Hungarian history textbooks under scrutiny

Recently the Hungarian government purchased/nationalized two of the larger textbook publishers: Apáczai Kiadó and Nemzedékek Tudása Tankönyvkiadó. Perhaps it should be mentioned for the sake of Hungarian cultural history that János Apáczai Csere (1625-1659), polyglot author of the first textbook written in Hungarian, was one of the many Transylvanian scholars who studied at Dutch universities (Leiden and Utrecht). What linked the Principality of Transylvania and The Netherlands was their common Calvinist heritage.

Because of the Hungarian state’s direct interest in textbook publishing, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the new list of “recommended” textbooks heavily favors these two publishers although, if the quality of textbooks is any indication, these publishing houses are not the best. Of the 3,223 textbook titles currently available, the ministry approved only 922 (29%). Private publishers tend to fall into the “unapproved” category. For instance, one private publisher, Mozaik, has 17 titles and, according to the CEO of the company, 260,000 books currently in use in Hungarian classrooms. But there is not a single Mozaik title on the recommended list.

A few years back I became very interested in what Hungarian high school students learn about modern Hungarian and world history in grade 12. At that time the most popular history textbook in this category was Konrád Salamon’s. I ordered a copy of it as well as another textbook that was the work of a team of historians whom Viktor Orbán would surely find unacceptable. Names like János Kende, Tamás Krausz, Zoltán Ripp, Péter Sipos, and Éva Standeiszky. I found the joint effort of these historians far better than Salamon’s textbook, which included many questionable notions about such fundamental values as democracy. The historian László Karsai wrote a detailed critique of the Salamon book, which was pretty devastating. Yet it was at one point the most popular book, not because teachers liked it so much but because the matriculation questions on history were based on this particular textbook. (Personally, I think it’s high time to get rid of matriculation exams altogether, but that’s a topic for another day.)

tortenelem konyvek

Recently, as part of a foundation study, László Miklósi analyzed five grade 8 and three grade 12 modern history textbooks, with special focus on their treatment of the fate of Hungarian Jews. The one he liked best was published by Műszaki Kiadó–Csaba Dubcsik and Ildikó Repászky’s Történelem IV. It is especially strong in providing important source material and asking thought-provoking questions based on the material. Instead of taking it for granted that students understand the meaning of certain concepts (racism, political anti-Semitism, differences between fascism and Nazism), the authors explain their meanings. In general, the book devotes more time than the others do to ideologies. Its authors spend considerable time defining concepts like conservatism, liberalism, “Christian-national,” and the different meanings of “Christian” in the Hungarian setting. While among the books discussed there is at least one that claims that Horthy was not anti-Semitic, this textbook actually publishes Miklós Horthy’s infamous letter to Pál Teleki in which he tells the prime minister that he always was an anti-Semite.

The book also includes a speech from Hitler from which it becomes clear that the Führer’s final goal was the physical elimination of all Jews. And students should learn something about the dangers of fanaticism when reading a Himmler quotation in which he admits that he would be willing to kill his own mother if Hitler so ordered. This seems to be the only book that quotes from people who survived Auschwitz. The description of the situation after March 19, 1944 seems to be detailed and accurate, including Horthy’s role. There is mention of the fact that, although Horthy in his memoirs claimed that he knew nothing about the fate of the Jews, “there are several sources that prove his knowledge of the truth about the deportations.” All in all, this seems to be the best modern history textbook on the market at the moment. At least as far as the question of the Hungarian Jewry’s fate between the two world wars is concerned.

I can’t imagine that this book will be available in state high schools. It is a shame, but Viktor Orbán’s worldview is so radically different from what Dupcsik and Répászky summarize in this textbook that he couldn’t possibly tolerate exposing Hungarian students to such intellectual “poison.” After all, we hear often enough how unique and magnificent the Hungarian nation is. This regime puts so much emphasis on “Christian-national” values that the less than glowing description the authors offer of this term would be unacceptable. This and similar textbooks couldn’t possibly be tolerated by an authoritarian regime that wants to be in charge of what people think.

