|Witnesses to Cultural Genocide|
And now, let us examine the causes in this, the third part of this essay.
As I was preparing this study, I obtained a tape recording of Karoly Kiraly's statement. At least it was allegedly his, for I have never met him. When he was first-secretary, I did not look him up because a contact with the motherland might have made him look bad, nor did I look him up when he was dismissed from his post, because after our conversation he might have been charged with maintaining an illegal contact, or even with spying. In recent months, not even his closestTransylvania acquaintances have called on him. All this comes to mind as I listen to the tape, and suddenly I feel ill. After so many decades of deepest silence, finally someone is willing to speak up, if only privately, and then we sit back and do nothing to help him.
It seems to me that this characterizes our attitude extremely well, and perhaps it is just this perception which makes me listen so carefully to the text on the tape. Although the sentences are continuous, I have the feeling that Kiraly is hemming and hawing - beating about the bush. "He is stammering fluently," as we say in Hungary. Indeed, because his arguments are so roundabout in his appeal for forgiveness, for this very reason, they seem to me weak and ineffective.
Well, this is characteristic of most Hungarians living in the Motherland.
I do not know what arguments Janos Kadar presented at his meeting last year, but on the basis of the official communique,I would judge that they did not differ much from those of Kiraly. Let us examine them for a moment. The communique states that the minorities living on this side as well as those living on the other side of the border, should act as a bridge in improving relations between the two states and their peoples. Before the communique, Bucharest would never have entertained such an idea. As a matter of fact, beginning in 1949, for the next 20 years, Budapest agreed that the question of the ethnic survival of the Transylvania Hungarians should not even be raised. We should be a bit skeptical, perhaps, about such a bridge - a bridge which is supported on the far end by pillars composed of several million Hungarians, and supported on this end by only 28,000 Rumanians. And consider, too, just how difficult communication has to be via such a bridge, as attested to by the text of the second part of the communique which mutually extends the so-called border trade from 15 to 20 kilometers. But Hungarian leadership must have known when Bucharest excluded all the border towns, that almost two-thirds of the affected Hungarian population were automatically deprived of the right to travel without a visa. Moreover, on the Bucharest side, the whole affair is whitewashed. "Szanki," again! As a matter of fact, in reality, exit is not permitted on the basis of border trade, any more than it is on the basis of a passport. If the Hungarian delegation did not know this, then they were surprisingly uninformed. If they did know it, why then did they agree to play this kind of a game?
In my opinion, Janos Kadar's reasoning was just as weak as Karoly Kiraly's, as well as that of the ten million Hungarians living in their native land today in the Carpathian Basin. In other words, they are just as guilty of weakness and faulty reasoning as Kadar and Kiraly.
Hungarians, collectively and as individuals, are routinely selfanalytical. In fact, we sometimes take pleasure in punishing ourselves, or at least one another. I shall not go into historical expositions, but it is still pertinent to say here that the first phase of development in a modern nation is generally characterized by limitless self-confidence and ambition, and only considerably later, does self-analysis actually begin.
On the other hand, we Hungarians began our self-criticism at the end of the 18th century. Let me mention such examples as Mihaly Csokonai Vitez, Ferenc Kolcsey, the two Szechenyis, Lajos Kossuth and Jozsef Eotvos. As a result thereof, in 1867, we again received an apparent independence and a fabricated supremacy in the Carpathian Basin. Just to verify this continuing self-criticism, let me mention other examples: Mor Jokai, Kalman Mikszath, Endre Ady, Gyula Justh and Mihaly Karolyi. Miklos Zrinyi, the poet and military leader, proclaimed in the 17th century: "Hands off the Hungarians!" More than three hundred years later, his outcry is apropos again, and to this very day that intellectual characteristic has enormous power for us; that self-examination with which we lash ourselves more harshly than anyone else. It is because of this that at the beginning of the 20th century, there was already a widespread view among Hungarian intellectuals that we had committed some kind of injustice that smelled to high heaven, since more than one-third of the population in historical Hungary - not counting Croatia-Slovenia which had federation status - was non-Magyar. Even with my incomplete information, I dare say there never was, nor is there, a nation in Europe with similar moral scruples. But we Hungarians did have such scruples, and this must be considered as the cause of one of the greatest losses in History, because through the stipulations of the Trianon Peace Treaty, Hungary lost 71% of its territory and 63 % of its entire population. Rumania alone was awarded 103,000 square kilometres of land containing a population of 5,240,000 persons of which 1,660,500, or 31.7%, were Hungarian.
