Krisztián Ungváry: One terror regime is taboo, while the other is market kitsch

I have been planning to publish an opinion piece by Krisztián Ungváry that appeared in the July 21 issue of Népszabadság for some time, but Viktor Orbán’s speech completely upset my plans.

On July 12 Mária Schmidt, the director of the House of Terror and the person appointed by the Orbán government to oversee the creation of a second Holocaust museum in Budapest, gave an interview that contained several misstatements regarding the views of Ungváry on the Hungarian Holocaust.

Considering that the issue of this new museum, the House of Fates, is still very much in the news and in fact I will devote a whole post to it tomorrow, I thought it would be appropriate to publish this polemic of Ungváry. After all, Hungarian Spectrum published in full Mária Schmidt’s article outlining her revisionist view of Hungarian-German relations as well as the fate of Hungarian Jewry, and therefore the readers of this blog are familiar with her line of reasoning. Moreover, in the same post I published Mária M. Kovács’s article in which she dissected Schmidt’s rather flimsy arguments.

Here is another article that sheds light on the way Mária Schmidt operates. Right now there is a stalemate between Mazsihisz and Schmidt over the House of Fates because the Jewish organization claims that Mária Schmidt’s statement published on August 8  misrepresented the understanding that was reached between Schmidt and several of the Jewish organizations involved with the project.

My thanks to “Buddy” for the translation of this interesting answer to Mária Schmidt. It is packed with little known and important facts about the German occupation of Hungary in 1944. Buddy would like to dedicate this translation to his professor, Professor Mária M. Kovács of Central European University.

* * *

Mária Schmidt doesn’t realize that she is committing the same tasteless mistakes that she accuses her opponents of, writes the historian, who responds in ten points to the statements of the director of the Terror House published on Nol.hu.

In her interview in the July 12, 2014 issue of Népszabadság, Mária Schmidt referred to my statements several times, but twisted them around every time. In other cases, she demonstrated an unfortunate lack of historical knowledge.

1. According to Mária Schmidt, I claimed that Hitler did not even want Hungarian Jews to be deported.

In contrast, I claimed that Hitler did not insist on the immediate deportation of all Hungarian Jews at any cost. This is not the same thing, to say the least.

2. According to Mária Schmidt, “questioning the loss of sovereignty is a cover for politically motivated malice, but if we can be generous, we have to assume a lack of knowledge and professional incompetence at a minimum.” In contrast, the German policy makers thought differently about this amongst each other.

After March 19, 1944, economic offices of the German military were forbidden to even enter the grounds of a Hungarian factory at all, or meet directly with Hungarian managers on official matters.

Wehrmacht units were strictly forbidden to buy or requisition products, as all of their needs had to be fulfilled only through storage depots of the German or Hungarian defense forces. An example of this restraint is an entry in the war diary of the panzer tank division, which stated that “we aren’t allowed to interfere in the economy, or requisition goods, or take a position on the Jewish question [!], which will be resolved by the Hungarian government.”

At a German Economic Ministry session on April 16, 1944, Department Head Schlotterer stated that Hungary was not an occupied country like France, Italy or Denmark, and its government was a sovereign partner, and that it had to be acknowledged that more should be done for their common struggle.

Karl-Otto Saur, the head of the German fighter program, remembers the same thing: “We can never work by giving orders, only with requests and offers may we act.” This is worth noting because Saur was not by any means a man of weak temperament, but just the opposite, someone infamous for exploiting his authority to the utmost in every case to achieve his objectives.

Plenipotentiary Edmund Veesenmayer was the only one who regularly reported to his superiors that he insistently acted against Hungarian public officials – all of which relativizes, to put it mildly, the claim that Hungary completely lost its independence on March 19, 1944.

3. According to Mária Schmidt, the Germans “solved the Jewish question similarly” in every country.

However, the literature on the Holocaust is consistent in showing that the opposite of this occurred. In Romania, for example, no one was deported to extermination camps. In France only a small group of Jews were sent there, while in the Netherlands and Belgium, nearly all of them were.

The differences are especially noticeable if we look at the percentage of Jews who survived the Holocaust in each country. Obviously, the Germans wanted to solve the Jewish question similarly, no question, but they were not able to enforce their will completely in every location.

It would be of great help to Mária Schmidt if she would at least obtain a decent high school history textbook or an encyclopedia, from which she could learn the relevant data on this.

4. Mária Schmidt finds it absurd that I claimed that we can not find a command from Hitler ordering the annihilation of the entire Hungarian Jewish population.

I must emphasize that it is not in question whether Hitler was responsible or not, and whether or not he stated the necessity of the annihilation of the Jews in general, but rather whether the German occupation of Hungary was also connected with the expectation that the entire Hungarian Jewish population had to be eradicated at any cost.

From this, I would have to conclude that Schmidt intends to prove that in spring 1944 Hitler gave an order for the complete and quick annihilation of Hungarian Jews in death camps, and obviously until now only requisite modesty has held her back from disclosing her evidence, which would completely rock the results of Holocaust research thus far, to the public.

5. Mária Schmidt claims that she has never encountered my aforementioned statement, and that I am the only one who is capable of such absurdities.

She would correct this statement if she read the literature of the Hungarian Holocaust, starting from Randolph L. Braham to László Karsai, Gábor Kádár, and Zoltán Vági, all the way to the work of Götz Aly and Christian Gerlach.

These authors are uniformly of the opinion that the German occupiers did not have a unified plan from the start about how to deal with Hungarian Jews. Of course, they received general instructions from their superiors, but owing to the exceptionally small number of German occupiers, they were forced from the start to carry out their anti-Jewish activities in cooperation with the Hungarian government, relying primarily, in fact, on the Hungarian apparatus.

Source: Országos Széchenyi Könyvtár

Source: Országos Széchenyi Könyvtár

6. According to Mária Schmidt, “certain people question a fundamental fact, in which there has been consensus up until now, namely that if the Nazi occupation of March 19, 1944 had not taken place, then the mass deportation and deaths of Hungarian Jews would not have occurred.”

I don’t know anyone who would cast doubt on this claim. So then who is Mária Schmidt arguing with?

7. According to Mária Schmidt, Eichmann’s incriminating statements comparing Hungarian officials to the Huns because of the brutality they showed with the deportations (which she mistakenly credits to Veesenmayer) were motivated by the fact that he was making excuses as a defendant in court.

The tiny flaw in all of this is that a significant part of Eichmann’s statements incriminating Hungarians originated in Argentina, when he gave an interview to a Dutch Nazi. Not holding back, he made statements that for the most part seriously incriminated himself during the interview, as he wanted to prove that he himself was the number one person responsible for the Holocaust.

