Volume 10 Issue 1 CONTENTS

BpdfOOK REVIEWS

Történetírás és történetírók az Árpád-kori Magyarországon (XI–XIII. század közepe) [The writing and writers of history in Árpád-era Hungary, from the eleventh century to the middle of the thirteenth century]. By László Veszprémy. Budapest: Line Design, 2019. 464 pp.

DOI 10.38145/2021.1.155 

The centuries following the foundation of the Christian kingdom of Hungary by Saint Stephen did not leave later generations with an unmanageable plethora of written works. However, the diversity of the genres and the philological and historical riddles which lie hidden in these works arguably provide ample compensation for the curious reader. There are numerous textual interrelationships among the Gesta Hungarorum by the anonymous notary of King Béla known as Anonymus, the Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum by Simon of Kéza and the forteenth-century Illuminated Chronicle consisting of various earlier texts, not to mention the hagiographical material on the canonized rulers. For the historian, the relationships among these early historical texts and the times at which they were composed (their relative and absolute chronology) are clearly a matter of interest, since the judgment of these links affects the credibility of the historical information preserved in them. In an attempt to establish the relative chronology, philological analysis is the primary tool, while in our efforts to determine the precise times at which the texts were composed, literary and legal history may offer the most reliable guides. László Veszprémy has very clearly made circumspect use of these methods in his essays, thus it is hardly surprising that many of his colleagues, myself included, have been eagerly waiting for his dissertation, which he defended in 2009 for the title of Doctor of Sciences, to appear in the form of a book in which the articles he has written on the subject since are also included.

Veszprémy aims to shed light on “the most critical questions of medieval Hungarian chronicle research.” However, the focus of his discussion is the Gesta Hungarorum by the anonymous notary of King Béla III and the early chapters of the fourteenth-century Illuminated Chronicle, which narrates events from the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries. Later developments in the Hungarian chronicle tradition after the middle of the thirteenth century, such as the aforementioned Gesta by Simon of Kéza, fall beyond the scope of his analysis, though the author very clearly would have a great deal to say on the subject.

The first section of the volume offers ample testimony to one of the greatest virtues of Veszprémy’s method. It provides an overview of the beginnings of and later developments in Hungarian historical literature against the backdrop of medieval European historiography. The rich tradition of history writing in Europe was available only to a limited extent to the first Hungarian readers, as indeed the analysis of the Pannonhalma library catalog demonstrates. However, demand for and interest in historical works date back to the eleventh century, even if the desire to revive the heroic pagan past (or rather, to construct it) was only fulfilled by the work of Anonymus around 1200. One could mention, as evidence of this early interest, the Pozsonyi Évkönyv (‘Annals of Pozsony’) and the annals of the Somogyvár Formulary, the latter of which Veszprémy discusses only briefly. Based on the layout of the pages of the codex of the Pozsonyi Évkönyv, Veszprémy came to the possible but not entirely compelling conclusion that the earlier material of the annals was edited and clarified in 1114, which unquestionably would fit into our understanding of the impetus given to writing practices in Hungary and the surge in interest in history under the reign of King Coloman the Learned.

It is common knowledge that the earliest foreign sources on which Hungarian historiography drew were the Annals of Altaich and Regino’s Chronicon. We do not know, however, when the two narrative works came to the attention of Hungarian chroniclers. While news of the Annals of Altaich (which show a pro-German bias) may have reached Hungarian historiography already in the eleventh century (at least by 1108), during the long armed confrontation between the Holy Roman emperors and the Hungarian kings, the first Hungarian author to make use of Regino could hardly have been active before Cosmas of Prague (†1125), who was the first historian in the Central European region to have access to the Chronicon.

These questions lead us to one of the most important assertions made in the book. The Hungarian chronicles contain a great deal of unquestionably authentic information concerning the eleventh century, though critical analyses of style have suggested time and time again that the narrative was composed or written down in the twelfth century, particularly in the case of the Gesta regis Ladislai, which offers an almost epic account of the struggles for the throne between King Solomon and his cousins, the dukes Géza and Ladislaus (the future Saint Ladislaus I). This is also the section which bears the most affinities with the court romances of Western Europe. Veszprémy seeks to resolve this riddle with the suggestion that in the eleventh century only historical notes were taken, the trace of which may have been preserved in the entries of the Annals of Pozsony. As the brief annalistic entries could hardly have grown into the vibrant narratives found in the chronicles, Veszprémy argues that these historical notes may have been more ambitious writings which covered longer periods of history, while they did not aspire to offer a unified account of Hungarian history. This hypothesis unquestionably offers an explanation for one of the fundamental questions of early Hungarian history writing, though it is perhaps made slightly less persuasive by the fact that Veszprémy, who has a thorough knowledge of the larger European context, makes no mention of any generic parallels which might explain why the individual historical notes were even created or what the intentions of the authors may have been.

After his discussion of the admittedly complex beginnings of Hungarian historical literature, Veszprémy turns his attention to the text of the fourteenth-century Illuminated Chronicle, which preserved many earlier works, including the abovementioned Gesta Ladislai regis and the Gesta by Simon of Kéza. The next few chapters examine the problems concerning the sections of the text which deal with the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Central to his discussion is the issue of authenticity, or in other words, the exact time at which the parts in question were composed. Veszprémy offers an informative analysis of the influence of Gregorian Reform on Hungarian literature. Saint Ladislaus embodies the vision of the ideal ruler at the time, who becomes king thanks to his Christian idoneitas, though quite against his will. Of particular interest are the chapters of the chronicle which, as we can conclude on the basis of a comparison with the Gesta of Anonymus, had undoubtedly been written before the anonymous notary was active (ca. 1200), i.e., the chapters concerning the Battle of Mogyoród and the Battle of Kerlés. Instead of using the vague expression ancient gesta (“ősgeszta”), which one often stumbles across in the modern historiography, Veszprémy consistently writes about a pre-1200 chronicle redaction. This conscientiousness about terminological precision constitutes an example worth following.

The next section focuses on Anonymus’ Gesta Hungarorum, the study of which has certainly been one of the motivating forces for the rise of medieval studies in Hungary over the course of the past 250 years. Veszprémy’s interest was captured by the rhetorical models of the work, which was composed in the decades following the death of King Béla III, and other elements which offer indications as to when it was written. Earlier, Veszprémy identified several citations which are from a Latin novel about the fall of Troy entitled Excidium Troiae. The work was not extremely popular, but it was definitely used in schools. Now, Veszprémy has managed to determine that the version used by the anonymous notary resembled the text preserved in the Brussels manuscript of Guido Pisanus. This constitutes one more clue in the relatively long list on the basis of which Veszprémy concludes that Anonymus probably studied in Italy (though he does not rule out the possibility that he stayed in France, a notion which is often found in the secondary literature). Elements which indicate the period of the writing include the mention of the Black Sea, formerly known in the West only as Pontus, which appears in Anonymus as Nigrum Mare. As the expression was first used in western sources only in 1265, the occurrence of the term here used to be considered as one of the few reasons for a later dating of the relevant chapter of the Gesta (to the late thirteenth century). Veszprémy and Orsolya Csákváry, his coauthor, now point out that this name already appears in the Scandinavian saga literature in the first quarter of the thirteenth century, though the term may well have made its way to Hungary considerably earlier, during the golden era of ties between Scandinavia and Byzantium in the eleventh century. Veszprémy arrives, after a similarly exciting investigation, at the conclusion that the fate of the only surviving codex of the Gesta Hungarorum may be intertwined with the fate of the Turkish-language manuscript Tarih-i Ungurus, or History of the Hungarians, which has a considerable textual link to the Hungarian chronicle tradition.

The third major section of the book contains case studies which concern reports on Hungary found not in Hungarian sources but rather in sources from abroad, such as Adémar de Chabannes and the Bavarian traditions of Scheyern. Among these studies, only the one on the European sources of the Hungarian Hun tradition which is very clearly tied to the subject indicated in the title of the book. Veszprémy very clearly feels that the association of the Hungarians with the Huns and with Attila predates Anonymus. This association, however, could hardly have stretched back to the period before the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin and rather should be attributed to intellectuals familiar with the German Attila tradition, who traveled in great numbers to the Kingdom of Hungary in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

László Veszprémy’s book thus offers an engaging intellectual adventure, and as far as the content is concerned, the reader will not be disappointed. The organization and editing of the book, however, at times leaves something to be desired. I myself was somewhat annoyed that Veszprémy discusses some of the more significant problems (such as the relationship between Anonymus’ Gesta and the earliest textual layers of the Illuminated Chronicle) in isolation, following the structure of the studies that had been published earlier as articles. The book is not always sufficiently didactic, a problem which is also related to the manner in which the boundaries between the various studies have not been adequately transcended. This will make the book more difficult to use as a handbook on early Hungarian historiography. True, that was not Veszprémy’s goal, but given the source material in the book and the new findings which are presented, the specialist readership will undoubtedly hope to use this beautifully published book in this capacity.

Dániel Bácsatyai
Research Centre for the Humanities
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Earthly Delights, Economies and Cultures of Food in Ottoman and Danubian Europe, c. 1500–1900. Edited by Angela Jianu and Violeta Barbu. Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2018. 534 pp.

DOI 10.38145/2021.1.160 

The absence of modern writing on Eastern European food history is sometimes rather conspicuous. It was therefore a pleasant surprise to find that Brill has recently published a volume titled Earthly Delights, Economies and Cultures of Food in Ottoman and Danubian Europe, c. 1500–1900, which is part of its Balkan Studies Library series. The volume, edited by Angela Jianu and Violeta Barbu, contains 17 studies by various authors spanning 534 pages and comes with color illustrations and a general index at the end. The collection starts with the editors’ introduction, which is well written and informative. There are also brief biographies of the participating authors, a short historical chronology of the Balkans starting from 1456, and notes on translation and transliteration.

The project was divided into five thematic parts, each containing two to five studies. The first part focuses on the Ottoman world, the second deals with ingredients and kitchens, the third shifts its attention to trade and food supply, the fourth discusses local cookbooks, and the last part examines the issue of representation, in other words how Balkan food, cooking, and (in)hospitality were perceived by foreign observers.

The essays in the collection generally speaking fall into two categories. Some authors strove to present the reader with an overview of a broadly outlined topic, like Moldavian or Wallachian cuisine in the early modern era, while others delved deep into the details of one particular theme, e. g. when and how olive oil replaced butter as the primary source of fat in Turkey. In the following paragraphs, I briefly comment on each study and then share a few general remarks.

After the excellent introduction by the editors, the first study written by Suraiya Faroqhi from Istanbul Bilgi University deals with the gradual introduction of olive oil into Turkish cuisine. It presents an interesting perspective, demonstrating that the dominance of olives was not as absolute as one would have expected in this area based on what we know about ancient Roman and, later, Italian cuisine. It also introduces the topic of cultural resistance, when Faroqhi explains that the relative reluctance of Turks to use olive oil as a staple of Mediterranean cuisine might have been caused by its popularity among Greeks.

The next study, by Hedda Reindl-Kiel, provides a well-written overview of the sources available on Early Modern Eastern cuisine, including a seventeenth-century Persian cookbook, shopping bills, and lists of food distribution from the sultan’s court. This last item is particularly illuminating, and Reindl-Kiel demonstrates how food distributed in the upper echelons of Ottoman society surpassed simple nutritional functions and gained an important symbolic value. As reports written by contemporary European observers, such as the one by the Habsburg ambassador to the High Porte, Heøman Èernín of Chudenice (1576–1651), suggest, foreigners often misunderstood the distinctive role of food in Turkish society.

Özge Samancı’s chapter on cuisine in nineteenth-century Istanbul lists a broad variety of foodstuffs utilized in early Turkish printed cookbooks, the oldest of which appeared in 1840. Margareta Aslan’s work contains a discussion on the history of food in Transylvania with particular focus on Turkish influence. She points out some interesting comparative differences in food culture between Romanians, Turks, and Hungarians (e. g. the use of sweeteners in certain contexts or diverging preferences for various spices in the Balkan regions). The first part of the collection comes to a close with an essay by Olivia Senciuc dealing with the attractive theme of coffee and tea in eighteenth-century Moldavia and Wallachia. Perhaps Senciuc’s most interesting conclusion is the realization that despite the constant Ottoman political, economic, and military influence, the wealthy boyar families began to consume coffee relatively late, only in the second half of the seventeenth century, which coincided with the adoption of caffeinated drinks by upper classes in the other regions of Central and Eastern Europe.

The second section of the book, titled “Ingredients, Kitchens and the Pleasures of the Table,” opens with Kinga S. Tüdõs’s study of early modern festivities in Transylvania. For a readership particularly interested in Hungarian culture, this is perhaps the most relevant passage, as Tüdõs brings into focus the Hungarian group of east Transylvanians, called Székelys. Tüdõs’s extensive use of inheritance inventories resembles similarly oriented research on the cultural history of the dining customs of the early modern noble classes, which became a subject of considerable interest in Bohemia in the 1990s and early 2000s.1 The study draws heavily on the manuscript cookbook of Princess Anna Bornemisza (1630–1688), which prompts me to suggest that it might be beneficial to compare this source with a collection of three mid-seventeenth-century handwritten cookbooks attributed to the Czech nobility and preserved in the National Museum and Strahov Library in Prague. These Czech collections are nearly contemporary to Anna Bornemisza’s cookbook and reflect a similar socioeconomic background.

The following study by Maria Magdalena Székely draws the readers’ attention to another historical region, the principality of Moldavia. Székely does not rely exclusively on the scarce written historical records, but also introduces information gleaned from archeological, archaeobotanical, and archeozoological sources which provide an additional perspective. Székely’s work offers a comparative analysis of early modern food culture in Moldavia, which will help other Central and Eastern European historians better contextualize their own research. Violeta Barbu, the author of the next study on early modern food culture in Wallachia, uses an equally broad approach, basically providing a textbook-like delineation usable by any historian searching for comparisons with findings in their own research. Like Székely, Barbu also makes creative use of the sources, for example Rituale Romanum.

From the conceptually broad studies, we move back towards microhistory at the beginning of the third part of the collection. It begins with a paper by Enikõ Rüsz-Fogarasi describing food supply in the Romanian city of Cluj in the early modern period, in which Rüsz-Fogarasi builds on her previous interest in the history of hospitals in Transylvania. This text is valuable for its focus on a comparatively early period (1550–1650), but it also shows how challenging it is to work with relatively scarce written sources. Analogically, Mária Pakucs-Willcocks’s study focuses on a single Transylvanian place as well, the city of Sibiu. Her paper therefore works very well in comparison with the previous chapter. Pakucs-Willcocks begins with an examination of import fees and other legal contexts for trade with the Ottomans and later delves into detail when discussing the individual types of food. I would highlight her attempt to shape often limited sources into series of data, systematically tracking certain commodities.

While the two previous studies dealt with trade more or less exclusively in Transylvania, Gheorghe Lazãr’s paper shifts the focus to trade in eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century Wallachia. Lazãr divides his interest between what he calls “the big retail trade,” which means the export of horses, cattle, and grain and “the small trade,” referring to the import of luxury goods. Both are equally valuable, but quite distinct from the perspective of writing about the history of food culture, as they offer testimony to differing socioeconomic realities.

The fourth section of the book, which is also the shortest, consists of two chapters examining historical Balkan cookbooks. First, Castilia Manea-Grgin describes two early modern handwritten collections of recipes: “Compendium on the Preparation of Day-to-Day Dishes,” owned originally by Miklós Zrínyi (1620–1664), and the slightly more recent “Book in which Dishes of Fish, Crayfish, Oysters, Snails, Vegetables, Herbs, and Other Dishes for Fast and Non-fast Days are Written, In their Due order.” The origin of this second manuscript is uncertain, but it is likely a seventeenth-century source possibly linked to Constantin Cantacuzino, who served between 1675–1677 as the Great Steward to the Wallachian princes. It is worth noting, however, that the analysis avoids the food-related parts of both collections, focusing instead on related topics, such as the management of orchards, gardening, and viniculture. Nevertheless, the study is still quite useful for food historians, because these topics are related to the history of nutrition, and Manea-Grgin also provides a thorough examination of the foreign influences she was able to detect, particularly in the Romanian collection.

