What Do the Hungarians Conceal?
A bookreview about Nóra Szekér: Titkos társaság. A Magyar Testvéri Közösség története. [A Secret Society. The History of the Hungarian Brotherhood], Jaffa kiadó, Budapest, 2017.
The history of the so-called Hungarian Brotherhood has not been studied in such details before. Previous works focused on the activity and preconditions of the secret community of the Hungarian Brotherhood, while this volume concetrates on its entire history, including the lawsuit revealing the “plot against the republic”.
The primary sources of Nóra Szekér’s book are preserved in the Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security (ÁBTL) and in the Budapest City Archives (BFL). These were mainly oral history interviews, which were taken before 1990. There is also a huge amount of investigational files in ÁBTL and plenty of materials of the legal proceeding in BFL, which contributed to reconstruct a very complex and intertwined story. I.e. the members of the community kept parts of their secrets, they “did not reveal all details of the truth”, as it was stated with some euphemism. Therefore the researcher had to struggle with not only the lack of sources, but also with all the misleading and conspirative deadlocks, which the Brotherhood applied in order to preserve the secret character of their community.
A Horthy Scholarship Grantee in the Central Committee of the Hungarian Workers’ Party
A bookreview about (Ed.) Zsuzsanna Varga: Göröngyös út. Dimény Imre életútja. [Rough Roads. The Life of Imre Dimény], Kossuth kiadó, Budapest, 2017.
In the past fifteen years, there has been a constant interest in the memoirs of the agrarian lobby of the Kádár regime, who belonged to one of the most important pressure groups of the era.
The book, “Rough Roads” was edited by Zsuzsanna Varga, who is the most prominent researcher of agrarian history of the Kádár regime. Her questions structured and directed the memoirs of Imre Dimény, while also Dimény’s own interest and initiative shaped the text. The volume is partly a memoir, but partly a memento, because Dimény, who took part also in the finalization of the manuscript, died just before the press release of the book.
The title of the book, “Rough Roads”, characterizes aptly the decades of Dimény’s life before 1956. These chapters comprise the most interesting and surprising details for the reader. However, the more Dimény’s course of life unfolds, the more self-justifying he became. Nevertheless, the life interview brought lots of important facts to the surface, therefore the reviewer highly recommends reading it.
The Institutional History of the III/V. General Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior, 1962-1971
1962 was a year of re-organization in the life of the operative technical organs, too. They gave an auxiliary support to the work of the state security departments in the Ministry of the Interior. The first changes started at the beginning of the year, well before the establishment of the III. General Directorates.
In January 1962, János Pap, Minister of the Interior, approved the proposal to improve the staff of II/10. Department of the Ministry of the Interior because of its increasing tasks. It became necessary because the state security operative organs gave so many orders to the above mentioned department, that they could not fulfil them. They dealt with technical support of the other departments but they were not effective even when the number of the staff was increased.
The author analyses the stages of the institutional re-organizations and introduces the new departments in details.
The “oeuvre” of a secret state security officer The life of Iván Lajti
The staff of the secret state security officers was formed gradually after the revolution of 1956. According to the original intention, they worked absolutely covered and their main task was gathering information.
The aim of the study is to follow how the staff of the secret state security officers evolved and to show how it was regulated. Furthermore, it examines the life of a secret state security officer, Iván Lajti and explores his real activity in a certain case. This case study is a good example to illustrate the methods how secret security officers worked and to explore to what extent their real influence expanded.
The conclusion of this case is that Lajti’s selection was ambivalent. He was a true Communist with a normal family life. His character was also suitable, but his professional education was deficient. Nevertheless, even an ambivalent secret state security officer could be very useful for the political police.
An Attempt against the Ambassador of Columbia
There was a murderous attempt against Enrique Parejo González, Ambassador of Columbia in Budapest on 13th January, 1987. The study tries to reconstruct the case with the help of sources that can be found in the Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security.
The ambassador had already been in life-danger well before being accredited to Budapest because, as a Minister of Justice, he had handed over at least a dozen of maffia leaders dealing with drug smuggling to the United States. He left Columbia in a conspired action on 9th August, 1986 and arrived to Hungary on 23rd August. Hungarian state security provided a special guard because the rumours about González’ death were spreading.
The author deals with the topic in details, examines the circumstances of the attempt and resconstructs even the international relations of it.
The Nádor street Action
In 1989-1990 there were radical changes in the political life of Hungary and East Central Europe. Parallel changes happened, but their historiography has been still missing.
György Krassó (1932-1991) was permanently persecuted in the Kádár era, but his name is connected to the system changes mainly because of those political happenings to which he was a protagonist. However, his role was evaluated as ambivalent.
Krassó lived under police surveillance in 1984-1985, then he could get a passport and lived in London as a refugee. He returned to Hungary when Imre Nagy was re-buried in June 1989, when his surveillance was continued.
The study gives an account of his campaigns for changing the street names and tries to explore those factors, which resulted in his detachment from politics. Since Krassó wanted to reach public repute, his actions were provocative. Probably these were politically inconceivable, but Krassó’s honesty was respected only after his death.
The study tries to examine the concept of family heritage as a non-fiscal value transmitted from one generation to another. The author seeks to answer the question why researches of family history are so popular nowadays. He explores the problems of such kind of inquiry and examines its methodology.
The author concludes that due to family researches we experience history differently. When having knowledge about the past of our family, history ceases to be a dry field of facts and dates. History reaches our lives directly through family researches.