From the Don River to the proclamation of western artists and scientists

I have a very long list of possible topics but I know that I will never get to the end of it because in the meantime newer topics keep emerging. So I decided to deal with several themes today.

Let’s start with the older ones. For a few days in January, the newspapers were full of historical reminiscences and debates about the role and fate of the Hungary’s Second Army in 1943. I myself wrote a post on January 15 which engendered a lively debate among the readers of Hungarian Spectrum. As usual, after a flurry of articles interest in the subject waned until two months later when a book of Soviet documents was published that revealed that some of the occupying Hungarian soldiers behaved abominably. One of the editors of the volume is Tamás Krausz, who for a while was also active in MSZP’s left wing.

The documents are based on eyewitness accounts that were collected immediately following the withdrawal of the German, Finnish, Latvian, Romanian, and Hungarian forces. According to Krausz, German historians consider these documents authentic. He emphasized that the Hungarians were no better or worse than the other occupying forces but that members of the Second Army committed “war crimes and genocide” alongside the others. Why didn’t these documents emerge earlier? According to Krausz, because during the socialist period neither side wanted to talk about the other side’s crimes. As long as the Hungarians didn’t mention the behavior of the Soviet troops in Hungary, the Soviets decided to be quiet about Hungarian atrocities. But now that former satellite countries are bringing up the sins of the Soviets, the Russians decided to release these documents. There are a couple of good summaries of an interview with Krausz and of a conversation between him and a couple of Russian historians on ATV.

It was inevitable that historians whose ideological views are at odds with those of Tamás Krausz would raise their voices. And indeed, there was a round-table discussion between the two sides that turned into a shouting match. The right-leaning historians doubted the very authenticity of the documents. The final word came from Krisztián Ungváry, who admitted that Hungarian soldiers, like all the others, were responsible for mass murders. But he added that this is “a sensitive topic” and therefore it is not surprising that there was deadly silence in historical circles after the documentary volume appeared. All this came as a shock in Hungary because it has long been accepted that the Hungarian soldiers, unlike the Soviets, behaved admirably in the occupied territories.

Another older story is also connected to history and historians. László Karsai, a historian of the Holocaust, in an interview on ATV called Jobbik a neo-Nazi party back in December. Jobbik sued because Karsai, by referring to them as a neo-Nazi party, damaged Jobbik’s good name. The trial was scheduled for January 10. As usual, no decision was rendered and the verdict was postponed until March. At last the verdict was announced on March 22. The judges decided that Jobbik is not a neo-Nazi party. In my opinion, the courts simply shouldn’t accept such cases because the ideological nature of a party cannot be decided by a court decision. Such historical debates have no place in a courtroom. In any case, Karsai was fined 66,000 forints and he must in a private letter apologize for his “mistake.” Jobbik can make the letter public. Karsai is appealing the verdict.

Benjamin FranklinAnd finally, there was a fascinating interview a few days ago with Iván Sándor, a writer. The interview was conducted by Vera Lánczos, one of my favorite members of the Galamus Group. Although Lánczos was interested in the cultural and educational “reforms” introduced by the Orbán government, Sándor went back to the Horthy regime with the example of the Klebelsberg reforms and their consequences. In his opinion the new structures of the present government “will force the spirit of tyranny on the new generations.” After all, there is a return to the program of Kuno Klebelsberg. Yes, says Sándor, Klebelsberg did a lot of good things but “not much is said about the content of these educational reforms.” Even during Klebelsberg’s life one could feel the results, but after his death, especially during the premiership of Gyula Gömbös, the negative results of this educational program came to full bloom. The Hungarian youth were not taught to think, and therefore they could easily be manipulated. Many of them willingly served a regime that led the country into the abyss.

Klebelsberg’s cultural policies can also be criticized. Although he sent talented Christian youth to western countries to study, at the same time he tried to promote a kind of culture that turned against western European literature because that kind of literature “doesn’t serve” the spirit of the country and its culture; it is not patriotic enough. Present-day Kulturkampf in Hungary bears a strong resemblance to its 1920s variety.

And that leads me to one of today’s news items: Western artists called on Hungarians to rebel against Orbán’s regime. They claim that with the usual kinds of protests one cannot achieve anything in Hungary anymore and therefore they call on the intelligentsia of Europe to intervene. Everybody must work together–writers, scientists, philosophers, film and theater directors, musicians, poets, Greenpeace activists. Everybody who wants a democratic Hungary. “Hungary must be liberated.”

That’s all for today.