8. According to Mária Schmidt, Eichmann and Veesenmayer forced the Hungarian perpetrators of the Holocaust to cooperate through extortion on a daily basis.

By comparison, historical scholarship reveals the exact opposite of this. The overzealousness of the Hungarian enforcers surprised even the German perpetrators. Eichmann was delighted with László Endre, State Secretary for Home Affairs, and his colleagues. He didn’t have to resort to extortion on Endre even once, especially since he only had advisory authority.

When the Hungarian authorities wanted to push back on Eichmann, they could do so without any trouble, for example when they didn’t permit him to deport those of military age. The situation was also similar with Veesenmayer, except that he did in fact attempt extortion, but if the Hungarian side did not wish to cooperate with him (such as after June 6, 1944, for example), then Veesenmayer’s attempts at extortion all came to nothing.

I am interested in seeing evidence from Mária Schmidt showing how, for example, Eichmann extorted the gendarmes and rural civil servants to get them to subject every woman branded as a racial Jew to a vaginal search…

I am also interested in hearing how Mária Schmidt would explain that in 1942 several county assemblies voted in favor of a bill that provided for the deportation of the Jews.

How would she explain Prime Minister Miklós Kállay’s characterization of 75% of MPs in the ruling party as intransigent anti-Semites, because they also demanded the deportation of the Jews even before the German occupation?

Perhaps Eichmann and Veesenmayer could have extorted them?

9. All appearances indicate that Mária Schmidt struggles with langauge difficulties, as when she claims that with Sándor Szakály’s infamous statement calling the deportations of 1941 “a police action against aliens,” his only problem was that he used terminology of that time.

There are contemporary expressions that mean the same today as they did in the past, and can be used without any trouble. There are others which do not mean the same thing, but their meanings are clear, such as “malenkii robot,” about which nobody would ever think that the person involved had to work “just a little.”

This is because this expression is used solely and exclusively in the context of deportations to the Soviet Union. And finally, there are those that do not mean the same thing today as they did back then, and their meanings are not at all clear.

Such is it with the notorious “police action against aliens,” which even in 1941 did not mean procedures carried out against aliens, as a part of the “aliens” affected were native to Hungary. Moreover, out of the “aliens,” it solely and exclusively affected those considered to be Jews.

But even apart from this, it is disgraceful that someone uses this expression today to refer to the Jewish deportations, since the act had as much to do with police activity towards aliens as prostitution does to comfort. If I may draw a parallel: Japanese authorities called “comfort women” (ju-gun-ian-fu) those women who before 1945 were forced into brothels by the Japanese Imperial Army through brutal means.

The unreflected usage of this expression is just as scandalous as when Sándor Szakály, hiding behind objections on terminology, conceals that it was in fact a brutal act of anti-Semitism carried out by independent resolution from the Hungarian government, as opposed to the Germans, and about which even from the start they could have known would lead to the destruction of a significant portion of those affected (as no provisions had been made for their livelihood, their valuables however had been partially confiscated).

10. Mária Schmidt distorts the truth when she credits me with saying that the presence of NATO troops in Hungary is identical to the presence of the Wehrmacht.

Three years ago, an argument was made in connection with the preamble to the Hungarian Constitution that Hungary lost its sovereignty because foreign troops had entered its soil. I answered then (and repeated in my writing published this year dealing with the preamble to the Constitution) that with this logic, we would have to regard the presence of NATO troops as also creating a circumstance in which Hungary has lost its independence.

From this, Mária Schmidt fabricated the assertion that I believe that the Wehmacht and NATO resided in Hungary on the same basis.

Finally, a comment: Mária Schmidt regularly argues that her own sensitivities also need to be taken into account, and that she considers the lack of this as a sign of double talk.

I think some serious conceptual confusion exists here. I readily admit that she can also claim some victims in her family, such as her grandmother, who died in the war, or her father, who was hauled off as a prisoner of war. In any case, not a single critic has disputed, or hasn’t disputed for that matter, that a memorial to prisoners of war and war victims should be created from public funds.

But Mária Schmidt wants us to lament for her victims in exactly the same way as those who were murdered or knowingly sent to their deaths by Hungarian government officials.

Shouldn’t we consider that due to the differences between the two groups of victims, it would be useful to not always treat them as if they were in the same category? Don’t misunderstand me, every human life is as valuable as another, and every bereavement is equally unique.

But there is a difference between who is responsible for victimizing whom. Mária Schmidt’s relatives – if I understand correctly – were not victimized by the Hungarian state in even a single instance. In contrast to this, the Hungarian state played a decisive role in the tragedy of the Hungarian Jews, which is why the Hungarian state should perhaps memorialize this group differently than those for whom they were not responsible (or to a completely different degree) for their sufferings.

Mária Schmidt’s image of her main enemy consists of those from the “left-liberals loudmouths” to members of the “’68 generation.” It’s unfortunate that she doesn’t realize that she is committing the same tasteless mistakes that she accuses her opponents of, primarily by applying double standards.

A telling example of this is the gift shop in her own museum, where, curiously enough, specific souvenirs of only one totalitarian dictatorship are available for sale. Those who wish to purchase humorous Stalin or Lenin figurines find themselves in the right place. If there’s an attitude that should truly be left behind, it is Mária Schmidt’s behavior that makes one terror regime taboo, while making market kitsch out of the main people responsible for the other.

 

55 comments

  1. Thank you Éva for publishing this. I am actually a former student and research assistant of Prof. Mária M. Kovács, so if possible I would like to dedicate this translation to her!

  2. Instead of another pointless discussion about 70 year old events I’d appreciate some posts about what is going on in the present.

    I am especially concerned about MSZP’s recent actions during the negotiations for the upcoming Budapest elections. It is almost as if their goal was sabotage of the whole thing I just cannot understand it. First they dragged out the process while insisting that only their candidate Csaba Horvath is fit to become mayor of Budapest.

    Then they demanded all of the good positions. Then they demanded way too many positions, then they leaked all the names. Peter Juhasz even said that some names only didn’t leak because they did not dare to tell them to MSZP until the very last minute.

    Then they started to attack and badmouth Ferenc Falus, saying he is just a “retired public servant”, he has “no knowledge of city management”, Szofia Havas attacked him harshly and so on. Then they accepted Falus seemingly but they changed the agreement at the last minute giving themselves more seats more power more of everything.

    Now Egyutt says they will run alone if MSZP continues down this path of destruction.

    And I also heard the new leader of the Socialists some Tobias defrauded the taxpayers out of several million forints by claiming he lived in the very corner of the country in Nyiregyhaza (very hard to travel back and forth to Budapest where the parliament is from there so he got tons of “travel expenses” paid by the state) while in reality he lived just outside of BP few minutes from city limits.

