The Orbán government bestows the Order of St. Stephen on Imre Kertész

A couple of days ago a stunned Hungarian public learned that the Orbán government will bestow on Imre Kertész, the sole Hungarian Nobel Prize winning author who until now has been the target of scorn from the far right and the object of studied neglect on the part of Fidesz, the highest state decoration, the Order of St. Stephen.

In November 2011 I wrote a post entitled “New Hungarian regime, new or not so new decorations.” The Order of St. Stephen was established by Maria Theresa in 1776, and it was abolished in 1946 when Hungary was declared a republic. Actually, no Order of St. Stephen was given out between 1920 and 1940 because by law the Grand Master of the Order had to be the Hungarian king. So for twenty years Horthy did not feel at liberty to bestow the order. By 1940, however, he no longer had any compunctions about taking over the role of the king. Once the order was reestablished, the recipients included Joachim von Ribbentrop, German foreign minister; Gian Galeazzo Ciano, Italian foreign minister and son-in-law of Mussolini; and Hermann Göring, marshall of the German Reich. It is this order Imre Kertész that will receive–and this company that he will keep.

It is difficult not to suspect that the Hungarian government’s sudden interest in Imre Kertész has something to do with Viktor Orbán’s efforts to improve his self-image abroad after the fiasco of the Holocaust Memorial Year. How many people will he manage to fool? I have the feeling not too many. The whole scheme is so obvious and cheap when, for example, only a few weeks ago Viktor Orbán was ready to appoint the anti-Semitic Péter Szentmihályi Szabó to be Hungarian ambassador to Rome, the same man who consistently called Kertész “Imre Kertész” instead of using the proper Hungarian word order “Kertész Imre,” indicating that he does not consider him to be a Hungarian.

I suspect, and I’m sure that I am not the only one, that it is Mária Schmidt who is behind this devilish idea. She “discovered” the deeply anti-communist Imre Kertész. Last Thursday Heti Válasz published a fairly lengthy article by her about the greatness of Imre Kertész, which bears little resemblance to the Kertész most of us know. The Hungarian original is not yet available, but thanks to the website Mandiner an English translation of it made its appearance online.

But before I talk about the Schmidt essay I should say a few things about Kertész’s attitude toward Hungary. Kertész has lived in Berlin for ten years. He loves the city and is grateful to the German reading public that discovered him. He also appreciates Germany’s efforts to face the country’s past as opposed to his own country’s reluctance to take even partial responsibility for what happened in Hungary during the spring and summer of 1944. He went so far as to deposit his archives in Germany instead of Hungary.

Kertész’s 2007 visit to the Bundestag: “I feel that people understand me better here.”
Source: AFP Photo Axel Schmidt

Given the fact that Kertész is a very ill man–he is in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease–it is difficult to know how much he understands about what’s happening around him. It is highly unlikely that he will be able to receive the highest Hungarian decoration in person. In the last two years he has not appeared in public. One thing is sure. In 2012 when he gave an interview to Florence Noiville of Le Monde, which was republished in part in The Guardian, he had a very bad opinion of Viktor Orbán’s Hungary. He was dismayed by the Hungarian people’s enthusiasm for Orbán. He felt that “the current situation is nothing but a further illustration of that tendency [of Hungary] to choose wrong.” After talking about Orbán’s anti-EU attitudes and about the majority of Hungarian young people at the university who sympathize with the extreme right, he concluded that “Hungarians are holding on to their destiny. They will undoubtedly end up failing, without understanding why.”

As for the official attitude toward him, Kertész was aware that some of his right-wing friends kept in touch with him only in secret. “It not well seen for them to be friendly with me. Remember the unleashing violence when I won the Nobel Prize–people were angry to see me become the only Hungarian Nobel when I was not glorifying “Hungarian-ness. After my novel Someone Other, I was attacked because of my dark portrayal of the country. Some even wondered if I was a real Hungarian writer….”

In January 2013 an article appeared in The New Yorker entitled “The Frightening Hungarian Crackdown” by Hari Kunzru, himself a writer. When Kunzru heard about Kertész’s decision to house his archives not in Hungary but in Germany, he thought it was “a profound gesture of reconciliation.” The friend corrected him:

I’m afraid there is something more to it: he has also good reasons to believe that in Hungary his legacy wouldn’t be treated with as much respect as in Germany, as he is regarded by the current political elite as an “unHungarian” and then I’ve been euphemistic. For example, currently his work is not part of the Hungarian national education program, due to some changes in school material in which, at the same time, three famously antisemitic writers have been included.