The surrounding states had little more to do than familiarize the West with the works and arguments of Hungarian writers, newspapermen, scientists, and opposition politicians; to translate appropriate passages and pass them on to the delegates of the victorious powers assembled in Paris. This is just what they did. Thus, for example, the Rumanian and Czech delegations relied largely on the studies of Oszkar Jaszi when they assertedat Trianon that even if Hungarians were living in the areas demanded by the Rumanians and the Czechs, they had been forcibly assimilated by Budapest. It was of no help that Albert Apponyi was there. His speeches did not sound convincing, and they did not because, in the final analysis, even this fiery Hungarian politician was dubious. He also had his own guilt complex because other nasionalities had lived in the country up to 1920. We can establish this authoritatively not only from hisTrianon speeches, but also from the speeches and articles he prepared at home.
In this general atmosphere of self-accusation we took two significantly wrong steps after World War I. We separated from Austria at a time when this could only weaken both of us. Moreover, - we also formed an extreme leftist form of government. True, a greater role was played in this by the provocations of the Entente command stationed in the Balkans than by our own will. Ever our enemies could not have set forth a worse testimonial for the then rulers of the world who were at that exact time considering that the main source of Europe's trouble in this area was the unreliability of the Hungarians, and their political and state immaturity. Qur other wrong step was the development of the National Christian regime, hallmarked by the name of Miklos Horthy after Trianon. However, both were reactions to the circumstances existing at that time. The effect - and countereffect - were historically quite unavoidable - a game of consequence. In general I do not think highly of the state power which existed betlveen the two world wars, but the Christian National regime conducted a modern and European policy to the extent that it refused to surrender one of the axioms of the current ideas of that day; namely the concept of the nation state. On that basis, it constantly struggled for the return of those areas where the majority of the population wass till Hungarian. The goal was just, but the tactics proved faulty. Budapest believed in the powers assembled in Munich in 1938, when they entrusted to the Italian and German foreign ministers the decision on the territorial dispute between Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Indeed, Hungarian political leaderships through the centuries had believed and trusted the Western powers, but never the policies of the Hapsburgs, who represented for us a direct threat, nor Hitler.
In my opinion, there were two men in the 20th century who profoundly underrated our national strength, our state policy and our diplomatic maneuvers. From his statements and orders, it can be established that Hitler saw that Budapest did not like him or the Third Reich, but was apparently dependent upon him because of world political realities. Therefore, up to1942, he had demanded of Hungary hardly any display of military strength - only those things which the country could give; food, aluminum, oil and semi-processed or finishedgoods. When this did not prove to be enough, our soldiers still did not participate on the Eastern front. In fact, our state leadership was preparing to pull out of the war.
It was only then that Hitler sent his troops into Hungary. In our age, Stalin was perhaps the most coldly calculating of all statesmen. He was not bothered by Lenin's statement that thetreaty agreements dictated after World War I were unjust. He did not allow himself to be influenced by the fact that in the first phase of the Soviet state's existence, the Hungarian Council Republic with its army of 140,000 men was Moscow's only ally and helper. In truth, he was not concerned by the fact tha tduring the Russian civil war, there were periods when almost one-fourth of the Red Army consisted of Hungarians. All he chose to keep in mind was the fact that Rumiania and Czechoslovakia would be compensated later at our expense because he had already taken away Ruthenia and Bessarabia.
