A new book about Mindszenty

József Mindszenty, at one point prince primate of Hungary, archbishop of Esztergom and cardinal, is still a controversial figure. According to some he was a principled man who to the last minute defended his church and his rights, but there are others who think that József Mindszenty did a great deal of harm to the church he thought he was defending.

He was born József Pehm in 1892 in Csehimindszent (Vas county), then population 900. According to his brief biography on the internet he was arrested on February 19, 1919, that is before the establishment of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, and held until the fall of the Béla Kun government on August 1, 1919.

He made quite a career for himself in the Horthy regime and on March 25, 1944, he was consecrated bishop of Veszprém. In November he was arrested for his opposition to the Arrow Cross government and charged with treason. It was in April 1945 that he was released. On Septemer 15, 1945, he was appointed prince primate of Hungary and archbishop of Esztergom.

He was arrested at the end of 1948, accused of treason and conspiracy, and in February 1949 was sentenced to life imprisonment. During the October Revolution of 1956 a group of soldiers freed him from jail, but a few days later he sought refuge at the U.S. Embassy where he stayed for fifteen years. Eventually a compromise was worked out between the Vatican and the Hungarian communist government. Pope Paul VI declared Mindszenty a "victim of history" (intead of communism) and annulled the excommunication his predecessor declared on all persons involved in his trial and conviction. In turn, the Hungarian government allowed Mindszenty to leave the country. First, Mindszenty had to resign as prince primate of Hungary and later he was stripped of all his titles by the pope. In return, the pope didn't appoint a new archbishop of Esztergom until Mindszenty was dead.

These are more or less the bare facts. The recently released book (in Hungarian) by András Kanyó, a journalist, entitled Administering Justice: The Other Side of Mindszenty (2010) expands on Mindszenty's political predilections. From an early age Mindszenty was an arch-conservative who even opposed the democratic revolution of Mihály Károlyi. Later in the 1930s he was attracted to the radical right, but in the end he turned against Ferenc Szálasi and his henchmen. One reason for his aversion to the radical right may have been the fact that he was a steadfast legitimist throughout his life, so he found even the Horthy regime not quite legitimate. During this period and even later he refused to recognize that the revival of Habsburg rule in Hungary was out of the realm of possibilities.

After his appointment by the also extremely conservative Pius XII as prince primate he lost his sense of political reality. He blindly followed his own interpretation of an unwritten constitution according to which the prince primate was the deputy of the king in the latter's absence. Thus, he didn't recognize parliament's declaration of Hungary as a republic on February 1, 1946. He opposed not only communism but also the new democratic coalition government and the republic. For most democratically minded people those were the years of hope, hope that was of course dashed by the communist takeover.

As for the charge of treason, it all depends on how you define treason. He did visit the American embassy a few times and tried to convince the Americans to intervene, but the American ambassador made it clear that the United States doesn't meddle in the internal affairs of other countries. Certainly that wasn't an act of treason; it simply showed Mindszenty to be an obstinate man who paid not the slightest attention to diplomacy.  Not long before his arrest he told a reporter of The Daily Mail that he would urge American-British military intervention. When the journalist remarked that such a move would most likely lead to a nuclear war, Mindszenty apparently said that "even that would be better than bolshevism." That gives us an idea about Mindszenty's single-minded preoccupation with communism.

Pope Paul VI said of him: "Mindszenty was an obstinate man who was difficult to handle. Many of his activities were hard to understand." One thing we can understand: József Mindszenty was an arch-conservative who was against anything that to him smacked of modernity or liberalism.

Whether a more pliable man at the head of the Hungarian Catholic Church would have been more successful at saving what little could have been saved under the circumstances is hard to say, but I believe that his absolutely unmovable position on certain issues, including ones that had nothing to do with communism, was detrimental to the Hungarian Catholic Church. Nonetheless, as might be expected, a revival of Mindszenty's veneration as the defender of the faith is under way.

