Commission on National Remembrance

A new commission will soon be established to search high and low for the sinners and sins of communism. Fidesz suddenly has a burning desire to know who was responsible for crimes committed during the Rákosi and Kádár regimes. Once they set the criteria for palpable guilt, it looks as if some punishment will be meted out to those responsible. For the time being it is not clear what the punishment would be, but there has been talk about reduced pensions. The guilty may also be barred from public office. How do we decide who was guilty and who wasn’t? Gergely Gulyás, the rising star of Fidesz, muttered something about people who reached at least the position of president of the county council (megyei tanácselnök). Isn’t it a blessing that László Sólyom’s father-in-law is no longer alive. He was the all-powerful party secretary of the County of Baranya!

This commission will be made up of experts and they will be busy for a while. Fidesz politicians mentioned 15-20 years. So, they will have to be thorough. I’m curious who the experts will be, but I doubt that the Orbán government will employ those historians who have been working on the history of 1956 and the Kádár regime in the last twenty years. After all, in 1998 when Orbán formed his first government one of his first acts was to deny government support to the 56-Institute that employed these historians. The second time around the government simply closed the institute as a separate research unit.

I also doubt that historians who have been closely involved with research of the available informer documents–László Varga, János Kenedi, or Krisztián Ungváry–will be chosen because in Viktor Orbán’s eyes these people are suspect. Their views on history don’t coincide with the interpretation preferred by the right. In any case, some of the people on the right–and this group unfortunately even includes László Sólyom, former chief justice of the Constitutional Court and later president of the republic–talk blithely about “the true history of 1956.” This is a concept that has reverberated for a long time in historical circles, so I’m very much afraid that the politicians creating this commission of experts will expect “the definitive and true history of communism in Hungary.” A frightening prospect.

I’m also somewhat puzzled about what these people hope to find. What kind of new information will they be seeking? We pretty well know by now the facts concerning the communist takeover and its stages between 1945 and 1948. Thanks to the opening of the Soviet and Hungarian archives we have a fair idea of the circumstances of Kádár’s sojourn to Moscow and his return to Hungary. Good biographies have been written of Rákosi, Kádár, Aczél, and many more of the important communist leaders of the period between 1948 and 1989, and I’m sure many other biographies are in the making of some of the lesser characters. So, for historical research one doesn’t need a commission set up by the government.

How are they going to decide who was responsible for the fairly smooth running of the regime of János Kádár, especially in its last two decades? I’m afraid everybody who lived under the regime would have to share the burden. Everybody was a cog in the machine, even the porter who sat at the factory gate. Without their cooperation there couldn’t have been the consolidated Kádár regime that by the 1970s was even popular. Some might say that I’m trivializing political responsibility when I’m talking about the whole Hungarian population as part of the regime. So, let’s move up the ladder a bit: there were 800,000 members of the MSZMP (Magyar Szocialista Munkáspárt). Every factory or office had a party secretary, every high school had its own KISZ (Kommunista Ifjúsági Szövetség) organization with a fairly large membership and a KISZ secretary. And then there were the pioneers. After all, they were politicized as well.

Kadar flag

The official coat of arms, 1957-1990

Then there were the intellectuals who did research, wrote history, fiction and poetry, or worked for newspapers and publishing houses. There were the diplomats who served abroad. And, of course, there were many other fields that in one way or another depended on the goodwill of the party. All these people had to make compromises with the regime and practically all did.

In brief, no commission is necessary to learn how the system worked. This commission is not being set up for this purpose. Its purpose may be to postpone or perhaps avoid publishing the list of informers. It may also have something to do with the current economic and political situation since such an investigation and the punishments that follow might turn people’s attention away from their daily economic difficulties. It might also serve as an instrument against political opponents. After all, not long ago Fidesz labelled the entire MSZP, by virtue of being the “legal successor” of MSZMP, a “criminal organization.”