In the following article, Stefan Detchev writes about the oldest printed cookbooks in Bulgaria, which were published in the 1870s. As this is a very modern topic, it is well outside my area of expertise, but I imagine that a comparative study with other cookbooks of the period, for example, might yield interesting findings related to the birth of modern femininity in the Central and Eastern European context.

The introductory study of the last section was written by Andrew Dalby, the prolific British historian of food, who examines several travelogues written by foreigners about their stays in late eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century Romania. Although mostly focused on modern history, this chapter does occasionally delve into much older, seventeenth-century reports by William Lithgow, John Smith (of Pocahontas fame), Robert Bargrave, and Edmund Chishull. Dalby’s text is an excellent read and very entertaining, though it does present (understandably) an exclusively outsider’s perspective of the Balkans, as Dalby does not read local sources.

Fortunately, Angela Jianu, the author of the following chapter, addresses this issue in her analysis of travelogues from the mid-nineteenth century. Unlike Dalby, Jianu provides feedback on information published by the travelers mentioned in her paper. She also pays careful attention to concepts like “commensality” and “otherness” in the Balkans, which she describes as a region “in-between” the East and the West. The penultimate study by Anna Matthaiou draws on a plethora of information concerning modern food culture in the Balkans, while also commenting on its fractured nature. This study chronologically extends well into the twentieth century and provides interesting insights into the construction of Hellenized “national” cuisine and the homogeneity versus the diversity of local traditions.

Finally, Andrei Oiºteanu draws the readers’ attention to the Jewish tavernkeepers in Romania with an emphasis on prejudice and stereotypes associated with the life of this minority in nineteenth-century Eastern Europe. His chapter also brings up broader contexts and is worth reading for those interested in Judaic history from the seventeenth century to the twentieth.

Overall, Earthly Delights presents an intriguing and critically important collection of studies. The volume is well organized, and the shortcomings to which a reviewer might draw attention are only minor. There are a few typographical errors, but not more than one would expect in such large project. I particularly appreciate the fact that most of the studies were written by authors with clear links to the Balkans and not by foreigners theorizing about the region. This is necessary due to the difficult linguistic landscape of the region, as shown for example by the painstakingly documented trilingual toponyms in passages related to Transylvania.

For foreigners like me, the study highlights certain issues inherent to Balkan historiography. For example, I find it interesting to observe the propensity of Romanian historiography towards the French theoretical tradition of the Annales school. In Czech historiography, this source of inspiration is filled mostly by German scholars and, recently, the growing importance of English historical writing.

Another general observation I would make concerns the relative lack of written sources, which became more abundant only after the mid-seventeenth century. It can be partially supplemented by archeological and archaeobotanical findings, but I suspect that this form of research requires levels of funding which are not yet readily available in Eastern Europe.

Perhaps the most striking feature is visible particularly in the final chapters, where readers are continually reminded of the Protean nature of the Balkans as a simultaneously backward, static place where time stands still (and good inns are hard to come by), while it was also a place of tumultuous change in a “melting pot” of cultures, nationalities, religions, languages, and political interests. The editors appropriately reflect on this phenomenon in the introduction when they claim that globalization and multiculturalism are not modern inventions, as regions like Transylvania were faced with similar challenges centuries before these terms became fashionable, contentious issues for present culture wars. Overall, Earthly Delights is an essential read for any historian of food, especially a historian focusing on the seventeenth century and later periods.

Karel Černý
Charles University
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Estates and Constitution: The Parliament in Eighteenth-Century Hungary. By István M. Szijártó. Translated by David Robert Evans. New York–Oxford: Berghahn, 2020. 350 pp.

DOI 10.38145/2021.1.166

Readers interested in the history of Austria, the Habsburg Monarchy, and its successor states may have become accustomed to the high academic quality of the series Austrian and Habsburg Studies (edited by Howard Louthan and published by Berghahn Books in association with the Center for Austrian Studies, University of Minnesota), which covers a wide range of themes in fields from ethnic conflict and nationalism to fin-de-siècle culture and women’s history, to mention only a few of the subjects which have been covered since 1996, the year in which the first book in the series was published. István M. Szijártó’s new book (the 30th title in the series) fits perfectly in this trend both because of its subject and by virtue of its complexity and rigorousness. Szijártó’s outstanding monograph offers an admirable example of a work of scholarship on complex problems in the somewhat “exotic” history of early modern East Central Europe which both conforms to the local (in this case, the Hungarian) historiographical tradition and meets the standards of the Anglophone academic world. In the case of the latter, credit is also due to the excellent work of the translator, David Robert Evans.

Szijártó’s endeavor is unique in the sense that he attempts to bring close to non-Hungarian readers the history of the Hungarian Diet, a topic which has been “grievously neglected in international scholarship,” to use the words of Robert John Weston Evans from the back cover of the book. This is not to say, however, that the subject has been entirely ignored in recent non-Hungarian historiography. One could mention, perhaps first and foremost, the monograph by Jean Bérenger and Károly Kecskeméti, Parlement et vie Parlementaire en Hongrie 1608–1918 (Paris, Honoré Champion Editeur, 2005). Yet Estates and Constitution offers more than a work written in the traditional vein of parliamentary history in its narrower sense. To support this statement, it is worth taking a look at Szijártó’s earlier works in the field to understand their evolution and determine their places in relation to one another. This is all the more important, since Szijártó himself felt it necessary to point out at the beginning of his work that his book is “the product of almost three decades of research” (xi).

The first significant fruit of Szijártó’s long-term research project was his 2005 monograph A diéta. A magyar rendek és az országgyűlés, 1708–1792 [The Diet. The Hungarian estates and the parliament, 1708–1792] (Budapest, Osiris), which became the fundamental work in the field. Although attention was paid to the social historical background (first and foremost to the fundamental role of the bene possessionatus nobility, the prosperous landowning gentry in the counties, and, later, the Diets) both in this monograph and in Szijártó’s subsequent collection of studies, entitled Nemesi társadalom és politika: Tanulmányok a 18. századi magyar rendiségről [Noble society and politics: Studies on the history of the estates in eighteenth-century Hungary] (Budapest, Universitas, 2006), in his later works, Szijártó offered more thorough and nuanced discussions of the social-historical aspects of institutional change. In his 2016 book A 18. századi Magyarország rendi országgyűlése [The Diet in eighteenth-century Hungary] (Budapest, Országgyűlés Hivatala) and in his 2017 DSc thesis Emberek és struktúrák a 18. századi Magyarországon: A politikai elit társadalom- és kultúrtörténeti megközelítésben [Individuals and structures in eighteenth-century Hungary: The political elite from the perspective of social and cultural history], he provided a thorough analysis of the roles of the bene possessionatus nobility and the career paths of political actors. However, in these works, the change of perspective became manifest on another level, namely in Szijártó’s growing interest in questions concerning cultural history and the history of political discourse. In fact, these latter aspects come to the fore in Estates and Constitution, too, which is a “modified, extended, and restructured” version of Szijártó’s abovementioned 2016 book in Hungarian (p.xi). In a sense, Szijártó’s recent monograph in English can be seen as a concise account of the main findings of this long-term research project, adjusted to the extent necessary to specific circumstances arising from the situation when a scholar aims to speak to a “global” audience about historical problems rooted in chiefly “local” contexts.

The structure of the book is quite user-friendly, and although its primary character is that of a monograph, it could also be used as a handbook. It has been broken into three sections, each of which is divided into chapters, which again have several subsections, most of them a few pages long. Broadly speaking, each of the main parts covers a fundamental aspect of eighteenth-century politics and is written from a specific analytical viewpoint. In the first part (Chapters 1–2), the principal structural elements of early modern Hungarian politics and the machinery of the Diet are outlined; in the second (Chapters 3–7), the parliament is presented as a functioning institution and the main locus of political practice; in the third (Chapters 8–10), some aspects of the political discourse and social-cultural history are in the foreground, alongside the historiography of the early modern parliament.

One of the main strengths of the book is its primarily holistic outlook. Szijártó presents institutional, social-cultural, and intellectual issues as different aspects of one and the same history. If one reads the analyses carefully, one gets a detailed picture of their complex interrelations, at least in the context of the eighteenth-century parliamentary history of Hungary. In addition, Szijártó’s essentially holistic approach goes hand in hand with his highly sensitive insights into grassroots level phenomena. Big processes and large structures are handled in close relation to the dimension of human agency and everyday practices of parliamentary life, and individual occurrences are never treated as mere illustrations of general tendencies. This feature of the book seems to be all the more important, since the mutual interdependence of these two dimensions becomes manifest on various levels throughout the analyses. Accordingly, the most common narrative structure of the subsections is a sequence consisting of a general account of the overall trends, followed by a thorough analysis of the most relevant cases supporting, nuancing, or modifying the original statements. Of course, this manner of writing history is only possible on the basis of a vast corpus of historical sources, and indeed this can be seen as the backbone of the whole work.

Chapter 1 provides a summary of the most crucial elements of eighteenth-century Hungary’s political system. Szijártó pays particular attention here to the dualism of king and estates, which made eighteenth-century Hungary an estate polity (Ständestaat), and he emphasizes the paramount importance of the tractatus diaetalis, the process of negotiation between the two sides of the political chessboard (pp.12–17). The long-term functioning of the Diet as the main locus of the bargaining process between king and estates demonstrates that the power of the latter proved much more durable in Hungary than in other parts of the empire, since the Habsburgs felt it necessary to convoke the Diet in the country “even after a hiatus of five, ten, or even twenty-five years” (p.18). The historical fundament of the Hungarian Sonderweg, as Szijártó stresses several times in the book, was the Rákóczi War of Independence and the compromise between crown and country which came in its wake, codified in the Treaty of Szatmár, which “stabilized the position of the Hungarian estates, restoring the dualism of king and estates of the previous era” (pp.2, 98–99). The significance of the separate path taken by Hungary became manifest during the War of the Austrian Succession, in the course of which the Hungarian estates remained loyal to Vienna and, as a result, Hungary (unlike the Hereditary Lands and the Czech provinces) was left out of the centralizing and rationalizing reforms of Haugwitz, which “represented a turning point in the political development of the Habsburg Monarchy” (p.99).

After portraying the main institutional factors of the workings of the Diet in Chapter 2, Szijártó goes on to outline one of the main findings of his book, and he demonstrates that in the eighteenth century, a profound change took place in the political agenda of the parliament, leading from confessionalism to the emergence of the dualism of king and estates dominated by constitutional questions. Religious issues, after dominating the debates in the 1710s and the 1720s, were (at least until 1790) omitted from the discussions of the Diets. Denominational divisions lost their former importance, and the defense of different aspects of noble privileges came to the foreground in parliamentary politics. As the investigations in Chapter 4 show, this process made it possible for the estates to take a strong line against the ruler in questions concerning the size of the yearly contribution (contributio) and the nobility’s exemption from taxation. The new situation induced the decrease of the level of polarization within the estates and gave rise to a new form of antagonism vis-à-vis the crown, narrowing the possibility of compromise between king and estates considerably. In Chapter 6, this sharpening of divisions between crown and country is also demonstrated on the level of the political decisions of the deputies, displaying the process in the course of which “oppositionality and government loyalty” became “mutually exclusive choices” (p.171).

The main social-historical component of this process was the emancipation of the well-to-do gentry, the bene possessionatus nobility from the aristocracy, which came to dominate the political life of the counties in the course of the first half of eighteenth century. In the background of this process, which is described in Chapter 9, we find the dissolution of the old networks of familiaritas between the aristocracy and the lesser nobility and the takeover of the power of the landowning prosperous gentry in the counties. The breaking up of the system of patron-client relations resulted in a significantly higher degree of social and political independence of the bene possessionatus nobility. On the institutional level, the growing significance of the well-to-do gentry manifested itself at first at the county assemblies, where it became the leading political force.

However, several aspects of the institutional development of the Diet in the eighteenth century (most importantly the decision-making mechanisms and the increase of the importance of the county deputies, as shown in Chapter 7) make it clear that the bene possessionatus nobility was able to reassert itself on the level of parliamentary politics as the predominant political factor. Undoubtedly, the “noble-national” movement in Hungary in 1790 was part of this process: in fact, it can be seen as an attempt by the well-to-do gentry to reshape the political system of the country according to its own interests and values, aiming to convert its local dominance in the counties to real political power on the “national” level.

At this point, the relevance of the perspective of intellectual history, from which Chapter 8 is written, becomes clear. Through textual analyses of various sources, Szijártó verifies his thesis concerning polarization between king and estates as the “central tendency of politics” (p.263) on the level of political discourse as well. Szijártó demonstrates inter alia the rise of the term “constitution” in the political parlance of the Diets, a process that can be seen as a main element of the conceptual foundations of nineteenth-century developments in political discourse and in the politics of grievance in general.

Henrik Hőnich
University of Public Service, Thomas Molnar Institute for Advanced Studies
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Rampart Nations: Bulwark Myths of East European Multiconfessional Societies in the Age of Nationalism. Edited by Liliya Berezhnaya and Heidi Hein-Kircher. New York–Oxford: Berghahn, 2019. 416 pp.

DOI 10.38145/2021.1.171

At the height of the European refugee crisis in 2015, Jarosław Kaczyn˙ski, head of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland, explained his strong anti-immigrant position by claiming that the Polish nation had a historic mission to defend Christian Europe from enemies who wanted to destroy it. He has also used this argument to justify homophobia and attacks on women’s rights. Similar claims resound across Eastern Europe. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has made similar claims about Hungary, as has Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša for Slovenia. Pro-Western Ukrainians intent on joining the European Union also see their country as a bulwark protecting Europe, albeit against a different enemy: Russian imperialism. In each case, nationalist leaders look back in time and translate histories of wars fought against Bolsheviks, Ottoman armies, and Tatar invaders into myths of heroic martyrdom in order to cast themselves at the center of present-day struggles to define where Europe is and what it should mean to those who live there. Eastern Europe today abounds with visions of nations vying with one another to be the rampart of Europe, a bastion protecting a continent surrounded by enemies. Why are these myths so ubiquitous? And what gives them such power?

The urgency of these questions today makes Rampart Nations: Bulwark Myths of East European Multiconfessional Societies in the Age of Nationalism, edited by Liliya Berezhnaya and Heidi Hein-Kircher, especially welcome. The fourteen essays in the volume analyze examples of rampart or bulwark nation myths in a variety of contexts, ranging across the region from Russia and Ukraine to Hungary and Romania and in time from the late fifteenth century to the present-day. A helpful introductory essay by the editors frames the entire volume, highlighting the power of these myths to create meaning through the cultural imagination of space. Bulwark discourses abound, they write, “where it is necessary to strengthen identity and culture, to define a society in demarcating it from Others and to imagine a territory” (p.11). They suggest that competition in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to define imperial spaces as national space made Eastern Europe especially fertile ground for this kind of myth-making, imparting fantasies of national sacrifice and civilizational defense with a cultural power still felt across the region today.

Many of the essays in this volume illuminate the ways in which visions (and narratives) of borderlands and border security are so often shaped by beliefs in a civilizing mission. In her own contribution, Heidi Hein-Kircher shows how the city of L’viv (Polish: Lwów) was imagined in late nineteenth-century travel guides as an outpost of Polish civilization surrounded by barbarism. Echoes of this theme can be found in other essays, for instance Paul Srodecki’s comparison of anti-Bolshevik ideology in interwar Poland and Hungary, Philipp Hofeneder’s account of Polish and Ukrainian history textbooks in Habsburg Galicia, and Steven Seegel’s fascinating analysis of maps and the politics of mapmaking in East Central Europe. Volodymyr Kravchenko explains that bulwark myths were largely absent from Ukrainian national discourse until the late nineteenth century, when historian Mykhailo Hrushevskyi made this trope a staple element in the national historical imagination. By contrast, several essays—Stephen Norris’s on the complex afterlives of artist Viktor Vasnetsov’s famous painting Warriors and Kerstin Jobst’s on the cultural construction of an Orthodox Crimea—reveal how Russian imperial ideology legitimized itself through historical myths about the origins and early history of Slavic Orthodoxy. These studies show that the bulwark myths so central to the cultural geography of Eastern Europe were not always imagined in opposition to enemies from the East. Sometimes the threat came from the West.