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20 comments

  1. There is a petition you can sign if you agree that the JOBBIK a is a neo-Nazi party.

    http://www.peticiok.com/a_neonaci_jobbik

    It goes like this:

    A party, that

    – would limit the number of gipsies
    – warms up the Tiszaeszlar blood libel
    – would tally up the Jewish politicians
    – kicks out its members with Jewish ancestry
    – it’s president states that he himself would leave the party if the above would be true about him

    is a neo-Nazi party

  2. jobbik/fidesz: classical chauvinist movements.
    all they talk is the classical self-praise.
    morvay, vona, novak, orban, kover…pitiful minor actors
    empowerment of all followers to destroy all anti-jobbik/fidesz citizens.
    nazi, proto-nazi, neo-nazi, mafia, clowns???
    just nothing valuable.

  3. The ideological nature of a political party, of course, cannot be determined by court decision. But courts must be able to deal with issues of defamation. Just for comparison: in 1995, Austrian journalist Helmut Scharsach called Barbara Rosenkranz, an extreme-right-wing (FPÖ) politician, a “closet nazi” (Kellernazi). She sued the journalist and his paper, and these were fined. However, the European Court for Human Rights decided that this court verdict violated the freedom of speech, because the journalist had only expressed his own evaluation of a situation and because Rosenkranz’s own attitudes towards Nazism were really unclear and debated. (She had given some strange statements about the crimes of the Nazis and never clearly distanced herself from her husband’s ideological background — the guy has been an active Neo-Nazi.) The result: now all critical media, when writing about Rosenkranz, add: “who can, by verdict of the European Court for Human Rights, be called a closet nazi”. The moral of the story: If there are proper laws, court practices and people who are ready to pursue their cause, in the name of transparency and fairness, lots can be done.
    Just imagine: “Jobbik, which by verdict of the European Court for Human Rights can be called a Neo-Nazi party”….

  4. Cla-reese in the looking glass.
    Kafka turning over in his grave…

    Welcome to the madness of King Viktor, and his groveling minions–Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy–

    (Fill in the appropriate Fidesz flunky)

  5. THE WONDER OF HUNGARIAN BUSINESS ACUMEN—EXHIBIT A

    Budapest has a French bakery. It’s run by a Hungarian. I tried ordering some pain Normand–7 loafs for us and the kids–this morning. On the phone, I was lambasted by the attendant: “Seven breads?!! Are you crazy?? It is a holiday and we have only 4 left.
    I can’t put any aside for you!.”

    It is Saturday. It is 10am. The store is open until 6pm.
    Incompetence raised to the power of Matolcsy!

  6. Enough of the bad news.
    A great Deak study, new to me, and many others, by Csaba Fazekas on the religion reforming legislation: Fazekas Csaba: Deák Ferenc egyházpolitikája a reformkorban – MEK

    http://mek.oszk.hu/06400/06410/

    An example from the footnotes in the excellent book:

    “1 Kovács, 1907.; Polner, 1932. Az ekkor megjelent protestáns egyháztörténeti monográfia összegzése teoretikusan szögezte le, hogy a vallásszabadságért folytatott küzdelemben a protestánsok „leghatalmasabb támaszai, sikereinek tulajdonképpeni kivívói azok a római katolikus vallású szabadelvű, kitűnő államférfiak, élükön Deák Ferenccel, azok a politikusok voltak, […] akik hitükhöz és vallásukhoz hívek tudtak maradni, habár a lelkiismereti szabadság nagy protestáns princípiumát elsajátították is”. Zsilinszky, 1907. 743. p.”

  7. Győr Calling!

    “Don’t mention the war! I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it!”
    (Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers)

    Hungary badly needs a National Catharsis.

    Until ALL the archives are open – (to stop all doubt, justified or not) then the final written history – or as close to the truth as possible – will always be questioned; and all ghosts of the past are exorcised.

    In addition when Hungary has a true ‘freedom-of-information’ Act like we have in England then you might come close to being a true democracy. (A pipe dream I know!)

    (The FOI act is used mostly (60%) by private individuals in the UK for gaining information from Government bodies that would otherwise have not been available. Not perfect, but good – imagine that in Hungary?)

    This slow leaking of the truth damages Hungary beyond measure.

    Regards

    Charlie

  8. Mutt :
    There is a petition you can sign if you agree that the JOBBIK a is a neo-Nazi party.
    http://www.peticiok.com/a_neonaci_jobbik
    It goes like this:
    A party, that
    – would limit the number of gipsies
    – warms up the Tiszaeszlar blood libel
    – would tally up the Jewish politicians
    – kicks out its members with Jewish ancestry
    – it’s president states that he himself would leave the party if the above would be true about him
    is a neo-Nazi party

    I find it unnecessary to sign petitions that state the obvious and that cannot have any effect anyway. What’s next? A petition to state that the indeed Sun rises in the East?

  9. @gdfxx, re Mutt’s petition: You are correct, gdfxx, but I signed anyway. Signing allows folks (whatever their persuasion) to know that others are watching.

