László Eörsi: The Red Cross Informant

Years ago Robin W. Winks, a professor of history at Yale University, edited a book titled The Historian As Detective: Essays on Evidence. And indeed, historians often comb through information from a variety of sources until they experience their aha moment. Something like that happened to László Eörsi, the historian whose encyclopedic knowledge of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 is legendary. I’m convinced that Eörsi knows exactly happened at every street corner during those thirteen days, in Budapest as well as other cities and towns in Hungary. But his research this time led him far afield: to 1944-45 and the Swedish Red Cross’s efforts at saving the lives of Hungarian Jews. It is a fascinating story with a twist at the end.

* * * 

I stumbled upon Zoltán Harangi’s name as a researcher of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Harangi had joined one of the rebel groups in Budapest, but during the struggle for freedom, he contacted the organizations of state security and ended up informing on his fellow fighters. Following this, he served as an informant for 15 years during the Kádár regime, causing numerous tragedies.

There are few sources detailing certain parts of Zoltán Harangi’s life journey. One of these mysteries is how he was able to become an employee of the Swedish embassy, especially considering that he was trained as a collier, completed a college degree in landscaping and had a criminal record with 11 counts of theft and two charges of receiving stolen goods.

At age 31, in June 1944, he became a founding member of the Swedish Red Cross and was given several confidential assignments. He directed the Red Cross’ investigations unit, thus it was up to him to oversee the screening of employees and he also addressed complaints relating to the organization. In June 1944, the Swedish Red Cross took under its protection the Körönd Rehabilitation Centre in Budapest, where Jews under the protection of the Sweden were housed. According to several victim testimonies, some doctors – especially Aurél Stürmer Lovassy – consistently blackmailed the persecuted, demanding money from them, in exchange for extending their stay in the building.

Zoltán Harangi's picture from his Swedish I.D.

Zoltán Harangi’s picture from his Swedish I.D.

On November 25, 1944, Harangi reported the rehabilitation centre to the Arrow Cross party secretary in Budapest’s third district, Zoltán Nagyiványi. Nagyiványi in turn assigned János Traum, a master painter, who also served in the party’s district association, with the investigation of the situation. On the same night, the Arrow Cross removed 40 Jews, taking them to district party headquarters (171 Bécsi Road). They deemed the letters indicating that they were protected by Sweden as invalid. A total of 12 or 13 Jews were executed and others were tortured. The next day, Harangi was essentially forced to change his tune, as alongside the leader of the Swedish Red Cross, Langlet Waldermár, he visited the director of the Prime Minister’s Office’s Press Department, Ferenc Fiala, where he advocated on behalf of the deported. Based on Fiala’s decision, they transported back the deported Jews to the rehabilitation centre.

Harangi, however, provided the Arrow Cross with further information. On December 13th, they entered the headquarters of the Swedish Red Cross, right into the areas of the building where those escaping forced labour were hiding. Only three people, including Harangi, knew of this hiding place, thus the Red Cross became suspicious and Harangi was moved to a different department. As of this point, the Arrow Cross did not receive any further information.

During the German occupation Harangi blackmailed, robbed and reported on a woman, who in the end was deported to Auschwitz, where she died. “I met with Zoltán Harangi about three weeks prior,” noted Pál Rákosi, the husband of the woman who fell victim to such a tragic fate, in a June 1945 police report. “I did not dare to confront him, because he was in the company of a Russian officer, and you as well told me that he was serving with the GPU, as a detective,” he added. After the war, Harangi was on the hunt for Arrow Cross members and Volkbundists, in areas of Budapest controlled by the Soviets. While he searched apartments in the city, he also went about robbing them. In fact, he took the 3rd district, Darázs Street apartment of a Hungarian Jew who fled to Palestine. On April 19, 1945, Harangi was taken into custody, but he continued to make use of his skills. “I worked as a notetaker in the correctional facility and I could move freely and I was able to decide who, in addition to myself, could serve as notetakers”—wrote Harangi in a report from 1961. At the time, it was suggested that Harangi may also know of the disappearance of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish ambassador in Budapest, or that he may have been “actively involved in this.” Based on 15 eyewitness testimonies, the Tutsek Council decided to confiscate all of Harangi’s property in June 1949, and also sentenced him to 10 years of forced labour. According to the sentencing document, Harangi “deported the persecuted, several dozen people fell victim to his deeds, and he was driven by malicious intent.” Half a year later, István Aradi reduced his sentence by half, whilst noting that the war crimes conviction still stands.