I can already see thousands of letters being received by the Commission on National Remembrance written by politically correct citizens calling attention to some of their neighbors’ alleged sins during the communist period. After all, János Lázár found András Schiffer’s demand to make the list of informers public the highest impertinence (pimaszság) because his grandfather served as ambassador to Norway for a while although he had his own share of prison time and even a death sentence later commuted.

As Krisztián Ungváry said to the Index today: we don’t need a commission, we need to enact a law that would make public the list of informers. But that’s exactly what Fidesz wants to avoid.

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Penny Sue Oswalt
Guest

I understand that their is a commission on National Remembrance for the “sins of communism”?
What can be conscrued as “sins”, apparently behavior in Communism was legal, years ago. So how can they be breaking the law?

Member

“we need to enact a law that would make public the list of informers”
No, no! Why the hell would I want to know today, in 2012, if my dentist was an informant? What we need is background checks. To make sure that our public servants cannot be blackmailed with their past. By the way in this country you can rape your mother and kill her with an axe – if you are a FIDESZ politician you still don’t have to resign. So if the files will go public, nobody will care. Think Schmitt.
This committee idea is really pathetic. Yeah, another committee. that’s what we needed. The Kuncze committee, the Mecs committee, the Kennedi committee – we had these already in the past 20 years, they just weren’t enough. Planet Hungary, the committee nation. If you want to buy more time to avoid responsibility, create a committee.
And let’s not push this “you are part of the system” idea. These creatures on Planet Hungary are dumb and sensitive – we just piss them off. Let’s tell them how heroic they were during the hard times of the Kadar regime. Wink.

Member

Penny Sue: “Communism was legal, years ago. So how can they be breaking the law?” The nazi party was legal too. THe problem is not to the membership to the party. THe problem is what did you do wit the membership. Orban wants to pick and choose from the previous party members who for his liking done bad. Not his father, and not him of course or either any of the Fidesz members, only those who did not follow him.

Penny Sue Oswalt
Guest

@ some1: I do not have a Communist membership nor am I a one!

peter litvanyi
Guest
“As Krisztián Ungváry said to the Index today: we don’t need a commission, we need to enact a law that would make public the list of informers. But that’s exactly what Fidesz wants to avoid.” Thanks, Eva. After all these years I would like to see the sea of paper that got accumulated on the shores of my family. I never had the leisure time to personally request it from cca. many many miles away. What do I owe the late Mr. Kadar? A lot in fact. A peaceful and mostly happy time when I grew up. A free and quality education. A sense of identity that was forged in opposition but tolerated. The fact that I could leave and opt out of it. This is a lot, dear everyone. Did I know when they came for my father late at night? After all I was just three. Yes, I guess I know all of that as well. I knew what happened to whom and I knew it all and all along. Yet I AM NOT WILLING TO SPIT ON THAT PERSON’S GRAVE. Let’s make all records public to all who goes there and wants to check whatever out. Relationship… Read more »
Lultra luitra
Guest

Don’t Orbán and his muppets have their hands full with trying to rescue the economy?

riviera1
Guest

Once and for all: ORBAN IS NOT TRYING TO RESCUE THE ECONOMY.
Orban is trying to wrest control of the central banks 32 billion euros over politically acceptable conditions. Really: what do you people think a serious DICTATORSHIP is about?

Living with it in Hungary
Guest
Living with it in Hungary

@riviera1, nice reminder to keep your eyes on the ball. Indeed the latest rhetoric is about the cost of having such a large reserve. There are also comments about capital flight but of course is comes off as foreigners are pillaging the country. Isn’t is nice to have such a divisive issue to distract people to the left hand while the right hand prepares to dip into the reserve fund.