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whoever
Guest

“a principled man who to the last minute defended his church and his rights, but there are others who think that József Mindszenty did a great deal of harm to the church he thought he was defending”
Are the two mutually exclusive?
I wonder who wouldn’t panic, and even make misjudgements, when faced with the Stalinism of the late 1940s.
Still, an interesting piece. I think he was more ‘sinned against’ than ‘sinner.’

Karl Pfeifer
Guest
The Hungarian catholic priest György Kis published his book 1992 in German with a foreword of Karl Rahner and a postface of Otto Habsburg. He was in spring 1944 curate under Bishop Mindszenty. Kis quotes from the Veszprém catholic daily (June 21, 1944) an article ridiculing the Jews who have been deported (to Auschwitz-Birkenau) Kis wrote a letter to his Bishop telling him, that decent people do not ridicule even an evil robber and murderer who is taken to the gallows, certainly not people – some of them baptized – who are deported without guilt. Mindszenty answered on July 5, 1944 promised to stop such publications and reminded Kis, “In 1894 the Press near to the Jews and the Jewish youth has united with the protestants insulted the gentle archbishop Kolos Vaszary. The episcopate has become enmeshed between two mills: The Jews expect from us their complete saving, the arrow cross people who have become unfaithful to the church, that we abandon dogmatics. The church has not abandoned the Jews despite that according to my personal opinion could have been more energetically active. I have proposed this.” The representatives of the catholic churches have voted for most laws discriminating the… Read more »
Jules
Guest

As a practicing Catholic, my biggest problem with what I see in the Hungarian Catholic Church (and what Karl Pfeifer touched upon) is that they have forgotten the most basic of all moral teachings, regardless of your religion or lack thereof: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Not to mention that ‘love thy neighbor’ was thrown out the window eons ago…

David Duke
Guest



David Duke’s message for Éva Balogh

Mark
Guest

” Later in the 1930s he was attracted to the radical right, but in the end he turned against Ferenc Szálasi and his henchmen.”
I was slightly surprised to see the suggestion that Mindszenty was associated in any way with Szálasi. Clearly there was a strong strand within Catholicism in the 1930s which argued for radical anti-Semitic social reform, indeed, within government circles Béla Imrédy was a prominent representative of this kind of political plactform. However, it is worth saying that radical right thought by the late 1930s was mainstream within the conservative governing party; not only within those organizations that can be classified as openly fascist. We also know that Arrow Cross rhetoric was both – paradoxically – politically “Christian”, but also very anti-clerical; largely in view of the church’s hostility to them. I would suspect therefore that there was actually little contradiction between Mindszenty adopting radical right positions in terms of social reform, or support for anti-Jewish legislation, and hostility to Arrow Cross (many members of the Catholic clergy, and church associated social organizations did take these positions).

Mark
Guest

“Thus, he didn’t recognize parliament’s declaration of Hungary as a republic on February 1, 1946. He opposed not only communism but also the new democratic coalition government and the republic.”
This though is not news to those familiar with the English-language historical literature. Péter Kenez indeed published on the attitudes of the Catholic church towards the political system established after the Second World War in “The Journal of Modern History” back in 2003 ( http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/383356 ) in which he stressed Mindszenty’s extreme conservatism.

Eva S.,Balogh
Guest

Mark: “I was slightly surprised to see the suggestion that Mindszenty was associated in any way with Szálasi.”
So was I. I didn’t mention in the article that according to the author he didn’t encounter while doing his research any anti-semitic remarks by Mindszenty. On the other hand, there is Karl Pfeifer’s information. I think a serious book about Mindszenty is in order.