Harangi was released in February 1952, but before the end of the year, he committed a break and entry, which resulted in a sentence of 12 years. But on October 30th, 1956, he was released from the correctional facility by the revolutionaries. We have data showing that until 1972, he collaborated with the Kádár regime. He lived until 1998.

My Hungarian-language study of Harangi appeared in March 2012, months before Harangi received from Yad Vashem the Righteous Among the Nations award. It is all but impossible that someone else would bear the same name, as the listed profession and date of birth is identical. We find it implausible that Haragi would have saved anyone’s life, as he would have referred to this in his defence, during his trial. But there is no mention of this anywhere during the proceedings. In fact, he never made made mention of saving lives in any of his later reports. Consequently, I ask Yad Vashem to review its decision.

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tappanch
Guest

“At the beginning of 1945, Harangi blackmailed, robbed and reported on a woman, who in the end was deported to Auschwitz, where she died.”

It was not possible to deport people from the surrounded Budapest in January, 1945.

Mrozek
Guest

Tappanch is absolutely right…. 1945 doesn’t look right. At the same time most of the nyilas played it both ways. Within days they turned to anti-fascists and betrayed their nyilas comrades. John Lukacs has a good story in the Confessions of an Original Sinner, an ex-nyilas in 1946 (?) explains that he actually always supported the Communists. Also, what does it mean, that “we have data showing that until 1972, he collaborated with the Kádár regime.” Millions “collaborated” with the Kádár regime… what did he do?

Member

Before we get carried away with the details of this Harangi creature, please stop to reflect a little on the timely and apposite point that Prof. Balogh is making by republishing this story at this time: Someone who lacks scruples will do, and say, anything, and the opposite of anything, regardless of whom it may hurt, regime after regime. Harangi was a psychopath, faithful to no one and nothing but his own ambitions and desires. I think we know who else fills that clinical (and forensic) description.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Stevan Harnad, details play an important role in History. Tappanch pointed out that nobody was deported in January 1945 from Budapest to Auschwitz. So Eörsi was at least on this point not reliable.
A lot of “little” arrowcrossmembers found their way to the new regime in Hungary. No sursprise.
Yad Vashem should revise it’s decision.

tappanch
Guest

Orban’s faithful friend, card-carrying member of Fidesz (#5),
journalist Bayer d’Orgovany,
who wanted to repeat the November 1919 “white” massacres
[whose victims were mostly Jewish],

defends Orban by accusing Simicska of being a spy.

“Lajos S. is the perpetrator”

http://magyarhirlap.hu/cikk/19347/S_Lajos_elkoveto

Detailed accounts of the pogroms in Hungary (August 1919 to July 1920)

http://konfliktuskutato.hu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=138:antiszemita-atrocitasok-gyilkossagok-pogromok-a-feherterror-idszakaban-&catid=16:esetek

petofi
Guest

Lajos S. is in trouble.
I expect him to decamp for London any day now; and never to partake of 5pm tea, either….

tappanch
Guest

After the 100 billion forints of disappeared money from brokerage “Buda-cash” , we have another missing 210 billion at “Quaestor” !!

Remark: police detained only some of the small fish employees of “Buda-cash”, not the owners. (Fidesz connections?)

http://444.hu/2015/03/10/az-mnb-boritott-a-buda-cash-a-quaestor-es-a-hungaria-ugyeben-is-szazmilliardokat/

http://www.portfolio.hu/finanszirozas/bankok/minden_a_harmadik_brokerbotranyrol.211180.html

10:55 AM
EUR/HUF = 306.0
USD/HUF = 284.6
CHF/HUF = 285.9
USD/HUF =

tappanch
Guest

10:58 AM
PLN/HUF = 74.3

tappanch
Guest

The chairman of Quaestor, Mr Tarsoly has excellent connections with Fidesz.