On the other hand, the Western powers, including the United States were relieved to let this part of Europe pass into the Soviet sphere of interest. Let Moscow worry about the small, hopelessly entangled peoples here. Let Moscow struggle with their incomprehensible rages and incalculable passions. Instead of delivering the promised self-analysis, am I seeking to accuse the West and Moscow? No. But without fleetingly touching upon the historical events of the 20th Century, one cannot understand the more recent about-face which took place in this country after 1945. The time will come for an objective study of the extent to which the Hungarian state was nationalistic or fascist between the two world wars. Here, I will merely draw attention to the fact that, for example, in 1940 the Budapest Parliament passed a law prohibiting physical or psychological torture to, or intellectual restraints against, the minorities. With profound humility, I would submit that as far as I know, this was the first law of its kind in the world. The regime which took over in 1945 ignored these trends and in fact, without distinguishing, called everyone a nationalist and/or fascist, including even those who had been unwilling to join it in denouncing the country as fascist. However, this was also reactionary, but so exaggerated that from its roots, the most denationalized, in fact, the mos tanti-national intellectual and spiritual regime in Europe, was created here in Hungary. The official (or officially supported) arguments, charges and formulas coming from within its boundaries not only agreed with the prewar and postwar arguments of the surrounding countries, but frequently out didthem. This is the reason why the history books in our schools have almost as many bad things to say about our past as do the Rumanian historians. We again came to an age. . . to quote the poet . . . when the Hungarian "looked about and could not find his home in his own land." And although we alone could not do anithybg about this frustrating situation, for suddenly rearranged fields of power also played a role, we are still responsible because of our inability to act, caused by our firmly fixed scruples and our reflective pondering. This is true of the entire Hungarian people. This situation, like the other, makes it possible for the present Rumanian regime to carry on a new system of genocide on our millions living in Transylvania. We must understand this because only in this way can we correctly evaluate the other relationships.
Notably, the relationship which I regard as the second most important cause of our present situation is the structure of modern societies . . . the fact that everything is related to everything else in production; the distribution of products, and the total sphere of existence. What I consume; what I wear; the cul-ture which I use and enjoy every day includes the physical and intellectual work of an untold number of my fellow men. That is, a Rumanian could remain a Rumanian in the Transylvania of yore through many centuries. Indeed, he could live the full scope of his life in a place where he had his own priest, his own magistrate, and later, his own school in his native language, as well as all his other institutions. Today it is impossible even to conceive of such an existence. Naturally the socialization for massing of the conditions of life is followed by organization, information, and the strengthening of public administration, for the complex conditions of existence can be kept orderly only with the help of such agencies. Even in the United States, we can already observe the strengthening of central power which was once erected on the tiered autonomy of the place of residence, area and member state. This centralization and organizational intertwining is promoted by the means of mass communication. Up to the 20th century, little information reached a village and thus a national life-concept, attitude or norm could hardly be realized. According to the obligatory norm of our times, however, not only that individual or community is regarded as backward which follows a behavior different from the general one, but also those individuals who do not subscribe to a newspaper or watch television. But mass communication --- whether directed from the neighbouring capitals or from Budapest - spreads the message that we have "historical" sins, and therefore it is best if we pour ashes on our heads and turn inwards to our guilt. (Even Istvan Orkeny, who can hardly be accused of harboring Hungarian prejudices, bears witness to this when he has the hero in one ofhis novels say: "What use is it to me if I am a Hungarian?")
The third determinant of our circumstances is that the communist systems exploit every known possibility of the political and social structure when, in the interest of socio-economic goals they build the most centralized state power of all time. It penetrates every detail of our economic, social, cultural and sports life in an entirely unprecedented way. It intervenes to such an extent in the private lives of people that the spread of the new idea of government and its hegemony is guaranteed. But this is not necessarily anti-national, as shown by the example of Bulgaria, and since 1956, by Poland. Present-day Rumania, on the other hand, is an example of the fact that there can be nationalist incitement also in a communist state. It is a much more effective weapon against small peoples and nationalities, than any known heretofore, should the government decide to use it. The chauvinist regime in Bucharest has discovered this. The termination of the multi-party system, for example, has been regarded as an indispensable condition of any communist power formation up to now. The dissolution of the Hungarian People's Federation has been a more serious blow than any so far in Transylvania, but the minority cultural, sport and social associations, as well as the various kinds of economic cooperatives have also been eliminated. Thus, with one blow the State has achieved what Antonescu was unable to do: the nationalities have been left without any political power associations or economic possibilities. (The present official nationality organizations and minority "councils" do not represent anyone at all, not even themselves, because their members are designated at every level by the Rumanians. They have no sphere of authority to make decisions. They meet when the authorities want them to, and their agenda is set by the Rumanians. They have neither the information nor the possibilities for control, and in no way can they meet with the nationality masses.)