  10. @gdfxx You are right. But … The problem is that it didn’t seem obvious to the court. A few thousand signatures may help them next time. When you enter Planet Hungary you leave common sense in the cloak room …

  11. Mutt :
    There is a petition you can sign if you agree that the JOBBIK a is a neo-Nazi party.
    http://www.peticiok.com/a_neonaci_jobbik
    It goes like this:
    A party, that
    – would limit the number of gipsies
    – warms up the Tiszaeszlar blood libel
    – would tally up the Jewish politicians
    – kicks out its members with Jewish ancestry
    – it’s president states that he himself would leave the party if the above would be true about him
    is a neo-Nazi party

    This in itself does not make someone a Nazi. A Nazi is a follower of the National Socialist ideology, and Jobbik is very far from the Arrow Cross ideology. Jobbik are simply conservatives mixed with racism.

    This is off course, only if you want to use the term correctly.

  12. How would you group Jobbik? They are not Fascists or Nazis. Simply hating Jews and Gypsies does not make one a Fascist or a Nazi, it just makes one a racist. A true Nazi group would be some of the “Hungarista” offshoots. I would say Jobbik is more similar to people like Bárdossy, Imrédy, Horthy, Bethlen, etc, than to actual Nazis (Szálasi, Hitler..).

    To clarify, I am not justifying Jobbik, but I am trying to use political terminology correctly.

  13. Lecso :
    This in itself does not make someone a Nazi. A Nazi is a follower of the National Socialist ideology, and Jobbik is very far from the Arrow Cross ideology. Jobbik are simply conservatives mixed with racism.
    This is off course, only if you want to use the term correctly.

    Hating jews and hating gipsies and supporting groups like the Hungarian Guard (boots, brown shirts, and schwastikas) makes you a neo-Nazi party.

    Neo-Nazis are trying to resurrect the the same ideology.

    Nazis. Period.

  14. A conservative party? Really?

    N1 TV Channel (an internet TV) launched by Jobbik on Dec 20, 2010.
    http://www.hungarianambiance.com/2010/12/news-brief-jobbik-launches-on-line-tv.html

    N1 Tv Channel commemorates Hitler’s birthday on Dec 20, 2011.

    “The 30-second report, which originally aired on Wednesday evening on
    Hitler’s 122nd birthday, praised the “German politician” for his economic and
    moral contribution to his adopted country.

    Hitler “rapidly relaunched the destroyed, impoverished Germany, where an
    unprecedented upturn started in the economic, social, moral and cultural
    spheres,” the news piece gushed.

    However, it added that since the defeat of Nazi Germany, “the probably
    best-known politician in history has been the principal target of a political
    witch-hunt of the victorious powers,” which it referred to as “the Anglo-Saxon
    and bolshevik allies.””

    http://www.ejpress.org/article/news/eastern_europe/50513

    http://nepszava.com/2011/04/magyarorszag/a-jobbik-teveje-megemlekezett-hitler-szulinapjarol.html

  15. Mutt :

    Lecso :
    This in itself does not make someone a Nazi. A Nazi is a follower of the National Socialist ideology, and Jobbik is very far from the Arrow Cross ideology. Jobbik are simply conservatives mixed with racism.
    This is off course, only if you want to use the term correctly.

    Hating jews and hating gipsies and supporting groups like the Hungarian Guard (boots, brown shirts, and schwastikas) makes you a neo-Nazi party.

    Neo-Nazis are trying to resurrect the the same ideology.

    Nazis. Period.

    The problem is that I disagree with your definition of Jobbik’s ideological makeup. There is an older article by Gábor Fillipov (Progressive Intézet) who doesn’t call them neo-Nazis but labelled them as far-right (szélsőjobboldali). But certainly not “conservative.”

  16. Breaking News (or not so breaking) …

    The Hungarians CAN make themselves look even more stupid!

    The HirTV strikes back for the German kid show! Watch this:

    (If you dont see the subtitles make sure CC is on)

  17. Eva S. Balogh :
    The problem is that I disagree with your definition of Jobbik’s ideological makeup. There is an older article by Gábor Fillipov (Progressive Intézet) who doesn’t call them neo-Nazis but labelled them as far-right (szélsőjobboldali). But certainly not “conservative.”

    I believe the similarity between todays far-right groups and the Nazis is striking. I can settle with a “strikingly similar to a Nazi party” definition. 🙂

  18. Concerning the Karsai trial I only wish to mention that the respect due to one’s good name is a right that only an individual can claim. An organization is not entitled to the same inherent right. I vaguely remember a case in Hungary in recent times when the court refused to consider a law suit because of that principle. However, I just cannot remember any details.

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