Quaestor has contracts with the Hungarian Foreign Ministry to operate the new Hungarian “chaebol” or “sogo sosha” in Istambul and the visa issuing center in Moscow.

They also sold 150 billions of fictitious bonds to the public.

http://444.hu/2015/03/10/150-milliardnyi-fiktiv-kotvenyt-adhatott-el-a-quaestor/

http://www.portfolio.hu/vallalatok/ezert_van_oriasi_bajban_a_quaestor.211193.html

tappanch
Guest

Quaestor, or rather initial banking panic, March 10, 2010, morning hours:
comment image

tappanch
Guest

Correction : 2015, not 2010

tappanch
Guest
Webber
Guest

Is it finally time to start worrying about the Hungarian domestic banking system as a whole, or not yet?

Webber
Guest

If the following is true, we’re looking at a general market panic:
“On Monday (the bankrupted fund) Quaestor claimed that trust in the entire financial system was so shaken by the Buda-Cash scandal (a previous fund-bankruptcy) that a lot of bondholders suddenly and simultaneously wanted their money back.”

A Quaestor hétfőn arra hivatkozott, hogy a Buda-Cash-botrány miatt olyan erősen megingott a bizalom az egész pénzügyi rendszerben, hogy egyszerre és hirtelen nagyon sok kötvényes akarta visszakapni a pénzét.

hru
Guest

Questor is lying.

Questor’s bond issuing special purpose vehicle, Questor Financial Hruria Kft. (does anybody have any idea what Hruria is?) operated a Ponzi-scheme and now it wants to blame its crimes on a ‘market panic’ (ie. something that has nothing to do with Questor per se) as if there was any reasonable chance that it could repay all the debt it amassed.

Questor was always a shady group but it had intimate ties to Fidesz and football, so its bosses could get away with the lies for long.

There’s nobody panicking at Raiffeisen or Erste.

Webber
Guest

That’s just it – there’s no reason to worry about foreign-owned banks, or even (I trust) about Hungarian OTP. It’s the Hungarian-owned investment companies that are taking the hit.
I’m curious – Who were Quaestor’s investors? They couldn’t all be individuals, could they? There surely must be other funds invested in them?
(that said, I’m perfectly willing to believe that Quaestor is lying)

tappanch
Guest

My first findings on “hruria”:

“hruria are rain forest geophytes adapted to the low light conditions of the forest understory.” 🙂

http://ejje.weblio.jp/concordance/content/low?pageNo=9

they thrive on low light conditions !!

tappanch
Guest

2.

from “La Mystérieuse Prophétie des Papes”

“De balueis Et hruria” Gregoire XVI

Do you know the origin of the “g” word Simicska used for Orban? Yes, yes, Gregory.

🙂

tappanch
Guest

3.
“Nazismo Esoterico di M. Dolcetta – terza parte”

“Uivampana le fiamme e lo tarta hruria in un attimo”

google’s finding on the private website “thule-italia.net”

Webber
Guest

People here have argued that these companies were relatively small, but won’t the collapse of Quaestor, following on Buda-Cash, have an effect on the Hungarian stock market?
Together, the two companies took up a little under 5% of the spot market. Won’t wiping out 5% of that market have effects?
Conditions are more serious elsewhere.
They took up nearly 9% of Hungary’s derivatives market, and together made up 29% of the futures market.
I’m just a lay person when it comes to this sort of thing, but it is hard for me to imagine this won’t cause systemic problems. Please do tell me if I’m wrong – it would be reassuring.
I got the data from charts here:
http://www.portfolio.hu/vallalatok/ki_all_a_quaestor_mogott.2.211202.html