The article ends with these words:

Hungary remains in a wistful, toxic relationship with the nineteen-thirties, with a fantasy of Jewish conspiracy and national moral decline. As the memory of the iron curtain fades and Europe recenters itself, Hungary’s fascist resurgence should be a matter of concern for all. Kertész’s own reaction is to quote Karl Kraus: “The situation is desperate, but not serious.”

All in all, it is unlikely that Kertész would accept any kind of decoration from Viktor Orbán’s government if he were in perfect mental health. Mária Schmidt and Viktor Orbán are taking advantage of an old, sick man.

To justify honoring Kertész Schmidt paints a very different portrait of his views. She uses three sources. All three appeared in the last few years when Kertész was not entirely himself. When he said a few things that perhaps were not only not fair but were dictated by resentment and suspicion of his liberal friends. In typical Schmidt manner, she presents a one-sided image of a very complex man by concentrating on a small segment of his output. She picks statements of Kertész which to her mind supports her own highly flawed thesis of the Holocaust. She is using Kertész’s Nobel Prize winning novel, Fateless, to justify her own House of Fates. Despicable.

Tomorrow I will give a taste of Schmidt’s revisionist description of Imre Kertész.

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46 comments

  1. As usual, the cynical, mocking mind of Orban is using an old sick man and ‘laughing at him’, and so the nation of Bekemenet and the totally sick Hungarian society follow suit.

    What an absolutely stomach-emptying country this is!

  2. “To justify honoring Kertész Schmidt paints a very different portrait of his views. She uses three sources. All three appeared in the last few years when Kertész was not entirely himself. ”

    This is entirely false. In reality Schmidt wrote the article before plans to honor Kertesz were even announced. She could not have known that there will be such plans or that Kertesz will accept (which is still not known). The interview of Schmidt with Olga Kalman also contradicts this interpretation. And also it is highly offensive to suggest that honoring Kertesz needs justification. Kertesz’s body of work is such that no justification is needed or could be suggested.

    Let us also deal with the claim that ” She uses three sources. All three appeared in the last few years”

    For this let us examine the original article (if someone is interested to read the original article that we are discussing

    http://www.schmidtmaria.hu/szakma/cikkek_publikaciok/on_the_nature_of_dictator.html

    In this we can read about the main sources used:

    “The Depressing Heritage of Europe (Európa nyomasztó öröksége) first appeared in 2008, while Save as…: Notes from 2001-2003 (Mentés másként, feljegyzések 2001-2003-ból)”

    So one of the sources was published in 2008 (and written earlier) and the other main source is “Notes from 2001-2003”. So one is at least 7 years old and the other is 13 years old. So the claim that “All three appeared in the last few years when Kertész was not entirely himself.” is entirely without basis or foundation. And it could even be considered a malicious attack on Kertesz. It is advisable for people who are really interested in this topic to read the original article, as it is available in English:

    http://www.schmidtmaria.hu/szakma/cikkek_publikaciok/on_the_nature_of_dictator.html

    The ATV interview in which Schmidt debunks some other misconceptions is here:

    http://www.atv.hu/videok/video-20140818-schmidt-maria

    (only available in Hungarian)

  3. @BR

    Ahh, a government apologist rears his Brit head, huh…

    Let’s try this quote on for size:
    “Kertesz’s body of work is such that no justification is needed…”

    Ok, Mr. BR, tell us than why Kertesz’ work is not required reading in schools but third-rate fascist’ dung-leavings are?

    This ‘resurrections’ of Kertesz is, first and foremost, to laugh at him; and the Hungaricoes who well know Orban’s style know how to listen with their third ear.

    Second, it’s for naive westerners to show Hungary’s ‘respect’ for a jewish writer. (he-he-he)

    (Nothing quite as sick as the tortured, hungarian mind.)

  4. What makes this “news” very sad is that if you visit some of the moderate right news portals, and read on the comments you feel like throwing up. Orban stirred up so much hatred toward each other in this nation that no other Hungarian was able to do in history.
    Orban never had a cohesive nation in mind, only a country where he can manipulate a group to support his rise to the top. There is no limit to this man’s morals and to those who support him.

