Historico-political studies in the reform era, 1837–1841 Ferenc Pulszky's and Mihály Horváth's concepts on the characteristics of the development of Hungarian society
Mihály Horváth and Ferenc Pulszky are usually regarded as historians who held liberal independence political views. This image can be refined though: it was not only the legal independence of the nation from the Habsburg power that they found important but also the autonomy of the society vis-a-vis any forms of excessive administrative power. The anti-Habsburg attitude of our national liberal historians of the Reform Era was combined with a strong rejection of etatist arrangements; they did not strive for the independence of the country to build a strong nation state but to enhance the opportunities for development of the society; consequently, they placed the autonomy of the society and its self-development into the centre of the collective memory. Similarly to most liberal politicians, they did not see the „chains of feudalism” as original components of the Hungarian constitution, thus justifying the statement that the liberation of serfs and the codification of property rights did not endanger the constitutional order of Hungary. On the other hand, they markedly differentiated „feudalism” from the institution of „orders” that ensured the autonomy of the society and that they regarded as the historical predecessor of „modern-day liberty” and a valuable legacy of European and Hungarian social development.
Contributions to the diplomatic relations between Hungary and the holy see in the reform era the 1839–1840 hungarian diet in the apostolic nunciature in Vienna
Regarding the Hungarian political events leading to József Lonovics’s diplomatic mission to the Holy See, we focused on the materials produced during the debates of the Hungarian Diet. In the register of letters sent by Ludovico Altieri to the Secretary of State at the end of 1839, the problems experienced by the Hungarian Diet were already clearly outlined. Compared to previous correspondence, the number of political subjects related to Hungary increased significantly. In January 1840, the number of reports from the Hungarian Parliament grew considerably in the documents of the Holy See, which only intensified during the Diet. The nature of these reports is extremely diverse. This research proves the direct relations between the Holy See and the Hungarian episcopacy (János Pyrker) and provides significant contributions to information history: what kind of socio-political image about the Kingdom of Hungary was intented to transmit to the Nunciature in Vienna and the Secretary of State in Rome. The correspondence sheds new light upon the relationship between the Hungarian higher clergy and the legation in Vienna, and illustrates the Apostolic nuncio’s sensitivity to, and, occasionally, inexperience in, Hungarian affairs, which could have served as a filter on the quality of information on Hungary in the Papal Court.
The impeachment after the hungarian council republic: the trial of commissars in 1920
After the fall of the Hungarian Council Republic the new regimes decided to the impeachment of the former government and its representatives. In July of 1920 ten former, basically social democrats commissars of the Hungarian Council Republic brought to justice and they were accused with high treason, insurrection, murder and counterfeiting currency. The developing Horthy-system has ideological and political goals with the trial, because with the impeachment of commissars the new system could legitimize own power and criminate the Hungarian Council Republic and the ideology of Bolshevism. It turned out to the adverse attitude of the court of justice. After the four-month-long trial the court of justice passed a sentence upon the former commissars, they were found guilty in all counts. Four persons of them were condemned to death and six of them were sentenced to life imprisonment. The enforcement of judgement was prevented by the intervention of Soviet Union and the former commissars could leave the country thanks to the Hungarian-Soviet cartel.
The first catholic assemblies of the great plain – the birth of a new political programme
The National Catholic Assemblies appeared in Hungary in the first decade of the 20th century. After the Great War, as a result of the initiative of the Jesuit Father Jakab Bús, the regional Catholic Assemblies of the Hungarian Great Plain were established in 1922 (Szeged) and 1923 (Kecskemét). These meetings can be described as the reduced versions of the National Assemblies, where local problems and national questions were discussed as well. The speakers tried to explain the causes of the post-war crisis in Hungary, they blamed principally the widespread indifference towards religion, and suggested that the renewal of the country could only be possible on the basis of the Catholic faith and with the moral support of the papacy. It also implied the questioning of the Christian belief of the ruling political elite and the hidden critique of the leading political parties. The paper examines the origins of the first Assemblies of the Great Plain and their connections with the organisers of the National Assemblies.