blaze
Guest
I can safely state that there will be no significant consequences. If anything the market will clear a little. The entire Budapest Stock Exchange is not much more than a joke unfortunately, with 3-4 legitimate stocks, the rest are totally illiquid and of questionable quality. There are several ‘penny stocks’ which only exist to generate trading business but whose issuers are close to bankruptcy. The National Bank failed not only with respect to brokerage firms but also with respect to issuers (of course including the Questor Hruria as well) where people could be arrested too if the Bank took its obligations seriously. The biggest recent crime against the Hungarian capital market was the nationalization of the private pension funds because that meant the elimination of important investors. Out of the 3,000bn forints nationalized, a significant portion was in Hungarian stocks and naturally that demand disappeared from the market. Questor group is really a sham conglomerate, a real ponzi scheme because if you compare the group’s debt and its real assets or businesses then you see there’s no real value behind it, even the real estate are mortgaged to banks. Tens of billions perhaps as much as 150bn were stolen. Buda-Cash… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

12:13 PM [10:55 AM]

EUR/HUF = 308.2 [306.0]
USD/HUF = 286.6 [284.6]

tappanch
Guest

comment image

tappanch
Guest

1:00 PM [10:12 AM]
EUR/HUF = 309.1 [305.0]
USD/HUF = 288.0 [283.2]

LwiiH
Guest

Are any of these numbers reliable? That said there is extremely visible evidence of insider trading (defrauding share holders) that it’s not unbelievable. It’s just that the sources these days are not very reliable.

@Karl Pfeifer, I would think that every credible historian would have known about the possibility to deport anyone from Budapest in Jan 1945. I won’t make such a claim but now it’s been made, I’d have to discount the entire article.. assuming tappanch is not a Fidesz plant 😉

tappanch
Guest

Your logic is WRONG. If somebody makes one false statement, it does not necessarily mean that her/his other statements are also false.

“Errare humanum est, perseverare autem diabolicum, et tertia non datur” (To err is human; to persist [in committing such errors] is diabolical, and the third possibility is not given.)

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

LwiiH
Guest

I trusted the article because Eva, a source that I don’t believe in infallible but I do trust and the benefit of doubt.

I did not know that people could not be deported in Jan of 45. There are many many other things I do not know about the siege of Budapest so I’m not in a position to review this article and sort out what is fact and what has been stated in error. I’m sure there is substance here and I’d bet that its most likely an unintentional error. In fact, I’m hoping that Eva can comment so that we can all understand what can be trusted and what needs to be revised. Until then all I know is, that no one could be deported in Jan is not a small error. It calls into question the veracity of the research behind the article.

Legolas
Guest
tappanch
Guest

The Quaestor network includes Győr’s soccer stadium.
comment image

http://www.portfolio.hu/vallalatok/ki_all_a_quaestor_mogott.2.211202.html

Member

OT
Orban Regime Popular Charm Offensive

Orban regime planning to buy itself a million non-taxpaying extra-territorial voters using Hungarian tax-payer tax revenues

Webber
Guest

Hadarógép. And he sounds like he’s got adenoid problems.

micubish
Guest
For the past years, Canada has been the target of an unusually high volume of senior level Fidesz political visitations, all travelling on taxpayers’ money, to work over the pro-Fidesz Hungarian diaspora. (The Hungarian governmental visits to Canada outnumber the number of such visits by Canadian governmental officials to Hungary, on a scale of roughly 100 to 1) Virtually every second week, there is a coast to coast Canadian road show, costing many millions of forints to Hungarian taxpayers that has only one purpose – to keep up the solidarity and pro-Fidesz resolve of the various Hungarian communities and to ensure that they wage a resolute battle against those (such as the Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter) who are critical of the Orbán regime. In addition billions more are spent through Prime Minister Viktor Otrbán’s office, and with Mr Wetzel’s direct involvement, providing pro-Fidesz Canadian individuals, and organizations with human resources (e.g. the Körösi Csoma Program) in order to secure their political loyalty to the regime and ensure that they will champion Fidesz within the Hungarian and broader public arena. This is rampant partisan political patronage on taxpayers’ money and is against the lobbying regulations of Canada, the rule of law… Read more »
Member

I fully agree. Would you expand on the following: “This is rampant partisan political patronage on taxpayers’ money and is against the lobbying regulations of Canada, the rule of law and party financing” I am not familiar with how much money, where they receive it from, and how do they lobby the Canadian government?