    As I wrote in my post on the previous thread, I hope they will stream live the ceremony where they bestow this honour on Kertesz. I would like to hear what he has to say.

  5. It is hard to comment on this. The only similar VIRTUAL event that I could think of is for Wojciech Jaruzelski to give the very sick Pope John Paul II the highest Polish medal, during the period he declared martial law in Poland.

  6. BR: And also it is highly offensive to suggest that honoring Kertesz needs justification. Kertesz’s body of work is such that no justification is needed or could be suggested.

    Hence, Mz Schmidt not publishing right now, in Hungarian and English, a kertészxploitation article, I suppose? 🙂

  7. This is a lovely summary of the Hungarian ‘condition’:

    “They will undoubtedly end up failing, without understanding why.”

    As for Parkinson’s, my father had this awful condition and indirectly died from it, so I am very familiar with the effects it has on the mind and body of the sufferer.

    Although to most people Parkinson’s is a ‘disease’ that ‘just’ makes people’s hands shake, it’s actually a serious and irreversible degenerative condition which affects the nervous system and ultimately the brain. Sufferers gradually lose control of their motor functions, eventually becoming unable to feed or dress themselves and suffering the ignominy of double incontinence. But what is less well known is that they also degenerate mentally – the latter stages of Parkinson’s are indistinguishable from dementia.

    My father technically ‘only’ had Parkinson’s, but in his last years he didn’t know who his wife and children were (or why they were visiting him), he didn’t understand where he was or why (he thought he was being held prisoner, and pleaded with my mother on every visit to help him get out and go home). And during visits, he often disappeared into a world of his own, holding animated conversations with imaginary people, or moving round a room that only he could see (for instance, he would offer to get people drinks from the non-existent bar).

    He could no more have accepted the Order of St Stephen (or even understood what he was being offered), than he could have flown to the moon.

  8. Excalibur Defence Kft. according the the government website owned by Dr. Stefan Turay and (most likely his daughter). Please find below parts of the extract of Excalibur Defence.

    Please note that share capital is HUF 500,000, the bank is Sberbank (Putyin I believe).

    I cannot find much on the father, but the daughter is working for a political party TOP09 (www.top09.cz) which is part of the EPP party in the EU. So if these tanks are sold to Russia, than Czech Republic, EPP have some explaining to do.

    Cégjegyzékszám: 07-09-024411
    Cégforma: Korlátolt felelősségű társaság
    Bejegyezve: 2013/11/07

    2.A cég elnevezése
    2/1. EXCALIBUR DEFENSE Korlátolt Felelősségű Társaság
    Bejegyzés kelte: 2013/11/07 Közzétéve: 2013/11/28
    Hatályos: 2013/11/07 …

    11. A cég jegyzett tőkéje
    11/1.
    Megnevezés Összeg Pénznem
    Összesen 500 000 HUF
    Bejegyzés kelte: 2013/11/07 Közzétéve: 2013/11/28
    Hatályos: 2013/11/07 …
    13. A képviseletre jogosult(ak) adatai
    13/1. Dr. Stefan Turay (an.: Major Anna)
    Születési ideje: 1945/06/20
    Külföldi lakása, illetve tartózkodási helye:
    CZ 56206 Usti and Orlicí, Lansperská 124.
    Adóazonosító jel: 8286553659
    Kézbesítési megbízottja: Volsik és Juhász Ügyvédi Iroda – Dr. Juhász Balázs ügyvéd
    8000 Székesfehérvár, Oskola utca 11.
    A képviselet módja: önálló
    A képviseletre jogosult tisztsége: ügyvezető (vezető tisztségviselő)
    A hiteles cégaláírási nyilatkozat vagy az ügyvéd által ellenjegyzett aláírás-minta benyújtásra került.

    Jogviszony kezdete: 2013/11/07
    Bejegyzés kelte: 2013/11/07 Közzétéve: 2013/11/28
    Hatályos: 2013/11/07 …
    13/2. Ida Turayová (an.: Mária Mészárosová)
    Születési ideje: 1980/01/22
    Külföldi lakása, illetve tartózkodási helye:
    CZ 56206 Usti and Orlicí, Lansperská 126.
    Adóazonosító jel: 8412935292
    Kézbesítési megbízottja: Volsik és Juhász Ügyvédi Iroda – Dr. Juhász Balázs ügyvéd
    8000 Székesfehérvár, Oskola utca 11.
    A képviselet módja: önálló
    A képviseletre jogosult tisztsége: ügyvezető (vezető tisztségviselő)
    A hiteles cégaláírási nyilatkozat vagy az ügyvéd által ellenjegyzett aláírás-minta benyújtásra került.