    The MSZP should have quietly accepted what they were offered by the other two parties. Because they are the biggest problem for the opposition anyway with their endless corruption cases and stealings.

  3. Thank you very much for the translation of this. It’s valuable.

    It’s sad, though, that Ungvary has to engage in some kind of ‘academic debate’ with this Schmidt. Schmidt is either a dangerous idiot promoted beyond her competency (if we’re being kind), or a paid propagandist. She deserves no voice.

    I’ve two questions, if anyone is able to answer them:

    Is Hungary’s role in the Holocaust taught in schools in Hungary? (It ought to be, regardless of how painful it might be).

    How many German troops were actually engaged in Hungary during the 1944 ‘occupation’? I gather it wasn’t many, but I’m not able to find out numbers.

  4. Oh, and regarding the gift shop in the ‘Terror Haz’ (House of Terror) theme park, I suspect that Ungvary’s books are not available for purchase. However, last time I was there (about two years ago), you could see English translations of Zsolt Bayer’s book on 1956 for sale. Says it all, really.

  5. @Tim, As I often say, I could write five posts a day and even then I would miss some very important event.

    Yes, you are right. What’s going on in Budapest is unspeakable. If MSZP leaders don’t wake up they will end up at the bottom of the heap which right now they richly deserve.

    Yes, I will try to spend some time on the issue but you have to admit that as of today everything is still in flux. I would like to wait a couple of days.

  6. At Bowen::: I am 50 years old and I was taught about the Holocaust in detail, with film footage, as a 5th grader learning history, it was heart wrenching and painful. I learned over the years that death is violent, it always has been. And Wars and those who ran rampant during the Hungarian Holocaust are either dead now or close to it. In the 1970’s it was taught in public schools here in the USA, now it is taught in college, providing you are studying Jewish History.
    It is sad that over the years that it is being swept under the rug. All wars are violent, we in America can be perceived to be “War Happy”. There are alot of peace makers still in this world, they just need to come forth and be public about it. What is done is done, we cannot turn back time, but as long as we learn from our past, it will most likely produce no new wounds.

  7. @Bowen – About Maria Schmidt deserving nothing except to be ignored: I would agree with you if she weren’t an adviser to Hungary’s PM, if funding for certain historical projects did not depend on her, and if she weren’t the director of one (perhaps soon to be two) well-funded museums. When she is ignored, her power and influence over society seems to grow. Demonstrating in print what a fool she is seems, unfortunately, all that can be done.

  8. As government leader, you hoist one moron–Matolcsy–to a high government post, it can be an error.
    You elevate two other members, as in the Peter Principle (ie. to the level of their incompetence) like Kover and Lazar, and its maliciousness.
    You also raise others like Schmidt and Szajer and that criminal, new, development minister…that’s pure, unadulterated mockery and ill will.

    Who can ever doubt the lunacy of Orban; and the meekness and incalculable idiocy of the Hungarian public to swallow all this whole?

  9. Thank you Buddy for the translation.
    László Karsai called on ATV Mária Schmidt a “History falsifier” and “Holocaust relativizer”. Mária Schmidt is not starting procedure against Karsai.
    The head of the “post-communist mafia” V.O. is not satisfied with installing an autocracy in Hungary. He is doing himself a lot to falsify History. The memorial for the German occupation, Schmidt and her museums, Szakály etc. V.O. is not lunatic, in contradiction to the left-liberal elite, he knows his people. As long as he is making phrases about the national grandeur of Hungarians, he can plow on the backs of his people.

  10. Apparently MSZP’s main remaining politicians are not only clueless and utterly incompetent to lead, but rumors abound how many of them (not only Zsolt Molnar and A. Mesterhazy who are now gone) have been simply purchased by Fidesz. Of course, we talk about really petty money here (at least in terms of political corruption), a couple of millions, not Simicska-Orban levels. But these MSZPniks are content with that, since to begin with this “new generation” of MSZPniks has never had any real visions or goals about what to attain in politics — other than to participate in the backroom wheeling-dealings in which the savvier fideszniks always took advantage of them easily. So now killing any joint left wing agreement or rather committing a collective suicide on the left wing is just as good an option as any, because the top 10 people thinks they can still get to keep their jobs in the Parliament in 2018 but can also make a couple of millions on the side. After all they also want to build their Balaton weekend houses and want to move up to district II or XII.

  11. Many thanks to the author, translator, and publisher.

    @Bowen: while I’m generally against feeding the trolls, I’m afraid answering them can’t be avoided when the trolls are in power.

    @Tim: I agree, the upcoming local elections matter a lot. However those ‘discussions about 70 year old events’ are happening now, and they do show the (sorry) state of the ideology of the current rulers of Hungary.

    Among other things, the historical whitewashing attempt is obviously designed to enforce the fairytale of the benevolent-protective-christian-nationalist-State-surreptitiously-victimized-by-evil-foreigners. Rings a bell? And one can only hope that, if the Hungarian 1930s ended up in a tragedy, its 2010s will end as a farce.

  12. London Calling!

    Wolfi

    …..someone on here has been banging on about these locations for some time!

    Tim

    Your rudeness is discourteous.

    Regards

    Charlie

  13. Thanks for this Éva. I have been astounded by the extent of Holocaust denial in Hungary. I did some oral history research in Apostag in 1991/2, and the ‘witnesses’ made it quite clear that the deportation of all six hundred Jews from the village was done entirely by the Hungarian Army and Gendarmerie. There may have been some belated attempts by the Regency, under international pressure, to halt the deportations from Budapest, scheduled for late August, and to ‘release’ the Jewish children (under 10, see British National Archive ‘Eden’ document, 8 August), but it was the Romanian defection which resulted in Himmler’s order to cancel any further deportations. Of course, the failure of the Lakatos government led to the ‘second stage’ of the Holocaust, under the Szalási regime, though we shouldn’t forget the continuing atrocities carried out in the work camps and on forced marches throughout July and August, including those carried out against the Roma. You can find my writing on this in wordpress, but no doubt you are also familiar the recently-published memoirs of Domokos Szent-Iványi about the Regency at this time. The discussion of these events is essential in the current context, not least because most ‘liberal democracies’ regard Holocaust denial as a criminal offence. As long as the current Hungarian continues to refuse to acknowledge the willing compliance and collaboration of the sovereign Hungarian state in the events of May-October, 1944, so long will it separate the Hungarian Nation from its rightful and crucial role in the reintegration of Europe. Until then, I for one will continue to boycott these memorials. To do otherwise would be to break faith with those I know who survived the Hungarian Holocaust, as well as the half million who perished, one way or another, at the hands of their compatriots, as well as the Nazis. It would also be breaking faith with the many Hungarian Christians and foreigners who helped hide and rescue them. This is a contemporary international issue, not simply an internal historical debate.