András Göllner
Guest

Apologies. The previous posting under “micubish” was by András Göllner

Member
OT (or not so much) on ISIS/ Kurdistan. It took so long but at last “someone” in Hungary finally connected a couple of dots. http://privatbankar.hu/makro/szaz-katonat-kuldenenk-az-iszlam-allam-ellen-mit-akar-valojaban-orban-278796 (in Hungarian) It shows that on the other day @Istvan was on the right track. I would add four short footnotes. 1. MOL – through INA – was interested in production in Syria as well. The two Regions have an “invisible” link. 2. The sudden concern about Iraqi Christians has a false overtone: this is more of a trade, an exploration/ licensing and an internal coalition issue. 3. The article correctly mentions the Pentagon’s role in soothing criticism from the Department of State. True, V. Nuland could not make her famous reference to Article 5 in her CEPA speech before the mission in Afghanistan has started to wind down. Ever since Afghanistan the MFA is on the lookout for a similar ”tranquilizer” mission. If I read it correctly now Hungary’s role will be closer to what we had started in Kosovo (i.e. guarding someone else’s camp). All taken together I don’t think the Iraqi mission will be the one that the Government was waiting for, at least vis-a-vis the US. However I am almost certain… Read more »
Guest

@Zorro re “new Hungarian-Hungarian Government Dictionary”:

You might start with that (in)famous Orwellian list of forbidden words that was published a few days ago – szegény, beteg, munkanélkül, közmunkás etc are no longer allowed and have to be translated.

Btw I’m still wondering why this list isn’t mentioned more often – it was great fun telling this to our German friends …

Istvan
Guest

Nice to hear I was right about something.

zoRRo
Guest

@Istvan, please rest assured that I always enjoy reading your comments even if occasionally I tend to disagree. Smiley. Guesswork is prone to inaccuracy and miscalculations. Me included. Smiley.

András Göllner
Guest
Some1 There is no precise, as yet verifiable figure on the magnitude of the financial abuse, because there is no transparency and the Hungarian PMO refuses to disclose the expenditures or the process through which it promotes itself in Canada. Canada is a strategically important bridgehead into North America. There are no figures available, for example on how much is being spent on these weekly, bi-weekly high-level political visitations to Canada, that tend to proceed coast to coast, often involving business-class or first class travel, expensive hotels, meals for multi person entourages. Just this travel bill alone, exceeds hundreds of millions of forints a year. Once we have a verifiable estimate of the full costs of these junkets, paid for by Hungarian taxpayers, we shall disclose it. The misappropriation of taxpayer’s money for partisan political purposes is coordinated from the PMO, with the active involvement of the Hungarian Foreign Ministry. The Körösi Csoma Program, for example is a vehicle to provide pro-Fidesz individuals/groups in Canada and elsewhere around the world with assistants.for a 9 month period. The assistants who go abroad must demonstrate party political loyalty – and once they return home, they are politically debriefed. They must report on… Read more »
Member

Mr. Gollner, Thank you for your “briefing”. I do witnessed the posting of various Hungarian events in my local Hungarian butcher shop in Toronto. It is not something I was ever interested about (attending such events), but here is the question: Do they break any Canadian laws? When you wrote “against the lobbying regulations of Canada”, what did you mean? Pamela Wallin committed fraud and breach of trust by billing the Senate for travel expenses related to her work on corporate boards. The Hungarian politicians are committing fraud and breach of trust by lobbying for Fidesz and billing the expenses to the Hungarian government, but how is it a “crime” in Canada?