    32. A cég pénzforgalmi jelzőszáma
    32/1. 14100048-22135449-01000001
    A számla megnyitásának dátuma: 2013/11/14.
    A pénzforgalmi jelzőszámot a Sberbank Magyarország Zrt. Székesfehérvári fiók (8000 Székesfehérvár, Táncsics Mihály utca 7.) kezeli.
    Cégjegyzékszám:
    Bejegyzés kelte: 2013/11/21 Közzétéve: 2013/12/05
    Hatályos: 2013/11/21 …

  9. OT again, while I’m at it:

    In the local children’s playground yesterday I met a dentistry student who was is just about to start her third year at Debreceni Egyetem (and whose English was surprisingly good).

    I naturally asked her where she saw her future after graduating – for instance, would she consider going abroad? (My wife’s family and friends include a number of doctors, dentists, surgeons, specialists, etc, who, Fideszniks to a man/woman, resolutely ignore the opportunities to earn a fortune abroad, so this topic always intrigues me.)

    I was quite surprised by her reply – she explained that she couldn’t work abroad for 10 years after graduating. Her course is five years, and in order to get the course she had to sign an undertaking to work in Hungary for at least twice the length of the course – 10 years.

    I was vaguely aware of having heard of such restrictions being talked about, but hadn’t realised that they were in place, or that they were so draconian (in the UK it is common to insist that students on post-graduate training programmes work for the company for a set time afterwards, or they have to reimburse the company for the cost of their training, but the longest term I have ever heard of is three years).

    She was, naturally, not happy about this, but even worse, this rule had been introduced after she had begun her studies and (in true Orbán style) then applied retrospectively. So, having signed nothing when she started her course, she now found herself unable to leave the country for 10 years after completing the course.

    Since 2010, I have learned to be careful about the political questions I ask people in Hungary, so, even though she had every reason to dislike the Orbán government and seemed to have a fairly ‘Western’ outlook, I tried to ascertain her feelings towards Fidesz as carefully as I could. And what a strange conversation that turned into – she was just as oblique with her replies. She clearly had good reason to dislike Orbán and his methods, but she wasn’t going to openly admit as much – even to a foreign stranger, who she would probably never see again.

    This is life in modern Hungary. So bizarre was this conversation, that at one point I found myself half-seriously wondering if there were microphones in the trees!

  10. A PS to my working abroad (or not) post above – an ‘unexpected outcome’ of such draconian restrictions could, of course, be that graduates go to work abroad anyway, but are then effectively prevented from coming back because of the financial (and legal?) penalties they would face.

    So Orbán’s attempt to keep expensively trained graduates in Hungary could well backfire completely – not only will they still leave, but they are now a lot less likely to come back.

  11. @Ron

    It is as a matter of fact a subsidiary of the Czech company Excalibur Army, which has been buying, refurbishing and selling that kind of stuff for 25 years. They even have a nice online catalog (no, you can’t order direct).

    While obviously the Czech & Hungarian governments have a responsibility to ensure that such companies do not infringe on current embargoes or sanctions, the current buzz has been entirely sparked by the Russian propaganda apparatus.

  12. @Paul

    “Ron – surely the one thing Putin already has enough of it tanks?!”

    My guess is that they will go to the Ukrainian government.

    The Americans will get off Orban’s back and he can solidify his pet project,

    the dictatorship of Hungary, in the style of Turkey and Russia.

  13. Marcel Dé. I checked out the website of Excalibur Army and they have nice stuff. However, I cannot find the connection with Excalibur Defense Kft., only the connect with EPP.

    As to the tanks itself, since 2 years there is a carousel of selling and buying tanks in the EU. The Dutch sold all their Leopards to Finland. Which sold a part to Austria, and Austria is selling I believe to Hungary. It is very weird and political. In other words I do not understand any of it.

  14. I should have added that just this morning I saw empty trucks, the heavy equipment/tank carrying type trundling towards Debrecen. Yesterday I saw a another one. I sometimes see military vehicles in the area but it’s always the light stuff.. not the heavy equipment so this is a bit unusual. I should have snapped a pic.