Minderheitenpolitische mosaiken zu einem bischöflichen besuch die ungarnfahrt von berning, bischof von osnabrück (1933)
Das Jahr der Machtergreifung von Hitler war ein Tiefpunkt in der Beziehung zwischen der ungarischen Regierung und den Vertretern der Ungarndeutschen. Die schlechten Ergebnisse der Volkszählung im Jahr 1930, die Verhärtung der ungarischen Regierungspolitik, die ungelösten sprachlichen und schulischen Rechte der Ungarndeutschen und die innerliche Zerstrittenheit des Ungarländischen Deutschen Volksbildungsvereins zeigten die Tendenz der Verschärfung der Konflikte. Darum war der Besuch von Wilhelm Berning, Bischof von Osnabrück im Februar 1933 in Ungarn beachtlich. Er wollte sich über die seelsorgerische Lage der Ungarndeutschen informieren. Berning diskutierte mit dem Erzbischof von Gran, Kardinal Jusztinián Serédi und auch mit einem Vertreter der ungarndeutschen Bewegung, Jakob Bleyer. Zwar beeinflusste der bischöfliche Besuch weder die kirchliche noch die staatliche Richtung der Minderheitenpolitik, doch wenn wir die Ereignisse des bischöflichen Besuch rekonstruieren, können wir neue wichtige Beiträge über den Standpunkt der ungarischen katholischen Bischöfe bezüglich der Minderheitenfrage bekommen. Der kurze Besuch von Berning löste erzielte Geschehnisse bis zum Heiligen Stuhl und bis zum deutschen nationalsozialistischen Staat aus. In unserer Studie setzen wir zwar den Akzent auf den Besuch von Bischof Berning, aber wir stellen auch die Prämissen der Fahrt vor, und machen die verschiedenen wissenschaftlichen Interpretierungen des Besuchs bekannt.
Miklós Kozma and the labor service
The paper shows how Minister of the Interior Miklós Kozma became one of the most significant supporters of the German Labor Service (RAD). In the summer of 1936 he was asked by his German colleague Wilhelm Frick to visit an RAD-camp in Germany. Kozma was pleased and in October 1936 he made a week-long official visit in Berlin. During the visit he was shown an RAD-camp (near Berlin), which deeply impressed him. From the first half of the 1930’s and especially after his personal experiences, Kozma wanted to adapt the nazi Labor Service System in Hungary. The Hungarian Government did not support Kozma’s efforts, although the Turul Association had established the Voluntary Labor Service for undergraduates in 1935, before Kozma’visit, and this was supervised by the State from 1937 to 1944 (called Voluntary National Labor Service). His plans were opposed by the left and liberal opposition as well.
„Erziehend zur realen äußeren und inneren betrachtung unserer lage” gedanken über europa und über die stelle Ungarns in Europa auf den spalten von Magyar Szemle (1927–1944)
In unserem Beitrag suchen wir durch die Analyse von Artikeln der Zeitschrift Magyar Szemle die Antwort darauf, in wieweit die veröffentlichten Aufsätze zur realen Erkennung der aussenpolitischen Situation von Ungarn und seiner Stelle in Europa beitrugen oder im Gegenteil darauf negativ auswirkten. Bei der Übersicht der Artikel über die Beziehungen zwischen Europa und Ungarn zeichneten sich folgende Schlagworte ab, die die Problematik thematisierten: das Thema Ost/West, Turanismus, die führende Position von Ungarn – mit zeitgenössischem Wortgebrauch – im Donau-Becken, der Paneuropa-Gedanke, das mitteleuropäische Problem und die Neu-Hungaria-Idee von László Ottlik. Die Autoren spiegelten in ihren Essays jene konservativ-liberale Weltanschauung, deren führende Representant in der ungarischen Politik István Bethlen war. Mit der Betonung der führenden Position von Ungarn in der Region, mit der Illusion der Wiederherstellung des Reiches von Sankt Stephan ernährte auch diese Zeitschrift jenen Nebel in der öffentlichen Meinung, der den klaren Blick der Wahrheit verhinderte. Die Erweiterung des außenpolitischen Horizontes der Gesellschaft bedeutet auch heutzutage eine aktuelle Aufgabe. Dafür arbeitet auch der in diesem Jahr 70 Jahre alt gewordene Historiker, Pál Pritz.