What else can one expect from a regime that has the temerity to set up a state research institute under political supervision (just like in the one-party system of Rákosi and Kádár) and call it, of all things, Veritas?

 

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
boomboomjackson
Guest

By Drebil Hadnagy (among the comments):

“Germany: 1933: Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer
Knight Rider, 1982: Ein Auto, Ein Computer, Ein Mann
Hungary, 2014: Ein Idiot, Ein Dorf, Ein Stadion”

http://444.hu/2014/04/17/megmondtam-kisfiam-hogy-barmit-kerhetsz/

WOM
Guest

OT:

“If the White House believes it can achieve its goals by sending TV soap opera producers, hoteliers and other neophytes to face veteran Russian diplomats in key European capitals, it is nothing short of delusional”

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/04/russias-diplomats-are-better-than-ours-105773_full.html#.U0-wbuZkH-S

petofi
Guest

WOM :
OT:
“If the White House believes it can achieve its goals by sending TV soap opera producers, hoteliers and other neophytes to face veteran Russian diplomats in key European capitals, it is nothing short of delusional”
http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/04/russias-diplomats-are-better-than-ours-105773_full.html#.U0-wbuZkH-S

How about the US rep to the UN? Sorry ladies, but the Russians just don’t appreciate women in power: they don’t deal seriously with them; and the Americans should know that. Hadn’t
the disaster of Hillary’s reset taught them anything? Give the Russians anything and they’ll take it…and give the wind off their backside in return. Power and Intimidation is what works.

Toll
Guest
To understand the thinking of (ethnic) Hungarian kids (in Serbia) as told by a Hungarian teacher. But this could be in Hungary as well, or to be honest anywhere in Europe.And mind you this takes place in an elite high school which is a magnet school for talented kids. I tried to translate what the teacher told: “It is a general problem with the kids when assigning essays that my students are only trying to burp back what I had told them, because they got used to the fact that nobody is interested in their opinions. I was astonished for example when – talking about poetry about current events and public affairs – they said that politics leaves them cold because they do not believe that they can ever influence their environments. They only want security: a permanent job, a suburban house with a garden, lots of traveling. But at the age of 16 they ought to be idealists and draw up plans about changing the world – or so I thought at first. Then I realized that their parents were twentysomethings in the 90’s and even if they stayed in Serbia during the war, now they are running after… Read more »
Toll
Guest

Sorry the last sentence is “It is not surprizing that the kids do not want to live like this”.

Meaning that their parents are always abroad looking for money?

Anyway, the kids want the same in Hungary too, the parents may not be living abroad (many do) but they do not spend much time with the kids.

Eliezer Rabinovich
Guest
Two things interest me in this article; >There is mention of the fact that, although Horthy in his memoirs claimed that he knew nothing about the fate of the Jews, “there are several sources that prove his knowledge of the truth about the deportations.” Many times I have met this statement, couple times communicated to the authors to ask: “what are those [sometimes with word “new” – E.R.) sources that prove”? I have never received the reply, so I ask again. >While among the books discussed there is at least one that claims that Horthy was not anti-Semitic, this textbook actually publishes Miklós Horthy’s infamous letter to Pál Teleki in which he tells the prime minister that he always was an anti-Semite. So – “not antisemitic” but “always was an anti-Semite” – yes or no? (Or both statements are in two diffeent books?) In fact, this is a rhetorical question, because I asked it myself in my recent article, where I have a chapter titled: “4.4.3. Was Horthy an Anti-Semite? A Dilemma of the Leader of an Anti-Semitic Democracy”, and the chapter starts with a full text of the letter to Pal Teleki and ends with the same conclusion that… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

@Eliezer

What about Horthy’s support for the 1920 “numerus clausus” law,

comment image

his signature on the anti-Jewish laws of 1938-1943?

Laszlo Baky was one of the top Hungarian officials, whose task was the efficient deportation of the Jewish population in April-July 1944.

