1 / 2018

Róbert Ehrenberger

The Institutional History of the III./V. General Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior between 1962 and 1990

The III./V. General Directorate functioned as a kind of auxiliary operative (technical) organ among the state security organs of the Ministry of the Interior between 1962 and 1990. During the whole era its main task was to provide the operative technical equipment to make the operative work of the state security more effective. They were also responsible for the chemical and document securing processes. Its significance is shown by the fact that the General Directorate belonged to the independent financial state administrative economic units. Beyond its permanent tasks, the General Directorate also had some special charges in the 1960s: they operated the communication engineering of the Ministry of the Interior, the ciphering and deciphering units and the radio counter-intelligence service. In the first decade of its operation the General Directorate developed increasing skills and authorities (in 1962 it started its work with four units, but in 1968 there were already eight departments and two independent units within the General Directorate). In 1971, however, the number of its employees decreased (to three departments and two independent units), but increased again from the middle of the 1970s (by 1985 there were seven departments and two independent units again). In the two studies published here there is an analyses of these changes, which makes the studies the most important archival based researches in this field.

István Bandi

The Trial of Aladár Szoboszlay and his fellows

“I won’t think that there are more than two people in Romania who believe in class struggle. Most people would be good to one another if permitted. Those, who enforce class struggle (...) calculated with fear very realistically: if you did not hate with me I would persecute you, you would lose your work, your family, home, liberty and life. Only those can live who join the group of rancorous.” This is how Aladár Szoboszlay described the situation in Romania. Szoboszlay was a former student of the Piarist grammar school in Timişoara, a theologian and follower of bishop Áron Márton. His open-mindedness and sense of liberty could not meet the expectations of the era. His short life was broken by the power. Chaplain Szoboszlay did not know fear and had conflicts with both Communist authorities and with those who cooperated with them within the Catholic church. He called upon revolution and he had many followers who wanted changes already before the Hungarian revolution of 1956. The changes, however, did not come so early.

Ágnes Jobst

Image of Hungary, 1968. The Country Report of the Stasi

How to judge the reforms was a central issue in the network system of the Socialist countries. The hardcore Communist GDR handled the question mistrustfully and prejudged the experimenting countries like Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. In case of Hungary it was the task of a special operative unit of the Stasi to gather information. They had the permission of the Hungarian authorities and since 1964 they worked officially “on securing the East German tourism in Hungary”. But their task included also the observation of Hungary’s politics, the public opinion, the internal and foreign policy. The reports of the operative unit was summarized at the Budapest embassy of the GDR and was forwarded to the Ministry of National Defence in Berlin. The published document was written on 28 August, 1968. It has two peculiarities: it was created at a historical moment and it showed the Hungarian changes through the optic of an allied, but certainly not friendly country. The report put a special emphasis on analysing the new economic mechanism and on Hungary’s contacts with the German Federal Republic with an increasing uneasiness.

István Papp

Notes of István Antal about “népi” writers

It has been a serious challenge for scholars to define the position of Hungarian “népi” writers (sometimes also called as “populist”, or “peasant” writers in English) in the history of ideas precisely. Regarding the “népi” movement there are good reasons to put it both among left and right wing movements especailly when examining the biographies of its major representatives individually. The story becomes extremely complex because sometimes we cannot tell whether they were in opposition, or the supporters of different governments. The memoirs which is published here was written in February 1952. Its author is István Antal, who was at different ministerial positions before World War II. His person came into the focus of the attention of the Communist state security in connection with observing the “népi” poet István Sinka and others. In his notes, Antal also dealt with Géza Féja and his role in state propaganda. It is possible that Antal wrote longer memoirs and only a part of it was put into this specific state security file. The operative officers did not really use the information which Antal gave in his memoirs, at least we do not have information about it. At the same time, however, it is a precious source regarding the “népi” movement, which also illustrates well the difficulties to evaluate this intellectual circle in the history of ideas.

Zsolt Krahulcsán

The Anatomy of a Failed Attempt of Induction

Just before his exam in descriptive geometry, an undergraduate student of Miskolc University was tried to be induced exactly on the day after the execution of Imre Nagy and his associates. The student, Erik Uhlmann told his story in his memoirs. The publication juxtaposes this memoir with state security methodological instructions, other measurements and orders of the Ministry of the Interior that regulated the process of enlisting an agent. The article examines how practice was related to regulation in the case of network building and summarizes the career of the operative officer, Ferenc Szirtes, who tried this induction as well. The attempt belonged to the so-called “small induction pattern”, which was applied when the first personal meeting had already happened among the negotiating partners. In case of refusal no induction could be acted out. Uhlmann avoided cooperation and because he could be neither blackmailed, nor corrupted the state security finally gave up its attempts.

Nándor Pócs

Resistance in the Palace. A book review about László Szelke: Gresham a nácik ellen. Az ellenzék, az embermentés és az ellenállás hálózatai [Gresham against the Nazis. Opposition, Rescue Actions and the Networks of Resistance.] Jaffa Kiadó, Budapest, 2016.

László Szelke belongs to the experts of the history of Gresham Palace. In his book he attempted to show what kind of role the Palace played in the history of the anti-Nazi, English orientation Hungarian resistance. Szelke used also elements of urban and cultural historical approach in his work, which made his narrative very plastic. At the same time those chapters which deal with the resistance are quite complicated for non-experts. According to the opinion of the reviewer it is due to the fact that the author does not make a clear cut description of the manifold resistance movements of Hungary. In Hungary, there were more actors of resistance than the overemphasized Communist, or the here mentioned Anglo-Saxon oriented resistance. There were numerous legal or semi-legal secret societies and organizations in the interwar period which fought for the revision of Trianon peace treaty. These groups later gave the basis of anti-Nazi resistance. Despite the unclearness of terms, the author of the book could successfully cope with writing the history of diplomatic and secret service contacts of the English and American allies. He luckily showed how the Gresham Palace became a meeting point to build personal ties among the participants. Sometimes this was more relevant than the party politics in the Parliament.

Dániel Mészáros

Remarks to a Report. A bookreview about Sándor Horváth: Feljelentés. Egy ügynök mindennapjai. [Impeachment. The Everday Life of an Agent.] Libri Kiadó, Budapest, 2017.

There was a kind of “revolution” in the archives in the 1990s, when people realized that not only the prominent public figures were observed by the secret services but many ordinary people as well. This feverish “revolution” then contributed to the misleading belief that the state security was omnipotent and observed everybody. But who were exactly the authors of the state security reports? And what can we say about these agents? Sándor Horváth tries to summerize the answers to these questions in his book for a wider public. Using a micro- historical perspective he follows the life of one agent, shows how he became the member of the network and what reasons he had when cooperating with the state security. Then he examines how the agent’s attitude in the state security network changed from a constrained commitment to a diligent agenthood. The individual under discussion worked for the state security for three decades until the system changes. Through the biography of this certain “Gy.” the readers could follow the work of the state security before 1989, the everyday life of Nógrád county’s coal mines and more precisely its static world, which was only rarely disturbed by the events of the second half of the twentieth century.