  14. Buddy: Thank you so much for translating this.

    Karl Pfeifer August 11, 2014 at 1:49 am: I could not agree more. i had the exact same thoughts but of course not even close to be so eloquent.
    I often wonder why these “educated” people so into these kind of falsification. I think they “feed each other”. In order to gain power without to much of a plan, you have to come up some sort of agenda. Let’s face it Orban never had a clue how to create 1,000,000 new jobs, as he promised, Fidesz have not have to clue how to balance the books, and so forth. Orban took on the role of Don Quixote against “enemies” to the problem is not within, so there is nothing to solve inside. Even inside the “conspirators” who infiltrated the country (banks, etc.) who he have to fight. He is also brutal to those who do not play the game with him, so people around him got in line to serve this Hungarian Don Quixote, as they are all well paid from tobacco shops to EU contracts, from school principal positions to Presidents of the country, from directors of museums to chief-advisories. They caught up and there is no way out. See what happens when you wise up, and your ethics and morals get hold of you (Akos Hadhazy, Andras Horvath, Jozsef Angyan). Obviously Maria Schmitt, and many others only have the desire for power and money, and their allegiance is to Orban (and this point) and not to the country.

  15. I found section 10 of Krisztián Ungváry’s response to Schmidt intriguing given Fidesz’s affinity to Russian nationalist aspirations. Ungváry writes: “Mária Schmidt distorts the truth when she credits me with saying that the presence of NATO troops in Hungary is identical to the presence of the Wehrmacht.”

    He goes on to explain the dispute that rose over the preamble to the Hungarian Constitution (the National Avowal). The preamble dates the Hungarian loss of self determination from March 19, 1944. As Ungváry puts it ” I answered then (and repeated in my writing published this year dealing with the preamble to the Constitution) that with this logic, we would have to regard the presence of NATO troops as also creating a circumstance in which Hungary has lost its independence. From this, Mária Schmidt fabricated the assertion that I believe that the Wehmacht and NATO resided in Hungary on the same basis.”

    Currently Papa Air Base has 1000 total personnel and family members from the nations Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United States, as well as personnel from Boeing and their families. Since July 2001 Papa AB has been designated as a NATO reserve base. The initial forces of the Heavy Airlift Wing arrived to Papa Air Base in October 2008 and the Wing officially began on 27 July 2009. Basically this is a base for conducting all C-17 missions: air land, air refueling and air drop.

    The best discussion of the strategic role of the Papa base is by Major James D. Hood, USAF. He wrote a detailed paper in 2009 on this NATO program. This article can be read at http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADA539589

    The role of what is called heavy air lift would be critical in any armed conflict between NATO and Russian over the Ukraine. Therefore, I found it fascinating that Schmidt a Fidesz ideologue would want to attack any questioning of a NATO presence in Hungary since her own party is strategically moving towards Russian and supporting effectively self determination for Russian speakers in the Ukraine. I would suggest that Schmidt herself along with Fidesz as a whole might actually adopt the position that she falsely attributed to Ungváry if Hungary continues evolve into a pawn of the Russians.

  16. Istvan: I think the logic of Ms. Schmidt is extremely simple. The NATO – in her view – is similar to the Wehrmacht and thus is bad. NATO is an American/Western institution and thus she would like to break free from it and from any obligations Hungary might have towards the West. “We want to be free and, if we want to, be friendly with Russia”.

    Mind you, Ms. Schmidt is a HUF billionaire. As marital property she jointly acquired a huge real estate company together with his wheeler-dealer husband (who was of jewish descent, but apparently did not mind her wife’s anti-semitic escapades), who deceased suddenly a couple of years ago. So half of this acquisition became hers upon his death as so-called divided personal property not subject to inheritance. Needless to say that real estate holding company was acquired by her husband and some other investors in a rather tricky privatization, but they were fideszniks so that was cool. Besides being a chief ideologue, she is essentially an oligarch which in turn gives her an even stronger position in questions of ideology. And of course, if possible, she would also like to manage her assets in smart ways and these days, I am told, the Russians give you the best returns.

  17. “Besides being a chief ideologue, she is essentially an oligarch which in turn gives her an even stronger position in questions of ideology.”

    She is an exception there then amongst the Orbanist oligarchy. The only “ideology” the regime’s oligarchs have is making money as fast and by any means possible.

  18. Thanks, Topf!

    It’s almost unbelievable what you get her in the way of background info – Hungarian news sites probably don’t report on these things like the “economic background” of the Orbanistas – i e the amount of money they made …

    Some times I here similar stories from a member of my wife’s family, but regular Hungarians don’t know this – or don’t they care? Are they happy with these kind of businesses where the Fidesz mafiosi get all the good deals?

  19. Speaking about trollism, and Fidesz’s current Russian tropism, I wonder how they’re going to adapt the ‘Brussels Moscow’ and ‘EU USSR’ slogans, heard and read so many times these last four years, from the ‘Peace Marches’ to the European Parliament …

  20. The Hungarian-Russian chapter of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MKIK) today is calling for talks between Russia and Hungary over Russian’s ban on farm products from Hungary since it is part of the EU. No doubt the MKIK is seeking a special exemption from the ban since Hungary is really a good friend of Russia and really supports the right of Russian separatists to establish the ethnic based autonomous regions within the Ukrainian state.

    Does anyone really think that this illustrious body would dare propose such an idea as bilateral discussions with Russia over the trade embargo if Fidesz did not give the green light for such discussions?

    I think the correct description of this would be áruló.

  21. Wolfi: this is public, but perhaps wasn’t clear to many of the present readers of HS. And I am assuming that the half of the assets (after the division of the marital property) which was then subject to inheritance went to her daughter (?), but Ms. Schmidt originally must have received a life long right to enjoy the proceeds from all such assets inherited by the child(ren) of Mr. Ungar, although I think this right could have eventually be swapped for a portion of the inheritance. All in all I figure she must have ended up with some 65-75% of the assets his husband gathered via his deals, easily making her a billionaire.

  22. “I answered then (and repeated in my writing published this year dealing with the preamble to the Constitution) that with this logic, we would have to regard the presence of NATO troops as also creating a circumstance in which Hungary has lost its independence.”

    I do not understand. Is this Ungvary saying that Hungary would be occupied from the NATO troops? Is he retarded or am I misunterstanding something? What is he saying exactly. What is the accusation against NATO, that he wants to use as historical denial for the German occupation?