Laszlo Baky said on his trial that Horthy had told him:

“Utálom a kommunista és galíciai zsidókat, ki velük az országból, ki, ki! De te is belátod, hogy itt is vannak ugyanolyan jó magyarok a zsidók között, mint te, meg én. Például itt van a kis Chorin és Vida, hát ezek csak jó magyarok? Az ilyeneket nem engedhetem. A többit, azt csak vigyék!”

Short translation: I do not let my personal friends to be deported, you can take the rest.

Baky’s companion, Laszlo Endre quoted Horthy:

“akkor szűnik meg a német nyomás és akkor áll helyre tulajdonképpen a szuverenitás, ha a zsidókérdést a németek kívánságainak megfelelően oldjuk meg”

Short translation: if we deport the Jews, the sovereignty of Hungary will be restored.

It was Stalin’s empathy for a fellow, old dictator that saved Horthy from being tried for war crimes after the war.

Guest

So Horthy-apologist Eliezer is back again …

Just one comment on Horthy:

Actions speak louder than words!

And non-action is also a kind of action. May I remind you (just as an example) of the fate of famous mathematician Túrán Pál who was put in one of those work camps in 1940 and barely survived – as we know many (most) did not …

echo
Guest

Has anyone had a look at the textbooks published by Apáczai Kiadó and Nemzedékek Tudása Tankönyvkiadó?

Ron
Guest

echo :
Has anyone had a look at the textbooks published by Apáczai Kiadó and Nemzedékek Tudása Tankönyvkiadó?

My kids have the text books from Apáczai Kiadó.Mathematics, Hungarian language and reading books are okay.

The problem I have is with English (no speaking and no lists of words), Environment (not necessary and very dry lectures) and singing (do re mi (in my opinion very boring).

We mentioned this during the parents hour. Reactions parents agree with us, but do not want to mention it. Reaction teachers Agree but is law.

The problem what I have in general is that my kids learn to be good Hungarian slaves, but cannot think for themselves.

petofi
Guest

Read about Viktor’s ‘new’ best friend, Pyutin, here:

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/putin-corruption-network-revealed/

petofi
Guest

Note: re the article on Putin in “Freebeacon”.

Although the Freebeacon is a recent creation (2012) and heavily right-wing, the writer (Bill Gertz) was a columnist at the Washington Times for 27 years.

Member

@ Eliezer: ARe you an anti-Semite? I often ask this question from people who vehemently try defend Horthy, but never receive an answer, so I ask again.
Here is the deal, people who try defend Horthy or Albert Wass, and the likes are very likely ant-semites themselves. It is kind of funny, how they try to prove that anti-semites are not anti-semites. May I ask why? I never understand the logic. Being an anti-semite is not punishable by law. You do not need to advertise it, but if the cat is out of the bag, they will bolt put you in jail for it. Why is it so important for Jobbik for example to prove that Horthy was not and anti-semite and tried to save the Jews? I know, and you know, if Horthy would of tried to save the Jews, then Jobbik would not want to erect monuments to him. Am I right?
So, when you write “So – “not antisemitic” but “always was an anti-Semite” – yes or no? ” I would like to ask the same. Does Jobbik is anti-semite or no? ARe you an anti-semite or no? It can’t be both ways.

Member
OT or not Magyar Kronika that Eva wrote about back in January is coming alive. Imre Kerenyi, who is responsible for the cheesiest cultural nightmares of current Hungarian history, got his wishes granted by Orban. Let me quote Eva here about the press conference at the time the project was launched: “The whole thing quickly became a huge embarrassment which, it seems, Viktor Orbán himself recognized. According to people present, Orbán called Kerényi’s letter “infantile and ludicrous.” He also expressed his misgivings about launching the project before the election.” THis certainly reminds me the Monument fiasco, but at least it is after the election he said, and he kept his word on that one. There will be 5000 free issue (meaning: tax payers are paying for it) will be sent all over the country and outside the country. The first issue (hold it, hold it…….) will be about the Castle Park! The Castle Park that Orban opened up with huge fan fair just before the election, then they closed even faster as it is not ready! The Castle Park where the plaque on the wall contains serious grammatical errors, and falsified dates. “Magyar Krónika will be a magazine filled mainly… Read more »
rabok tobbe nem leszunk
Guest
rabok tobbe nem leszunk

Eliezer is not our brightest contributor.
Is it the Eastern European education?
Is it the Eastern European ignorance in matters of freedom.

