|Witnesses to Cultural Genocide|
Why is it? Because of our weakness? Primarily for that reason, but my explanations would not be logical if I did not address myself to the other causes. Since I have been reading for 33 years that the nationality question is the internal affair of every state under the socialist system, I must think they regard this as axiomatic. However, a corresponding passage is not to befound in the Marxist classics. Then do they want to protect the status quo achieved at the end of World War II? But then why should I, a citizen of a socialist state, periodically have to concern myself with the Palestinians (and up to 1948, when we were still friendly with Israel, with the Jews), the northern Irish, the American Blacks or others? Is not the fate of those small people also the internal affair of the state concerned? If I meddle, am I not disturbing; the status quo? True, our polititians and our daily press seek from time to time to make these ethnic questions appear something different. Thus, for example, when the Northern Ireland disturbances were at their peak, the special reporter for NEPSZABADSAG sent home the explanation that the disturbances were not actually caused by minority oppression, but were instead, an economic and religious question. When, toward the end of Franco's rule, certain leaders of the Basque struggle for independence were executed in Spain, Budapest television reported as follows: "In Madrid, they have murdered five Spanish patriots." Obviously it did not occur to them that nothing could have been more insulting and humiilating to the Basques than to have their martyrs referred to as Spaniards.
It seems impossible to resolve these illogical stances. But in the freedom fight of the African peoples, the matter is clearer. It is true that there, too, ethnic groups (in fact races) are in conflict with one another. But in a given area, an oppressed people strains against the ruling minority, and the classics of Marxism do speak more fully of this. Still clearer is the situation in Chile, because the military junta not only illegally kills hundreds but even keeps thousands of its own people imprisoned. I was disturbed about this also until a student who had been ordered out to an antijunta demonstration asked me: "Why should I be enraged over Chilean victims when I can't even mention the fact that a relative of mine in Kassa (now located in Czechoslovakia) was expelled from a teaching post because he's Hungarian?" I thought at length about this and now I do not allow myself to get so wrought up over events taking place several thousand kilometers away. As long as I am forced to keep silent about the fate of my own kin, here in the heart of Europe, I cannot be an internationalist in this sense while I am not permitted to be a nationalist at home.
Yes, this is such a simple truth.
But now, after such sad examples - and so many arguments - should they be followed by stirring appeals to the world's conscience, and fighting slogans addressed to ourselves? Nothing would be farther from my mind. We do not need slogans and lappeals now. We need daily steadfastness - quiet activity. We are in a serious situation.
Let us take an example which I regard as typical of the basic situation. In a province of Northern Transylvania where there is still an overwhelming Hungarian majority, a member of the ruling people said, in my presence, to a young man: "You'd rather live in Hungary, wouldn't you?" The boy turned pale, because he knew he had better remain silent. He did not dare remind his questioner that he was actually in his native land, and that naturally, he would also prefer to have it a part of Hungary, as it was before, because the Rumanians treat the Hungarian minority as members of a lower order. He did not dare speak out, for in Budapest, as well as in the neighbouring capitals, not only is our past condemned. The present situation is also pronounced "profoundly and historically" just. In fact, communist ideas are even used to support this attitude by attributing the present condition of the area to proletarian internationalism and the embodiment of the brotherly friendship of peoples. Goebbels once said: "Repeat a lie ten times and it will become the truth." Well, it will not, and examples over the past 33 years show that it will not. These examples are constantly becoming more frequent and grave, and if, hereafter, we want to cover them up by distorting, even falsifying, the real facts, they will explode into major tragedies in the not too distant future.
Let us consider carefully. How could we, and how can we, allow those Hungarians who live beyond the borders of Hungary, who want only to belong to their own homeland, to be considered among the worst of criminals? How can we permit the branding as sinful of a human and popular national feeling which is probably more basic than any other, and at the same time, proclaim and teach in our schools that these same yearnings of our nationalities, prior to 1918, were both natural and just! I must emphasize this: the friendship of the peoples living within the Carpathian Basin will never be acheved in this manner - certainly not as long as there is only one Rumanian living in our country for every 120 Hungarians living in Rumania.