Other contributors highlight the sacral power that modern nationalist bulwark myths drew from older languages of religious threat. Kerstin Weiand locates some of the earliest instances of a pan-European bulwark discourse in late fifteenth-century speeches made to the Imperial Diet by Enea Silvio Piccolomini, councilor to Emperor Frederick III and later Pope Pius II. In them, he called on Christian Europeans to unite against an implacably savage Ottoman Muslim enemy. His warnings, which circulated in print form throughout Europe, found especially receptive audiences in Poland and Hungary. Centuries later, nationalists in both countries would refashion this history into dramatic myths of resistance and martyrdom on the eastern marches of European civilization. But this ideological transformation was not peculiar to Catholic societies. According to Liliya Berezhnaya, the Russian Orthodox monks of the Pochaiv Lavra monastery remade their collective memories of conflict with an expanding Ottoman Empire into a vision, updated for the nineteenth century, of Orthodoxy under attack from Jews, Polish Catholics, and a host of cultural ills coming to Russia from the West. Zaur Gasimov proposes that the religious origins of modern bulwark myths were even more malleable, showing in his essay how émigré Turkic intellectuals from the Soviet Union imagined Atatürk’s Turkey as a (non-Christian) bulwark defending Turkish and Turkic culture from Communism.

This collection reflects the diversity of bulwark myths in Eastern Europe. It has less to say about causes: why do bulwark myths spring to life at some times and lie dormant at others? The volume also leaves readers to draw their own connections between bulwark discourses in Eastern Europe and myths of civilizational defense at work in other places. Today, no less than in Piccolomini’s age, calls to defend the bastions of Christian civilization resound throughout Europe and across the Atlantic. As this volume shows so well, bulwark myths persist in many places. Rampart Nations is an excellent guide to a problem that shows no signs of going away.

Paul Hanebrink
Rutgers University
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The Matica and Beyond: Cultural Associations and Nationalism in Europe. Edited by Krisztina Lajosi and Andreas Stynen. Leiden: Brill, 2020. 367 pp.

DOI 10.38145/2021.1.174

Over the course of the last thirty years, we have seen a growing amount of research in the field of cultural nationalism in Central and Southeastern Europe. Most of these endeavors have aimed to examine, within multidisciplinary frameworks, the complex political, economic, and social roles of the various kinds of cultural activities in the area of great empires and “small nations.” The Matica and Beyond is indeed the twenty-first book in the National Cultivation of Culture series published by Brill.

The book is a collection of fifteen works written by cultural historians from all over Europe. The fifteen texts result in a surprisingly consistent volume, as the essays are methodologically and thematically very similar, and they draw on an array of exciting new sources and offer similarly engaging conclusions. The editors of the book, however, faced challenges in combining the essays to form a meaningful whole.

As far as the geographical range of the studies is concerned, the book consists of six manuscripts dealing with cultural organizations in the Habsburg Monarchy, whereas the rest of the papers deal with other European associations, though these organizations and associations all had the same essential purpose: to enhance national and ethnic awareness among members of a certain nation.

In the introduction, Joep Leerssen presents the structure of the book and explains the extent to which the phenomenon of Matica has been investigated or marginalized both politically and in the scholarship. Leerssen also calls attention to significant similarities and links in the national movements under discussion and the surprisingly important role of the Maticas in linguistic turns and geopolitical changes.

The first essay, Zsuzsanna Varga’s “The Buda University Press and National Awakenings in Habsburg Austria,” is about the roles of publishing in strengthening national consciousness and identity among Slavic peoples. Varga examines numerous books written in vernacular languages and spellings, especially works by Serbs, who played a leading role in the struggle of the Empire’s Slavic nations for autonomy and independence.

Magdalena Pokorna provides the first essay in the collection that offers insights into a Matica’s activity. Pokorna offers a detailed discussion of one of the crucial Maticas for the Slavs, the Czech one. It is nicely complemented by “The Slovak Matica, Its Precursors and Its Legacy” by Benjamin Bossaert and Dagmar Kročanova. Due to the different political circumstances, these two Maticas did not have similar operational policies, but they did have the common aim of establishing stronger connections with the other Slavic nations (Croats, Poles, Serbs, Slovenians, Bulgarians, etc.) in order to achieve greater cultural and national independence in opposition to the dominant German culture. The fourth essay is a short overview by Miloš Řezník of actions taken by Lusatian Serbs, Ruthenians, and Czech Silesians. Řezník offers insights into the ways in which regionalism and nationalism often collided.

Marijan Dović offers an essay on the work of the Slovenian Matica, in which he explains how this organization was not just a place for book publishing, but also for self-education and common thinking about issues like the school system and the media culture.

Daniel Barić discusses the emergence of the Dalmatian Matica and how it later became part of the Croatian one. Barić claims that “the first maticas were founded in the South Slav area in a time of redefinition of the nation, hence there were competing terms in use” (p.119). He also states that “the multiple engagement of the Croatian maticas mirrors the efforts made to cultivate and celebrate a distinctiveness within a multicultural environment” (p.134). Ljiljana Guschevska’s essay on Macedonian societies details how intellectuals struggled to form a multilayered Macedonian identity.

The essay entitled “Language, Cultural Associations, and the Origins of Galician Nationalism, 1840–1918” deals with the strengthening of language identity, which was meant to be a source of power in boosting nationalism. Philippe Martel offers another example of a struggle for more powerful nationalism through language use in an essay focusing on the “Impossible Occitan Nation. Martel foregrounds the absurdity of the idea of Occitania due to language and identity anachronisms.

In the Netherlands, in contrast, the rule was one language, two states, and many nations. The essay “Educational, Scholarly, and Literary Societies in Dutch-Speaking Regions, 1766–1886” by Jan Rock deals with three main types of organizations and clubs: philological, intermediating, and non-governmental. These clubs strengthened the language identity of different communities in Netherlands. The author also perceives the similarities with the model of governing the Maticas, although “one major difference lies in the political contexts and therefore in the nature of governmental support” (p.204).

The struggle for independence among the Welsh sought cultural and linguistic autonomy rather than political autonomy. Marion Loffler, in her contribution to the volume, presents a nuanced comparison of Welsh cultural nationalism with the aspirations of Slavic people and explains the major differences between pan-Slavism and pan-Celticism. Similarly, Roisín Higgins emphasizes the importance of newspapers in strengthening the Irish nation. She relates the Young Ireland movement with the Illyrian one which began to rise to prominence in the middle of the nineteenth century in Croatia.

Jörg Hackmann focuses in his essay on the roles of school associations in the rise of national consciousness. Through school associations and struggles for language rights in the gymnasiums in bigger, linguistically mixed cities such as Riga, Tartu, and Jeglava, the Estonians, Latvians, and Germans tried to resist the russification of their communities.

Iryna Orlevych presents the activities of a crucial organization which was responsible for cultivating a sense of national consciousness in Austrian Galicia. During almost a century of its existence, Matica was a very powerful pillar of the Church and an important element of Galicia’s cultural identity. Later, it lost its fundamental role (to strengthen cultural identity) and became a political organization of the Russian Empire.

The last paper in the book deals with specific aspirations of Tatars, among the most marginalized people in the Russian Federation. The author of the paper, Usmanova, examines Tatarian cultural and educational opportunities in Russia, touching on all the obstacles to a possible strengthening of the Russian Tatars’ identity.

In a slightly complex conclusion, Alexei Miller claims that “the Maticas and comparable organizations were part of the history of European peripheral nationalisms, but they were also a part of the history of Empires” (p.362). Therefore, as Dović formulates it, Maticas were the “heart in the body of the nation and [...] literature was its blood” (p.104).

The Matica and Beyond: Cultural Associations and Nationalism in Europe is definitely a unique and successful scientific project which has the novelty to give a detailed overview of the activities and roles of cultural organizations, such as the Matica itself, in Central and Southeastern Europe. It unquestionably constitutes a contribution to the secondary literature which will be of interest to historians, sociologists, and scholars of culture, since it concerns a very dynamically developing field and draws attention to an array of intriguing topics, such as the role of individuals in these organizations and the complex relationship between regional and national identities. The volume is particularly interesting in part because of the way in which it treats key moments and the Maticas’ key roles in the so-called national awakenings among Slavic nations. Some papers would definitely have been more interesting if they had been accompanied by explanatory figures. Overall, the book offers an overview of and insights into the ways in which the Maticas and many other associations, such as councils, clubs, cultural and art societies, and political parties, acted in order to strengthen regional and ethnic components of nations in Europe. The book successfully fulfills its ambition to emphasize in a multidisciplinary way the importance of cultural associations in the political and social histories of “small European nations.”

Ivan Brlić
Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar
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Genealogies of Memory 2020 – The Holocaust between Global and Local Perspectives. Conference report.

DOI 10.38145/2021.1.178

Organized by the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity (ENRS), the conference entitled Genealogies of Memory 2020 – The Holocaust between Global and Local Perspectives took place in the form of eight sessions between November 4 and 26, 2020. Due to the ongoing pandemic, instead of an in-person event, the organizers conducted the conference online, streamed via Zoom and Youtube, thus making it accessible to a wide international audience.

The most important goal of the conference was, according to the website of ENRS, “to assess the current state of Holocaust memory research” in the light of increasing globalization, as well as various new trends. Through seven key topics and a final roundtable discussion, the speakers explored issues connected to the interaction of universal and local Holocaust memory and ethical questions related to them. Each session started with a keynote address, which was followed by presentations by young and established scholars and the observations of a commentator.

The first session, which addressed the practical ethics of Holocaust memory, started with Piotr Cywiński’s (Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum) keynote, in which he delineated the development and major turning points of Holocaust remembrance. The following four presenters highlighted certain episodes and practices of the memorialization process, such as the role that Raul Hilberg, eminent scholar of the Holocaust, played in the establishment of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Olof Bortz emphasized that Hilberg wanted to make the museum’s exhibit as authentic as possible, which generated tensions between different views on how to present the past and thus contributed to the discussion on commemoration.

The second session was dedicated to the Ringelblum Archive, a collection of documents compiled by the Oneg Shabbath group in the Warsaw ghetto, which is considered “the earliest historiography of the Holocaust.” Keynote speaker Omer Bartov (Brown University) linked the Ringelblum Archive to the main topic of the conference by discussing four factors: the increasing importance of history writing from below, local histories, the Holocaust as a first-person history, and the benefits of these new approaches. According to Bartov, the term “industrial killing,” which is so often applied to the Holocaust, is problematic because it obscures the fact that in many cases the victims stood face to face with the perpetrators before they were killed. Research on these atrocities and the relations between Jews, their neighbors and the Germans, as well as individual experiences can further an understanding of the nuances and dynamics of the Holocaust.

Bartov’s points were supported by the following presentations, which discussed various characteristics of the Ringelblum Archive. Katarzyna Person, for instance, focused on the situation of women who were forced to become prostitutes in the ghettos and the assessment of their role by the historians of the archive. By placing a relatively small group in the center of the investigation, Person could provide a more detailed picture of their agency, the difference between sexual barter and rape, and the specificities of how they were written about in the archive.

The third session, which dealt with “borderland memories,” began with Éva Kovács’s (Vienna Wiesenthal Institute) keynote lecture. Kovács explored and compared various spaces of remembrance: a private Holocaust museum in Rwanda, an exhibition about Srebrenica in Budapest, and the efforts to uncover mass graves of Holocaust victims in Minsk. She then elaborated on the intertwining local and transnational memory, touching on idealized or suppressed local remembrance too. The following panel presentations also addressed the topics of landscapes of memory and remembrance culture, among them the project description of Nadja Danglmaier and Daniel Wutti. The educational project aimed to integrate the common cultural history (including the Holocaust) of Carinthia, a border region between Austria and Slovenia, into school curricula on both sides of the border.

The session “Overlooking the Local Dimensions of the Holocaust,” which raised questions concerning linguistics and translation, started with a keynote lecture by Mindaugas Kvietkauskas, Minister of Culture of Lithuania and an academic, about the diaries of Jewish children in Vilnius. Three of the panelists then discussed Claude Lanzmann’s documentary film Shoah. Dorota Głowacka, for instance, explored the mistranslations in the movie’s languages: Polish, Yiddish, German, French, and how this implicitly conveyed an image of anti-Semitic Poles who were ignorant of Jewish culture. Roma Sendyka’s presentation, on the other hand, suggested a possible solution to this problem, namely the re-translation of the Polish bystanders’ lines.

The fifth session addressed current shifts and methods in Holocaust studies, such as avantgarde environmental history, as discussed by keynote speaker Ewa Domańska (Adam Mickiewicz University), which aims to reveal the complex relationship between the events of the Holocaust and their environment and thus to construct holistic knowledge. In her presentation, Hannah Wilson presented three objects connected to survivors of the Sobibór death camp and how the meaning of these objects changed from generation to generation.

Jackie Feldman of Ben-Gurion University delivered the keynote for the sixth session. Feldman touched on the digital turn, the end of the age of the witness and the ways in which various technological solutions may alter the existing memoryscape. Liat Steir-Livny’s presentation on the short film Eva.Stories was strongly linked to this topic. The movie, which is a compilation of Instagram stories, managed to foster interest among masses of young people, and Steir-Livny analyzed the components of its success.

The topic of the seventh session was the connection between global and local memory, to which Daniel Levy of Stony Brook University provided an adept background in his keynote address. The entanglement of national, cosmopolitan, and global memoryscapes was also tackled by Agnieszka Wierzcholska, who discussed the difficulties that emerged when she was pressed to satisfy the expectations of both Polish and German audiences with her research on social relations in pre-war and post-war Tarnów.

During the final roundtable discussion, Éva Kovács, Ewa Domańska, Daniel Levy, and Jackie Feldman summarized the core issues of the conference, raising new questions and discussing new trends and possibilities in Holocaust research. All in all, the conference offered a rich variety of topics examined by some of the most eminent researchers, and it offered young scholars opportunities to talk about their research. Since the sessions were recorded, they are still available both on the Youtube channel and the Facebook site of ENRS. Thus, those who missed the original event can still listen to them. This can be recommended not only to Holocaust scholars but to anyone interested in contemporary history.

Borbála Klacsmann
University of Szeged
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Interwar East Central Europe, 1918–1941: The Failure of Democracy-Building, the Fate of Minorities. Edited by Sabrina Ramet. London and New York: Routledge, 2020. 360 pp.

DOI: 10.38145/2021.1.181

The volume, published in the series “Routledge Studies in Modern European History,” brings together ten internationally renowned scholars to discuss the challenges that interwar Europe faced. The preface positions it in the wake of other all-embracing volumes looking at interwar Central and Eastern Europe, the most recent examples being Josef Rothschild’s East Central Europe Between the two World Wars (1974), and Ivan T. Berend’s Decades of Crisis: Central and Eastern Europe before World War II (1998). Recent years have witnessed the emergence of new scholarship drawing inspiration from entangled history and looking at continuities in the post-imperial areas, as well as the impact of nationalizing policies on the processes of democratization. Nonetheless, these trends do not seem to have exerted much influence on the structure of this volume, which is articulated through national unities.

Sabrina Ramet uses the first chapter to clarify the aims of this effort: to trace the roots of the failure of democracy in East Central Europe, as well as the impact of this failure on the statuses of minorities, looking at both domestic (instability and political violence) as well as external factors (the economic crisis and the expanding role of Nazi Germany).