Horthy was a tyrant. Like Saddam and Milosevich. Lots of cheesy PR, and unbridled brutality under the surface.

Jano
Guest

‘rabok tobbe nem leszunk’: Well, you are not either Mr. One name-One post wherever your education happened.

My thoughts on Horthy are not very positive (discussed countless times on this blog) at all but Saddam? Why not Kim Jong Un immediately? Why stop there, let’s say he was worse than Hitler and Stalin? Get a grip man.

Ron
Guest

Slightly OT: British Pathé, cinema news company, digitized their (part/entire) archive and put it on YouTube. You talking about almost 82,000 videos. Some of it relates to Budapest. Although most is relating to the UK, Royalties and celebs there are some gems, such as these ones:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4WB_uDTIa0

Just select on YouTube British Pathe Hungary.

Guest

British Pathe also has several videos of Horthy and Hitler now on youtube:

Here they are on a ship near Kiel (Baltic Sea):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBM3gpU7wZA

Here Horthy and his wife say good bye to Adolf at the train station:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2VcxcOiux4

Of course the Horthy fans claim that he didn’t like and even looked down on Hitler – then he must have been a good actor!

This clip from 1922 (anniversary of the end of Bolshevism in Hungary …) is also very nice – imho it shows that Horthy was a real feudal 19th Century type:

Member

wolfi :
Here Horthy and his wife say good bye to Adolf at the train station:

From 1:33 look at Horthy’s body language. He loved Hitler, no doubt. He does not even want to let his hand go.

petofi
Guest

Concentrating on the present:

ATV has a program called “Secret Dossier”. Tonight, they showed a documentary on the FBI.
En passant, the program made clear that the FBI doesn’t only operate in the US but in 85 other countries.

Seemingly a program without a hidden agenda, one has to note that Putin has repeatedly claimed that US agents are operating in the Ukraine. The timing of showing this program now
will serve to underpin Putin’s words.

It’s discouraging to see that even one of the last ‘independent’ stations in Hungary may be tainted as well…

Ron
Guest

Apparently, Hungarian had a working democracy after the WWII, and had even elections in 1947. And they elected a working majority the Communistic Party (According to British Pathé http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvXzt7UvTwc). If this is the case, what about Hungary losing its sovereignty in 1944.

spectator
Guest
@Eliezer With all due respect, are you seriously consider that being anti-semite and anti semitic differs that much – besides of being noun or adjective – that it will free Horthy from all sins against the people of his country that he even should be mentioned in a positive context? How about Horthy memorials? But seriously, you’ve read his letter to Teleky, where he expresses his view clearly of the whole question and his anti-semitism. His only concern was that the process should go on smoothly and without too much atrocities, because of practical reasons. Come on, man, you’re acting as a decent person, so how could you accept that your innocent fellow citizens should be driven away and killed – for any reason, – really? How could anyone with an ounce of humanity accept that? In my point of view there is no viable reason or justifiable interest to do so, whatever the circumstances might be. There is no excuse to let someone to be killed, there is no acceptable number of innocent victims, ever. To me already one single persons death is one too many and unforgivable. Dear Eliezer, please, reconsider your standpoint in a purely humanist point… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest

Ron, great videos!

Ron
Guest

Kirsten thank you, but British Pathé we need to thank for these images.

I went reviewing some videos, and I bet you with Photoshop (only changing faces) the situation is repeating itself. Such as: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cvf34DzYKhY

Kadar signing friendship (paks 2) documents with Russia. Horthy visiting a mine (get dressed up and apparently went down the mine, familiar re. gas pipe). Or May parade in 1958 compared to the Peace parade 2014.

