Ágnes Jobst

The Response to the Border Opening in the Austrian Press Media analysis

Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl said: with its brave steps the Hungarian government hit the first stone out of the Berlin Wall. The fall of the Iron Curtain was hotly discussed throughout the world. This remarkable event had a direct impact on another small state of the Central European region: Austria. For this reason, it is important to see how the idea of the border opening was esteemed on the other side of the Hungarian border. In order to know more about the reaction of the West, my study investigates the Austrian reception based on the printed press. The research was prepared with the support of the Collegium Hungaricum Scholarship.
The aim of my media analysis is to clarify what points of views surrounded the opening of the border from the Austrian side, with a special view of the economy and foreign affairs. During my research I examined two central daily newspapers, Der Standard and Der Kurier, and a local weekly entitled Burgenländische Freiheit. There are many comments and interviews in these articles, which make us acquainted with the opinions of the contemporaries: what the local people expected from the border opening in the eastern parts of Austria, namely in Burgenland; what factors determined the Austrian refugee policy; what the average people thought about the escape of the East German citizens, and how they judged the behaviour of the Hungarian border guards.

Vivien Rapali

“Not useful for operational purposes”

Breaks and party-state interests in a scholar’s career

In 1963, the United Nations Secretariat requested the Hungarian government to consent to the employment of the internationally renowned Hungarian hydrologist, János Bogárdi in the New York based organisation. Although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs initially supported sending Bogárdi even without the cooperation of the State Security, after the in-depth investigation about his usability, led by the Ministry of Interior, the official bodies definitely objected to his employment. The aim of this paper is to present his story. The paper is based on primary sources, such as the interviews with the Bogárdi family and archival documents from the collections of the Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security, the Archives of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics and the Iowa State University Archives.

Áron Máthé

Communist-organised militias as predecessors of the “democratic” police

t is obvious that every occupying army on foreign soil starts looking for local collaborators. Policing is not the most tempting task for soldiers, thus the temporary “law enforcement” units are usually made up of locals. It happened this way in Hungary too from the autumn of 1944 to the end of the military operations in April 1945. These local militias did not only provide police force, but they also participated in the deportations – for in addition to POWs, more than 200 thousand civilians were taken into captivity to the GUPVI forced labour system in the USSR proper. This paper is about the role of the temporary militias and the transitional authorities, which besides being collaborators of the Soviets in deporting their own compatriots, also played a key role in laying down the foundations of the rule of the Communist Party.

Dániel Miklós

A tolerated sport under observation – Carlo Passalacqua and the launching of the rugby union in Hungary in the light of the internal security reports

Rugby union is not one of the most popular sports in Hungary although many attempts were made to introduce this code of football in the country in the 20th century. The first successful attempt was made by an employee of the local Italian Embassy, Carlo Passalacqua at the end of the 1960s. Initially, the Hungarian internal security focused on him because of his shady businesses, but later his sports organizer activity also became a subject of their interest. The Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security keeps two dossiers regarding the activities of Passalacqua. In the second one we can find reports about his work to establish the rugby union in Hungary. Given the scarcity of sources in the era, this dossier contains important information about birth of rugby union in Hungary.

Éva Argejó

The story of a betrayed lover

Political police officer Tibor Vajda’s transformations in exile

Tibor Vajda was an officer of the infamous State Protection Authority before 1953. When Gábor Péter was arrested, Vajda was dismissed and imprisoned too. In 1956 he was released from prison and after the fall of the revolution he emigrated to Australia. He worked there as a dentist, although he did not have a degree as he had only worked as adentist-technician before 1944. He was very successful in Australia and had an illustrious professional career. He visited Hungary in 1969 and 1970, and he was under the surveillance of the political police. In 1993 one of his victims recognized him and his past was revealed. It became apparent that Tibor Vajda had lied and he falsified his life. The paper explores Tibor Vajda’s story from the beginnings to 1970.

Krisztián Ungváry

Taboo-breaking statements

A bookreview about László Bernát Veszprémy: Gyilkos irodák (Murderous offices)

The Hungarian holocaust is a widely researched topic, though it is far from being explored to a satisfactory level. Doing research in this field is hindered by the lack of consensus, as illustrated by the debates about the monument of the German occupation of Hungary or Miklós Horthy’s responsibility. In addition, the major institutions of Hungarian academic life were not very open to the research of the history of the holocaust for a long time. László Bernát Veszprémy endeavoured to assess the manoeuvring room of the Hungarian administration system in the implementation of deportations. The analysis of the book is not an easy task as several, sometimes completely contradictory, interpretations appear in it simultaneously. It can be bravely stated that the question of the responsibility of the Hungarian political elite and society is one of the most debated and highly politicized topics of 20th century Hungarian history. Therefore, every academic statement can, nolens volens, be interpreted as a political declaration.

István Papp

From the Jurta Theatre to Heroes’ Square

Csaba Kiss Gy. literary historian was a founding member of the Hungarian Democratic Forum (HDF). The second part of his memoir provides an account of the events from January 1988 to 16th June 1989, when Imre Nagy and his colleagues were reburied. One of the predecessor groups of the HDF was the populist writers’ community. This pressure-group was an important opposition group in the Kádár era. The first symbolic action of the HDF was a political forum about the fate of Hungarian minority in Transylvania. The venue of this assembly was the Jurta Theatre, which was the first independent theatre in the 1980’s. Csaba Kiss Gy. was the first spokesman of the HDF, because he had widespread contacts in the Central European conutries. Nevertheless, he was not a professional politician but a typical humanities intellectual, so he analysed the events from this point of view.