falsifiers of history”. While Csurka calls his characters by his made up name, Bayer calls critics under his made up names, and man, he just chews on it, like there is no tomorrow.
    Now as far as Bayer goes, he simply dismisses that there are people who actually read this “not masterwork” and barks out about it to people who, guess what, probably also missed reading it (good for them). He has no problem with the content , and he calls Csurka’s play (just like I did) “Csurka’s analysis “insightful and superb” (“Csurka az analízisben éleslátó és remek”). Bayer does not let himself bothered by the historical errors or assumptions made by Csurka, but then it would not serve Bayer’s article sole purpose, which is making sure that the readers of Magyar Hirlap believe that this play is a gem because Csurka in his brilliant drama tells the truth about why Hungary is where it is, that no Jew, liberal or American want you to know.
    Now, Bayer also goes on analyzing other articles regarding the Jewish question, and comes to the conclusion that the Jews indeed were responsible for the communist terror and for Trianon. Bayer arrives to this conclusion based on the fact that some Jews became communists in 1919. Well I guess we can arrive to the same conclusion (Akos Kertesz actually did), since some Hungarians are becoming neo-nazis, we can clearly say that Hungary is a neo-nazi country and would deserve the wrath of God with no exception. With Bayer’s own worlds (just changing the players) “it is good if we know: some1 (Akos Kertesz) dared to speak about, what Bayer was afraid to mention in his article. Everything else is for the purposes of political hysteria and hate symphony.” (“akkor jó, ha tudjuk: Csurka arról mer beszélni, amiről Ungváry a fentiekben. Minden más: politikai célzatú hisztéria és gyűlöletszimfónia.”)

  11. August 26, 2012 at 11:38 am | #11

    I read Bayer’s article and I really don’t know what he wants to change the end of the play when he seems to agree with Csurka completely: “we have to face facts.”

  12. August 26, 2012 at 11:38 am | #12

    Eva S. Balogh :

    I read Bayer’s article and I really don’t know what he wants to change the end of the play when he seems to agree with Csurka completely: “we have to face the facts.”

  13. August 26, 2012 at 8:15 pm | #13

    Some1: “Don’t take Eva too serious about this request. I think we would all prefer if you spare us the details. Csurka’s play is good enough for us to know what kind of true Hungarian history we are faced with. I hope you will be able to make it in time to see the show. I suggest the first week.”

    Sorry but I do not live in Hungary. Hmmm..so the propaganda is more important to you than the truth????

  14. August 26, 2012 at 8:21 pm | #14

    KIRSTEN: “I wrote it already: it is very unlikely that the person that writes as Kovach here has anything in common with that person above except through identity theft. He writes as a person not older than 35, he has way too much time for sharing his thoughts with us about everything except nuclear etc. technology, and he is too well informed about current Hungarian politics. Whoever he is, locate him close to the Fidesz cash boxes.”

    I think you are someone else than Kirsten. :-)

  15. August 26, 2012 at 9:51 pm | #15

    A very thorough analysis of the historical inaccuracies with which this play is riddled.

    See my own article on the subject if you’d like: http://drmandler.wordpress.com/2012/08/26/its-the-jews-anti-semitic-play-at-the-publics-expense/

  16. August 27, 2012 at 6:25 am | #16

    drmandlerpost :

    A very thorough analysis of the historical inaccuracies with which this play is riddled.

    See my own article on the subject if you’d like: http://drmandler.wordpress.com/2012/08/26/its-the-jews-anti-semitic-play-at-the-publics-expense/

    Thank you for the link. Excellent articles that should also interest the readers of Hungarian Spectrum.

  17. Some1
    August 27, 2012 at 8:29 am | #17

    Louis Kovach :
    Some1: “Don’t take Eva too serious about this request. I think we would all prefer if you spare us the details. Csurka’s play is good enough for us to know what kind of true Hungarian history we are faced with. I hope you will be able to make it in time to see the show. I suggest the first week.”
    Sorry but I do not live in Hungary. Hmmm..so the propaganda is more important to you than the truth????

    CSurka’s and your truth is simple propaganda. Eva and othera already pointed out the obvious falsifications, but if it is fiction then what do you try to prove? As a drama it is bad, and I read it. So, let’s just leave it like that.

  18. August 27, 2012 at 9:50 am | #18

    Some1: “CSurka’s and your truth is simple propaganda. Eva and othera already pointed out the obvious falsifications, but if it is fiction then what do you try to prove? As a drama it is bad, and I read it. So, let’s just leave it like that.”

    At lease read the posting and its relevance as a comment. I commented regarding the new documents available fro WW I origins. How did you mix Csurka and the play into it?????

    I am starting to feel that you like to promote Csurka’s play!

  19. Some1
    August 27, 2012 at 10:29 am | #19

    Louis Kovach :
    Some1: “CSurka’s and your truth is simple propaganda. Eva and othera already pointed out the obvious falsifications, but if it is fiction then what do you try to prove? As a drama it is bad, and I read it. So, let’s just leave it like that.”
    At lease read the posting and its relevance as a comment. I commented regarding the new documents available fro WW I origins. How did you mix Csurka and the play into it?????
    I am starting to feel that you like to promote Csurka’s play!