Eliezer Rabinovich
Guest

tappanch :
@Eliezer
What about Horthy’s support for the 1920 “numerus clausus” law,
comment image
his signature on the anti-Jewish laws of 1938-1943?
Laszlo Baky was one of the top Hungarian officials, whose task was the efficient deportation of the Jewish population in April-July 1944.
Laszlo Baky said on his trial that Horthy had told him:
“Utálom a kommunista és galíciai zsidókat, ki velük az országból, ki, ki! De te is belátod, hogy itt is vannak ugyanolyan jó magyarok a zsidók között, mint te, meg én. Például itt van a kis Chorin és Vida, hát ezek csak jó magyarok? Az ilyeneket nem engedhetem. A többit, azt csak vigyék!”
Short translation: I do not let my personal friends to be deported, you can take the rest.
Baky’s companion, Laszlo Endre quoted Horthy:
“akkor szűnik meg a német nyomás és akkor áll helyre tulajdonképpen a szuverenitás, ha a zsidókérdést a németek kívánságainak megfelelően oldjuk meg”
Short translation: if we deport the Jews, the sovereignty of Hungary will be restored.
It was Stalin’s empathy for a fellow, old dictator that saved Horthy from being tried for war crimes after the war.

Eliezer Rabinovich
Guest

1. I asked the question:

>There is mention of the fact that, although Horthy in his memoirs claimed that he knew nothing about the fate of the Jews, “there are several sources that prove his knowledge of the truth about the deportations.” Many times I have met this statement, couple times communicated to the authors to ask: “what are those [sometimes with word “new” – E.R.) sources that prove”? I have never received the reply, so I ask again.

You did not reply but instead gave different facts that I know.

2. Is it important what criminals like Endre and Baky said on their trials when they tried to save their skins? is it not true that Horthy saved practically all Budapest Jewry?

What about this quote from Horthy’s biograper Thomas Sakmuster who wrote that if Horthy retired after the occupation his “historical reputation might have been enhanced, but the only practical result in Hungary would likely have been a more rapid deportation and annihilation of the Jews… He acted in a forceful and courageous way that protected the Jews of Budapest. No other European leader… had ever defied Hitler so directly”. What do you think on that?

Eliezer Rabinovich
Guest
spectator : @Eliezer With all due respect, are you seriously consider that being anti-semite and anti semitic differs that much – besides of being noun or adjective – that it will free Horthy from all sins against the people of his country that he even should be mentioned in a positive context? You have not read my comment. Because both words are the same, I asked how it could be in one book that he IS and he IS NOT? But seriously, you’ve read his letter to Teleky, where he expresses his view clearly of the whole question and his anti-semitism. His only concern was that the process should go on smoothly and without too much atrocities, because of practical reasons. Correct. He is writing to his rabidly anti-Semitic prime-minister who is preparing the 3d anti-Jewish law (that was not enacted during Teleki’s life). What is it about: 1. We need the Jews for our well-being during the life of at least one generation; 2. If so, we need to treat them decently; 3. They are much more useful and patriotic citizens than “Arrow Cross” whom Teleki had just legalized and allowed Salzshi out of the prison. And it was… Read more »
gdfxx
Guest

petofi :
Concentrating on the present:
ATV has a program called “Secret Dossier”. Tonight, they showed a documentary on the FBI.
En passant, the program made clear that the FBI doesn’t only operate in the US but in 85 other countries.
Seemingly a program without a hidden agenda, one has to note that Putin has repeatedly claimed that US agents are operating in the Ukraine. The timing of showing this program now
will serve to underpin Putin’s words.
It’s discouraging to see that even one of the last ‘independent’ stations in Hungary may be tainted as well…

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/international_operations

Very secret operations indeed…

gdfxx
Guest

To Eliezer Rabinovich:

You are quoting that Horthy ” acted in a forceful and courageous way that protected the Jews of Budapest. No other European leader… had ever defied Hitler so directly”.

Even if this were true (which I doubt), if he could do this, why didn’t he do it when the other hundreds of thousands were sent by his own government into their deaths in Auschwitz? Is it possible that he did what you quoted, to save his own skin, knowing that the war was lost?

wpDiscuz