The Orbán government bestows the Order of St. Stephen on Imre Kertész

A couple of days ago a stunned Hungarian public learned that the Orbán government will bestow on Imre Kertész, the sole Hungarian Nobel Prize winning author who until now has been the target of scorn from the far right and the object of studied neglect on the part of Fidesz, the highest state decoration, the Order of St. Stephen.

In November 2011 I wrote a post entitled “New Hungarian regime, new or not so new decorations.” The Order of St. Stephen was established by Maria Theresa in 1776, and it was abolished in 1946 when Hungary was declared a republic. Actually, no Order of St. Stephen was given out between 1920 and 1940 because by law the Grand Master of the Order had to be the Hungarian king. So for twenty years Horthy did not feel at liberty to bestow the order. By 1940, however, he no longer had any compunctions about taking over the role of the king. Once the order was reestablished, the recipients included Joachim von Ribbentrop, German foreign minister; Gian Galeazzo Ciano, Italian foreign minister and son-in-law of Mussolini; and Hermann Göring, marshall of the German Reich. It is this order Imre Kertész that will receive–and this company that he will keep.

It is difficult not to suspect that the Hungarian government’s sudden interest in Imre Kertész has something to do with Viktor Orbán’s efforts to improve his self-image abroad after the fiasco of the Holocaust Memorial Year. How many people will he manage to fool? I have the feeling not too many. The whole scheme is so obvious and cheap when, for example, only a few weeks ago Viktor Orbán was ready to appoint the anti-Semitic Péter Szentmihályi Szabó to be Hungarian ambassador to Rome, the same man who consistently called Kertész “Imre Kertész” instead of using the proper Hungarian word order “Kertész Imre,” indicating that he does not consider him to be a Hungarian.

I suspect, and I’m sure that I am not the only one, that it is Mária Schmidt who is behind this devilish idea. She “discovered” the deeply anti-communist Imre Kertész. Last Thursday Heti Válasz published a fairly lengthy article by her about the greatness of Imre Kertész, which bears little resemblance to the Kertész most of us know. The Hungarian original is not yet available, but thanks to the website Mandiner an English translation of it made its appearance online.

But before I talk about the Schmidt essay I should say a few things about Kertész’s attitude toward Hungary. Kertész has lived in Berlin for ten years. He loves the city and is grateful to the German reading public that discovered him. He also appreciates Germany’s efforts to face the country’s past as opposed to his own country’s reluctance to take even partial responsibility for what happened in Hungary during the spring and summer of 1944. He went so far as to deposit his archives in Germany instead of Hungary.

Kertész’s 2007 visit to the Bundestag: “I feel that people understand me better here.”
Source: AFP Photo Axel Schmidt

Given the fact that Kertész is a very ill man–he is in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease–it is difficult to know how much he understands about what’s happening around him. It is highly unlikely that he will be able to receive the highest Hungarian decoration in person. In the last two years he has not appeared in public. One thing is sure. In 2012 when he gave an interview to Florence Noiville of Le Monde, which was republished in part in The Guardian, he had a very bad opinion of Viktor Orbán’s Hungary. He was dismayed by the Hungarian people’s enthusiasm for Orbán. He felt that “the current situation is nothing but a further illustration of that tendency [of Hungary] to choose wrong.” After talking about Orbán’s anti-EU attitudes and about the majority of Hungarian young people at the university who sympathize with the extreme right, he concluded that “Hungarians are holding on to their destiny. They will undoubtedly end up failing, without understanding why.”

As for the official attitude toward him, Kertész was aware that some of his right-wing friends kept in touch with him only in secret. “It not well seen for them to be friendly with me. Remember the unleashing violence when I won the Nobel Prize–people were angry to see me become the only Hungarian Nobel when I was not glorifying “Hungarian-ness. After my novel Someone Other, I was attacked because of my dark portrayal of the country. Some even wondered if I was a real Hungarian writer….”

In January 2013 an article appeared in The New Yorker entitled “The Frightening Hungarian Crackdown” by Hari Kunzru, himself a writer. When Kunzru heard about Kertész’s decision to house his archives not in Hungary but in Germany, he thought it was “a profound gesture of reconciliation.” The friend corrected him:

I’m afraid there is something more to it: he has also good reasons to believe that in Hungary his legacy wouldn’t be treated with as much respect as in Germany, as he is regarded by the current political elite as an “unHungarian” and then I’ve been euphemistic. For example, currently his work is not part of the Hungarian national education program, due to some changes in school material in which, at the same time, three famously antisemitic writers have been included.

The article ends with these words:

Hungary remains in a wistful, toxic relationship with the nineteen-thirties, with a fantasy of Jewish conspiracy and national moral decline. As the memory of the iron curtain fades and Europe recenters itself, Hungary’s fascist resurgence should be a matter of concern for all. Kertész’s own reaction is to quote Karl Kraus: “The situation is desperate, but not serious.”