It seems obvious that under the present international situation, this is an impossible dream. Yes, yes, but in the final analysis, do I still have only territorial demands as the solution? Not if in the near, or even not so near future there can be some other way for the Hungarians living there to realize these most basic of interests. But this does not make me a nationalist or achauvinist - even less a fascist. It merely means that a healthy national feeling still has not died inside of me. Just because those in power have committed their greatest error by confusing the realities of politics and power with the instinctive desires, natural demands and fundamental rights of people who have been torn apart, they seek to make eternal a moral category out of a temporary status quo. When they cannot apply to the Carpathian Basin the statement of Lenin on the unjust nature of the peace dictates following World War I, this is not only a mixing of basic theoretical categories, not only the suppression of one of the precepts of Marxism-Leninism, it is also self-slaughter. When someone accepts as just the amputation of his arms and legs, the life force has departed from him. His life instincts have become so mixed up that they invite those around him to debase him even further. "Come on! Come! Hit me! Slash me some more!" In the final analysis, they do injury not only to themselves but to their neighbors who are also incited in spite of themselves to commit still further injustices. Once someone accepts and responds to this, his aggressive instincts are unavoidably increased, as is the belief in his own eminence and consequently the baseness of his neighbors. What can be done about it? I shall repeat, because it is the key question in the present situation. By no means should we issue a call for action, stressing the timeliness of a territorial settlement. Europe could not copewith it at this time for its situation is already disturbed and its mood tense. Moreover! all our neighbours, without exceptions, share in Hungary's historic territory and they would intervenethe moment we proclaimed it time to change the present condition. Consequently, this could only bring about another variation of the same self-slaughter already present in our current paralyzed situation.
But we can do other things.
Today the Hungarians are a people with a defeated consciousness - a bad conscience - and for this very reason, we lack clarity of vision. We are not united in our thoughts and our wills. We are fragmented, as it were.
This is precisely what prevented us from exploiting the opportunities afforded by history in 1848, 1918-19, 1938, at the end of World War II, and again in 1956. I am convinced that, given this psychological condition, we shall also be unable to exploit our natural potential in the future. This is why I say we must not blame others by seeking external causes. We must heal our own souls and put our own consciences in order.
But we have to put an end to this bad conscience, this guil twhich comes from a mistaken and misunderstood historical concept. In order to do this, we must first of all resolve the illogicalities of the present arguments. Secondly, we must cease the teaching of absurdities to our children in the schools. For example, we should teach that before the birth of the national state idea, there were nationalities living in Hungary against whom our forefathers committed no injustices, and that the Trianon Treaty is unjust. Knowing this, we must not allow ourselves to become hysterical or overly fanatic. But, let us affirm however, that truth is on our side, and let us have faith that in the future the matter can be settled.
But one must also know how to lose. Our neighbors are not guilty either, just because the dice have now come up with a different number. In 1920, the seemingly facile judgments of the world's rulers were accepted because they felt that for them, it was an honest rendering of justice.
But a realization of these two matters would be worthless if, at the same time, we did not rid ourselves of the very last vestiges of the illusions of superiority - that we are culturally superior - a more civilized people with a special mission. It is true that in the middle ages we were far ahead of our neighboring peoples in many ways. But we must see that today they have overtaken us to a considerable extent, and if they are still behind in some matters, they can still catch up with us yet. In fact, if we allow ourselves to remain in our present psychological stupor they may even surpass us. Let us be proud of our past, but let us not regard it as particularly glorious or as something unique. More than anything else, it should stimulate us to greater modesty and understanding. We must see, for ex-ample, that in the past, our neighboring peoples suffered at least as much as we. Moreover, they now believe, or at least they are told by their politicians, that we were the cause of their misfortune. In part two, I wrote somewhere that the two-faced nature of Rumanian politics is traditional. But how can this be so, especially since if there is a people in Europe with a more merciless and difficult past, it could only be the Rumanians.