    Why do you always try to falsify things Kovach? You regularly do that. (Orban’s influence?) I spoke about Csurka and you replied accordingly. Mayne your reply was ambigious, just like Orban’s speeches, but when you say “I do not leave in Hungary” it is obvious you refer that you are not going t go to see the play, so the rest of your response would relate to that or you maybe should start new paragraphs or a word of reference what you are talking about. Even Csurka is clearer.

    and the original post:
    <blockquote?
    Some1: “Don’t take Eva too serious about this request. I think we would all prefer if you spare us the details. Csurka’s play is good enough for us to know what kind of true Hungarian history we are faced with. I hope you will be able to make it in time to see the show. I suggest the first week.”
    Sorry but I do not live in Hungary. Hmmm..so the propaganda is more important to you than the truth????

  20. August 27, 2012 at 10:36 am | #20

    Some1: “Don’t take Eva too serious about this request. I think we would all prefer if you spare us the details.”

    This is what I responded to. Neither my original posting addressed to Dr Balogh nor my answer to you said anything about Csurka.

  21. August 28, 2012 at 11:07 am | #21

    Just heard. The Sixth Coffin will not be staged in Új Színház! I wish I knew what happened exactly behind the scenes.

  22. August 28, 2012 at 11:16 am | #22

    Somebody stole the coffin…..

  23. gdfxx
    August 28, 2012 at 11:49 am | #23

    Eva S. Balogh :
    Just heard. The Sixth Coffin will not be staged in Új Színház! I wish I knew what happened exactly behind the scenes.

    Maybe they read it…

  24. Some1
    August 28, 2012 at 12:58 pm | #24

    gdfxx :

    Eva S. Balogh :
    Just heard. The Sixth Coffin will not be staged in Új Színház! I wish I knew what happened exactly behind the scenes.

    Maybe they read it…

    hahahaha
    Although I wish they would stage it. Now, the Jobbik conspiracy theory will be in overdrive.

  25. August 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm | #25

    Eva S. Balogh :
    Just heard. The Sixth Coffin will not be staged in Új Színház! I wish I knew what happened exactly behind the scenes.

    Just read it on Politics.hu , over 31 responses on the news over there but the most disturbing has to be this…

    Magyar says:
    August 29, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Actually, food cooked on open fire tastes a lot better.

    And I would love to experience the Middle Ages, will Orbán bring back János Hunyadi and Árpád?

    We still have the Szent Jobb.
    Maybe Orbán could extract DNA from it, and clone Szent István?
    He could then rule Hungary again!

    scary stuff!

  26. Ron
    August 31, 2012 at 2:59 am | #26

    Eva S. Balogh :
    Just heard. The Sixth Coffin will not be staged in Új Színház! I wish I knew what happened exactly behind the scenes.

    This happened behind the scenes. According to György Dörner during the interview of HIR TV. http://mno.hu/rajatszas/elvakult-1102363

  27. Some1
    August 31, 2012 at 10:37 am | #27

    A great article about the “play” by Arpad W. Tota in HVG. http://hvg.hu/w/20120831_Siri_csend_es_nullaszag_ I could not agree with him more, as he also thinks that Csurka’s masterpiece should of been played.
    I have a feeling that the real reason Tarlos stopped the idea is exactly what gdfxx suggested , they read the play. I think it would of been such a flop and they did not want that.
    http://hvg.hu/w/20120831_Siri_csend_es_nullaszag_

  28. August 31, 2012 at 2:57 pm | #28

    The Hősök, királyok, szentek exhibition wasn’t good, yet it didn’t prevent the MNG from producing it. My two forints would be that the recent multiplication of such weird moves in the cultural department, though in this case specifically targeting a Magyar-speaking audience, eventually has a toll on the reputation of Budapest abroad.

    As this one has been, at least, ‘postponed’, we’ll never really know – but I have a strong feeling that the reaction elsewhere in Europe was about to be swift and harsh, and not only in the arts professionals circle. Considering the customer demographics of foreign tourism in the capital and the city image, the Mayor would have been shooting himself in the foot.

  29. will
    November 18, 2012 at 10:19 am | #29

    Csurka makes a Jew out of House, whose ancestry goes back to Dutch immigrants of the colonial period. The family’s original name was Huis, Dutch for “house”. Not so for Csurka who decided that House’s original name was Mandel and that he was the son of a rabbi. In fact, House’s father was the mayor of Houston. Another Jew in this company was actually Jewish, Bernard Baruch. But Baruch had absolutely nothing to do with the territorial questions at the peace conference. He advised President Woodrow Wilson on economic matters and in fact argued against the exceedingly harsh reparation payments Germany had to pay after the lost war.

    Always twisting. Eustace Mullins can help you. (The World Order, A Study in Parasitism): House was a Rothschild agent due to his family plying BOTH sides of the American civil war for profit, House worked for the Jewish Rothschild Banking Trust. As for Baruch, only “advising Wilson on economic matters” — what else is there but usury? Baruch (a Jew) was a Rothschild agent, guiding the sell-out of the USA through the Aldrich bill and the beginning of the Federal Reserve in 1913. Get your free info here.

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