Foreign policy views at the conference in Szárszó
Between 23 and 29 August 1943 the members of the Hungarian people’s/populist movement (magyar népi mozgalom) organized a crucial conference in Balatonszárszó. It took four decades after the Soviet occupation that people could commemorate the significance of the Szárszó meeting. The reason for the reticence was probably rooted in the „third way” policy, represented by most members of the Hungarian people’s/populist movement. They detested all kinds of dictatorship, be it red, brown or black, as well as the slavish adaptation of liberal capitalism. They rejected the tutelage of both Nazi Germany and Communist Soviet Union. For the majority of the members of the Hungarian people’s/popular movement, the ’third way’ policy signified a model which was concerned with the avoidance of the squeeze(s)/grip of the great powers and the collaboration with the neighbouring countries. By advocating the modification of the territorial borders on the basis of ethnicities populating the regions, this model gave a moderate response to the revisionist question, which was inevitable after the trauma of the Treaty of Trianon. Where is the idea of the Szárszó conference originated from? What foreign politicy views were discussed in Balatonszárszó? What was the reality of these visions in light of international political processes? This paper seeks to answer these questions.
Vogelfreis in southern Transylvania the situation of southern Transylvanian hungarians between 1940 and 1944 as reflected in hungarian diplomatic sources
In the autumn of 1940 the Second Vienna Award divided the Transylvanian Hungarians into two, and while those living in Northern Transylvania became a majority again, the Southern Transylvanians were forced to redefine themselves and their community. Based mainly on contemporary Hungarian diplomatic reports, this study aims to present the situation of the Hungarians in Southern Transylvania and their grievances. It also follows the decline of the best organized Hungarian community outside the borders of Hungary that possessed an extensive system of institutions. It illustrates the loss of hope experienced by Hungarians that led to the signing in mass of the “pledge of allegiance” to Romania. This study regards the year 1942 – especially the discriminative grain requisition – as the turning point in the 1940–1944 history of Hungarians in Southern Transylvania. The pledges of allegiance that many Hungarians signed are considered the measure of the situation the Hungarian minority was living in. The process and its results may be interpreted in different ways, the present interpretation does not exclude any other possibility. For that reason, this study also contains different opinions of Hungarian leaders as well as different perspectives on the issues discussed. Whereas before 1940 the “Hungarian spirit” and the “minority soul” – both trained in hard battles – were considered to be symbols of a positive attitude towards their situation, circumstances deteriorated to the point that after 1942 Hungarians saw themselves as third-rate citizens, whose situation was in many cases worse than that of the Jewish population. The history of Hungarians in Southern Transylvania can therefore be regarded as a history of decline, also mirrored by Hungarian diplomatic sources that mention them four times as 'vogelfrei' – outlaws.
Der volksbund in Budakeszi – ein versuch der verwirklichung der „völkischen aussonderung“ in einer deutschen gemeinde in der umgebung von Budapest
Nach dem Wiener Volksgruppenabkommen am 30. August 1940 wurden in zahlreichen deutschen Gemeinden in der Umgebung von Budapest – so auch in Budakeszi/Wudigeß – die Ortsgruppen des Volksbundes der Deutschen in Ungarn (VDU) gegründet. Sie vertraten offen das Programm der sog. „völkischen Aussonderung“, d. h. der Dissimilierung, was in den sich rasch modernisierenden, der Assimilation besser ausgesetzten hauptstadtnahen deutschen Gemeinden bedeutende Änderungen nach sich zog. Während die Bestrebungen des Volksbundes in Budakeszi auf dem Gebiet der Wirtschaft und der lokalen Verwaltung eher wenig Erfolg hatten, konnte sich die Volksgruppenorganisation hinsichtlich des öffentlichen und kirchlichen Sprachgebrauchs und des kulturellen Lebens (Chöre, „Spielschar“ usw.) besser durchsetzen. Den größten Erfolg erreichte sie jedoch im Unterrichtswesen: Im September 1941 konnte eine eigene Elementarschule gegründet werden. Im nächsten Schuljahr wurde auch ein privater Bürgerschulkurs eröffnet. So wurde die VDUSchule in Budakeszi mit sechs Lehrkräften und 208 Schülern (1943) neben der VDUSchule in Sopron/Ödenburg die größte Einrichtung dieser Art in Ungarn. Das Auftreten des Volksbundes spaltete die Dorfgemeinschaft, und die die Assimilation anstrebende lokale Intelligenz und die Kirche mussten gewissermaßen den neuen Tendenzen weichen. Der Druck seitens des Volksbundes hatte nämlich nicht nur einen ethnisch-nationalen, sondern auch einen sozialen Charakter: Die Volksgruppenorganisation wendete sich mit ihrer aktiven sozialen Tätigkeit im Zeichen der „Volksgemeinschaft“ an die unteren sozialen Schichten der Gemeinde und griff in ihrer Rhetorik mit Vorliebe und heftig die Dorfpotentaten und Geistlichen an. Diese konnten aber in diesem Konflikt in der Regel mit der Unterstützung der staatlichen Behörden auf Kreis-, Komitats- und sogar auf ministerialer Ebene rechnen. Das muss unter anderem einer der Gründe dafür sein, dass der Volksbund während seines vier Jahre langen Bestehens nie mehr als etwa 15–20% der Bevölkerung von Budakeszi erfassen konnte. Als einer seiner größten Rivalen galt die hungaristische Pfeilkreuzerbewegung.