Istvan
Guest

The photos of the crowds in front of Quaestor of Holdings Plc offices remind me of photos of the great crash of 1929. I seem to recall from our discussions on this blog before that Questor has huge real estate assets, is this bankruptcy going to create a collapse in the Budapest real estate market or are the holdings not that significant as to cause that?

Webber
Guest

Huge real estate holdings…. Would you like to buy a stadium? 😉

Kalman
Guest

All real estate owned by Questor group entities are mortgaged to banks and are anyway illiquid. Nothing will come out of the liquidation of the company.

Hazelnuss
Guest

Dirk Gerkens, ceo of RTL Klub was fired, effective immediately. Although there would have been some time left until his contract expired, his bosses replaced him.

I’m not optimistic about RTL Klub’s s news program in the long term (i.e. for the fall season).

It all sounds like the Goodfriend story all over again.

A real reset always needs a symbol.

http://index.hu/kultur/2015/03/10/menesztettek_az_rtl_vezerigazgatojat/

Diggler
Guest

A deal’s a deal and it is always Lazar who has the last lough. Remember this naive foreigners, you think you’re strong, but if for example Lazar says you must go, you will go. Muhahhahahah.

The Germans deliver, you can count on them, it’s good to know that there are still conscientious people in the world.

The new CEO will be Hungarian, however, who understands “the market” better.

I’m hearing the news show will be less critical very soon (after the tax is indeed lowered). Fidesz is expecting the change and the tax will be immediately increased if RTL doesn’t deliver on that front. But of course. People watch much less TV during the summer, so they won’t notice the bigger difference when they come back in September.

That’s how you deal with ‘strong’ foreigners. This is Hungary.

buddy
Guest
Seems to me it’s actually the other way around. It’s obvious that pressure from RTL Klub’s nightly newscast caused Fidesz to backtrack and give up its plans to drive the company out of the country, or force it to be sold to local front men. How often does THAT happen? (hint: never) In fact, I think the only way you can see this is as a defeat for Fidesz. RTL Klub is one less media source the government will be able to control and force its agenda upon. RTL got everything they wanted: (relatively) low taxes, no hassle from the government, and access to this market so they can make money. That’s all corporations really care about in the end. What else could they want? I would bet at RTL headquarters in Luxembourg they are actually laughing at Orbán for finally giving in to them. As for Dirk Gerkens, no doubt he has had his bags packed for a long time. Remember that a few months ago he sent his family to another country because he feared for their safety. Why would he want to stay in Hungary when his family is somewhere else? And why would he want to… Read more »
Guest

The news about Dirkens and RTL doesn’t sound too good – though I have to confess I had to laugh at our new contributors’ names “Hazelnuss” and “Diggler”.
Anyway it would have been silly to expect too much from a company like RTL – let’s wait how it turns out in the long run …

Istvan
Guest

No stadiums please.

spectator
Guest

Well, Harangi looks like the archetype of the truly “politically incorrect Hungarians” à la Orbán.

‘Great’ men with ‘great’ spirits just all over the Carpathian Basin, we never run short on this commodity!

András Göllner
Guest
Some1 I have only noticed your question to me – alas, I do not keep a constant vigil over what is being commented on in this otherwise excellent medium.Here is a brief response: The Hungarian government’s financing of pro-FIDESZ Canadian lobby groups may be in violation of the Canadian Lobby Act which stipulates that lobbyists on behalf of a private business or government must register and disclose their funding sources and the nature of their activities on behalf of their donors. But the activities of the Hungarian government in Canada may be actionable on a number of other fronts and not only in Canada. These activities may be in breach of Hungary’s own Party financing rules, may constitute a massive and non-transparent abuse of taxpayers’ moneys, may be counter to Hungary’s electoral law that purportedly guarantees equal opportunity for political parties in the electoral arena – as you know, the Hungarian government expanded the electoral arena to include Canada as well, by giving approx 1 million foreign nationals the right to vote in Hungary. The Hungarian government’s one-sided use of public funds to promote the ruling party is in breach of fairness, and of some important elements of the rule… Read more »
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