  15. Paul as to education I believe there are three ways to “pay off” your study debt.

    You are going to work a poor area at low money, and once completed you repaid it.
    You are going to work in a normal job in Hungary, but the period is longer.
    You are paying back the amount (plus interest) and you are free.

    Btw this is not only for students at Universities.

    My girls are with a sports club (both 10 years old). If they leave this club to go to another club they have to pay according to the sports law an x amount to the club, unless the other club agrees to pay it for you. Same applies if you go abroad. The older you are the more more money you need to pay. A 15 year old needs to pay EUR 1,000 (HUF 300,000). Btw these are amateurs and not professionals, all of them pay monthly fees to the club.

  16. RE: BR August 18, 2014 at 7:36 pm
    In fact we were interested in the original article, but it seems you were not so much. http://www.schmidtmaria.hu/szakma/cikkek_publikaciok/on_the_nature_of_dictator.html
    The other sources BR provides are not articles from (with) Schmitt, but articles that support Schmitt’s conclusion (and her whole article is simply a conclusion nothing more). Schmitt’s main purpose wit the article published in August 14 /1014 is to prove the world that Kertesz only wrote about suffering under the Holocaust and for various reasons stayed silent on the Hungarian “suffering” under the communists. She also tries to further that ongoing tactic and PR employed by Fidesz that everything is the fault of the liberals, and those who after the communism took over the country. (THis very much ties into Eva’s previous article on Teller’s theory.)
    So, while we read BR’s comment it seems like Schmitt supported Kertesz since 2001, the facts is that Schmitt uses materials previously published to support that all liberals are bad and everyone who follows Orban are good. Schmitt just like Orban tries to divide Hungarins by pointing fingers into one directions while conveniently leaving out facts, and quotes, and grabbing other quotes out of context.
    Let me include some sentences from Schmitt from August 14/2014:
    “In these writings of Kertész the common experiences of both the Nazi and Communist dictatorships appear in a concentrated form. They are highly instructive, as they can enrich and make every one of us more sensitive. Nevertheless, it is curious and hardly explainable at the same time that the thoughts, sharp-as-a-needle analyses and conclusions drawn by the only Hungarian Nobel Prize-winning novelist from Hungary´s recent past barely reach the level of public discourse and debates.” So, according to Schmitt, Kertesz decide to only blame nazis for he Holocaust but the Noble Prize-winning author (for whatever reason) find it convenient not to speak about the communists
    Even thoughKertesz spoke about those ex-communists, like Orban, Schmitt does not include that in her article, as that would defeat her purpose. “Hungary is mesmerised by Orbán the way some were by the pied piper of Hamelin. There is a profound subtext to it, and it brings a huge doubt in me …”
    Guardian Imre Kertész’s Hungary: a country on the wrong side of history (2012)
    http://www.theguardian.com/global/2012/feb/12/imre-kertesz-hungary-wrong-side-history

    Schmitt also quotes from Kertesz: “Nevertheless, due to his views on the two dictatorships, he had no chance to be admitted to the canon of admired writers and intellectuals, dominated by left-liberals. “I am being insulted by the Hungarian Nazis, who include a number of Jews. Two ‘official Jews’, a Polish-German one called Reich-Ranicki and Paul Lendvai, a former Stalinist idling around in Austria, stated that the Nobel Prize should not have been given to me, but to somebody else.”
    (Again, although Schmitt uses some names, and puts the blame on the liberals for Kertesz not being honoured, she forgets to mention any quotes about Orban!)

    Also, Schmitt forgets to quote something else form an article.
    “How do you feel?
    Sick. I have Parkinsons, otherwise I would of not returned!”