However, I am not thinking of some kind of Christian humility. Let us not be offensive, but let us not allow others to be offensive to us. Let us not permit our history to be falsified. Let us not give up our legends (the Saint Laszlo Spring, for example), our traditions or our folk-art values. Let us not accept sins for the sake of brotherly love. We must know that we, individually and collectively, are worth just as much as others and that we have just as much right to a popular national unity as anyone else.
And let us strengthen our right to this now by demonstrating the unified nature of the Hungarian ethnic norm. That is why this is so important - and why so much official nervousness is in evidence because of it on isoth sides of the border.
A small countrv can always be occupied, but a yeople who are psychologically strong and unified in action cannot be conquered. Since Mohacs, it has always been possible to occupy us and to conquer us. The Dutch, for example, can only be occupied. To counter this, we can accomplish most by further strengthening our economic life and continuously raising our general and specialization levels. And although this is not everything, and it does not fully express the scope of a people - a nation's living cooperation, let us not believe it small. We need at last to realize the dream of Istvan Szechenyi: "A cultivated people in an economically strong country."
When we have made progress in this, and to the extent to which we succeed, our stammering - our beating about the bush - the insignificance of our arguments will disappear. Because then it will not be just a few individuals who raise quavering voices, but we will be able to speak out far and wide. Not only far and wide, but calmly, and in a disciplined way.
Let us not think the world will take account of us if we are silent or if we cover up our own problems. This is precisely why we now need to seek out those ways in which we can speak and act.
We can act by visiting (as many of us as possible, and as often as possible) the Hungarian-populated areas of the neighboring countries. There, however, we do not need to agitate or show off our Hungarianism. They are Hungarian enough, and perhaps better Hungarians than we are here at home. We should go there, look around, converse, shake hands, and our visits themselves will strengthen the souls of the minorities to an un-believable degree. I have experienced this many times.
We can act by discussing here at home the endangered situation of those living outside: specifically, however; not with general pronouncements, but in concrete terms. Not loudly, not in anger. In fact, if anyone does speak, we should remind him that when someone is in a difficult situation he can only be helped by calmness, self-discipline and sober calculation.
Besides healing ourselves, we need to do these things now. Even more, we must do these things immediately because otherwise, I do not believe that we can come out of this with a sound psyche through complete passivity. And in this sense,and to this degree, after all is said and done, it is the Hungarian State which can do most to attain the goal - at all international forums - upon every suitable occasion - whether within the socialist community or outside it. The 1977 communique merely weakened us still further and strengthened the positions of Bucharest. We do not need to keep repeating the bridge analogy which is not applicable to Rumanian-Hungarian relations, or play around with kilometers, but we do need the specific uncovering of specific instances. We must protect the Karoly Kiralys and the Zoltan Zsuffas. If the Hungarian state had protected just one person in the past 33 years among the millions of Transylvanian Hungarians, we would not be where we are now! For example, when Zoltan Kallos was thrown intoprison, accused of wildly falsified charges, who freed him? A West European legal organization.
The biggest problem is that Budapest does not have exact and concrete information on the situations of schools and kindergartens; on the manner of housing distribution, or on the apartheid decrees imposed upon the minorities in Rumania. Exact information and specific representation are most important because the community of socialist countries is not indifferent to the atmospheres which exist in the member countries. If we are bothered by the unfortunate fate of the Palestinian people, we should simply be incapable of keeping silent about our own burning anguish.
Budapest must make representations now for completing the international conventions by specifying the characteristics of genocide today, by defining it in all its forms and by providing sanctions against any violations. The Hungarian state must work incessantly to see that our national minorities receive as many rights of association, assembly, representation and decision, as weil as practical possibilities, as if they were, let us say, members of an anglers' association or automobile club. And to this end, use should be made of the existing means o fdiplomatic, political, cultural and economic relations amongthe socialist states in their own way, and to their own extent.