    I find by Ungvary even the bringing up of NATO in this context as tasteless, ignorant and unprofessional. What did he try to achieve by bringingn NATO into this??

  23. damage, it is you who misunderstands, I am afraid.

    Ungvary’s logic is that since we do not feel being forced to do anything by NATO’s presence (and in line with this Orban is getting in bed with Putin even though that would be sort of against the spirit of NATO — but we are not occupied or lost our sovereignty), the mere fact that Wehrmacht was here, did not compel Hungary to do anything or mean that Hungary has lost its sovereignty.

    We did not lose our independence with NATO’s presence, neither did we with the Wehrmacht’s presence in March 1944.

    Is this more or less clear?

  24. @ Topf:

    Thanks again and now for something completely

    OT:

    I had to smile because you made the same mistake in English as my Hungarian wife’s son often does, writing “his husband” and “her wife” – seems many Hungarians have this “gender problem” with English and it gets even worse with German: Der, die, das / er, sie, es/ sein, ihr …

    He told me that his teacher didn’t think it was important, so he never learned the correct use of this …

    But you can be assured I have similar or maybe worse problems with Hungarian grammar!

  25. Hi Bowen, you ask:

    “Is Hungary’s role in the Holocaust taught in schools in Hungary? (It ought to be, regardless of how painful it might be).”

    I don’t know about now, but I was in grammar school in Hungary in the late 80s, and it was taught. In fact, the whole story of WW 2 was taught in a way that highlighted the tragic mistakes the Hungarians made. Starting with the false accusations of the Soviets bombing Kosice and the subsequent Hungarian attack on Russia. Hungary’s role in the Holocaust was explained, indeed in very dark terms. The whole Holocaust was presented with a “learn from this, never again!” background message. We also read and discussed poems by Radnoti eg., whose poems were written in a concentration camp. My class dramatized the second world war and performed it on stage in front of the whole school in 1988. I remember it very clearly: there was no romantic nationalism in it, no kitsch patriotism, it hit and it hurt.

    It is true that in the schoolbooks there was a “this is all in the past and we are very different people now, it could not happen again” message with it. I had a good history teacher who sobered us up, but I imagine there were some teachers who simplified it as “those evil Germans who idolized Hitler, the madman, they started it, and we poor Hungarians were the innocent victims” – BUT Hungary’s (and Horthy’s) role in the Holocaust was taught all the same.

    That’s why I am myself puzzled by what’s going on in Hungary now. Some people are so easy to seduce into believing some sweet lies!

  26. OFF By the way Bowen, is it taught in British schools how Britain got “involved” in the world wars? Because the Germans did not in fact declare war on Britain in neither of them, it was Britain who sent Germany ultimatums (-a?) and then announced that “we are now at war with Germany”.
    I’m asking because many Brits I speak to are somehow convinced that the Germans “attacked” their country – this is not to decrease the amount of tragedy Hitler and Nazi Germany started and caused in the wars (not to mention the Holocaust), but start a war with Britain they did not. (As far as I know.)

  27. Cheshire cat, I do not know of course what is taught in Britain, but the question of who actually sent the declaration of war does not appear so important to me. The circumstances were provocation and destabilisation to a degree that something had to be done. Currently (and hopefully I am speaking entirely hypothetically), we do not know what our politicians, the NATO, the United States will feel compelled to if Russia will not stop destabilising the region West and South to it. They will probably not declare war either and yet they are creating a situation where something has to be done about it.

  28. Oh, by the way, if anybody is interested. Hitler never managed to occupy Britain but he did occupy the Channel Islands. The Nazis then introduced the Jewish laws and regulations there – if you want to find out how the British protested and saved their Jews on the occupied islands, and how they lived together with the enemy (including a love affair between a young German soldier and an English girl that ended up in a successful marriage), watch this 3-part-documentary. It was done by actor and historian John Nettles. I think it is fascinating, and I started to look up to the British even more after watching it.

  29. @ Cheshire Cat – thanks for the reply. I’m afraid I’ve no idea what is taught in British schools (I don’t live there). And perhaps you’re speaking to the wrong people if they think WWII began because Germany attacked Britain!

    (Although Germany did go on to attack Britain, of course, repeatedly.)

  30. Also from me: many thanks to Buddy for the translation. It is a very valuable text, and in respect to Bowen’s comment about whether or not to talk to people as obstinate as Mrs Schmidt, I see another advantage in writing such answers. First it briefly summarises for the average interested reader that other interpretations of the Hungarian past are available, and second (more importantly) it can contribute to some consensus view of the Hungarian past among historians and the broader public the moment that this regime breaks down (as it must, the only question is when and how). Some questions will at that time have been sufficiently debated and perhaps even (in broad terms) “clarified”. Letters such as this from Mr Ungváry may appear futile but I believe their objective is not necessarily the conversion of Mrs Schmidt (even if that were an interesting side-effect).

  31. Karl Pfeifer: “As long as he is making phrases about the national grandeur of Hungarians, he can plow on the backs of his people.”

    I would like to make the case again for another interpretation: People are waiting for a better offer! I think many people know that Orban and his gang are robbing the country blind, but there is nothing better on offer. I know that for the current outcome it does not matter why people are so willing to support OV, but the source of support would matter if a viable alternative showed up. (Switching sides or parties is not that complicated or unusual.)

  32. London Calling!

    Both the British involvement in WW1 and WW2 is taught in schools – just the truth.

    Yes when Germany invaided Poland that was a red line crossed. “I have to tell you that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany” declared the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

    Hitler was under no illusion that Britain would declare war as soon as he entered Poland – and we had seven weeks’ warning.

    And in WW1 we entered the war voluntarily to stop Germany’s world dominance as it was seen at the time.

    Our Imperial War Museum in South London is visited by visitors from all over the world – and is heavily used as an education resource – by the whole world.

    On display too is the full awfulness of what we did under pressure Dresden, and how apocalyptic it would have been had Germany invaded – with Porton Down’s stockpile of anthrax.

    Only the full truth is taught – no rewriting of history here, and no kitsch memorials either.

    Your ‘terror’ museum is a travesty of the truth.

    No, it couldn’t happen here in our democracy.

    Regards

    Charlie

  33. CC …..there are so many recreation plays and serials here about the war – and particularly ones about the invasion of the Channel Islands.

    If you visit Guernsey or the Isle of Man you might be forgiven for thinking that the war was still on, so prominent are the museums and war artefacts.

    Unlike Hungary we endlessly still debate and remember all aspects of both World Wars and still critically assess what happened.

    I was not a war baby either, born well after WW2 but I believe most of the population are au fait with what happened – excluding perhaps the ignorant few.

    We can never forget.

    “Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.”

    All of them.