In the second chapter, M. B. B. Biskupski investigates the two alternatives with which the Polish leadership was faced, the one represented by Józef Piłsudski, who envisioned a large and inclusive Poland, and the other, a vision of a smaller and nationally homogeneous Poland, championed by Roman Dmowski. Biskupski, who regards these views as respectively “civic patriotism” and “ethnic nationalism,” blames external factors, which led to a downsizing of Poland’s geopolitical perspective and made the federalist option unfeasible. Chapter three, by Sabrina Ramet and Carol Skalnik Leff, focuses on interwar Czechoslovakia, the only country in the area whose political system is usually praised for its democratic nature. Nevertheless, its major weakness was what the authors describe as the “securitization of democracy” against external enemies. In this context, both the Slovak population and minorities (the German, Hungarian, Jewish, and Ruthenian communities) found themselves in a position of subalternity and unevenness. In chapter four, Béla Bodó examines the Hungarian case, focusing on both minorities within the country and Hungarian minorities abroad. While revisionism remained a central issue of foreign policy, minorities enjoyed diverse statuses, ranging from that of the Germans, whose fate was increasingly entangled with the relationship between Hungary and the Third Reich, to the Jews, who were subjected to early anti-Semitic legislation which culminated in the late 1930s. The roots and the idea of the “ethnic privilege” enjoyed by the “state-forming nation” in Romania are central to the chapter written by Roland Clark (chapter five). Clark offers an overview of the social, ethnic, and religious context of the country, which included Transylvania, bringing into the country significant Hungarian and German minorities, and saw antisemitism across the political spectrum. As Clark argues, interwar Romania established itself as an exclusionary type of democracy, which drew on the idea of homogenization of minorities. In chapter six, Christian Promitzer explores the case of interwar Bulgaria, retracing its political evolution from the first postwar years of the Agrarian bloc, marked by land reform, to the following shift towards authoritarianism, albeit not fascism, as the later head of the Communist Party, Georgi Dimitrov, would have claimed. This was reflected in the attitude towards the Turkish minority, which was characterized both by increasing discrimination and an attempt to forge an alliance with its most conservative sectors in order to marginalize Kemalism. This marked a difference between the treatment of the Turkish minority by the Bulgarian state and the treatment of Bulgarian-speaking Pomaks, whose assimilation was actively pursued. Promitzer also shows that the contemporary influx of Bulgarian refugees was directly connected with increasing pressure on internal minorities. In chapter seven, Stipica Grgić offers a focused discussion of the Yugoslav state, whose weaknesses and disparities in standards were laid bare in its process of unification. In the background of the rising tensions between centralist and federalist strands as well as widespread instability, non-Slavic minorities experienced pressure, enacted also through the land reform, but they nonetheless tried to establish agreements with government parties. In chapter eight, Bernd J. Fischer offers insights into the turbulent interwar years in Albania, with the ascent to power of King Zog, who created an authoritarian power in a (mostly unsuccessful) attempt to achieve modernization, unity, and stability. While minorities did not represent a troublesome issue for interwar Albania, the existence of an ethnically Albanian population outside the border of the state conditioned both domestic and international relations. The only thematic contribution (Chapter nine) to the book, authored by Robert Bideluex, focuses on peasant parties across East Central Europe. Rejecting the image of backwardness often attached to the agricultural world in Eastern Europe, Bideluex argues that, should they have risen to power, peasant parties would have pursued an alternative (and more human) pattern of development in respect to both liberal capitalist and communist forces. The afterword to the volume, written by Stefano Bianchini, traces similarities and differences among the case studies and positions the political threads of the region in the interwar period, with an initial minimalistic approach to democracy, which included fair elections but not a real democratization of society, and a gradual shift toward authoritarianism, which accelerated after the beginning of the global economic crisis in 1929.

The effort to put together such a comprehensive volume is noteworthy, though the contributions could have been further harmonized. Moreover, the book acknowledges, with uneven efficacy, the entanglements between domestic and international factors in the treatment of minorities in East Central Europe, which, for the first time, found a theoretical protector in the League of Nations. Furthermore, it shows the social background of the authoritarian drive which led to the demise of democracy in the region by the end of the 1930s.

Nonetheless, the reader might get the impression that, in some of the contributions, nations are regarded as pre-existing entities and multinational states are deemed to fail as not founded on consensus. A further contextualization within the wider European context would have shown that the crisis of democracies was hardly exclusive to the Eastern part of the continent. Furthermore, a deterministic view of the fate of Eastern Europe seems to emerge from time to time, reenforced by the fact that the only country geographically located in Eastern Europe which did not turn to socialism after the Second World War—but shared many features with its neighbors in the interwar period—Greece, is excluded from this analysis. While several contributions stand out for clarity and represent recommended reading for students, specialists might have aspired to some more coherence and transnational insights within the volume. However, the volume is timely in analyzing from a historical perspective two issues that still challenge contemporary Europe: the dialectic between liberal democracy and authoritarianism and the relation with the Other.

Francesca Rolandi
Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences
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Alternative Globalizations: Eastern Europe and the Postcolonial World. Edited by James Mark, Artemy M. Kalinovsky, and Steffi Marung. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2020. 352 pp.

DOI 10.38145/2021.1.184

Recently, a small yet growing number of researchers have been working on the transnational history of the socialist countries during the Cold War. Their studies make clear that the socialist countries after the 1950s were far from isolated or autarkic and that these countries developed various transnational connections with the Global South and other parts of the globe. However, while they shed light on various concrete cases of these interconnections, it is often not easy to situate these findings in a larger picture of postwar globalization. The present volume edited by James Mark, Artemy M. Kalinovsky, and Steffi Marung makes an important contribution to the scholarship, not only by illuminating various aspects of the East-South interconnections, but by also synthesizing these case studies into a wider history of “alternative globalizations.”

The book consists of an introduction and fourteen essays on political, economic, and cultural aspects of the Soviet and Eastern European connections with the Global South. Many contributors do not adopt the simplistic view of the Cold War as a mere binary confrontation between the two camps and instead depict the story of the East-South entanglements in connection with the activities of the Western counterparts. Furthermore, they often do not regard these relations as a one-sided transfer of socialist modernity from the developed East to the Global South and point out various unintended or surprising impacts on the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. The introductory essay by the three editors deserves particular attention, since it integrates the essays of the volume and situates the interactions between the Eastern and Southern peripheries in a broader process of postwar globalization.

The first essay, by Mark and Yakov Feygin, offers a well-written overview on the rise and fall of the alternative, anti-imperialist visions of global economy presented at the fora of the United Nations by the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe from the 1950s to the 1980s. As Mark and Feygin show, while the socialist countries initially advocated these visions, their adherence to economic bilateralism, the halfway commitment to them, and the accumulating debts to the West fundamentally weakened such visions. The provocative yet stimulating essay by Oscar Sanchez-Sibony also focuses on Soviet economic relations with the Global South in the 1950s and 1960s, but from different standpoint. According to Sanchez-Sibony, none of the visions of an alternative modernity were the main motive behind the Soviet economic entanglements with the Global South. Rather, these entanglements were motivated by the desire to increase economic exchange with the outer world in the margins of capitalist globalization. While these two articles differ widely from each other on the role of socialist modernity, they are, in fact, mutually complementary and are of special value in that they both further a rethinking of the processes and characteristics of postwar economic globalization.

On a more concrete topic of the interconnections, Alena K. Alamgir and Christina Schwenkel explore Vietnamese labor migration into Eastern Europe. The Vietnamese labor program was initially designed as a means to help Vietnam, but as the economic crisis and labor shortage in Eastern Europe deepened, it became a source of a cheap workforce in the receiving countries. Massimiliano Trentin also examines the attitudes of non-Soviet actors by investigating East German policy in the Middle East. He points out that because of its rivalry with West Germany and its own economic interests, East Germany sometimes behaved autonomously in the region.

As to the cultural relations with the Global South, Łukasz Stanek investigates the interactions between Eastern Europe, West and North Africa, and the Middle East in the field of architecture. To deal with their “weak” bargaining positions, Eastern European actors in West Africa and the Middle East behaved flexibly, which made them highly instrumental for local elites in these areas. Marung examines Soviet Africanists’ activities concerning African agricultural problems. The failure of the Soviet agricultural model in Africa urged these scholars to rethink Soviet agricultural policy at home. The impact of transnational relations on the domestic politics of the socialist countries was also examined by Kalinovsky. He analyzes the interrelations between the Soviet policies in its own South and in the Global South, and he concludes that the Soviet attempt to instrumentalize the regions of Central Asia and Caucasia as a showcase for development in the Global South backfired. In fact, it revealed the weaknesses of the model and encouraged resistance against the regime in these Soviet republics. Maxim Matusevich focuses on the strained relations between the Soviet authorities and the African students at Soviet universities. Whereas the Soviet authorities wished to educate African students about socialist modernization, in practice, these students often emerged as educators of their fellow Soviet students. These interesting case studies make clear that socialist entanglements with the South were not a simple diffusion of a certain model, but the developed socialist countries were also influenced and reshaped by the South.

At the same time, it should be noted that the transnational approaches by the socialist countries, like every other such endeavor, had its limits. In the case of socialist globalization, the actors from the East often did not show great interest in thinking and acting within a global framework, preferring instead to maximize their own interests. For example, Bogdan C. Iacob presents an interesting case of Balkan scholars’ encounters with the Global South in UNESCO. Using the UNESCO project as a platform for their cause, these scholars emphasized the shared experience of Western European colonialism in the Balkan region and the Global South. But since their aim was Eurocentric rather than transregional, they lost momentum in the global arena. Such limits were also present in the transnational relations cultivated by the oppositional movements in Eastern Europe. Kim Christiaens and Idesbald Goddeeris examine transregional collaboration between the Polish Solidarność and the oppositional movements in the Global South and conclude that the engagement of Solidarność abroad remained limited in scope, as its reserved attitude toward the anti-apartheid struggles in South Africa suggests. Adam F. Kola approaches the limitedness of the Eastern European intellectuals’ internationalism from a different perspective. He examines the reason why Polish intellectuals in the late socialist period avoided postcolonial discourse in emphasizing the “Soviet colonization” of Poland.

While these essays analyze the Soviet and Eastern European entanglements with the decolonizing countries, the essay on Sino-Soviet competition over the Global South by Péter Vámos broadens the scope by introducing the Chinese factor to the discussion. In response to the Chinese attempt to forge a worldwide anti-Soviet coalition, the Soviets coordinated the policies of bloc countries vis-à-vis China in an attempt to isolate it globally. Hanna Jansen examines the intellectual thaw under Khrushchev and the activities of Soviet Orientalists in the context of Sino-Soviet disputes. Quinn Slobodian focuses on East German grassroots internationalism, which emerged as a result of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.

The book thus covers geographically and thematically wide-ranging topics of global interconnections that emerged after decolonization in the 1950s. The introductory essay provides a good reference point to position these cases within a wider framework of postwar globalization. On the whole, the book enhances our knowledge of the socialist postwar global entanglements with the Global South, and it will be of use and interest to readers who are curious to know more about the subtle, as yet lesser-known aspects of globalization.

Jun Fujisawa
Kobe University
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1 For example, South Bohemian nobility was discussed by Václav Bůžek and Josef Hrdlička, eds., Dvory velmožů s erbem růže: všední a sváteční dny posledních Rožmberků a pánů z Hradce [The courts of noblemen with rose in the coat of arms: mundane and festive days of the last members of Rosenbergs and lords of Hradec] (Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997); Václav Bůžek and Pavel Král, eds., Slavnosti a zábavy na dvorech a v rezidenčních městech raného novověku [Festivities and entertainment at courts and residences in early modern period] (České Budějovice: Historický ústav Jihočeské univerzity, 2000).

Volume 10 Issue 3 CONTENTS

BOOK REVIEWS

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Hungary and the Hungarians: Western Europe’s View in the Middle Ages. By Enikő Csukovits. Viella Historical Research 11. Rome: Viella Libreria Editrice, 2018. 233 pp.

DOI 10.38145/2021.3.581

The monograph presented here, published in 2018 by Italian publisher Viella, is the result of many years of research, as the author Enikő Csukovits herself notes. The book, entitled Magyarországról és a magyarokról: Nyugat-Európa magyar-képe a középkorban, took its original form in 2013, and it was submitted by Csukovits for her title as Doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Two years later, the monograph was published with the support of the Institute of History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Research Centre for the Humanities as part of the series entitled Monuments of Hungarian History. Dissertations. The committee which read Csukovits’s work (referred to as a “large doctoral thesis”) in 2013 recommended it for publication in Hungarian and in translation. One of the reasons for this recommendation was to make the monograph, which fills a significant gap in scholarship concerning perceptions of cultural others, available to an international readership. Another was to make it possible to identify and indicate the sources of stereotypes concerning Hungarians which are still alive today. The publication of the work in English translation is thus a welcome contribution to the secondary literature.

Since the 2015 edition was reviewed in 2016 in the third volume of The Hungarian Historical Review by Judit Csákó, who summarized its contents, I feel exempt from this obligation. However, it should be noted for the sake of accuracy that I use the term “version” because Csukovits made certain changes to the publication printed in English in comparison to the Hungarian edition. The omission of chapter one, which was dedicated to the ways in which geographical knowledge developed in Medieval Europe, was the most significant of these changes (pp.14–16), though a small fragment of this chapter was integrated into the text of a later part of the English-language edition. Changes related to this were also made in the introduction. In the introduction, Csukovits explains her understanding of the concept of “Western Europe” as a geographical term, not a political term. As Gábor Klaniczay correctly pointed out in the review of the Hungarian-language edition, which was published in the journal Buksz in 2016, we do know why Csukovits made no use of source materials of English and “Spanish” provenance which have been both touched on and made available in the secondary literature in Hungarian. Perhaps it would have been better to replace this concept of Western Europe with reference to the area affected by the Latin-language cultural circle. This would have broadened the scope of inquiry and would have required more time, because, for example, literary output originating in Scandinavia, the Czech lands, and Poland would also have to have been taken into consideration.

When Csukovits was carrying out the proposed dissertation research with the assistance of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the reviewers Edit Madas, Klaniczay, and László Veszprémy suggested sources and publications that she had not yet taken into consideration. They emphasized, however, that she would have to make selections from among the sources and would have to choose the most important sources, which best illustrated the emerging view of Hungary and Hungarian people. On the basis of the overview of the sources offered by Csukovits, one can agree that from time to time an important event made the wider public opinion in Europe pay attention to Hungary. Throughout the Middle Ages, such events included incursions made by pagan Hungarians, the conversion of the Hungarians to Christianity, the Mongol invasion of 1241–1242, and the threat posed to Europe by Ottoman Turks. The source material used by Csukovits was adapted to several common themes, and this certainly influenced its selection. She used the sources which she herself considered most important.

In my view, a certain disparity within the range of source materials can be felt, and the sources from the Árpád Era are treated too selectively and laconically. Despite the situation indicated by Csukovits concerning the recognition, availability, and the status of study of sources, the center of gravity in her discussion visibly moved to the material originating from the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, and not only on account of the quantity of sources or their accessibility, but also because of the research undertaken by Csukovits earlier. Csukovits used the listing of source texts published by Albin Ferenc Gombos more than eighty years ago (Catalogus fontium historiae Hungaricae aevi ducum et regeum ex stirpe Arpad descendentium ab anno Christi DCCC usque ad annum MCCCI) as a kind of guide to sources about Hungary in the period up to the early fourteenth century and thus corresponding to the Árpád Era. No such list is available for the source material concerning late medieval Hungary. Catalogus is a kind of an overview of source texts, and as has been shown by historians in recent decades, it is far from complete. László Veszprémy and Tamás Körmendi, for instance, have pointed out its deficiencies.

Csukovits has successfully taken into consideration the source groundwork without limitations from the perspective of genre, and this constitutes one of the indisputable merits of her work. In addition to historiographical sources, she has also used other sources which have been repeatedly omitted or used at best sporadically, for example descriptions of pilgrimages, travels, reports of legations, monuments of cartography, short stories, and chivalric romances. Csukovits emphasizes that knowledge about the Hungarian people and Hungary had been preserved in different texts, though she stresses that since they were handwritten, these texts were not always available to the persons interested. Csukovits points out that many of the resultant records did not survive, and thus it is difficult to say whether it is possible to obtain comprehensive knowledge about notions prevalent in the Middle Ages as the result of the research she has undertaken. One can also agree with the conclusion that there were no collections in Europe that would have contained the sum of knowledge about Hungary and its residents, to say nothing of sources that would have taken into consideration diverse opinions on the matter. Csukovits also points out that the appellation of Hungary appears in the monuments of medieval cartography more often than designations referring to other countries of Central Eastern Europe. Csukovits offers an appropriate set of 26 maps of the world (pp.70–75, 189–91). The above observation could also be applied to historiographical sources, which can be shown by at least looking through indexes to the publisher Monumenta Germaniae Historica series Scriptores, Scriptores rerum Germanicarum.