Budapest should initiate in the common forums of the socialis tstates, as well as in the international communist and workers'movement, the drafting of the concept that the fate of the minorities is not just the internal affair of a single state, but is an important part of a better political atmosphere, offering internal order and calm for the nationalities and the majority population, as well as for the mother country concerned. This is what experience cries to us. It is, therefore, worthwhile to deal with as a theoretical question as well, before the rapidly increasing self-awareness of the peoples in the areas causes tensions which cannot be controlled and channeled.
All these actions are of a type which have no trace of revisionism or nationalism. In fact, it is suitable for us to build a healthy national consciousness in accordance with the time, the place and circumstances, and in necessary harmony with the prevailing idea of the age, e.g., with socialism. We must do this if we are to avoid becoming hysterical self-flagellants tomorrow, because with that, we can also endanger our neighbors at a critical time in history. Rather let us calmly say: "Hands off the Hungarians!" But also do not molest the Slovak, the Rumanian, the Croatian, the Serb, the Ukrainian, the Austrian, or any other people on earth.
Once we have arrived at this degree of consciousness and feeling, we will be able to turn to world public opinion with appeals, and to our neighbors with proposals for a solution.What kind of solution, and how? Since in social and historical questions, one cannot possibly predict anything, even 24 hours ahead, then how would it be possible to set our mutual affairs in order calmly? A boundary readjustment whlch would leave minorities in approximately the same ratio on both sides of the boundary? Or essentially the 1941 boundaries, but with resettlement of the non-Magyars who were deliberately brought in after 1920? Territorial exchange with compulsory or voluntary population exchange? Self-administrative, cultural or perhaps partial economic and political autonomy for the minorities? Or a state federation in which the importance of boundaries would be constantly diminished? - No one knows today. Tomorrow we shall know.
And tomorrow, we shall be able to explain that in this area of Europe, matters have not been settled at all; that it was possible to start the two most destructive wars in world history on the pretext of contradictions existing here, and that both these wars were concluded in such an unfortunate way that the problems increased rather than decreased. Then, and only then, can we say - with appropriate tact and respect - to France, Great Britain and the United States, that they gained nothing from the terms imposed after World War II; that, in fact, Europe's balance was so upset by those terms that the danger of an explosion has never been greater than it is now. Then and only then will we be able convincingly to show Moscow - also with appropriate tact and respect - just what the mixture of these small central and eastern European peoples really means;the mutual injustices and the historical shambles of inextricable truths. Large societies with millions of people usually do not have the antennae necessary for tuning in to the anguishes of small peoples. For this reason alone, the work of Soviet politicians is difficult today. But we cannot give up the hope, however, that at some time in the future, we shall be able to honestly and faithfully explain our situation.
Only in the future - for today it would bring indifference in the West, irritation in the East, and accusations from all sides.
But, if it should happen in the future that the big powers might decide to exploit our fundamental demands, and the ever increasing tensions rising therefrom, and should we consent to this, as we did in 1938, 1941, 1945 and again in 1956, we would be very sorry, especially with our present disturbed state of consciusness. Probably more so, because even in winning, it is possible to lose, and this could affect not only us, but also sur-rounding nations - for example, the friendship and good neighborliness of 15 million Hungarians. Surely they can not seriously think in the neighboring capitals (where they seem now to think) that our present state of paralysis will last forever, or even until the millions living beyond the bordershave been completely denationalized.
I write this today with a respectful bow of the head because I know it is regarded as being of no consequence. But if once we can be intellectually calm, healthy in our instincts and unified in our feelings, we shall be able to say what we have to say with heads raised - with heads raised high - but never chal-lengingly. This always has the best effect, and our greateststrength lies hidden therein. Then and only then will they re-gard our friendship as important. Only then.
And now, at the last, I should seek to leave some kind of impression, a well-rounded ending - but in reality it is only this essay which can be finished. The subject itself is never complete, and as far as our preparedness is concerned we are certainly at the beginning of the beginning. At present, our behavior is best characterized by the statement of an elderly Transylvanian Hungarian: "I am so cautious that I now knock, even when going out the door!"
Good. Let us be cautious then, but let us try to build our souls anew, our consciousness and our feelings, because no one else will, and no one else can do this for us.
|Witnesses to Cultural Genocide|