    Regards

    Charlie

  34. Kirsten, you are right, it is a lot more complicated than “who declared the war”. Often wars are already inevitable (like between Austria and Russia in WW1 ) and the countries involved preare for it for years before they suddenly react to a “provocation” by declaring war.

    But I have been told many times that Hitler was not going to attack Britain itself. Although there is no way of knowing.

    It’s just that some British people seem to simplify it into direct aggression from Hitler, and “we the British SINGLEHANDEDLY won the war and saved Europe from the Nazis etc”.

    Charlie. I think you are also simplifying it. Most Brits didn’t want the war on Iraq and Saddam Hussein, and didn’t quite believe he weapons of mass destruction excuse. Many people at the time said that Britain was wrong to think the only way to deal with a dangerous dictator like Saddam is war -and the reason why many people think that is the only way is because it worked in WW2. However, not many people are convinced it was the only and the best way to fight Hitler, either. It was Churchill’s idea, but not everybody agreed. So I don’t know what you mean by “the full truth”. There is some romantic kitsch in British society about the war, some distortion of the truth, especially among the elderly.

    But this is OT and I apologize.

  35. huh “Austria” – I meant Austria-Hungary and Russia, of course!
    I can’t believe I wrote that…
    all that “we are only poor victims” brainwashing must have affected my subconscious after all, it seems

  36. CC I don’t know in what circles you move in – but very few believe what you say. There is no way we could have survived if America had not come to our aid.

    No one – but the ignorant- could believe that we could have done it alone.

    (your Iraq reference is a non sequitur – most Britains, I believe, were FOR the war beforehand but changed their stance after! (Very Hungarian eh? Petofi?))

    The truth is just that – a straight presentation of the facts. Not simplified either.

    You really must visit the Imperial War Museum.

    It is not a place of triumphalism – or of Imperialism – it dwells extensively on the futility of all wars.

    There are many testimonies of how everyone suffered in both World Wars – and many poignant stories of German victims too.

    And find some more intelligent English people too!

    Regards

    Charlie

  37. CC, I fully agree that there are many people who have cursory ideas about what really happened during some crisis or in history and so on. A “nation” lives also on myths, and most people do not have the time, capacity or interest to go deeper into all matters. Why the British should be different in that, I do not know. But: a critical mass of people, and at best those that are closest to the actual decision making but also people engaging in discussions of current matters publicly, should have a more complex view of the world, which should enable these people not only to make balanced decisions but also to spread information about the complexity. Using the public space for discussions, so that people who wish to go deeper find relevant material without exorbitant efforts. That is why the criticism of the average Hungarian voter as ignorant is misplaced, I believe. The bigger failure in my opinion is that of the Hungarian “elite”, those educated, those in important positions. It is many of them who nurture these myths about the Hungarian past and present, and who spread scepticism towards democracy and education (including political education) of the broad public by stating that most people in actual fact are either incapable of learning more or unwilling to do so.

  38. Charlie’s reply really made me laugh – history as taught in Britain is the truth!

    Perhaps you should read some history, Charlie. What’s taught in British schools is as biased, selective and one-sided as history taught almost anywhere is. True, we’re quite good on some subjects (the Holocaust, for example), but ask the average British school child about Stalin’s blood-thirsty policies, or even about the Cambodian ‘Killing Fields’, or the Rwandan genocides and see their blank looks.

    Or, without straying too far abroad, just see how much the average British school child knows about how we treated our subjects in the Empire (the apartheid treatment of the Indians. or the drug trafficking to the Chinese, to give just two examples). Or our part in the slave trade – why, for instance, did Liverpool and Bristol become successful ports, just where did much of the founding capital of the City of London come from?

    And the teaching of the two World Wars is almost comical. For instance, we’ve just been commemorating the “start” of WW1 – which apparently happened over a week after Austria declared war on Serbia and Germany came in on Austria’s side, and Russia on Serbia’s. Not just in schools, but many times on the august BBC, the date of Britain’s entry into the war was mistakenly presented as the “start” of the war.

    And, while we are on WW1, ask the average Brit (not just the school kids) if Hungary was in the First War – and, if so, whose side were they on? Ask them about Trianon (Tria-what?), ask them about Hungary’s part in the war on the Eastern Front (assuming they even know there was an Eastern Front), ask them about Russia’s involvement and what happened as a result of 1917, ask them what happened to Hungary’s soldiers afterwards. Then ask them about the creation of Czechoslovakia and Jugoslavia – who created them and why? Ask them about the Baltic States, about the League of Nations. And why Belgium was so important to us (you can let me know the answer to that one – it has long puzzled me).

    I could go on (I’ve barely scratched the surface), but you get my point.

    And, before you counter that knowledge of the realities of WW1, the Russian Revolution (how many Brits even know that we sent an army to fight the Bolsheviks?), Hungary, or even the Empire, aren’t that relevant to modern life, let’s consider WW2.

    Why, for instance, did we declare war on Germany alone, when the USSR also invaded Poland and violated exactly the same treaty? Is that taught at school? What about German bombing – how did the misnamed “Blitz”, for instance, compare to our day and night bombing of Germany? Why do we hear so much about the Battle of Britain, but nothing about our pre-war decision to use our air force for blanket bombing of cities? (A policy, incidentally, that nearly lost the Battle of Britain, because too man resources had been concentrated on bombing and not enough on defence.)

    As for bombing – how come the ‘Blitz’ just made us stronger and more determined to defeat the Nazis, whereas we justified our blanket bombing of civilians (i.e. mostly old people, women and children) on the basis that it would break German moral. Is that debated in many schools? Why isn’t our strategic decision to kill civilians en masse regarded as a war crime? How many irate parents do you think you’d get if a brave teacher tried that one? What about Hiroshima – can it be justified now we know that the Japanese had already decided to surrender? Can Nagasaki be justified at all? Could it possibly be that two bombs were dropped simply because the Americans had two bombs, or different types, and needed to see how they performed on real targets? (We debated this in my Grammar school in the 60s, but my kids didn’t in their schools in the 80s and 90s.)

    Compare and contrast the post-war photos of Hiroshima and Tokyo – what’s the difference? Was the atom bombing of one justified, but not the fire-bombing of the other. Ditto with Berlin – in what way was its almost total destruction better (or worse) than Hiroshima’s? Which do we hear most about today? And I’d really love to hear your justification for the statement that we were “forced” into one of the biggest ever crimes against civilisation, the deliberate and sustained fire-bombing of Dresden.