Csukovits rightly pays attention to the meaning of ethnonyms and terms used in relation to Hungarians, especially in the period before their conversion to Christianity. However, it is possible here to have reservations about the exhaustiveness of her discussion of the exoethnonyms which were used to describe Hungarians in the past. She limits herself to a relatively small group of them: Saracens, Huns, and Avars (pp.18–19), leaving the others unmentioned. Meanwhile, on the basis of the list compiled by Gombos, it is possible to indicate ethnonyms used to describe Hungarians which often are found in sources related to one another by filiation, such as Hagarites, which gains in importance in the context of the opinion of Ekkehart IV of Sankt Gallen, contained in Events of Sankt Gallen, who expressed a negative opinion in the matter of identifying Magyars with Hagarites. Among other ethnonyms which were used to describe Hungarians in other sources, and which bore specific associations or contents, the following should be mentioned: Jews, Turks, Massagets, Parthians, Scythians, Slavs, Sarmatians.

In the context of primarily Hun-Hungarian identification, which existence was only signalised by Csukovits (pp.18–19), in our opinion, it is also worth paying attention to accounts included in the explicitly connected texts Deeds of the bishops of Tongeren, Maastricht and Liège by Heriger of Lobbes and, based on them Deeds of the bishops of Liège by Egidio of Orval which show the overlap of motifs with the account included in the list of monk of St. Germain to Dado, bishop of Verdun from the beginnings of the tenth century regarding famine and the abandonment of dwellings by Huns or Hungarians, while in the background one also overhears the echo of the Latin word “hungry” and the Old High German “hungar.”

Csukovits also indicates the meaning of terms used to denote Hungarians before the Hungarians adopted Christianity and later used by participants in the crusades when they met Hungarians, such as pagans, barbarians, uncouth, and cruel (pp.19 and 23). In the context of abovementioned terms, attention should also be paid to the role of term gens, which is used in some sources as an exoethnonym of Hungarians, primarily in accounts about the abandonment by the Hungarians of Scythia and incursions at the end of the ninth century and throughout much of the tenth. Attention should also be paid to the role of more complex terms used alongside the ethnonym (H)Ungari, such as: crueler than all monsters, fiercest, most abominable, dirtiest, most burdensome, strongest, proficient in the use of arms, deceitful, worst, bestial, strong, and hostile to God.

Expressions which were used to designate Hungarians in the sources also constitute a form of information about perceptions of them: unknown, non-mentioned tribe, our former enemies, enemies hitherto unknown to those peoples, or new enemies. Csukovits mentions this problem laconically in relation to the record Annals of Saint Bertin (p.17). The account preserved in The Younger Chronicle of Ebersberg and the letter of Prince of Austria Albert I Habsburg from 1291 to the bishop of Passau, which traces the Hungarians back to a serpent living in marshes, are not among the sources used by Csukovits.

One might have expected Csukovits to pay attention to the range of influence of individual identifications, motifs, descriptions, and their perceived “popularity” in a monograph which summarizes perceptions of Hungarians and Hungary. As I noted above, she is aware that it is impossible to obtain a comprehensive overview of views on this subject due to the status of the sources. Nevertheless, she should have paid more consistent attention to both the quantity of preserved manuscripts and the ways in which the respective texts were used by later authors. Had she done so, it would have been possible to obtain at least an approximate view of the popularity and thus influence of given perceptions. One notes a certain inconsistency here. In the case of e.g. Austrian chronicle of 95 monarchs (p.37) and the chronicles written by Domenico da Gravina and Giovanni Villani and Matteo Villani (pp.30, 128), Csukovits pays attention to the significance of the number of preserved manuscripts of these chronicles and their popularity. She also notes, in relation to the work World Chronicle by Hartmann Schedel, not only its publication in Latin or German but also the number of preserved copies (p.66, footnote 260; p.167). She similarly takes into consideration the manuscript tradition of Description of Eastern Europe (p.78) and the chronicles written by Jakob Unrest (p.145, footnotes 114–15).

Csukovits devotes no attention to the so-called manuscript tradition in the case of account preserved in the chronicle by Regino of Prüm (p.18), though it would have sufficed to refer to the study written by Wolf-Rüdiger Schleidgen (Die Überlieferungsgeschichte der Chronik des Regino von Prüm, Mainz: Gesellschaft für mittelrheinsiche Kirchengeschichte, 1977). She also gives no consideration to its influence, either direct or indirect, on subsequent historiography, for instance on editions of Hungarian gesta or on Annals of Metz, Chronicle by Annalista Saxo or the written by Ekkehard of Aura, Otto of Freising, Godfrey of Viterbo, and Martin of Opava, which were widely read in the Middle Ages. In the case of History of the archbishops of Salona and Split by Thomas of Split, which she does discuss (pp.52–53), the problem of the manuscript tradition of this work and its influence on subsequent historiography was omitted.

Csukovits emphasizes that the conversion to Christianity by Hungarians had a vital significance in shaping views of Hungarians to the west. She also assigns a vital role to the positive attitude of Hungarians towards pilgrims during the times of King Saint Stephen, and she associates the appearance of mentions with a negative tone, like the visions of pagan Hungarians, preserved in descriptions of crusades with the defense by Hungarians of their belongings against newcomers. She also points out that Hungarians themselves and their rulers shaped their image when they made pilgrimages, waged war, or went on missions to the west.

In this context, her failure to devote attention to the influence of monuments of Hungarian historiography on opinions concerning Hungarians and Hungary in the west leaves the reader with a certain sense of dissatisfaction. She would have done well to have included, alongside her discussion of sources mentioned to point out views emphasizing the affluence of Hungary of the time, to note the reference to the image of Hungary known in the eleventh through fourteenth centuries as pastures of the Romans, especially since she attempted also to use records of a chorographic and geographic character. This term appears inter alia, as it is believed, in texts related by filiation or resultant, under the influence of Hungarian historiographic records, such as Hungarian-Polish Chronicle, Verse chronicle of Stična, and the History of the Archbishops of Salona and Split by Thomas of Split. It also appears, as noted by Csukovits, in Louis VII’s Journey of Orient by Odo of Deuil, where the term granary of Julius Caesar is used, and in Description of Eastern Europe, but in both cases Csukovits does not note that the terms refer to Hungary (pp.24, 75–82). A panorama of sources which were created outside the area of Hungary, and which describe the land as the pastures of the Romans is complemented by the source known as The Description of Lands, quite laconically in relation to Hungary but baselessly escaping the notice of Hungarian historians (it has been dated to the years between 1255 and 1257/1260).

In the context of shaping the view of Hungarians and Hungary in the west, the chronicle of the world by Alberich of Troisfontaines was omitted. Alberich of Troisfontaines, it is assumed, gathered information from his Hungarian informants, who knew the Hungarian historiographic records. Csukovits would have done well to have taken into consideration the influence of Hungarian chronicles issued in print at the end of Middle Ages, copies of which found their way to the west as early as the end of the fifteenth century, though this would have required painstaking inquiry. In the case of the first of these works, Andreas Hess’ chronicle from 1473, only ten of an estimated print run of 240 are known. The fact that the copies have been preserved to this day in library collections in Western Europe indicates the interest with which they met. Similarly, transcripts of the chronicle issued by Johannes Menestarffer (Wien 1481, issued in print in 1473) have also been preserved in the Archdiocesan Library in Pécs, and the text of Hartmann Schedel’s collection is available at the Bavarian State Library. The German translation of Jan Thuróczy’s chronicle, which was issued in print in 1488 and was created in Bavaria after 1490, is preserved in the Heidelberg University Library. Each of these items would have been worth including among these kinds of testimonials.

The abovementioned handwritten copies and translations of texts of Hungarian chronicles confirm E. Csukovits’s conclusions are based only on works of Henry of Mügeln and Jakob Unrest. All of these texts are a sign of an unabated interest in Hungarians and their country in neighboring Austrian lands or more widely Austrian-Bavarian lands (p.39). As was noted by Veszprémy in his review, the omission of the role of familiarity with The Deeds of the Hungarians by Simon of Kéza in the Apennine Peninsula does not allow for a full assessment of the shaping of views of the Hungarians and Hungary from the end of thirteenth century.

Csukovits should have included in her discussion of monuments of Hungarian historiography that shaped views concerning Hungarians and Hungary the transcripts of handwritten Hungarian chronicles which were either transcribed by authors of foreign origin or were created in the West or found their way there in the Middle Ages.

Csukovits rightly includes Österreichische Chronik by Jakob Unrest, parish priest of Sankt Martin am Techelsberg in Carinthia, in sources discussing Hungarians and Hungary. She suggests, however, that, although this is not explicitly shown in the source text, the parish priest from Carinthia compared Turkish and Hungarian incursions into Carinthia from the 1480s with a plague of locusts (p.148). In this context, it is possible to point out that metaphors comparing Hungarians to locusts appear primarily, though not exclusively, in descriptions of Hungarians making incursions into Europe in the first half of tenth century, e.g. in The Chronicle of the Czechs by Cosmas of Prague, The Chronicle or history of the two cities by Otto of Freising, and The Chronicle about the Princes of Bavaria by Andreas of Ratisbon.

The suggestions raised by reviewers notwithstanding, which given the breadth of the research topic and the range of potentially relevant sources, should be considered natural. Csukovits’s monograph provides an overview of perceptions concerning Hungarians which covers several centuries and is based on an array of sources diverse in genre and provenance. It also familiarizes the English readership with a research topic undertaken primarily by Hungarian scholars interested in perceptions of Hungarians in distant epochs and provides a foundation for further research, for instance of a comparative character. Csukovits’s work also fills at least partly the gap in the research on so-called origines gentium. This gap has been felt in part due to the publication by Akademie Verlag of Alheydis Plassmann’s Origo gentis: Identitäts- und Legitimitätsstiftung in früh- und hochmittelalterlichen Herkunftserzählungen (Orbis mediaevalis. Vostellungswelten des Mittelalters 7, Berlin 2006), in which the question of perceptions concerning Hungarians was not considered at all.

Lesław Spychała
University of Wrocław
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Esterházy Pál és Esterházy Orsolya levelezése [The correspondence between Pál Esterházy and Orsolya Esterházy]. Edited by Noémi Viskolcz and Edina Zvara. Budapest: MTA KIK–Kossuth Kiadó, 2019. 352 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2021.3.581

The work under review is the first in a new series (Esterhazyana), though it is certainly not without precedent. It fits well into the series of works containing the correspondence of prominent couples in the Early Modern era (for instance, the correspondence between Tamás Nádasdy and his wife Orsolya Kanizsai, the correspondence between Pál Nyáry and his wife Kata Várday, and the correspondence between Miklós Esterházy and his wife and the daughter of Kata Várday, Krisztina Nyáry). It also constitutes an important addition to the systematic study and publication of documents concerning the Esterházy family and, in particular, Pál Esterházy. Pál Esterházy’s philanthropic and literary activities were thoroughly covered by participants in the 2013 Rebakucs conference, whose presentations were published as a volume of articles two years later. Esterházy’s private life, however, has for the most part been considerably less visible to the research community. Notably, this edition, it seems, will not reveal the secret face of Pál Esterházy either, for although it offers a written record of his 30-year marriage, it seems to provide little more than the morsels of two separately lived lives. As the editors note, “the correspondence is an interesting but often one-sided record of a long marriage. Much is left unsaid in the letters, as if they both had other, separate lives” (p.48).

János Hárich, who compiled Pál Esterházy’s extensive correspondence and other documents, estimated the total collection of letters to number some 7,000 items, 362 of which belong to the correspondence between Esterházy and his first wife, Orsolya Esterházy. This volume presents this body of documents. The primary materials are preceded by four texts. A foreword by István Monok is followed by the “Introduction and Overview of the Research History” by Noémi Viskolcz. Here, it might have been worthwhile to have offered more detail on the lessons to be drawn from the letters and other issues of interest from the perspectives of culture and cultural history. Viskolcz rightly notes that the letters give one considerably more insight into Orsolya’s life, even if she was sometimes terse in her phrasing. Orsolya Esterházy was unable to spell foreign words correctly, and her handwriting suggests lack of regular practice, though it perhaps would be an exaggeration to call it ugly. There was a rapid deterioration in the quality of her handwriting in the 1670s, which Viskolcz suggests may have been the consequence of a medical issue, perhaps a trauma. Indeed, Viskolcz convincingly links this decline to certain events mentioned in the family documents. The rules according to which the letters were transcribed are precise and seem to have been consistently observed, but I will discuss this in more detail in the section on questions concerning transcription.

The introduction is followed by a historical overview entitled “Pál Esterházy and Orsolya Esterházy,” also by Noémi Viskolcz. After Orsolya Esterházy became an orphan at a relatively young age, the fight for control of her property and wealth, the measures surrounding the papal dispensation, and the secret marriage and resulting family scandal all illustrate that, from the outset, the Esterházy family subordinated everything to its marriage strategy. There was no question of a marriage based on love, and indeed one is hard pressed to discern even a trace of the kind of mutual respect that one finds, for example, in the exchange of letters between Tamás Nádasdy and Orsolya Kanizsai. While the introduction promises a glimpse into the history of a long marriage, the letters bear witness to the way in which Pál and Orsolya lived apart for 30 years. It is perhaps not the job of the people who have assembled this collection of primary source materials to deal with such matters, but anyone who wants to subject this body of documents to a meaningful analysis will have to include other aspects that are essential to the study of women’s fates in the seventeenth century. Orsolya very clearly did not learn foreign languages, nor did she move much in society, and the fact that she was often pregnant (she gave birth to at least 17 children) may have been a hindrance, but as the editors of the volume themselves observe, most of the noblewomen of the time were not as drastically cut off from both the culture and society of their time as she was, and it was Pál, her one-time guardian and then husband (who is portrayed as a benevolent man), who may well have been responsible for this. In any case, the question merits more thorough discussion in a comparative framework, if only because the insights thus gained might prompt us to reconsider our image of Pál Esterházy. To give just one example, Pál Esterházy kept admirable control of the family’s papers, incomes, and expenditure, and he kept meticulous records of all items (thus offering a veritable treasure trove for historians today). However, this is perhaps only half the story. The portrait of Pál as a skillful organizer with an almost obsessive compulsion to write seems more complex when one considers that the newly widowed Esterházy kept careful records, down to the last penny, of the costs of his wife’s funeral without, however, bothering to mention when it was held.

The intricate history of the family is followed by a discussion by Erika Kiss of Orsolya’s dowry. The text contains many passages which were cited in the preceding essay, and it might have been preferable for a more cautious editor to have eliminated this redundancy and make the narrative more coherent. That said, Kiss’s contribution is a strong piece of writing, clearly linked both to the letters and to the research that has been carried out in recent years to inventory the Esterházy treasures (I am thinking here first and foremost of the 2006 and 2013 exhibitions). This discussion of the fates of the jewelry, the trousseau, and items of clothing offer some context for the letters and also can be compared with and added to the inventories accessible today, first and foremost Pál’s inventory list, which was previously thought to be jewelry designs.

Turning to the transcriptions of the various texts, several observations can be made. In accordance with the principles underlying the publication of these kinds of texts, the editors have put together a partially standardized text. While the resulting texts preserve features of the language and spelling of the time, we are nevertheless confronted with texts which have never been seen before and which are difficult to search, since they are not entirely standardized. The data concerning the letters (serial numbers, sender, addressee, date) are given, followed by the texts of the letters themselves, the details of the envelope (or the exterior paper in which the letter was sent) and the autograph, and the precise archival notation used today. The texts are clear and legible, but there are some inconsistencies in the use of an exclamation mark in parentheses (“(!)”) to call the reader’s attention to particular details. In the case of text written by Orsolya, for instance, the editors have used this to indicate passages in which she confused the vowels “a” and “o,” for instance spelling the Hungarian word “szolgálatomat” (“my servant”) incorrectly as “szolgálotamat.” However, no indication is given to indicate spots in the texts written by Pál in which he made similar mistakes. It might have been preferable simply to have explained these features of the texts in the introduction instead of cluttering the transcriptions with these kinds of markings. The notes of the critical apparatus and the explanatory notes are not separated from each other, but rather are given in footnotes numbered consecutively. Most of the explanatory notes provide useful information, but again it would have been helpful to have paid a bit more attention to consistency and coherence. For instance, at times the editors seem to think they know, in connection with mention of an approaching coronation, which coronation the texts are referring to (p.345), while at other times they do not (p.333). It also might have been preferable to have included a prosopography as an appendix.