    One more quote form Kertesz to debunk Schmitt and BR:
    NOL 2013
    http://nol.hu/kultura/a_teljes_kertesz-interju___holokauszt-bohoc_voltam_-1412999
    “Úgy érzi, hogy az emlékezés Németországban valamiféle holokauszt-biznisz irányába ment el egy kicsit?
    Kertész: Nem kicsit, teljesen.
    Zeit: A meggyilkolt zsidók berlini holokauszt-emlékműve turisták piknikező helyévé vált.
    Kertész: Igen. Ez nagyon kellemetlen. Egyszer meghívtak Buchenwaldba, ahol rabruhában bicegő embereket láttam. Ízléstelen volt.
    Zeit: És Ön a része ennek az emlékezés-biznisznek?
    Kertész: Azt tesznek az emberekkel, amit akarnak.
    Zeit: Ellenkezhetett volna.
    Kertész: A második világháborúnak sem kellett volna megtörténnie.
    Zeit: Játssza a kortanú szerepét, és szenved tőle.
    Kertész: Csak azért adtak nekem irodalmi Nobel-díjat, hogy ezt a fajta szemtanú-irodalmat díjazhassák. Előtte meghívtak Stockholmba, hogy beszédet tartsak. Valójában biztosak akartak lenni abban, hogy vállalható figura vagyok, és nem kézzel eszem a tojásrántottámat. Ez ellen nem túl sokat lehet tenni. Az ember tehetetlen az ilyen hatalmakkal szemben. Egy helyre mentem volna szívesen: a Wannsee-villába a Wannsee-konferencia 70. évfordulóján.”

    “interviewer: Do you feel that the Holocaust remembrance moved slightly toward a a Holocaust-business in Germany?
    Kertesz: Not slightly. Totally.
    ……
    I was invited once to Buchenwald where I saw people in prison uniforms. It was distasteful.
    interviewer: Are you part of this remembrance-business?
    Kertesz: They can do with people whatever they want.
    interviewer: You could oppose.
    Kertesz: The second world war was not supposed to happen either.
    interviewer: You are playing the role of the crown-witness and suffer from it.
    Kertesz:They only gave me the Nobel Prize for literature, so they can reward this kind of eye-witness literature. Beforehand they invited me to Stockholm to make a speech. In fact, they wanted to be sure that I am acceptable figure, and don’t eat scrambled eggs with my hands. You cannot do very much against this. Man is helpless in the face of such powers. There is one place I would of liked to go: to the villa of Wannsee on the Wannsee Conference 70th anniversary ”

    Take a note on the above BR and Schmitt, and tell me that bestowing a prize to the man who suffers from Parkinson, who can not stand Orban, who feels that he is being used, is the righ thing to do! What a sham!

  17. London Calling!

    Surely this is the most cynical act of a cynical government?

    With such esteemed company as Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hermann Göring and relatives of Mussolini the award should have been allowed to quietly disappear.

    It was also awarded to Pal Teleki who ironically was a rabid anti seemite just like Horthy.

    It is a truly sickening honouring of Maria Teresa’s memory of that the award is now so contaminated.

    It is obvious that Kertész would never have agreed to receiving it from a country that despised him as much as he despised it.

    Schmidt and Orban should be ashamed of themselves.

    If they think this will restore them to the decent human race then I think they will be disappointed. The ‘indigenes’ may swallow it but the free democracies of the west will see it for what it is.

    Let’s hope Kertész has a lucid episode in his Parkinson’s journey that enables him to understand what is happening and communicate what he would really want.

    Let’s hope.

    Regards

    Charlie

  18. By the way Mihaly Takaro also received the order, just to be on the safe side. WHo is Takaro? A full fledged anti-semite, a maniac of Trianon, fan of Albert Wass. Enter his name in google, and you will get the just of it in a few minutes.

  19. re: Kertesz in Hungary

    It would be interesting if someone could discover why Kertesz returned to Hungary for medical treatment.
    Are there money problems? (Surely there were suitable hospitals in Berlin…)
    Is it a question of burial? (Perhaps he wished to be buried in Hungary…)

  20. @tappanch

    Is it a problem that we are supporting Ukraine?

    I thought that the problem was that the we are supporting Russia…

    Or we are just playing games to fool everyone…

  21. There may be a sting in the tail, of course. I have no idea what Kertesz intends, but there are precedents for prizes being accepted less than wholeheartedly, and this in turn creates negative headlines. Most famously, perhaps, when John Berger (a not dissimilar writer to Kertesz) accepted the 1972 Booker Prize (the most prestigious UK literary award), he used his speech to passionately attack the prize sponsors, and then donated his entire takings to the Black Panther movement. The brilliant Kertesz now has his own platform. I hope he’s up to it.

  22. OT

    But dear Eva,

    Human Resources Minister Zoltan Balog,
    , quote: “no Hungarian Gypsies were ever deported from Hungary. Only from
Austria.”