    As well as the “start” of WW1, we’ve also had recent commemorations of D day at home. Not only was the American role in this consistently played down (they had far more troops committed than us, and the hardest beaches – in a war that wasn’t really even their war), but the impending defeat of the Germans by the Russians wasn’t even mentioned. Once again, Britain “stood alone”, and the war was basically a battle between us and the Germans (which, of course, us plucky Brits won – almost single-handedly).

    This could be forgiven in the immediate post-war situation, but we are now 100 years away from WW1 and nearly 70 years away from the second war – surely more than enough time has passed for us to forget all the jingoism and start teaching the wars more objectively? As I said before, the bizarre thing is I got a more balanced view of the wars from school in the 60s than my kids did 25 years later.

    If you really want a true picture of how well history is taught in British schools, just cast your mind back to the recent elections. The UKIP candidates and all their supporters were taught history in British schools – what exactly did they learn?

  39. Wow, Paul. Thank you! That’s some food for thought.

    I’ve also heard that in really good British schools they don’t “teach the truth”. They get grammar school kids research and debate Mussolini for half a year and give them the tools to think for themselves for the future that way.
    Whereas in Hungary, it is still mostly spoonfeeding and regurgitating facts.

  40. “too man resources” should have course have been “too manY resources”.

    The ‘y’ key has packed up on this computer, so we are having to run it with Hungarian set as the language – as luckily the ‘y’ and ‘z’ are transposed on Hungarian keyboards (and whereas ‘z’ is a fairly uncommon letter in English, ‘y’ is all too common). Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to miss the odd ‘y’. (As for trying to remember where all the punctuation keys are on a Hungarian keyboard when you’re using an English one, I leave that to your imagination!)

    There’s a funny side to all this faffing about – whenever we use Hungarian, we have to switch back to English (imagine trying to write in Hungarian with no ‘z’ – MSzP for example, or Fidesz!).

    It’s a pain – just to write this brief explanation, I’ve had to switch languages back and forth more times than I can remember!

  41. As for Charlie,

    “I don’t know in what circles you move in.”

    You’ve asked me this before and I can’t see how it’s relevant. I have some very intelligent and educated friends, but I meet all kinds of people all the time, including old ladies in hospital wards and at coffee mornings, who often talk about the second world war. Also old Jewish people and war veterans.
    This “Britain SINGLE-HANDEDLY won the war against the Nazis” – I heard that from a TV presenter on the BBC, and found it shocking. Also people saying “Europeans owe us a lot of gratitude because we won the war for them.”

    “And find some more intelligent English people too!”

    And you stop patronising me! It’s not a question of intelligence, but if it matters to you, I’m in close relationship with a Mensa member with an incredibly high IQ.

  42. Paul, when you ask

    “And why Belgium was so important to us (you can let me know the answer to that one – it has long puzzled me).”

    – is that a rhetorical question?

    It wasn’t important. France had been nagging Britain to join the war on their side. The plan was that Russia attacks Germany from the east, France from the west, but they were concerned Germany was still too strong. So when the French lined up on the border and the Germans wanted to march through Belgium and attack the French troops from behind, Britain intervened – they were protecting FRANCE from the Germans, not the Belgians.
    The bla-bla was that Belgium was independent and the Germans shouldn’t use their territory in their war “efforts”. The Germans stated clearly to Britain they would respect Belgium’s independence AFTERWARDS – it was only the excuse for Britain to get involved.

    That’s as far as I know. I hope the cleverer historians will correct me if I’m talking rubbish…

  43. Thanks CC, I’m glad all that effort (and switching keyboard languages!) was worth it. I’m very much afraid I only scratched the surface on this subject, I could have gone on at much greater length, there are many topics I didn’t even touch on which are amazingly ‘badly’ taught.

    Needless to say, most of my knowledge of history was gained well after I left school.

    Not only is it “still mostly spoonfeeding and regurgitating facts” in Hungary, my understanding is that it’s getting worse. The schooling system was beginning to Westernise and break away from the ‘Hungarian’ tradition, but Orbán’s victory has put the kybosh on that.

    The teaching methods you describe in “really good schools” are more or less what I had in my Grammar school in the late 60s (I can remember English lessons where we were shown a TV advert and the rest of the lesson consisted of us questioning and deconstructing it – I left school with no knowledge of grammar (somewhat ironically!) , but I knew how to think for myself). Unfortunately this didn’t extend to history, which consisted of the teacher writing on the blackboard for the whole period, whilst we copied a rough “translation” of his words into our notebooks – or messed about. I learnt far more history in ‘English’ than I did in History.

    I’m afraid I can’t confirm if this sort of teaching method is still in use. It might be in some schools, but it certainly isn’t in the few I’m familiar with (ranging from primary to ‘high’ and ‘grammar’). My strong impression of the curriculum and approved teaching methods these days is that they are being ever more “streamlined’ and narrowed down with one end in mind – success in exams. Schools these days are judged solely on how well they perform in exams (both GCSEs and A levels, and the dreaded SATS) – their funding, and their ability to attract both teachers and pupils is based on the number of above average passes they get. Education, as I understand it, has lost out completely to exam preparation.

    This trend has been exacerbated by the determination of the recently demoted Minister for Education’s desire to drag us, kicking and screaming, back to some Gradgrindian image of Victorian schooling. His popularity amongst parents and teachers can be accurately judged by the fact that Cameron had to sack him for fear of losing the election.

    My apologies for telling you stuff you must already know, but I don’t know your exact situation. I assume you are a Hungarian married to a Brit? If so, do you have kids going through the British education system? It would be fascinating to hear your views on the plusses and minuses of the two systems (especially when compared to my wife’s!).

  44. CC – it was rhetorical in a way, but not entirely.

    The standard ‘reason’ we are given for Britain going to war in 1914 was to protect “brave little Belgium”. Our self-image (constantly reinforced by schools, governments and media) is that we, alone among the European Great Powers, did not want a war and had no ulterior reason for entering it. We were the ‘good guys’, reluctantly dragged into the war to protect a little country from the big bullies.

    This is of course utter tosh. We were the most powerful country of the age (the US of the time), we had complete control of the oceans, an empire “on which the sun never set”, and the lion’s share of the world’s trade and industry. And we were totally committed to the “balance of power” in Europe (although we didn’t – still don’t – consider ourselves part of Europe).

    The ‘balance of power’ was of course a nonsense, everyone knew that Austria, Russia, Italy, etc were no match for Britain and France, and that Germany (only recently unified) was a rising power, determined to be THE power in Europe (but not if the French could help it!). The myth of the balance of power had held things together for a long time, but it was obvious that the cracks were getting bigger and it wouldn’t be long before the whole thing collapsed.