All in all, it is unlikely that Kertész would accept any kind of decoration from Viktor Orbán’s government if he were in perfect mental health. Mária Schmidt and Viktor Orbán are taking advantage of an old, sick man.

To justify honoring Kertész Schmidt paints a very different portrait of his views. She uses three sources. All three appeared in the last few years when Kertész was not entirely himself. When he said a few things that perhaps were not only not fair but were dictated by resentment and suspicion of his liberal friends. In typical Schmidt manner, she presents a one-sided image of a very complex man by concentrating on a small segment of his output. She picks statements of Kertész which to her mind supports her own highly flawed thesis of the Holocaust. She is using Kertész’s Nobel Prize winning novel, Fateless, to justify her own House of Fates. Despicable.

Tomorrow I will give a taste of Schmidt’s revisionist description of Imre Kertész.

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tinshed
Guest

May I recommend a fascinating interview on YouTube with Kertész done by his Swedish publisher, Svante Weyler, in 2011. It has English sub-titles so is easily watchable. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl7eFs755Ak

petofi
Guest

As usual, the cynical, mocking mind of Orban is using an old sick man and ‘laughing at him’, and so the nation of Bekemenet and the totally sick Hungarian society follow suit.

What an absolutely stomach-emptying country this is!

BR
Guest
“To justify honoring Kertész Schmidt paints a very different portrait of his views. She uses three sources. All three appeared in the last few years when Kertész was not entirely himself. ” This is entirely false. In reality Schmidt wrote the article before plans to honor Kertesz were even announced. She could not have known that there will be such plans or that Kertesz will accept (which is still not known). The interview of Schmidt with Olga Kalman also contradicts this interpretation. And also it is highly offensive to suggest that honoring Kertesz needs justification. Kertesz’s body of work is such that no justification is needed or could be suggested. Let us also deal with the claim that ” She uses three sources. All three appeared in the last few years” For this let us examine the original article (if someone is interested to read the original article that we are discussing http://www.schmidtmaria.hu/szakma/cikkek_publikaciok/on_the_nature_of_dictator.html In this we can read about the main sources used: “The Depressing Heritage of Europe (Európa nyomasztó öröksége) first appeared in 2008, while Save as…: Notes from 2001-2003 (Mentés másként, feljegyzések 2001-2003-ból)” So one of the sources was published in 2008 (and written earlier) and the other… Read more »
petofi
Guest

@BR

Ahh, a government apologist rears his Brit head, huh…

Let’s try this quote on for size:
“Kertesz’s body of work is such that no justification is needed…”

Ok, Mr. BR, tell us than why Kertesz’ work is not required reading in schools but third-rate fascist’ dung-leavings are?

This ‘resurrections’ of Kertesz is, first and foremost, to laugh at him; and the Hungaricoes who well know Orban’s style know how to listen with their third ear.

Second, it’s for naive westerners to show Hungary’s ‘respect’ for a jewish writer. (he-he-he)

(Nothing quite as sick as the tortured, hungarian mind.)

Member

What makes this “news” very sad is that if you visit some of the moderate right news portals, and read on the comments you feel like throwing up. Orban stirred up so much hatred toward each other in this nation that no other Hungarian was able to do in history.
Orban never had a cohesive nation in mind, only a country where he can manipulate a group to support his rise to the top. There is no limit to this man’s morals and to those who support him.

As I wrote in my post on the previous thread, I hope they will stream live the ceremony where they bestow this honour on Kertesz. I would like to hear what he has to say.

gdfxx
Guest

It is hard to comment on this. The only similar VIRTUAL event that I could think of is for Wojciech Jaruzelski to give the very sick Pope John Paul II the highest Polish medal, during the period he declared martial law in Poland.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

BR: And also it is highly offensive to suggest that honoring Kertesz needs justification. Kertesz’s body of work is such that no justification is needed or could be suggested.

Hence, Mz Schmidt not publishing right now, in Hungarian and English, a kertészxploitation article, I suppose? 🙂

tappanch
Guest
Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

Btw, the Hungarian version of Mz Schmidt’s text is available on her website.

tappanch
Guest

The Hungarian Army just sold 80 T-72 tanks to a company called “Excalibur Defense” for about $10,000 a piece (perhaps 1/10 of its real value).