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest

Peter Hello I will agree with you. This I am afraid is yet another diversion designed as a smoke screen to divert attention away from the coming robbery of the last of the state owned funds.
Hungary has four options. The first option is to make the lot ‘fully public’ and ‘damn the consequences’.
The second is to burn the lot, but if you do that Hungary will lose part of its history.
The third is to lock them away until 25 years after the death of the children of the last person involved. The grand children cannot be blamed for the actions of their grandparents.
The final option is to keep them under lock and key and allow them to be accessed under a defendant’s subpoena in a libel or slander case. This is to allow wild accusations to be stamped out.
My preference is a combination of the third and fourth conditions.
OT any comments yet from those hyenas Zsolt Bayer, András Bencsik, Imre Kerényi and Sir Gábor Széles over the dreadful events in Toulouse yet?

riviera1
Guest

@ Odin’s Lost Eye…’dreadful events’
‘Any comments from the hyenas?’ The Jobbik and Garda will see Toulouse as a ‘call to arms’–copycat killings will come
here, too.
What do you expect from a country whose highest court can’t decide on the retirement fund robberies but will okay the Garda’s right to march on Hosok Tere?
Hungary–a hothouse for the deconstruction of democratic institutions in the shortest period of time. The return of the rule of the jungle…

riviera1
Guest

@ Living With It in Hungary..anothing thing
Something else to keep in mind: the OTP bank’s report
on earnings showed that most of their profit came from….(wait for it)…Russia. Hmmm. So what do Russia’s two largest banks do? Come to Hungary! Interesting…no?

riviera1
Guest

@Eva
Nepszabadsag (March 17) carried an extensive explanation
on the judicial decision to allow the Garda to march on Heroes’
Square. It would be interesting if you could get an American/Canadian judge’s assessment on Hungarian
jurisprudence in arriving at that decision..

Kingfisher
Guest

Although we worry a lot (with justification) about the way Orbán is perverting the judicial system, even without his imput, there is real corruption, and also, what I can only term institutional idiocy. One of the problems as I see it is that there is a total reliance on the letter of the law, rather than the spirit, and the laws are atrociously written, hence some of the bizarre decisions that get made!

Wondercat
Guest

OT: “Stockholm syndrome” and the US Ambassador to Hungary —
http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-the-loop-how-can-romney-make-ron-paul-fans-his-buds-back-pot-legalization/2012/03/19/gIQAkqW8NS_story_1.html
“Beautiful country, lovely people, tasty — albeit tending to heavy — cuisine. Such a shame.”

Member
Penny Sue: “I do not have a Communist membership nor am I a one!” My goodness, please do not take everything personally. When I said “THe problem is not to the membership to the party. THe problem is what did you do wit the membership.” I did not mean “you” Penny Sue, I meant in general. like what did someone do with its membership. I would not care if you are a member of the communist party. I do not think that the current communist party is as scary as they make it out to look. Their “agenda” has nothing to do with the elimination of any race versus the nazi party…. riviera1: “ORBAN IS NOT TRYING TO RESCUE THE ECONOMY.” Keep calm. His interpretation of rescuing the economy is very different from the normal. He want to force his rescue plan in Hungary. He does not want Hungary to collapse. I am not really sure why would that be good for him, but I would like to hear your interpretation. He is hoping that Hungary could live as independent state in a bubble. He is so out if touch with current economical trends that he simply does not understand… Read more »
riviera1
Guest

@Some 1 “…to hear your interpretation..”
I’ve said this elsewhere but here goes again:
There is no logical explanation for Orban’s back-and-forth
dialing with the EU. It’s really mocking behavior and not calculated towards success for himself or for Hungary.
So what’s his game? Well, what DOES make sense to me is
that Orban has been paid off. My guess is somewhere between 50-100 million euros has come his way. Perhaps he keeps 25% for himself and the rest is used for his minions–their slavish approach to him would seem to support this.
Who’s paying? I’d say the same people who gave Sanader 10 million euros. Purpose? To split the EU and begin its disintegration. For one thing, with no EU where would the Baltic states turn?
Along these lines, note the new calls from Jobbik (also clients?)
that Hungary ought to turn eastward.
There is foreign influence alright, but it’s not what Orban and the Fidesz slivovici are yelling about.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Kingfisher: “One of the problems as I see it is that there is a total reliance on the letter of the law, rather than the spirit, and the laws are atrociously written, hence some of the bizarre decisions that get made!”
You put your finger on the problem. Strict interpretation of laws badly written.