    The gradual withdrawal of the Ottoman Empire was the eventual cause of this collapse, as it enabled Austria to dream well above its weight (by annexing the Southern Slav countries), and gave Germany the excuse it had long sought to flex its military muscles and become the leading country in Europe. Obviously, Britain and France weren’t going to allow that, so war was inevitable. The invasion of Belgium was just the excuse (as was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand for the earlier declaration of war by Austria on Serbia).

    But I’d still like to know Charlie’s take on all this – although I fear I know the answer, having heard it thousands of times…

    Incidentally, I’ve always been puzzled by Britain’s willing entrance into a European land war. We were an oceanic, global empire, we had very little interest in Europe (or even trade with it). And, more critically, we were a naval power (THE naval power of the time), our potential to mount any sort of large-scale or prolonged land warfare was extremely limited – especially compared to France and Germany. Had things gone well, the best we could have hoped for is a hyped-up role in support of France, and, had things gone badly, we were very likely to get our arses well and truly whipped. A support role to our old enemy France, or thrashed by the upstart Germans – just what did we have to gain?

    And, of course, the fact that we were vastly outnumbered and out-gunned meant that we were falling back almost from the first minute – which inevitably led to defensive trench warfare and all the horror of what followed. We like to think of the First War as between us and the Germans, and as Germany being responsible for it, but it could well be that it is us who were responsible for the way it turned out and the terrible slaughter that followed. Would a war between the relatively comparable armies of France and Germany have turned out the way WW1 did with British involvement?

    I’ve never seen or heard this discussed, but it would make an interesting (and perhaps sobering) debate – although I suspect I already know Charlie’s views on such a “ridiculous” analysis!

  45. One last post from me tonight – my apologies for hogging the board, but I thought a word or ‘two’ on British ‘grammar’ schools might be of use to those unfamiliar with the name.

    When ‘general’ schooling began in Britain it was mostly charity or church based (the origin of the modern ‘Sunday Schools’), aimed at merely providing basic skills to a very limited number of children – mostly based around Bible reading/teaching. But there was a parallel, and more organised, movement to educate the sons (and only the sons) of the ‘gentry’, and this was done by setting up Grammar Schools – which literally taught grammar (although only Greek and Latin – certainly not English!).

    These ‘grammar’ schools developed into the British public schooling system (‘public’ means private in this context – they were strictly selective and fee-paying). Many of these public schools retained the word ‘Grammar’ as part of their name.

    After WW2, British (strictly English and Welsh, as Scotland and NI have their own systems)education was revolutionised. Provision was made for full-time state education for all children up to the age of 14, with selection at 11 (the ’11+’ exam). Those who failed the 11+ attended a ‘Secondary Modern’ school after primary education (11-14), whilst those who passed went to ‘Grammar’ schools, where they could continue their education to 18. The term ‘Grammar’ was borrowed from the public (i.e, private) school system to lend kudos to the new schools – and indeed many of the old ‘public’ Grammar schools became part of the new State education system.

    This system meant that Grammar school children left school with at least O Levels (‘ordinary level’ exams taken at 16) and probably A Levels (‘advanced level’ taken at 18, and necessary to get into university), Secondary Modern children left school at 14 with no certificates. Broadly, Grammar school children were expected to go to university, Secondary Modern pupils were intended for the factories. Those who favoured this new system saw it as a chance for intelligent poor and working class kids to get a decent education (for free), whilst those against it accused it of being elitist, with Secondary Modern schools just turning out “factory fodder”.

    In the 70s, English schooling was again revolutionised with the creation of ‘Comprehensive’ schools, where all children got the same opportunities and facilities, and could progress to take O and A levels if they wanted to. Comprehensive schools were usually much larger than the old schools, often consisting of several local senior schools combined. In many areas, the local Grammar and Secondary Modern schools were combined to form a new ‘Comprehensive’, sometimes in a newly built school, sometimes on a shared campus.

    In a few areas, the old system remained (I don’t understand why the new system wasn’t implemented nationally) and in a few cases, Grammar schools decided to go private (i.e. largely fee-paying) and became ‘public’ schools. Comprehensive schools were generally considered to be a success, with many more children than before getting qualifications and/or going to university. Unfortunately, there were also problems with the new schools, mostly related to their size, and the right-wing media were quick to seize on this (comprehensives were seen as a product of left-wing politics and dogma) and the term ‘comprehensive’ soon became mildly derogative. It even became something of a shameful thing in some circles to admit you’d ‘only’ been to a comprehensive.

    In more recent times, there have been many changes to the English education system, in fact so many, that it’s difficult to keep up! We now have a variety of different schools, including both grammar and comprehensive, but also ‘high’ schools, ‘academies’ and the new ‘free schools’. Someone else will have to explain all that to you, I find it utterly confusing!

    Personally, I was lucky to experience both the old and new systems, having passed the 11+ and attended a grammar school, and then gone to a comprehensive when we moved. And now we just happen to live in Kent, which is the only county still to retain a full Grammar School system, with selection at 11 (although there are no longer Secondary Modern schools – pupils who fail their 11+ attend “high” schools or even comprehensives, where they can still take O and A levels, and even move to Grammar School at 13, if they pass a second selection exam).

    The ‘modern’ (I use the term with caution) Grammar Schools are different from the old type. For a start, they aren’t as elitist, as pupils don’t ‘fail’ if they don’t pass the 11+, as they used to, but also their intake is much broader. The grammar school I went to required a fairly high pass at 11+, which limited its intake to roughly 10% of pupils, whereas the modern grammars take the top 25% of children, irrespective of their marks.

    I hope this helps anyone puzzled by my references to grammar schools, etc. My apologies for its length, but its gone 3 here and it’s far too late for editing and rewriting!

  46. London Calling!

    Kirsten you have of course hit the nail on the head with your short reply!

    I refrained from giving you a long invective on my take on history – just to state that the ‘truth’ is found in the facts, as seen, for example from the ‘Imperial War Museum’ perspective – where everything, and I included Dresden, is included.

    It was in contrast to Hungary not opening their archives and making available to the public the facts as seen as truth – and in contrast too to the awful Terror House museum.

    There is plenty of analysis available here in many many tomes if you are inclined to read them and I leave the analysis for another time – in a more appropriate place.

    I will add that I am extensively read on World History and World current affairs and see things from a realistic perspective – not from a conscientious objectors point of view.

    As for being patronising – no.

    It is all too easy to present a few contradictory views and experiences as the general view – which was what I believe happens often here.

    Luckily we have historians, analysis and Eva!

    The question was how History is taught in schools – not what certain history scholars learnt.

    This is separate from what the older generation think – after all they weren’t taught about it – they experienced it.

    My answer is: History is taught well.

    Very well compared with Hungary.

    Please read this in conjunction with Kirsten’s answer.

    Regards

    Charlie

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