Fidesz and the Hungarian political police

An awful lot has been written about the extensive spy network that existed in Hungary during the "socialist" period. I myself wrote about it several times. We can all be grateful to those diligent historians who are now allowed to study the organization's archives. That is, those documents that survived and those that aren't still held back for national security reasons.

It is almost certain that a great deal of the material was destroyed. The still intact internal security forces systematically shredded tons and tons of documents even after the official declaration of democratic Hungary on October 23, 1989. In January 1990 SZDSZ and Fidesz found out about the illegal activity of the national security office and managed to put an end to the destruction. The minister of interior, István Horváth (who happened to be the father-in-law of István Stumpf, college dean of the Fidesz boys), was forced to resign. We don't know whether the internal security forces were indiscriminately or systematically destroying the office's very extensive archives. We do know that they began their work on the newest material.

Maybe that is the reason that Peter Kende found relatively few documents relating to the activities of Fidesz in the late 1980s when he was doing research for his second book on Viktor Orbán. The other reason for the dearth of material on Fidesz is that, as rumor has it, embarrassing documents on the leading politicians of the Young Democrats were illegally removed from the archives. Suspicions to that effect were reinforced when Viktor Orbán made the second most important man in the party, László Kövér, minister without portfolio responsible for overseeing the national security offices and, of course, their archives. Kövér spent less than two years in this low-profile post. Some wagging tongues claim that he needed that amount of time to "clean" the archives of compromising documents. Theoretically the ministers in charge couldn't take anything out of the archives, but we know that even József Antall used the archives to blackmail József Torgyán whom he considered a nuisance and a menace, and he did the same with István Csurka when Csurka started straying from the basic philosophy of MDF.

The suspicion that certain Fidesz documents were smuggled out of the archives has been strengthened somewhat by Péter Kende's research. The most important indirect clue in my opinion is that while there is complete documentation of the surveillance of Anikó Lévai, then still Viktor Orbán's fiancée, there is not one document available on the surveillance of Orbán himself. Yet from other documents we know that there was such surveillance. Lévai's surveillance had the cover name of "Bojár," Orbán's was "Viktória." It is highly unlikely that Anikó's documents are intact while Viktor's documents were all shredded by those nasty security men in late 1989.

Kende also found reports on Fidesz by people who, given their knowledge, must have belonged to the inner circle of students who later established the Association of Young Democrats. Yet Fidesz never made any attempt to find out who these people were. Here are a few code names: Nyűzsgő (Busybody), Benjámin, Hortobágyi, Aradi, Virág (Flower), Fazekas, Cérna (Thread), Rolf, Költő (Poet), Kotta (Sheet Music), Festő (Painter), Tirolia, Dombegyázi, Adidas, Andrea, Piroska, Csaba László, just to mention a few. That is a heck of lot of agents reporting on the activities of the top brass of a small group of students. And they seem to know fine details. They can report opinions expressed when very few people were present.

Nyűzsgő was indeed a busybody. He reported in April 1988 that János Kövér, Tamás Deutsch, and Viktor Orbán had visited István Csurka in his apartment and that Csurka gave them 10,000 Ft from MDF's treasury. In May the trio asked for money from George Soros, but he turned them down. Csaba László reported about the upheaval in the leadership that was occurring because of the Fidesz representatives' political stand on certain issues at the "Round Table" discussions. (The "Round Table" discussions were a series of talks between MSZMP and the new political formations in which the future shape of the new regime was hammered out. Thanks to Csurka, the Young Democrats were invited to participate. Without him Fidesz most likely wouldn't have been at the table.) The same László reported that–and this is worth quoting verbatim–"Viktor Orbán had an earlier 'situation' which, although it was subsequently smoothed over, causes him a lot of anxiety because if it became known it would mean the end of his political career." What could that be? Will we ever find out?

My feeling is that the complete destruction of all traces of documents simply cannot be achieved. Apparently so many copies were sent to so many different sub-archives that sooner or later from somewhere a copy of the document will emerge. As it is, here is this lone sentence about the "earlier situation" that might "mean the end of [Orbán's] political career." This is of course no proof of anything, but it plants suspicion in the reader's mind. Already rumors were rife in the 1990s that Viktor Orbán had in fact been an agent himself who worked for the internal security forces. The rumors were so loud and incessant that eventually he felt he had to prove his innocence. Therefore he put a number of documents from the security office's archives on his website. These documents showed that indeed Orbán was approached by security officers but that he had courageously refused cooperation. Kende noticed that some of these documents didn't have the compulsory stamp of approval from the archives. So Orbán managed to get hold of these documents through unofficial channels. Those who were certain that Orbán wasn't entirely innocent were not convinced by the documents he made public. They claimed that he in fact was approached twice and that the second time around he agreed. Of course, this is just talk.

Apparently, the complete list of agents working for the secret police has been kept on miles and miles of tapes that were produced by an early computer. The machine is no longer in use, and security officials for a long time tried to maintain that the tapes were thus unreadable. The information they contained is lost forever. That is not the case. The machine still exists, Hungary managed to get a working model from the manufacturer, and apparently they are working at present to save the information and put it in a more modern form. If that list becomes available, we will have all the real and code names of those who wrote weekly reports on their friends and even family members. I have the feeling there will be a lot of surprises.