Mutt Damon
Guest

@Wondercat
This is the good link: http://wapo.st/FRmfQB

Ivan
Guest

“Strict interpretation of laws badly written.”
Except that this DOESN’T happen in the Hungrian day-to-day, which is by far the biggest problem here.
To give one example, how many doctors have EVER been convicted of taking black-money bribes (or ‘gratitude money’ if you will)? This is a serious issue for those who CAN’T pay, or (rightly) WON’T pay. It’s about living! Living HERE …

Mutt Damon
Guest

Badly written laws, misinterpreted, and not even enforced. Planet Hungary Judicial system in action.

Living with it in Hungary
Guest
Living with it in Hungary

OT,
David Lubin of CitiGroup; “it would be a mistake to manage this year’s public financing by tapping the bank’s foreign currency reserves, because that move would be interpreted by international financial markets as a sign of larger vulnerability.”

Kingfisher
Guest
We were pleased to see that Klub Radio won its case the other day but my heart sank when I read the details. Autoradio lost the case because it had not signed (and presumably stamped) each page of the application! It didn’t lose because it failed to prove it had the necessary funding, that is failed to present evidence that it has the expertise to run a radio station, that it failed to prove that its financial plan is feasible… it lost because of some squiggles on the page which have no bearing whatsoever on the essentials. If you live and work in Hungary, this sort of thing is horribly familiar, where little details that have no essential meaning hold sway, but the larger picture is missed. Reminds me of a friend who wiped out his entire year’s profits with a fake invoice for a computer system. He didn’t pay tax that year. The authorities were not interested in whether he needed the system (it doesn’t exist, it is just a piece of paper), just that the paper (the invoice) had the correct formulation. It did but had they investigated, they would have found out it was a fake. But… Read more »
enuff
Guest

OT
Kingfisher,
Re : ” The authorities were not interested in whether he needed the system (it doesn’t exist, it is just a piece of paper)”
Unfortunately for us, our accountant behaves as if the gov. is her paymaster! She refused to accept our invoice for a genuine upgrade of 6 year old computer system saying there’s no proof that the asset is not performing. In the end, we had to pay to certify the old system is obsolete. I tell you this is what we have to deal with for every invoice submitted to her. I feel we are good citizen yet we are being punish for it!

Mutt Damon
Guest

@Kingfisher
I don’t think they ever had the funds or the expertise or the intentions to create a radio station. This stunt with missing signatures is just a trick to avoid the scandal.

Mutt Damon
Guest

@enuff She’s probably never tried to play Counter-Strike on a 6 year old rig …

Kirsten
Guest

The point that there is some difficulty in getting to the substance instead of the formalities has been raised here and by others (Neelie Kroes, recently) more often. Where does that come from, and is that the impression mainly of foreigners…?

Prophecy
Guest

Sooner or later there will be an unfortunate accident, probably a fire, that will destroy a substantial portion (but not all) of the records of the informers, agents and collaborators of the Communist party and government. No-one will know what was destroyed and what was saved and by whom and for what purpose.

Mutt Damon
Guest

@Prophecy
I would rather be worried about the new files created right at this moment …

Living with it in Hungary
Guest
Living with it in Hungary

@Mutt, In todays world who needs informers when one can tap off all the electronic data you want. All IP traffic runs through Gyor so tap the line and… all phone calls are now recorded… if you keep your email or receive it on a server in Hungary it will soon be the property of the governments, bills, health records, vacations booked in Hungary, banking records.. what isn’t collected today in a very short time will be. Now all that is needed are the resources to process it all.

Prophecy
Guest

Yes, Mutt Damon, there is plenty to worry about.
The “old files” are important, because they are weapons in the current fight between Fidesz and its enemies.
The “new files” will be important in the fight after Fidesz is out of power. They are a future issue, if a present danger.

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