Last but not least, the book is a very impressively designed publication and is clearly the result of conscientious, attentive work. It includes an array of lovely illustrations which have been judiciously selected and it has been attractively typeset. It is a work worthy of the Esterházy family and legacy, and it will serve as an immensely useful source for scholars on the era.

Emőke Rita Szilágyi
Research Centre for the Humanities, Institute for Literary Studies
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Cameralism and Enlightenment: Happiness, Governance and Reform in Transnational Perspective. Edited by Ere Nokkala and Nicholas B. Miller. With the editorial assistance of Anthony J. La Vopa. New York–London: Routledge, 2020. x+325 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2021.3.581

In the past decade, political economy scholarship has paid considerable attention to the intellectual contexts that fundamentally affected the formation of modern economic thinking by the period of the High Enlightenment. In this course, new findings on interstate relations, the transmission and dispersion of economic ideas, and practices on sub-national and supra-national levels led to a reappraisal of the old labels of mercantilism, physiocracy, and cameralism. Especially in case of the latter, the renewed interest in revising the old interpretation raised doubts concerning its simplistic elements, in particular its elusive character and its identification with German economic theory. The ongoing debates on cameralist thought revealed two main sources of these pretensions in historiography created partly by Anglo-French writers on political economy and partly by German economic historians, both of whom labeled cameralism primarily as a German variation of mercantilism.

By deconstructing this old vision, according to which cameralist policy was a coherent, static, and systematic phenomenon, the most recent investigations have detected subversive synergies and sought to inspect cameralist thought as a changing and European subject, all the while bringing the problems of normative political language, existing practices, and disciplinary boundaries to the fore. Reflecting on these issues, the past years witnessed the evolution of two conceptualizations. The most recent development is connected to Martin Seppel and Keith Tribe (Cameralism in Practice: State Administration and Economy in Early Modern Europe. Woodbridge–Rochester: The Boydell Press, 2017), which concentrates on the pragmatic side of cameralism, characterizing it as a living and European discourse centered around the local university culture and the coexistence of early modern administration and economy. The other alternative, based on a reevaluation of Johann Heinrich Gottlob von Justi’s place in the eighteenth-century world (Ere Nokkala. From Natural Law to Political Economy: J.H.G. von Justi on State, Commerce and International Order. Vienna: LIT Verlag, 2019), underlies this collection of studies under discussion, which, as the title indicates, places itself at the borderlands of political economy and Enlightenment studies, while it seeks to shed light on the gains and losses provided by a transnational perspective.

As for its approach, as the introduction promises, this collection of studies chooses the path of the intellectual history of political economy, and it goes further in the direction of explaining cameralism in terms of political theory. In doing so, the editors of the volume, Ere Nokkala (University of Helsinki) and Nicholas B. Miller (University of Lisbon), stress the key words “porosity” and “blending” as explanatory categories for inspecting cameralism not as a rigid entity, but rather, as they suggest, as an “aspirational practice” and a “lens” through which cameralists were connected to the broader intellectual environment of the eighteenth century (p.16). Exploring the interplays between cameralism and the Enlightenment, the volume strives to draw together the processes of economization and politicization under the so-called “economic turn,” discussing both phenomena as starting points for an evolving cameralist agenda across eighteenth-century Europe. As for the other undertakings in the volume, its aim is to dissolve the old categorization in two senses: in reflecting on the generally accepted prejudices and misinterpretations in historiography and in escaping the discussion of cameralism in the conventional framework of the German Sonderweg theory (p.3).

The thirteen essays in the volume present the findings of three international workshops organized by the Lichtenberg-Kolleg, The Göttingen Institute for Advanced Study and the Research Network: Cameralism across the World of Enlightenment: Nature, Order, Diversity, Happiness between 2016 and 2017.1 The studies offer glimpses in three coherent parts into the main intersections where cameralist thought was influenced by other ideas, ideological frameworks, and practices.

The essays in the first part (“Interactions”) discuss the interrelations between natural law and political economy from various angles, explaining their significance in developing early practice-oriented cameralism to a theory-based state science, with a special account of economic actors. From the point of view of historiography, Lars Magnusson’s criticism targets the reduced scope that drew a close association between cameralist thought and the absolute state. As for the changes in cameralism, he goes on to argue that its transformation into an economy- and natural rights-based discipline was much more influenced by the natural jurisprudence of Christian Thomasius than that of Christian Wolff. This general observation is discussed more thoroughly in Hans Erich Bödeker’s essay, in which he pays particular attention to the reconciliation of private interest with the common good argumentation. As it is presented in his study, the combination of the two in the writings of influential cameralists, such as Justi, Sonnenfels, and Daniel Voss can be traced back to personal intentions and dispositions to the application of voluntaristic and paternalistic traditions in natural law. Therefore, the transformation of the concept of happiness, bringing the idea of state tutelage to the fore by the late eighteenth century, was a hesitant and non-simultaneous process, rather than a strictly chronological one. (p.71)

The other two essays in this part seek to find new evidence of the connection between cameralist thought and international relations, especially international trade and politics. Examining Justi’s publications, both essays go against the old interpretation that equates cameralism with a reduced interest in political power and domestic administration, arguing that in the context of the Europe of the Seven Years War, cameralists faced the challenge of joining the discussion on the “jealousy of trade.” With a focus on the expansion of the cameralist vision to international trade, Ere Nokkala’s essay focuses on the ambitious but less successful campaign of Friedrich II between 1750s and 1760s, which aimed at implementing extensive reforms to Prussia’s domestic and foreign policies. Justi, as one of the promoters of this campaign, had a substantial role in producing publications in which, using the metaphor of “the man of the world,” he described Prussia as a new Athens, whose trading nation lived in a monarchy rather than a republic. This argumentation is approached in Koen Stapelbroek’s essay from the angle of translations and intercultural exchanges. Through a multi-contextual analysis (Austrian, Prussian, French, Dutch), the study offers insights into the history of translating Justi’s anti-Dutch and anti-republican vision on European interstate relations in the 1770s, when, instigated by the rising economic patriotism after the abolition of the Franco-Dutch commercial treaty, the Dutch republic sought to reconfigure its place among European states.

The essays in the second part (“Widening Perspectives”) discuss two classical fields of inquiry, both of which received particular attention in Michel Foucault’s writings, too. Focusing on the interculturality of cameralism, Nicolas B. Miller’s essay describes the interest in populationism as a distinctive characteristic of cameralistic thinking, making cameralists compatible with eighteenth-century comparative science. Emphasizing Justi’s uniqueness among his contemporaries, however, Miller’s argument, which links his efforts to draw general conclusions from comparisons of European populations to the political-moral school that used to be associated with Montesquieu and the Scottish moralists, would have merited a broader explanation. The study fails to recognize the other possible sources of the (German) non-moralizing fashion of comparative political analysis, such as statistics, political geography, natural history, etc. Intellectual kinship is also the central question of Richard Hölzl’s essay. In the framework of presentism, he approaches his subject from the angle of the environmental history of ideas and explores the intersection of the three areas demarcated by the Foucauldian ideas of gouvernementalité and biopolitics, ecological statehood, and cameralist efficiency. By examining the texts of Justi, Pfeiffer, and Sonnenfels in this context, he comes to recognize three basic segments of ecological statehood (the efficient exploitation and conservation of natural resources and the management of natural hazards) as the constituents of cameralist thought.

The essays in the third section (“Dissemination and Local Mediation”) center around the multifaceted problem of cultural translation and dissemination. Concentrating on the intellectual implications, on the one hand, they discuss the influence of cameralism on knowledge production in a specific historical context, but on the other hand, they also shed light on the struggles of interpreting cameralist thought in recent scholarship. As for the political stake of adapting the cameralist framework, the essays by Alexandra Ortolja-Baird, Alexandre Mendes Cunha, Adriana Luna-Fabritius, and Danila E. Raskov seem to agree that, despite the cultural diversities, cultural transmission in the Lombard, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian surfaced either by domesticating the setting or just some elements of the economic and administrative practice (or discourse) of enlightened reformism, including authors such as Bielefeld, Justi, Sonnenfels, Friedrich II, Beccaria, and Melon. Therefore, processing this intellectual package could yield different results and serve various purposes, from implementing a real practice (Lombardy) to gaining political influence in economic administration and reform (Portugal, Spain) and representing a reformist intention in the tsarist court (Russia).

As for dealing with the conceptual difficulties, all four essays follow different strategies. While Ortolja-Baird investigates the intellectual career of Cesare Beccaria in a classical biographical framework, exploring it from Italian political economy to Austrian cameralist reform, Mendes Cunha and Luna-Fabritius discuss the interactions between their translator protagonists (Rodrigo de Souza Coutinho, Francisco Mariano Nipho, etc.) and the multilayered context in which cultural transmission occurred. In contrast, Raskov’s essay seeks to position the accumulation of economic knowledge (including the texts by cameralist authors) beginning after the launch of political instructions by Catherine II (Nakaz) in a holistic framework. Deconstructing the functionality usually attributed to translations, he argues that the presence of the cameralist spirit in eighteenth-century Russia can be explained by the logic of the “elective affinities,” rather than coherent development. From this point of view, Keith Tribe’s fair criticism on how to define and investigate cameralist thought (“What is Cameralism?”) is especially valuable. Even if his pragmatic definition (“taught practice”) seems to contradict the approach followed in this volume. Jonas Gerlings’ contribution to Immanuel Kant’s account of cameral sciences is the odd one out in this part, as it returns to the issue of intellectual kinship. Kant’s affinity with the cameral sciences, misinterpreted by the scholarship, as he argues, cannot be discerned from his philosophical critiques, but from his social status in Königsberg’s elite, his lectures given to state officials, and his engagement in promoting luxury.

The volume ends with Anthony J. La Vopa’s epilogue, which reposits Peter Gay’s account of what the investigation of structures means for scholarship on the intellectual history of the Enlightenment. In his concluding remarks, La Vopa considers the interplay and convergences (or blending) between eighteenth-century political economy and cameralist discourse as a specific compound, characteristic mostly for the formation of cameralist thought. Concerning this general assumption and the volume’s pretensions on this issue, two further implications should be noted, both relating to the perspective of the history of science neglected by this volume. First, the essays in the volume bring in a number of examples of the heterogeneity of cameralist discourse. With some exceptions (Stapelbroek, Raskov), however, the references to other fields of knowledge, such as statistics, physiocracy, natural history, etc. are given without much reflection. Even if the editors’ argument relies on a comprehensive understanding of porosity and blending, this point would have merited a wider perspective for a comparative analysis of the eighteenth-century disciplinary landscape and knowledge production. This maneuver might have been beneficial, as it could have provided further rhetorical and structural evidence not only concerning the complexity of cameralist discourse, but also concerning the question of why blending and porosity actually occurred in adapting and disseminating cameralist thought.

Second, the essays of the volume focus on explaining cameralist thought in the context of political economy. Although this choice is aligned with the volume’s intellectual program, it causes avoidable losses in semantics. The most noticeable example of these simplifications is the inconsistent translation of Justi’s practical cameralism (“Polizeiwissenschaft”) either as the “science of Policey” or as the received anachronisms the “science of police” or “police science” (widely used only from the mid-nineteenth century onwards). Interestingly, both translations ignore the general meaning of “Polizeiwissenschaft,” referred to as a political science (“scientia politica”) primarily in the German-speaking world. In conceptual terms, this remained in use even in second half of the eighteenth century, dating back to the dissolution of the early modern Aristotelian political doctrine. Reflecting on the historical background of intellectual exchange between natural jurisprudence and cameralist thought would have proven especially helpful.

All in all, Cameralism and Enlightenment is a rich and valuable collection of essays reflecting on thought-provoking ideas, and it provides an impressive account of the intersections between cameralist thought and the Enlightenment movement. With its choice of subject, the book merits scholarly attention, and it offers several fundamental arguments which will hopefully lead to constructive debates in the field. As for the intellectual position of the volume, it seeks to describe its subject as a general European phenomenon, compatible with other eighteenth-century trends in politics and economy. By challenging some of the pretensions of the scholarship, it places itself in an inconvenient position of navigating and mediating between incommensurable traditions of discourse of intellectual history and political economy studies. In doing so, it provides a decentered view on cameralism, primarily based on the European dispersion and dissemination of Justi’s account. Therefore, the volume’s transnational perspective is rather set on interpreting the implications of Justi’s attempts to expand the cameralist scope, rather than on integrating other less-known representatives of cameralism. The other great concern of the volume is that it centers on avoiding the trap of the German Sonderweg theory, which is especially welcome and is articulated most clearly in the essays of third section, the greatest achievement of which is that it provides novel approaches to the Mediterranean, Iberian, and Russian perspectives. It is a great loss, however, that following the wide and integrative approach of the workshop papers, other regional histories, such as those of Scandinavia and East-Central Europe, were not included in this volume.

 

Tibor Bodnár-Király
IZEA – Universität Halle
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Roma Voices in History: A Sourcebook; Roma Civic Emancipation in Central, South-Eastern and Eastern Europe from the 19th Century until World War II. Edited by Elena Marushiakova and Vesselin Popov. Leiden: Brill–Ferdinand Schöningh, 2021. 1104 pp. doi: 10.30965/9783657705184
DOI 10.38145/2021.3.581

Roma Voices in History is an unprecedented and, therefore, extremely precious publication which will definitely change the paradigms in Romani studies from various points of view by re-writing several stereotypical presumptions, prejudices, historical fake-news, and misunderstandings which have dominated various scientific discourses, including historical, ethnographical, and sociological research. Over the course of the last 30 years, the authors, Elena Marushiakova and Vesselin Popov, both of whom work at the School of History at the University of St. Andrews, have written a great number of books and articles about Roma history with a specific focus on Bulgaria, Central Asia and the Caucasus, and the Ottoman Empire. In the relatively small circle of international scholars in Romani studies, Marushiakova and Popov have a rich scientific oeuvre, both as historians and ethnologists. Marushiakova is also the president of the Gypsy Lore Society, the world’s oldest organization of Roma studies, founded in Great Britain in 1888 but located in the USA since 1989. The present sourcebook is the result of an ERC-project entitled RomaInterbellum: Roma Civic Emancipation Between the Two World Wars, carried out between 2016 and 2021.

Both the RomaInterbellum and Roma Voices in History offer a new approach to the study of Roma history in which archival documents prove that the various Roma communities in Europe, instead of being only “passive recipients of policy measures, are also active architects of their own lives (XIX).” This new paradigm, which implies taking a longue durée view of Roma history and suggests that Roma are active subjects and participants in their history and, more concretely, in their political emancipation, complements the existing paradigms about Roma history. As Mátyás Binder notes, referring to the research of Thomas Acton and Pál Nagy, Roma history has either been viewed as a history of struggle and persecution or as the paradigm of changing modes of coexistence (Mátyás Binder, “A cigányok”, vagy a “cigánykérdés” története? Áttekintés a magyarországi cigányok történeti kutatásairól [2009]). According to other views, Roma have two histories: one that is written from outside (by non-Roma historians) and one that is mostly written by “self-appointed” representatives of a naïve science (Péter Tóth, A magyarországi cigányság története a feudalizmus korában [2006]). Finally, there is a body of widely acknowledged and frequently cited literature which presents Roma as a “people without history” (Katie Trumpener, The Time of the Gipsies [1992]), as people who master the “art of not being governed” (James C. Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed [2009]), or as a culture based on bricolage and exchange (Judith Okely, Constructing Culture through Shared Location, Bricolage and Exchange [2011]). Marushiakova and Popov sharply criticize these approaches and emphasize the existence of historical consciousness among Roma and, therefore, the evidence of Roma history, also accentuating that “how much and what kind of historical sources still remain undiscovered in archives and libraries worldwide and …have not been put into academic circulation, hardly anyone can determine” (p.XX).