    (I picked it up over here) is having a speech at a conference saying: that peoples of the region “had to face two dictatorships” and added that whenever Hungarians had a free choice, they always preferred freedom.
    http://www.politics.hu/20140819/minister-warns-social-iron-curtain-still-remains/
    Would like to hear your opinion.
    (My thoughts were, that this is shameless)

  23. Completely OT – or not?

    Minister Semjén Zsolt called evolution an unproven hypothesis …

    I didn’t get everything (and my wife started laughing …) but he seems to be a creationist?

    At least that’s what RTL news is reporting right now.

  24. @Havelaar. I found politics.hu’s summary so confusing that I read a Hungarian article about the same thing. The original is no more enlightening. The Pan-European Picnic is a very important event for Germany and I found more German-language references to the 25th anniversary than Hungarian ones.

    The reference to the two dictatorship in Hungary’s case does not make much sense. After all Hungary was a diplomatic and later military ally of one of the dictatorships Balog is talking about. When the Germans occupied Hungary in March 1944 no dictatorship was introduced in Hungary. The few months of Arrow Cross rule was a Hungarian affair. So, I really don’t know what he is talking about.

    Otherwise, this government is not celebrating this event with great enthusiasm because it was the Németh government (nominally still a communist one) that opened the gates for the German refugees. Difficult to explain how could that happen when allegedly the Hungarian state had no freedom of movement prior to May 1, 1990..

  25. I saw a video of the conversation that took place yesterday on HírTV. This guy is something else. His argument is that a being cannot produce something which is not in him/her/it. Of course, this is nonsense, What about mutations of viruses? He is a really stupid man. No wonder that he had to plagiarize his dissertation.

  26. @Ron, a train load of tanks has already rolled through here on rail. As for heading to CZ… they’re in the wrong place going in the wrong direction. The train was pointing east and It’s about 100km to the Ukraine. The empty trucks were heading south… with an escort.

  27. Eva is there an English transcript of PM Orban’s discussion yesterday at the Pan-European Picnic with Philip Rakay? From the summary of his discussion in Népszabadság it appears the PM elaborated on the concept of “liberalism” and the state of western economies. i have not been able to find the full transcript in English or Hungarian, it there one in German? I know the discussion was translated simultaneously into German at the event.

  28. @tappanch: as far as I know, the Ukrainian army uses T-64s on the ground. Their old T-72s are in storage, but since they probably still have hundreds of them, why would they need spare parts from abroad?

  29. ZEIT online Iris Radisch “Ich war ein Holocaust-Clown” 21. September 2013 http://www.zeit.de/2013/38/imre-kertesz-bilanz
    translated to Hungarian by Valaczky Gabriella, and published in NOL 2013.09.14 (I have no idea how when the original article only appeared a week later..)
    “Imre Kertész ist 84 Jahre alt und leidet an Parkinson.”
    “Im November letzten Jahres [2012] ist er nach Budapest zurückgekehrt. Seither hat er die Wohnung im dritten Stock eines gediegenen Wohnhauses in Buda nicht mehr verlassen.”
    Er sitzt in einem Sessel vor der offenen Terrassentür. Zart, durchsichtig sieht er jetzt aus. Unter dem Hemd rattert während des Gesprächs unerbittlich ein Gerät, das die Medikamentenzufuhr kontrolliert.”
    Kertesz: “Aber darf ich sehr aufrichtig und ehrlich sein? Es ist genug. Ich habe alles gehabt, alles, was ich wollte. Ich glaube, ich will auch nicht mehr schreiben. Ich ordne noch die alten Tagebücher, das amüsiert mich. Aber wenn ich an diese Nächte hier denke … Es gibt ein Wort, das nennt sich Liebe. Damit würde ich gerne etwas Neues anfangen. Aber womit soll ich schreiben? Meine Hände wollen nicht mehr. Ich bin sehr müde.”

    “Imre Kertész is 84 year [in 2013] old now, and has Parkinson.”
    “In November last year [2012] he returned to Budapest. Since then, he has not left the apartment on the third floor [for ten months] of a prosperous residential house in Buda. He sits in a chair in front of the open patio door. He looks delicate, and transparent. During our conversation under his shirt a device that controls the delivery of drugs rattles inexorably.
    Kertesz: “But may I be very sincere and honest? It’s enough. I’ve had everything, everything I wanted. I guess I do not want to write. I still have the old diaries, which I can reorganize that still amuses me. But when I am thinking here of those nights … There is a word called love. With that I would like to start something new. But what shall I write with? My hands no longer want. I’m very tired.

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