Szécsényi András: A korszellem hálójában. Az egyetemi önkéntes munkaszolgálat rendszere, működése és nemzetközi beágyazottsága Magyarországon (1935–1944) (In the Web of the Spirit of the Age. The System, Functioning and International Relations of the Voluntary Labour Service of University Students in Hungary (1935–1944)
Budapest, Gondolat Kiadói Kör, 2016
This book review refers to a pioneering and important piece of contemporary historiography. The subtitle proposes such a topic which has not been researched after 1945 and unfortunately not even since the systemic transformation of 1989–1990. There are hardly any reference books on the topic of the volutary labour service of university students and synthatizing monographs also underestimate the significance of it. The monograph of András Szécsényi fills this gap, therefore deserves a special attention.
The author applies a comparative research method to describe the Hungarian voluntary labour service. The volume comprises a dozen of chapters in which the author presents his research results plus an index and an abbreviation code.
The historiography of the topic is as well introduced as the research data. Voluntary labour service has been the subject of smaller works, like brochures, pamphlets or articles. The author gathered and analysed them. He also used archival material. But as he claims, unfortunately the most of the sources were destroyed “in the storm of history”.
Use of Arms at the Western Border in 1955
By the end of 1948 Hungary became the front country of the Soviet bloc and in accordance with the Soviet intentions the Hungarian party leadership decided the tight lockdown of the Southern and Western borderline. One of its premises was that the Hungarian frontier guard could appropriately operate the “Iron Curtain” according to the political expectations. “Iron Curtain” proper, the so-called technical lock contained control zones, tracks, minefields, barbed wire fences modelled on the structure of military front zones. Approaching the technical units without permission, or crossing the Iron Curtain with the intention of leaving the country through the field borders (or in scant cases entering the country) were risky actions. Those who tried so might die or risked prison.
In the study one of such a case is analysed, which happened in 1955. The photo documentation was possibly made with educational intention, because this case had numerous consequences for even the frontier guard.
Éva Tulipán – Gábor Molnár
The Geoinformatical Database of the Victims of the Revolution and Freedom Fight of 1956
The geoinformatical database of the victims of the revolution and freedom fight of 1956 contains the data of 1,700 victims from Budapest. Their data are presented in a map with a browser on the Hungaricana portal.
Most of the data derives from death certificates taken between 23 October 1956 and spring 1957 in those violent death cases which can be connected to the revolution and freedom fight.
In the database the geographical data of the death cases can be edited in today’s and almost contemporary maps. The size of the circles in the map and the number shown in the circles indicate the number of the victims in that quarter of the city. When zooming into the map, the death cases appear separately according to their actual place. If the cursor touches the circle, detailed data of death cases appear. When clicking on the circles, the personal data and other detailed information about the victim are shown. One might even narrow browsing and searches can be made according to date or name.
The Trial Records and Self-Tesimony of István Keglevich about 1956
The history of the Hungarian Catholic church is a significant part of the 20th century Hungarian history. Its research and publications contribute to the growth of our general knowledge about the given period.
The trial records of István Keglevich reveals the life of the community of Regnum Marianum, being an illegal organization after 1948. After the communists’ seizure of power all religious community organizations were banned. Their activity was declared illegal and their participants were persecuted. In February 1961 a series of trials started against Regnum Marianum. The show trial of “Black Ravens” became the last great attempt to break the Catholis church.
The present source edition provides us not only with data about Regnum members, but also tries to answer the question what exactly the political power wanted to know about these small religious communities. The Bishops’ Council of the German Democratic Republic lifted up its voice against the compulsory atheistic education in 1960. However, the propagation of the Hungarian version of this circular letter was considered illegal in Hungary. István Keglevich took a stand on behalf of this circular letter and this became one of the main heads of the charge against him in his trial.
The Short Life of Agent “Debreceni”
A Simple Story from 1959-1960
Miklós Hornyák, police lieutenant, the officer of a county police headquarters political investigation department number 5., i.e. department of counter-intelligence proposed the induction of Dr. F., pediatrician to be an agent. It seemed necessary because among the doctors of the county’s regional centre both in county clinics and among panel-doctors there were about forty “class enemies”. These people “of bourgeois ideology” were supported by the clinic leader.
The study introduces an average agent induction, if a concrete case could be an average at all. The author tries to follow the process of a state security action, therefore he does not even publish the name of the network member. He does not even mentions the county and its centre. The story itself can be still understood, because its protagonist is not the would-be agent, but the operative officer who analyses and finally induces him.
A Previous Social Democrat Leader, who Could not Become a “Full-fledged” Agent
Gyula Balogh joined the Social Democratic Party in 1945 following a family tradition and his own commitment. Within a short time he held important political and social positions in the party, but his career was drastically broken by the political changes of the country. In the summer of 1948 he was excluded from the party and he lost his job, too. Because of his hopeless position he emigrated and tried to find his place among the different and rival social democrat emigré groups. Finally he participated in the work of the Szélig-Kéthly party and became a member of the party leadership there. But he left the party in 1957 disappointedly and from the fall of 1960 he gathered information against his comrades as a state security agent. However, he was not able to become a full-fledged agent. Balogh was not a lucky man, his private life and career was full of catastrophs and problems. His failures and disappointments made him a cautious and distrustful man, but even his enemies admitted his correct, true and humanistic approach.
The “Press Rezidentura” and the Network of the Enlisted in the Press Life of the Kádár Regime
After the communists’ seizure of power Soviet pattern had to be applied also in the work of the political police, but the state security’s influence in the press obtained a greater role only after the repression of the revolution of 1956. In the Rákosi era open terror and intimidation set out the limits of the press: almost only party propaganda reached the printing houses, work and life of the opposition were made impossible, or they became victims of the tyranny. After 1956, however, the role of the press changed somehow.
In the Ministry of the Interior an office was established to control the press in 1968 which was called “press rezidentura”. According to an internal command of the Ministry of the Interior, intelligence centres had to be founded in those institutions which kept contact with Western countries. “Press rezidentura” controlled the life of the press from the point of view of the intelligence services, so they kept contact with reporters abroad and foreign reporters in Hungary. Foreign reporters were accompanied by the members of the “press rezidentura” and they also had propaganda activity abroad. They controlled MÚOSZ (National Association of the Hungarian Journalists), TH (Information Office), MTI (Hungarian Cable Service), radio, television and the press department of the Ministry of Defence. Officers of the “ress rezidentura” were present in these institutions, but mostly in covered position. However, they supervised the operative network of the state security.
Gergő Bendegúz Cseh
Authenticity, Data Protection and the Problems of Publicity in the Archival Practice of the Hungarian State Security Data Processing
The challenges and requirements of the modern archivists were summarized by the Code of Ethics for Archivists of the International Council of Archives (ICA) in Beijing twenty years ago. In his study the author heighlights some important points of the ten comprehensive points of the document which have proved to be extraordinarily significant in the Hungarian archival practice with their up-to-date, yet sometimes problematic tenets.
The archivists preserve the archival material, thus guaranteeing that authentic sources of the past could survive; they take care for the authenticity and collect documents in accordance with the goals of their institutions. Archivists should respect both researches and personality rights, therefore they do their work according to related laws.
However these requirements sometimes generate contradictions as for example in the case of the Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security, where the special character of the Archives sets up these problems heavily. Therefore the principles of the Ethic Code meet difficulties.