Will they go to the Ukrainian government?

http://index.hu/belfold/2014/08/19/tavaly_nyar_ota_tudunk_az_elado_tankokrol/

Paul
Guest
This is a lovely summary of the Hungarian ‘condition’: “They will undoubtedly end up failing, without understanding why.” As for Parkinson’s, my father had this awful condition and indirectly died from it, so I am very familiar with the effects it has on the mind and body of the sufferer. Although to most people Parkinson’s is a ‘disease’ that ‘just’ makes people’s hands shake, it’s actually a serious and irreversible degenerative condition which affects the nervous system and ultimately the brain. Sufferers gradually lose control of their motor functions, eventually becoming unable to feed or dress themselves and suffering the ignominy of double incontinence. But what is less well known is that they also degenerate mentally – the latter stages of Parkinson’s are indistinguishable from dementia. My father technically ‘only’ had Parkinson’s, but in his last years he didn’t know who his wife and children were (or why they were visiting him), he didn’t understand where he was or why (he thought he was being held prisoner, and pleaded with my mother on every visit to help him get out and go home). And during visits, he often disappeared into a world of his own, holding animated conversations with imaginary… Read more »
Ron
Guest
Excalibur Defence Kft. according the the government website owned by Dr. Stefan Turay and (most likely his daughter). Please find below parts of the extract of Excalibur Defence. Please note that share capital is HUF 500,000, the bank is Sberbank (Putyin I believe). I cannot find much on the father, but the daughter is working for a political party TOP09 (www.top09.cz) which is part of the EPP party in the EU. So if these tanks are sold to Russia, than Czech Republic, EPP have some explaining to do. Cégjegyzékszám: 07-09-024411 Cégforma: Korlátolt felelősségű társaság Bejegyezve: 2013/11/07 2.A cég elnevezése 2/1. EXCALIBUR DEFENSE Korlátolt Felelősségű Társaság Bejegyzés kelte: 2013/11/07 Közzétéve: 2013/11/28 Hatályos: 2013/11/07 … 11. A cég jegyzett tőkéje 11/1. Megnevezés Összeg Pénznem Összesen 500 000 HUF Bejegyzés kelte: 2013/11/07 Közzétéve: 2013/11/28 Hatályos: 2013/11/07 … 13. A képviseletre jogosult(ak) adatai 13/1. Dr. Stefan Turay (an.: Major Anna) Születési ideje: 1945/06/20 Külföldi lakása, illetve tartózkodási helye: CZ 56206 Usti and Orlicí, Lansperská 124. Adóazonosító jel: 8286553659 Kézbesítési megbízottja: Volsik és Juhász Ügyvédi Iroda – Dr. Juhász Balázs ügyvéd 8000 Székesfehérvár, Oskola utca 11. A képviselet módja: önálló A képviseletre jogosult tisztsége: ügyvezető (vezető tisztségviselő) A hiteles cégaláírási nyilatkozat vagy az ügyvéd által… Read more »
Paul
Guest
OT again, while I’m at it: In the local children’s playground yesterday I met a dentistry student who was is just about to start her third year at Debreceni Egyetem (and whose English was surprisingly good). I naturally asked her where she saw her future after graduating – for instance, would she consider going abroad? (My wife’s family and friends include a number of doctors, dentists, surgeons, specialists, etc, who, Fideszniks to a man/woman, resolutely ignore the opportunities to earn a fortune abroad, so this topic always intrigues me.) I was quite surprised by her reply – she explained that she couldn’t work abroad for 10 years after graduating. Her course is five years, and in order to get the course she had to sign an undertaking to work in Hungary for at least twice the length of the course – 10 years. I was vaguely aware of having heard of such restrictions being talked about, but hadn’t realised that they were in place, or that they were so draconian (in the UK it is common to insist that students on post-graduate training programmes work for the company for a set time afterwards, or they have to reimburse the company… Read more »
Paul
Guest

Ron – surely the one thing Putin already has enough of it tanks?!

Paul
Guest

it/is

Paul
Guest

A PS to my working abroad (or not) post above – an ‘unexpected outcome’ of such draconian restrictions could, of course, be that graduates go to work abroad anyway, but are then effectively prevented from coming back because of the financial (and legal?) penalties they would face.

So Orbán’s attempt to keep expensively trained graduates in Hungary could well backfire completely – not only will they still leave, but they are now a lot less likely to come back.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

@Ron

It is as a matter of fact a subsidiary of the Czech company Excalibur Army, which has been buying, refurbishing and selling that kind of stuff for 25 years. They even have a nice online catalog (no, you can’t order direct).

While obviously the Czech & Hungarian governments have a responsibility to ensure that such companies do not infringe on current embargoes or sanctions, the current buzz has been entirely sparked by the Russian propaganda apparatus.

tappanch
Guest

@Paul

“Ron – surely the one thing Putin already has enough of it tanks?!”

My guess is that they will go to the Ukrainian government.

The Americans will get off Orban’s back and he can solidify his pet project,

the dictatorship of Hungary, in the style of Turkey and Russia.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

@tappanch: the Ukrainian government doesn’t need tanks now.

