A friend and a colleague, Eszter Bartha (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary), wrote this obituary.
The horrible news that Mark had died so tragically and suddenly arrived as a great shock, and I still find it unbelievable that we have to talk about him in the past tense. He was a great teacher, a great scholar and a great friend. The tragic loss of his brilliant, kind-hearted and generous personality means a great sadness to everybody who knew him and who had the opportunity to benefit from his sparkling spirit, deep knowledge and unique wit that he manifested in every discussion. He had a great intellect, a marvelous talent for languages and a remarkable endurance to pursue his academic and teaching goals. Spiritually and linguistically, he was at home both in Western and Eastern Europe–an admirable and remarkable achievement which testifies to his cultural sensitivity and his ability to cross borders, both culturally and geographically.
The first time I met Mark was characteristic of his academic and historical interest: we met in a Hungarian archive where he collected material for his book on the Hungarian working class in the Stalinist period. This meeting was followed by many others since we had a lot to share as I also worked on Eastern European labor history under socialism. Intellectually, I owe a lot to Mark who taught me how to do East-West comparison and how to interpret Hungarian history from a wider European perspective.
Mark's studies and his manuscript entitled The Workers' State: Industrial Labour and the Making of Socialist Hungary, 199-1958, which is still unpublished, indicate a pioneering path in Hungarian historiography. He challenged the view that Stalinism was imposed on Hungary by means of external force only; he in fact showed that the policy of the Hungarian dictator, Mátyás Rákosi, enjoyed a certain support on the eve of the establishment of the dictatorship. This support was lost when Rákosi introduced new wage policies which drastically reduced the income of the skilled workers. While Mark's work is a great achievement in social history, he also offered an important contribution to the issue of the legitimation of communism in Eastern Europe. His work shows that communism was not the cause of the economic backwardness of the region; in fact, the economic backwardness and the poverty of huge segments of the population contributed to the establishment of the communist dictatorship in Hungary.
In his research on the border region between Austria and Hungary Mark takes the argument further to show that communism received so little support from the Austrian people that the Soviets did not even try to introduce a Soviet type of regime there. This new project, in which Mark examined the establishment of institutional controls in Hungary as opposed to Austria, offers a full-fledged comparison between the "east" and the "west." The study of the borderland societies is a field where Mark's remarkable ability to move between cultures was at its best. The studies that he wrote on the border regions received international attention. It is very sad that he could not finish the book he was working on.
His tragic death is an irretrievable loss to everybody who knew and respected his great mind, his intelligence and his humanity. His memory will be preserved by his friends all over the world including Hungary, the country to which he gave so much of his brilliant spirit and his great intellect.