Tibor Rabóczkay
Guest

To Karl Pfeifer: that “… the Horthy administration collaborated enthusiastically with the Nazis…” is not the truth. Learn History, read Montgomery´s book: “Hungary – the unwilling Satelite”. Despite any campaign – even Vatican´s bizanthyne policy and declarations – Mindszenty remains a Catholic and Hungarian martyr and Pius XII continues an anti-totalitarian icone. Both very important to us, who lived under nazi and communist rule (after nazi and communist invasions, respectively).

dr.David Duke
Guest



David Duke’s message for globalists, who hate the diversity

Karl Pfeifer
Guest
Mr.T.R. thank you for your advice to learn history, I have just done as you wish and found an interesting article in which the author of a book you believe to be serious history is described: “As US Minister to Hungary from 1933 to 1941, John Flournoy Montgomery spoke only English: this restricted the circle of his acquaintances mainly to such Hungarians who spoke that language although even the latter had a hard time understanding his mid-western accent. He knew nothing of Hungary when accredited to Budapest, and what he learned later was often naive and weighed down by misunderstandings.” http://www.hungarianquarterly.com/no174/18.shtml As far as Hungarian Holocaust is concerned I have read “The Politics of Genocide, The Holocaust in Hungary by Randolph L. Braham Columbia University Press 1994 The fact remains, without the enthusiastic help of Horthy administration and without Hungarian Royal Gendarmerie, it would not have been possible to deport within 6-7 weeks more than half a million Hungarian citizens. It is true, without German occupation this could not have been done. However according to the findings of serious historians the Eichmann team had in Hungary no more than 150 – 200 members. And I have spoken to some Hungarian… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

TR: “Learn History, read Montgomery´s book: “Hungary – the unwilling Satelite”.”
Montgomery’s book is an apology of the Horthy regime. Some of his papers are at the Yale Archives which I combed through. He had a jolly time in Budapest, liked the golf course and the aristocratic company. He was a political appointee whom Roosevelt actually wanted to call back, but he begged the president not to do so because he had such a pleasant time in Hungary. His reports back home were totally useless.

dr.David Duke
Guest

Evy balog, did you see the video?

Passing Stranger
Guest
I have actually just bought this book, attracted by the blurb promising revelations about Mindszenty’s connections with the Arrow Cross and allegations that he wanted to Crown Otto von Habsburg king of Hungary. Unfortunately, the book does not fulfil these promises. The whole Arrow Cross link does not appear in the book, and though Mindszenty might have daydreamed together with Otto v H. about a restored monarchy while visiting him in Chicago, this is not the same as engineering a vast conspiracy to bring that about. Rather than showing Mindszenty’s ‘other face’ in something resembling a coherent argument, it is for the greatest part a collection of documents about Mindszenty. Hungarian historical writing usually does not have the Anglo-Saxon obsession with presenting a sustained line of reasoning, but it is often very good: there are numerous solidly presented, highly detailed works of empirical history in the Rankean tradition, showing history ‘as it really was’, which are thoroughly enjoyable. This book, however, is in a different class of Hungarian historical publishing, of which there are, unfortunately, only too many. It is a selection of documents, in a number of thematic chapters, without any attempt to place the documents in context. There… Read more »
Sandor
Guest

Would please somebody tell David Duke for me that he is not only an “expletive deleted,” but also an evil one.
His ultra right wing, supposedly egalitarian views are only supported by hogwash and codswallop.
Humanity is not one because there are no differences, but because all races can procreate with all others if they want to, and that is the mark of a species. The existence of differences is no proof of anything more than the existence of sub-varieties.
The undesirable admission of different races, which he duplicitously call “ethnicities,” would inescapably lead to the differentiation to the rankings as he is doing already.
I think the world had already more than enough of this putrid idea and just to mention one recent example, 50 million died in the defense and rejection of these indefensible and repulsive ravings.

joe simon
Guest

Mindszenty was a man of steel, a man for all seasons. History has proved him right on his uncomromising stand against communism. We can only learn from such a man of principle. Look what happened to those who collaborated with the communists. He has made mistakes certainly, but he was probably the only person of authority, within or outside the Catholic Church, who saw clearly the eventual demise of that leftist ideology.
He stood aloof, tall and strong, while others fell dawn all over.
Joe Simon

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

joe simon, “Look what happened to those who collaborated with the communists”
The catholic church (and the other religious communities) did not punish those of their clergy who collaborated and who informed about others. And today we can find a lot of former communists, who are enthusiastic nationalists and members of Fidesz.

Book Buyer
Guest

The book seems to be no longer available?

Can anyone supply a link to Amazon or whatever for this book?

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