The agressor, the intriguer, the pilate, the moor and the reluctant fantasist – or the room for manoeuvre and responsibility in 1944
Sovereignty, opportunities, responsibility – in Hungary in 1944. These hot issues are explored in this essay. It outlines the possible motivations of the actors: the invading Germans, Horthy, the different Hungarian governments, the anti-Nazi politicians and pro-Nazi collaborators. The opportunities and motivations of the state employees, officers, gendarmes, the majority population and the persecuted Jews are analyzed on this basis. The preparation of the balance sheet ends with the ‘what if’ question.
20th century of an aristocrat paintress Gróf Károlyi Széchenyi Ilona: the pendulum swings
About forty years after the end of the Second World War, Ilona Széchenyi Károlyi published her memoir titled The Pendulum Swings. A large part of this reminiscence focuses on the first few years of her emigration. Several famous figures of the Hungarian aristocracy appear on the pages, like Viktor Károlyi, who was a delegate in the Hungarian Chamber of Deputies, Consuelo Károlyi, wife of the regent’s (Miklós Horthy) younger son and Ferenc Károlyi, a volunteer German secret agent and SS officer. The narration shows us how they escaped from the Soviet troops, struggled for life in Austria, undertaking blue-collar work, and living in refugee camps and how they were insulted by American soldiers. However, there are many gaps between the stories. The reader, for example, is informed that Ferenc Károlyi had been sentenced to death by the American court-martial, but there is no word about why this penalty was cancelled two years later, and why Ferenc and his family settled down in the United States.
„When people can laugh at their troubles in this manner, they are not beyond redemption.” the diary of Nathaniel P. Davis in Budapest (1949–1951)
As an associate of the American foreign service, Nathaniel Penistone Davis, born in Princeton (Mercer county, NJ) lived as a typical career diplomat, travelling throughout the world. He spent the last two years of his active service, from 1949 to 1951, in Hungary as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary. By the time Davis arrived in Hungary, the establishment of the Communist state had practically been completed: a totally new framework was created for the political, economic and social life, which was different from every previous system. By the autumn of 1949 American–Hungarian diplomatic relations settled into a state of continuous confrontation, marked by various conflicts, mainly of economic nature, often resulting in suspensions of negotiations. On the other hand, there is a noticeable kind of withdrawal, principally on the American side, manifested not only in the acceptance of the Sovietisation of Hungarian foreign and internal policy but also in a forced acknowledgement of the acquisition of economic assets, communicated as nationalization. In spite of this situation there was an emblematic case during Davis’ tour, namely the Standard case and in connection with it the conviction of Robert Vogeler. The management of the issue became the central problem of the minister’s tenure in Budapest. Davis wrote a diary about his experiences in Hungary. This diary, available at the collection of the Harry S. Truman Library (Independence, MO) gives a day-today level insight into the circumstances faced by a seasoned diplomat in Hungary in the early fifties.
The hungarian diplomatic mission in London between 1945 and 1956
After the resumption of diplomatic relations between Hungary and the United Kingdom in 1945, an experienced diplomat, István Bede, was sent to London to represent the Hungarian Government. He and his staff made important contributions to the Hungarian efforts in the “peace preparation” period. In response to the growing Communist pressure in Hungary, Bede resigned in 1948 and asked for political asylum. His successor, János Erős, defected a year later. The newly appointed minister, Elek Bolgár, a reliable Communist and a former professor of diplomacy at the University of Rostov, undoubtedly possessed the competences required for this position, but most of his subordinates were virtually unsuitable to work in the foreign service. The ministers who succeeded Bolgár were faithful Communists but inexperienced diplomats who had to work with completely incompetent staff. This paper discusses how the heads of the Hungarian diplomatic mission in London coped with their tasks in the period of the emerging Cold War. It also provides some insight into the everyday life of the legation between 1945 and 1956, and explores the dramatic deterioration of the quality of the Hungarian diplomatic service after the Second World War.