Thus, innovative and pioneering approaches lie both in the collection and presentation of the primary sources (roughly 1,000 pages, with the longest sections devoted to Bulgaria, Romania, and the USSR, while Greece, Latvia, and Finland are covered in the shortest ones) and in the surrounding context sketched in the comments following the primary sources, offering an interpretation which, instead of providing simply a “Roma-centric prism,” reflects on the Roma emancipatory movements in line with the general historical and social context. This integrative view is also expressed in Marushiakova and Popov’s definition of civic emancipation: it is an action for the sake of an equilibrium between the principal dimensions of the Roma presence (community and society), acceptable both for the Roma themselves and for the macro-society. Therefore, according to Marushiakova and Popov, the Roma movement for civic emancipation is a permanent struggle to achieve the equal civic status of the Roma as an ethnic community and as individual citizens with their rights in all fields of social life (political, religious, educational, economic, cultural, etc.). It should be underlined, however, that no other book or previous research on a transnational level has been published about the early stages of Roma emancipation. Normally, research projects and databases deal with the Roma civic movement only after World War II. As Acton observes, for instance, “there were no transnational entities until 1945, only various survival strategies (...) until 1945 Roma politics was based on acceptance of marginalization and submission to the nation-state” (Thomas Acton. Beginnings and Growth of Transnational Movements of Roma to Achieve Civil Rights after the Holocaust). Other scholars, such as Vermeersch, van Baar, and Binder, focus on the post-socialist period and compare the different forms of ethnic mobilization and the Romani movement after 1989.

What texts examine the material of the different Roma movements? Until the publication of this sourcebook, the archival documents that had been collected offered insights into the relationship of the majority society to the Roma minorities (laws, ordonnances, interrogation protocols, the notes of various assemblies and councils the leading figures of which reflect on the “Gypsy question”). This time, it’s the voice of Roma actors, mostly reported in materials that have been published for the first time, including many documents which have never been used before for academic purposes. In the first chapter, which illustrates the prelude to the emancipatory movements of the interwar period, presenting materials from the nineteenth century, the reader encounters the first requests from 1865 to establish a separate state (Gypsy Voivodina) and the appearance of the first professional association in 1890 (of Gypsy musicians, also in the Austro-Hungarian Empire). These early examples, which prove that the beginnings of Roma emancipation followed the paths of the regional nation-building processes, are followed by materials collected from eleven different countries, presented first in the original language and then in an English translation and then supplements with comments by experts. Although the name of the commenters is mentioned and they also appear in the acknowledgment section, it would have been preferable to have introduced them very briefly or at least to have indicated their affiliations. Nevertheless, the primary sources and the comments are both exceptionally exciting. They include documents concerning the establishment of religious and educational associations, articles published in different Roma newspapers, and publications by Gypsy activists from the USSR.

As also suggested by the authors, this outstanding sourcebook should be used not only by a limited niche of scholars and Roma activists but also in primary and secondary education. From now on, discussions of nationalistic visions and the formation of civil society during the first half of the twentieth century throughout Europe should be complemented by discussion of these sources and stories, and Roma civic emancipation in the central, southeastern, and eastern regions of Europe should be seen and understood as an integral and inseparable part of the general development of modern nationalism and, therefore, of the entire European historical canon.

Eszter György
Eötvös Loránd University
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The Lost World of Socialists at Europe’s Margins: Imagining Utopia, 1870s–1920s. By Maria Todorova. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020. 364 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2021.3.581

In some ways (and in her own words) Maria Todorova’s book is a culmination of a trajectory which began with another “imagining,” that of the Balkans: history as an emancipatory project which problematizes ideology and the erasure of liminal spaces and lives (p.252). The author sets out to recapture the appeal of socialism and its utopia at Europe’s margins (for the first, pre-1900 generations of Bulgarian socialists), and she masterfully succeeds. The result is a book which will be of interest not only to scholars on the region or the ideology, but those interested in emotions, utopias, or the creation of the modern political subject.

Todorova concentrates on the period before 1917, a time when the notion of a socialist utopia was up for debate and had not yet found “earthly form.” She challenges the dominant narrative of two types of social democracy (a Western and a Russian one), which she suggests constitutes an oversimplification of the ideas circulating at the time, when, despite the supposedly hegemonic ideological power of the Second International, other socialisms could flourish on their own merits. Bulgaria, with the strongest social democratic movement in Eastern Europe during that period, thus offers a perfect example with which to fracture this narrative, which situates socialism within working-class industrial societies or sees its arrival in rural communities as an aberration.

Part I of the book deals explicitly with this typology. It consists of two chapters in which Todorova describes the transfer of ideas into Bulgaria and the ways in which local socialists navigated nationalism in these formative years for the nation-state. As Todorova points out, socialism has almost been erased from the latest global histories, despite being the premier dissident idea of the nineteenth century. The first chapter strongly disproves the notion that Bulgarian socialism was transmitted mainly through Russian ideas and the Russian language, and Todorova masterfully shows the local political conditions which shaped the ideas of Bulgarian socialists. In chapter two, the author takes the Western socialists to task too, uncovering their prejudices against the fate of progressive projects in the Balkans at the time.

In Part II, Todorova concentrates on the creation of these generations of socialists through the use of a database and personal narratives. Nearly 3,500 socialists on whom we have data are tallied, allowing Todorova to show the different trajectories that took them into the movement, from education to experiences of poverty. Here, Todorova combines the quantitative with the qualitative in the best way possible, drawing on many life histories to show the various “socialisms” that existed in Bulgaria, from anarchism and Tolstoyesque ideas to the various Marxist trends. The extent to which socialist ideas exerted a powerful influence on almost all key figures in the Bulgarian national revolutionary movement is notable, and this expands the argument beyond the relatively small socialist movement to the larger trends in popular ideas at the time. Chapter five also explicitly deals with the roles of women in the movement, showing convincingly that many women were socialists before they were wives and supported their socialist husbands in both hidden and open ways, helping them serve as leaders of the movement.

In the final part, Todorova zooms in the most, tackling the issue of scalability: are these lives singular or representative of something else? In three wonderful final chapters, she tells the stories of the socialist elder Angelina Boneva, the graphomaniac Todor Tsekov, and the socialist couple Koika Tineva and Nikola Sakarov. Each story brings out a different strand of her wider argument. She considers how personal stories are created and how memoirs and autobiographical tales differ. The socialist subjects here are far from those we know from similar work done on Soviet socialist diaries, for example. There is no overarching model of the “socialist self” to which these Bulgarians cleave, hence Todorova uncovers various strands of self-narration.

As in her previous work, Todorova sheds light on her own intellectual and archival journeys, and this adds another layer to this work. We see her chasing down references in provincial town archives or meditating on the erasure of personal details in diaries by descendants. This has been a noted feature of Todorova’s work and helps her craft a narrative which engages the reader on every page. She is attentive not just to the political and intellectual journeys of her protagonists, but also spends plenty of time showing how political the personal really is. Anecdotes abound, from tales of food being sent to Kautsky to glimpses into the love lives of some of the protagonists and touching personal notes, complete with flowers, shared by husbands and wives.

Thus, the arguments that Todorova advances intertwine. She digs up the historical debris of the failed project of socialism, rescuing it both from the Soviet shadow that overdetermined its pre-history and its contemporary losses. Carefully noting the limits of her sources, she nevertheless recaptures a world of human visions and emotions that shaped a utopia that was not yet there and even after 1917 was contested. Through the personal narratives of various figures, she shows the broader divisions of Bulgarian socialism into Narrows and Broads, their internecine struggles, and the issues at stake. She convincingly shows that these socialist utopias were born out of the peculiar circumstances of post-independence Bulgaria: an imperfect but existing parliamentary democracy with a largely egalitarian social structure and a strong focus on education as cultural capital. These socialists thus constructed politics attuned to the Balkan circumstances, beyond German or Russian patronage. Though their imaginative vision was physically destroyed by the White Terror of 1923–25 and narratively destroyed by the hegemony of orthodox communist historiography after 1944, Todorova implores us nonetheless to take it seriously. Just because something failed doesn’t mean it must be excised from history. And if we focus solely on things that did succeed (if the whole history of the vision of a socialist utopia is merely a way to explain the Soviet experiment), we miss things that did in fact happen, for Bulgarian socialism did create its own concepts and lived experience between 1870 and 1920.

Todorova’s book is not just a historical tour-de-force, showing how emotions and ideologies continuously shape each other or how individuals form their own subjectivities. It is also not simply a beautiful narrative of extraordinary lives of ordinary people who sought to find their place in life. It can also be read as a call to take early socialism seriously as a project which gave rise to multiple ways of fighting for solidarity and a better world. It is no coincidence, in my view, that the poem “September” by Geo Milev, a Bulgarian socialist who died as a martyr to his cause, is frequently cited. Many people from all walks of life saw something vital in these ideas in Bulgaria and participated wholeheartedly in constructing themselves as participants in this project and the project itself as a unique movement.

Victor Petrov
University of Tennessee
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Imagining Bosnian Muslims in Central Europe, Representations, Transfers and Exchanges. Edited by František Šístek. New York–Oxford: Berghahn, 2021. 302 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2021.3.581

The present volume is the result of a Czech research project entitled “Central Europe and Balkan Muslims: Relations, Images, Stereotypes,” coordinated by Ladislav Hladký and František Šístek. Imagining Bosnian Muslims in Central Europe proposes a panorama of the encounters, exchanges, and transfers among the peoples of Central Europe and the Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The volume devotes attention to the development and transformations of a modern Bosnian Muslim identity on the long term. It investigates the attitudes and policies of Central European societies towards Bosnian Muslims and asks how Central European representations and conceptualizations of Bosnians affected the identity of the latter. Central Europe is understood by the authors in the widest possible sense, which covers the former territories of the Habsburg Monarchy, the Balkans, and Germany. The Balkans and Central Europe are deeply intertwined and overlapping ethnic spaces, and, as František Šístek convincingly argues in the introduction, Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes should be included in discourses on Central Europe even if these peoples are ascribed to other regions as well. The time scope of the volume extends from the early nineteenth century to the twenty-first century, which is necessary if one seeks to offer an analysis of the long-term influences and effects of Bosnian Muslim history concerning identity constructions and representations. A case in point is the effects of the Millet system on religion, nation, and culture. The Millet system not only restrained the formation of national identities in the nineteenth century, which was reinforced by the policies of Béni Kállay (the long-time Habsburg governor of the province) on separating religious communities. It also had a lasting influence on the identity constructions to which Bosnian Muslims turned in the Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav periods (as discussed in the chapter by Božidar Jezernik).

Bosnian Muslim identity has been significantly influenced by the special (ethnic and religious) position of the group in the constantly changing political landscape in the Balkans. The chapter by Charles Sabatos attributed a malleable and weak identity to Bosnian Muslims. For instance, the Croatian writer Vjenceslav Novak regards them as misguided Serbs who have been lost to their community. South Slavic writers would consider their identity as a “temporary costume” (p.146) which should be replaced by a different Slavic identity in the long run.

There are no thematic sections or underlying structure in the volume, but some arguments are put forward by several articles and thus are worth discussing in some detail. One of them concerns the special status of Bosnian Islam in the Muslim world. Zora Hesová introduces the concept of secularity, that is “a capacity to exist qua religion within a secular context” (p.117). The high level of secularity of Bosnian Muslims is largely thanks to the legacy of Habsburg rule, which established an autonomous Islamic community. Hesová demonstrates how this institution managed to survive until the twenty-first century, for instance, in the very structure of the most recent constitution of the Bosnian Islamic community in 2004. The process of secularization had started in other spheres in the late nineteenth century as well. Concerning the educational system, Oliver Pejić describes how Croatian elementary school textbooks were adapted to the needs of both Christian and Muslim pupils. The deliberate adaptation of textbooks helped replace traditional religious schools with interconfessional state schools and promoted the Westernization and integration of the Bosnian Muslim community in line with the efforts of Habsburg administrators.

The Habsburg experience and the geographical proximity of Bosnian Muslims to Europe significantly impacted Central European attitudes towards the community. These attitudes, like the Bosnian Muslim identity, were malleable and constantly changing. The negative stigmatization of Bosnian Muslims is a recurring phenomenon in Central European societies. The chapter by František Šístek argues that Czech literature and travelogues generally presented a negative image of Bosnian Muslims. The “Turk” (also used as a synonym for Bosnian Muslims) is similarly presented as barbarian and savage during the occupation war. The chapter by Martin Gabriel reveals that Muslim fighters were associated with the Turks and were described as “brute and inhuman” in the Habsburg press. The Turkish reference remained a long-standing stigma for Bosnian Muslims, as illustrated by Marija Mandić, who notes a particular Serbian proverb (“A Turk convert is worse than a Turk”) and its uses in public discourse. The proverb was used to repudiate and demonize the Ottoman heritage and stigmatize Slavic Muslims as betrayers of the national body. However, the geographical proximity of Bosnian Muslims and the direct interactions between Bosnian Muslims and Central Europeans resulted in positive attitudes towards Bosnian Muslims in certain contexts. The chapters by Aldina Čemernica and Merima Šehagić give examples of these attitudes: Bosnian Muslims are regarded as secular and white Europeans, the exemplary representatives of a European Islam. In addition, Bosnian Muslim migrants faced less discrimination and stigmatization (for example in Germany), and they were even regarded as a refugee elite in some countries. This positive view was shaped in part by the aforementioned higher level of secularization among Bosnian Muslims.

As is noted in the closing remarks, the volume does not fully adopt the promised long-term perspective, because the Yugoslav period has attracted much less scholarly attention so far and, as is plainly seen in the time-scope of the present contributions. In the meantime, there has been a growing interest in the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina under Habsburg rule between 1878 and 1918. This finds expression in the plethora of works devoted to the political, cultural, and economic aspects of Habsburg occupation in the provinces and in the creative use and rethinking of now classical approaches like Said’s Orientalism and post-colonial theory, which are nicely reinterpreted and rethought in the present contributions. However, the volume does not do justice to representations and transfers in the whole of the Central European region. The interactions among Hungarians and Bosnian Muslims are not addressed in any of the contributions, although the Ottoman Empire and Hungary have had an eventful common history, and Hungary, as an integral part of the Habsburg Monarchy, was actively involved in the occupation and annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A symbolic indication of this neglect is that Francis Joseph is often referred to in the text as “the Kaiser,” although Bosnia and Herzegovina was occupied by the whole of the empire and was governed by the common minister of finance (not responsible to and not elected by the Austrian or Hungarian government). In spite of this lacuna, the volume is a welcome addition to the ongoing scholarly debates on the history and present of Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the Balkans but also as a constitutive element of Central Europe.

Mátyás Erdélyi
French Research Center in Humanities and Social Sciences
Research Center for the Humanities, Institute of History
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Women and Politics: Nationalism and Femininity in Interwar Hungary. By Balázs Sipos. Trondheim: Trondheim Studies on East European Cultures & Societies, 2019. 163 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2021.3.581

The English-language monograph by Balázs Sipos, which focuses on an era of Hungarian women’s history on which no comprehensive historical analysis had yet been published, is a long overdue contribution to the secondary literature. Sipos is associate professor and head of the Women’s History Research Centre (Nőtörténeti Kutatóközpont) at Eötvös Lorand University in Budapest. He is also a widely-published author on Hungarian women’s history and media history. His present work is significant in part because, with the notable exceptions of the books and articles by Andrea Pető and Judith Szapor, very few English-language works have been published on the history of women in Hungary in the first half of the twentieth century.

Sipos does not limit his focus to women’s history of the interwar period, but examines also the second half of the Dualist Era and World War I. Given his methodological background in media history and his exhaustive analysis of the periodization of women’s history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, he is able to discuss long-term changes and place his arguments in a wider context. He sets out to offer a combination of political, media, and cultural history by treating these fields of inquiry as an organic whole, an aspiration which he admirably achieves with this book.