The communist state power has nationalized the property and institutions of the churches everywhere. This has also had a tragic effect in Transylvania. In 1942, for example, Aron Marton, Catholic bishop of Gyulafehervar, was able to protect the church schools of southern Transylvania against Antonescu. The Rumanian communist regime began to do something which even the Iron Guard had not dared to do. It arrested the anti-fascist bishop and held him prisoner for almost four years, during which time no one knew whether he was dead or alive. By the time he was released, the organization of the Catholic bishopric was in a state of paralysis and any further relationship with the masses had been made impossible. Nationalization of the schools is also among the first aims of the communist system. Indeed, in Rumania, for the minorities it was precisely the church and the private schools which had provided a secure basis for preserving the national language and culture. It was their nationalization which opened the way for Bucharest in the 1960's to begin Rumanianizing those institutions on a mass basis. They belong now to the state. And they attained this not through chauvinism but through communism. The building-up of the new socio-economic system dropped these unexpected fruits right into their laps.
Such is the difference in quality, and at the same time the great danger, which Karoly Kiraly's generation was slow to understand. But so were we here in Hungary. My own generation, for example, also paraded in blue shirts and red neckties, and in so doing, we not only gave an appropriate mass foundation to Matyas Rakosi and his comrades, but we also delivered ourselves up to them. Indeed, because our fathers had lost another war, with that we became even guiltier in our own eyes, and more and more reactionary in the eyes of the outside world.
Well, we wanted to show that we know how to be progressive also!
Am I accusing ourselves? Yes, if you choose to put it that way, but while I accuse, I am not lashing out. Because, for example,t hose of us who provided that mass basis for the mentally deranged Rakosi after 1945, came for the most part from those poor classes to which our masters, prior to the end of the war, had neglected to give an adequate share of historical and of Hungarian knowledge. To give a share, not in propaganda - there was no shortage of that then either - but of economic interest and appropriate social and political rights. Thus we hardly had enough knowledge, or the sense, to judge that a particular idea was new - part and parcel of establishing a more just society - but that another concept might already be madness, even to the point of being an attack on the roots of the people and their nation - I could go on enumerating the causes which made it relatively easy for us to be swept into the so-called era of the personality cult. I could enumerate but I shall not because explanation inevitably leads to excuses, and this we are not permitted.
Nor is it with such intent that I describe the fourth characteristic of our circumstances, the fact that it is not only the more totalitarian state structures which are exceptionally suitable for assimilating nationalities and small peoples, but also a global trend which points toward the formation of monolithic masses - in close relationship, of course, to the foregoing phenomena. The mainstay of this is the totalitarian systemitself, no matter in which corner of the world it exists. When a state has organized itself, it then attempts to confront not associations or companies (that is, organized forces), but individuals. This effort by the big powers in our time can be seen in the basic UN document, various international conventions, and also in the 1947 Paris peace agreements, because the minority protection passages included in the treaties after World War I have, by now, been almost completely omitted from these papers. The big powers which dictated the peace afler World War Il were not concerned with recognition of national minorities, nor the collective rights of small groups of people to survive. According to the UN document, anyone can defend himself against genocide, not as a member of a community, but as an individual. The ancient saying that there is strength in unity is a hackneyed cliche. But the major weakness of every recognized international agreement lies in the fact that such agreements regard only physical brutality or physical extermination as examples of genocide, and refuse to take into account the much more effective contemporary methods of psychological genocide and denationalization now being used on a massive scale.
|Witnesses to Cultural Genocide|