Ron
Guest

Marcel Dé. I checked out the website of Excalibur Army and they have nice stuff. However, I cannot find the connection with Excalibur Defense Kft., only the connect with EPP.

As to the tanks itself, since 2 years there is a carousel of selling and buying tanks in the EU. The Dutch sold all their Leopards to Finland. Which sold a part to Austria, and Austria is selling I believe to Hungary. It is very weird and political. In other words I do not understand any of it.

LwiiH
Guest

@tappanch, would this be the one? http://www.opten.hu/excalibur-defense-kft-c0709024411.html?lang=en. activities: egyéb szakmai, tudományos, műszaki tevékenység meaning just about anything that needs to be done I guess…

T-72 is a 40 year old tank. New the tank costs ~ $1,700,000 (http://www.defencetalk.com/forums/army-security-forces/t-72-still-useful-not-10194/). I found used for as little as $50,000

LwiiH
Guest

I should have added that just this morning I saw empty trucks, the heavy equipment/tank carrying type trundling towards Debrecen. Yesterday I saw a another one. I sometimes see military vehicles in the area but it’s always the light stuff.. not the heavy equipment so this is a bit unusual. I should have snapped a pic.

Ron
Guest

Paul as to education I believe there are three ways to “pay off” your study debt.

You are going to work a poor area at low money, and once completed you repaid it.
You are going to work in a normal job in Hungary, but the period is longer.
You are paying back the amount (plus interest) and you are free.

Btw this is not only for students at Universities.

My girls are with a sports club (both 10 years old). If they leave this club to go to another club they have to pay according to the sports law an x amount to the club, unless the other club agrees to pay it for you. Same applies if you go abroad. The older you are the more more money you need to pay. A 15 year old needs to pay EUR 1,000 (HUF 300,000). Btw these are amateurs and not professionals, all of them pay monthly fees to the club.

Member
RE: BR August 18, 2014 at 7:36 pm In fact we were interested in the original article, but it seems you were not so much. http://www.schmidtmaria.hu/szakma/cikkek_publikaciok/on_the_nature_of_dictator.html The other sources BR provides are not articles from (with) Schmitt, but articles that support Schmitt’s conclusion (and her whole article is simply a conclusion nothing more). Schmitt’s main purpose wit the article published in August 14 /1014 is to prove the world that Kertesz only wrote about suffering under the Holocaust and for various reasons stayed silent on the Hungarian “suffering” under the communists. She also tries to further that ongoing tactic and PR employed by Fidesz that everything is the fault of the liberals, and those who after the communism took over the country. (THis very much ties into Eva’s previous article on Teller’s theory.) So, while we read BR’s comment it seems like Schmitt supported Kertesz since 2001, the facts is that Schmitt uses materials previously published to support that all liberals are bad and everyone who follows Orban are good. Schmitt just like Orban tries to divide Hungarins by pointing fingers into one directions while conveniently leaving out facts, and quotes, and grabbing other quotes out of context. Let me… Read more »
Ron
Guest

LwiiH: It is very much possible that these tanks will be transported by rail.It is cheaper.

Guest

London Calling!

Surely this is the most cynical act of a cynical government?

With such esteemed company as Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hermann Göring and relatives of Mussolini the award should have been allowed to quietly disappear.

It was also awarded to Pal Teleki who ironically was a rabid anti seemite just like Horthy.

It is a truly sickening honouring of Maria Teresa’s memory of that the award is now so contaminated.

It is obvious that Kertész would never have agreed to receiving it from a country that despised him as much as he despised it.

Schmidt and Orban should be ashamed of themselves.

If they think this will restore them to the decent human race then I think they will be disappointed. The ‘indigenes’ may swallow it but the free democracies of the west will see it for what it is.

Let’s hope Kertész has a lucid episode in his Parkinson’s journey that enables him to understand what is happening and communicate what he would really want.

Let’s hope.

Regards

Charlie

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

@Ron

For a formal connection, look up Stefan Turay on http://www.sztnh.gov.hu, the Intellectual Property Office. For a very practical one, the Czech press will do: the Czech company’s spokesperson did answer that those tanks were theirs, and that they were heading to CZ for disassembly.

http://www.novinky.cz/zahranicni/evropa/345221-madari-dodavaji-ukrajine-tanky-tvrdi-moskva.html

Member

By the way Mihaly Takaro also received the order, just to be on the safe side. WHo is Takaro? A full fledged anti-semite, a maniac of Trianon, fan of Albert Wass. Enter his name in google, and you will get the just of it in a few minutes.

petofi
Guest

re: Kertesz in Hungary

It would be interesting if someone could discover why Kertesz returned to Hungary for medical treatment.
Are there money problems? (Surely there were suitable hospitals in Berlin…)
Is it a question of burial? (Perhaps he wished to be buried in Hungary…)

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