Sipos has studied almost every aspect of women’s lives and the ways in which their lives were affected by dramatically shifting attitudes towards female emancipation. He argues that the media “created and transmitted an ideology of […] emancipation encouraging women to be prepared for independent life” (p.6), not only before 1918 but also throughout the Horthy era. To support his hypothesis, he draws on contemporary Hungarian periodicals, women’s magazines, literary pieces, lexicons, and products of the Western media, such as movies and novels.

After providing a general political, economic, and social overview of the era, Sipos highlights the most important milestones in Hungarian women’s emancipation between 1867 and 1939 by examining different trends in women’s movements and organizational culture. These details are essential, as they enable him to introduce his highly innovative viewpoints related to the periodization of women’s history in nineteenth-century and twentieth-century Hungary. Sipos breaks away from the traditional models and argues that, “rather than deactivating feminism, the war generated new problems and complicated old ones” (p.24). Furthermore, he proposes that it is high time to reevaluate women’s history in the interwar period, an opinion I fully share. In the seven chapters of the book, Sipos demonstrates several times that the whole era (not only the decades before 1918) were characterized by growing engagement in public affairs by women. The most important factor in this field was that women continuously tried to adjust to newly-emerging challenges, and alongside new participants, new consensuses also appeared on the scene.

Sipos insists that the interwar period was not characterized by “feminine passivity” (p.25), because women remained active in the public sphere in the 1920 and 1930s. He thus challenges the traditional periodization of women’s history regarding the 19th and 20th centuries and offers a perspective which is entirely new to the secondary literature. Sipos claims that the first period of women’s history lasted from the 1860s (not from 1867) until the turn of the century. The second one, he suggests, began around 1900 and lasted until the years following the Second World War. He justifies his argument with several sociocultural reasons, including the development of different branches of women’s organizations and the extension of the institutional frameworks of women’s institutional education. Within this second period, he distinguishes “three temporary ‘subperiods’” (p.45), namely the period between 1914 and 1922, the years of the Great Depression (1929–1934), and the “period of anti-Semitic measures taken during the Second World War” (p.45). This approach is highly innovative, although it might have been useful to supplement it with a further a “subperiod” between 1900/1904–1913/1914, as several turning points in the women’s movement came during this period of roughly 15 years.

In Chapters 3–7, Sipos analyses the extent to which anti-feminist and anti-emancipation policies can be said to have influenced the situation of women between the two World Wars. In his assessment, this is or more precisely should be the central question of interwar women’s history in Hungary. In the third chapter, he studies the role and significance of World War I in the alternation of women’s political, economic, and social positions. In Chapter 4, he examines interpretations of the notion of the “modern” women, women’s issues, and feminism in the contemporary Hungarian media. He also considers the neo-Biedermeier portrayal and those women who stayed at home. The end of this section gives important data on women’s employment as well. After examining the different types of discourse about and for women in the periodical press, Sipos studies the transnational female role models (i.e., the Flapper and the Garçonne), the images and interpretations of which influenced Hungarian public opinion. In the last section, he gives an overview on how contemporary Hungarian movies approached and displayed female roles.

Sipos works with a significant source base and uses altogether 19 contemporary Hungarian periodicals, of which he discusses two in greater detail (A Magyar Asszony [The Hungarian Woman], which was the official organ of the National Association of Hungarian Women (Magyar Asszonyok Nemzeti Szövetsége), and Új Idők [New Times], edited by Ferenc Herczeg) (pp.91–111). He also relies on Ius Suffragii, the official organ of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (later renamed the International Alliance of Women), which is an almost inexhaustible source on the women’s movement before 1924. Among these periodicals, the reader might miss the more in-depth analysis of the official organ of the Feminists’ Association (Feministák Egyesülete). Naturally, Sipos notes that the Feminists’ Association weakened considerably after the regime changes of 1918–1919, but the publication of A Nő. Feminista Folyóirat [The Woman: A Feminist Periodical] continued until 1927/1928. Although it was unable to regain its former positions, its number of members, and the number of readers of its periodical within the framework of the “new women’s movement” of the Horthy era, the Feminists’ Association succeeded in redefining itself and its goals in the early 1920s. That meant, however, that within a narrower framework than before, it could operate until its ban in 1942 and then between 1946 and 1949. With regards to the organizations, it is perhaps unfortunate that their names are only given in English translation, with no mention of their original Hungarian names.

The volume is rich in citations from the sources and also in interesting statistical data and illustrations. Sipos primarily addresses fellow scholars, but his book will still capture the interest of a readership curious to know more about the history of the interwar period. Most importantly, Sipos’s monograph will do a great deal to further the integration of scholarship on women’s history in Hungary into the international body of secondary literature, which today is perhaps more important than it has ever been.

Dóra Czeferner
Research Centre for the Humanities, Institute of History
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“Glaube an den Menschen” [Faith in humanity: A diary from Bergen-Belsen]. By Jenő Kolb. Edited by Thomas Rahe and Lajos Fischer. Translated from the Hungarian by Lajos Fischer. Bergen-Belsen – Berichte und Zeugnisse 7. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2019. 280 pp.

“Hit az emberben”. Bergen-belseni napló. [Faith in humanity. A diary from Bergen-Belsen]. By Jenő Kolb. Edited by Thomas Rahe and Lajos Fischer. Bergen-Belsen – Berichte und Zeugnisse 8. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2020. 280 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2021.3.581

In recent years, there has been considerable interest among historians in diaries related to the Holocaust. This is part of a paradigm shift in the secondary literature on the Holocaust, which has come to focus more on family sources, mostly ego-documents. Nonetheless, historians (Hungarian historians in particular) only rarely make use of contemporary personal materials (such as diaries, correspondence, and photographs) as sources on modern history which are as relevant as archival documents.

One of the highly disputed chapters of the Shoah is the history of the so called Kasztner train. Rezső Kasztner (also went by the name Rudolf Kasztner and Israel Kasztner) worked as the deputy chairman of the Zionist Aid and Rescue Committee (Vaada) in Budapest. In 1944, as a result of his negotiations with Kurt Becher and Adolf Eichmann, he was able to organize the escape of more than 1,500 Hungarian Jews to Switzerland for a huge amount of money, which was transferred to the SS. This rescue action was part of Himmler’s big “exchange plan” formed with the Allies, for which Bergen-Belsen had formed by the SS back in 1943.

The personal sources related to the Kasztner passengers have peculiar significance. Jenő Kolb and his daughter managed to get on the Kasztner train. Kolb was born in Sopron in 1898 to a secular middle-class Jewish family. He studied art history in Austria and Germany, and in the 1920s, he became a member of the prominent Jewish liberal intellectual circles of Budapest as a lecturer and journalist. In the early 1930s, Kolb turned to Marxist-Socialist-Zionist ideas, and by the end of the decade, he had become a leading figure in the Hasomer Hacair movement. He kept a diary from the moment of his deportation from Budapest (June 30, 1944), throughout his time in Bergen-Belsen (July 9–December 4, 1944), and after his successful escape and his first days of freedom in Switzerland (December 6–12, 1944). His work was not unknown to historians. The original handwritten Hungarian text was donated to the Yad Vashem by his daughter, Shosana Hasson-Kolb, and preserved by the Jerusalem-based Institute and Archive from the late 1950s, but it was essentially forgotten until 2000, when the Bergen-Belsen Memorial (Gedenkstätte Bergen-Belsen) decided to publish it. While this German-language edition met the scholarly expectations of its time, there have been many new research findings since then, so this new edition, complete with commentaries and notes, is a welcome publication. It is unique in part because of the publisher’s aim to reach both an international readership and the Hungarian readership. In order to attain this goal, Wallstein Verlag published Kolb’s diary almost simultaneously with the very same editorial contributions in 2019 and 2020, first in German and then in Hungarian.

The volume is divided into two major parts. In the first, the editors (Lajos Fischer and Thomas Rahe) explain the circumstances surrounding the publication of the new editions. Rahe also offers an epic study on the connection between Jenő Kolb’s diary and the fates of the passengers on the Kasztner train in the concentration camp. This ambitious summary focuses on almost every aspect of the Kasztner story, giving a remarkable historical framework to the diary based on current research findings and sources which have been methodically interpreted. Rahe analyzes the societal components, including the number of the passengers, concluding that it may have been 1,684, though no one has conclusively determined the exact number of passengers so far. Rahe also analyzes the nationalities, religious distribution, and ages of the Kasztner group in Belsen, demonstrating (based on his own research) that 1,179 passengers (71 percent) seem to have been Hungarian, while the rest were Romanian, Yugoslavian, Czechoslovakian, and Polish Jews. They were mostly middle-aged Jews, frequently Zionists, with a significant number of East-Hungarian Orthodox Jewry and “Neolog” inhabitants from Budapest. It is worth noting that the significant proportion of elderly people (8.5 percent) was the second largest ratio of old inmates in the concentration camp world (after Theresienstadt). Rahe then demonstrates how the heterogeneity of these factors contributed to the heterogeneity of the group as a whole, which led to several inner problems during the process of deportation from Budapest, problems which mostly came to the surface in the Aufenthaltslager of Belsen. The second part of the study reflects on the most essential questions of the daily lives of the prisoners inside the camp. They were “prominent Jews” as part of the “exchange program,” so they were treated differently by the SS and were held in a separate sector (Sonderlager, later referred to as the Ungarnlager) of the exchange camp area. Rahe’s examination offers a portrait of a comparatively multi-ethnic, privileged group of Jews from the Carpathian Basin who were hoping to be spared. He examines the children’s schooling, the surprisingly diverse array of cultural activities in the barracks, the religious customs and activities of the prisoners, and other instances and forms of self-organization among them. The last section of the study is about the diaries which were kept by the inmates in Bergen-Belsen, regardless of how they arrived in the camp or which part of the camp they were held in. Rahe mentions 30 diaries, though he does not include in his discussion all of the Hungarian diaries documented in the secondary literature in Hungarian.

Rahe’s discussion is followed by a short study by Szabolcs Szita concerning some of the details of the Kasztner train. Surprisingly, Szita did not use the most relevant and current bibliography for his work, so his remarks add little new information to our knowledge of Kolb’s diary. In contrast, the personal accounts by Kolb’s daughter Shoshana Hasson-Kolb give intimate details about her father’s life before and after deportation, highlighting his activity in the Hasomer Hacair’s movement.

The second, largest part of the volume is the diary itself. The text suggests that, as an influential and agile intellectual, Kolb played a key role in the Ungarnlager. He was responsible for Zionist cultural activities, and he established a choir and held lectures on music and art history in the group’s accommodations in the 10–11. barracks. Kolb write log entries every day or at least every other day, which is why his diary is the richest and most extensive of the diaries from this “prominent group.” These informative entries present the history of the Kasztner train, from the detention camp in Budapest, the boarding of the train at the Rákosrendező railway station, and the long journey from the Hungarian capital to Bergen-Belsen and then to Switzerland. The longest and most detailed entries were written while Kolb was in the concentration camp. Many entries are about his beloved homeland and his anxieties concerning the fates of his relatives and friends. Other entries offer an impression of everyday problems within the barrack, including the constant sense of fear, insecurity, hunger, and the lack of information. Kolb also provides a great deal of information about the distinctive personalities of some of the inmates and, in particular, the cooperation among the rival Hungarian groups, especially between the orthodox and the Haluc youngsters. He was obviously prejudiced because of his attachment to the Zionist movement, but the editors offer more than 270 footnotes to explain his biased comments or they call the reader’s attention to the current historical bibliography. In some cases, it might have been preferable had Rahe and Fischer resolved some of the issues that arise because of the old-fashioned foreign phrases in the diary entries. They include two additions which offer nice supplements to the diary. Kolb felt that he and the other inmates were the inhabitants of a kind of closed small town in the middle of the horrific concentration camp. He often wrote about the different levels of the self-organization system of the Ungarnlager under SS control, from its leadership to the everyday mechanisms of different subdepartments. The editors have included official Operation Rules of the Ungarnlager as an annex, which provides useful context for the diary entries, and they have also included short biographies of all the individuals mentioned in the pages of the diary, plus a useful glossary on the most common Hebrew words found in the entries.

This publication of Jenő Kolb’s entire diary with the accompanying editorial materials constitutes a serious contribution to the social history of the Hungarian Holocaust and our understanding of the complex realities of the Nazi concentration camps.

András Szécsényi
Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security
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The Legacy of Division: East and West after 1989. Edited by Ferenc Laczó and Luka Lisjak Gabrijelčič. Budapest–New York: Central European University Press, 2020. 344 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2021.3.581

“By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.” ― Franz Kafka

The Legacy of Division: East and West after 1989 is a rich, multifaceted volume consisting of 24 essays and two interviews. It reflects the complexity of post-communist Eastern Europe, its 30 years on the path to democracy, and the turbulent present. The book exposes the many prevailing clichés and stereotypes held by those in the West and the East about themselves, each other, what happened since 1989, whose “fault” it was, and how we ended up where we are today, at a moment which feels like an inflection point.

It is impossible to summarize all 24 essays here, as the editors went for breadth and gave authors significant creative freedom. Instead, I have two goals in this review. First, I will highlight a few points made by several of the authors. Second, I will offer a way to move beyond the East-West paradigm by inviting the reader to abandon the exhausted labels of “East” and “West” and focusing instead on conceptually capturing the democratic decline worldwide.

What are the East and the West? The East is loosely defined as a set of countries that spent more than half of the twentieth century behind the Iron Curtain. What is the West? Liberal democracies? The US and the countries of the EU? The only shared understanding about the West, as the reader can guess, is that the West is not the East. This is because both the East and the West are artificial constructs, as is the division which separates them. They are oversimplifications or shortcuts which simplify complex realities which are difficult to grasp by those who live them, study them, or gaze at them.

The opening essay by Dorothee Bohle and Bela Gretskovits is an intellectual tour de force of the past 30 years through the lens of political economy. The authors, eminent scholars of Eastern Europe, highlight three popular misperceptions concerning the construction of capitalism on the European periphery, the mixed blessing of free movement of capital and labor in the EU, and the power of the EU to oppose illiberal tendencies in its (Eastern) member states. I will focus on the first of these, (the construction of) capitalism on the periphery. Here, the consequence is perhaps best exemplified by the recent transfer of German Amazon to the Czech borderland. Amazon, a global company, does not serve Czech customers. It does not ship to the Czech Republic. Instead, Czech workers prepare packages for German customers. For Amazon, the Czech Republic is a place on the periphery of the Western market, with cheaper labor, more docile workers, and less strict labor regulations. The East is a reservoir of cheap and conveniently located labor.

The essay by Bohle and Greskovits connects thematically with those by Phillip Ther and Claus Leggewie, which focus on German unification. In a way, the transformation of East Germany is a paradigmatic case. Best described as “shock therapy,” the measures that were introduced in the wake of unification changed everything in a short period of time, both in political and economic terms. The East Germans were told to change but also periodically reminded that their past had permanently damaged them. Failure to adapt was used to stigmatize. Critics were ostracized. The “inferiority” of East Germans was used to justify what was done to them, and the wild capitalism in East Germany benefited few. The approach was replicated with minor alterations across the region by powers domestic and foreign. The political consequences of this approach are gradually emerging now, two of which are the revolt of (some) East Germans and East Europeans against “colonization” by the West. Everything was supposed to be better in the West until it was not (for most).

The chasm between expectations and reality led to the rise of protest movements and increasing support for the different types of radical right. People might not have known what they wanted, but they increasingly came to reject what they had gotten. As Claus Leggewie highlights, the East might be showing the West a glimpse of its future, a society in which “losers” revolt. The winners took it all. Those “left behind,” a significant part of society, are alienated. Caught in the second-class citizenship of an increasingly contracting welfare state, they seek refuge in nativism.

Jan Zielonka argues that these processes are not unique to the East. According to Zielonka, both the East and the West are stereotypes the roots of which admittedly lie in some historical reality, but as stereotypes they are nonetheless counterproductive, as they thwart systematic studies of change. Over-generalization and under-conceptualization prevent us from seeing both the differences and similarities across the East and West. Old labels such as “post-communism” have exhausted their explanatory power. A variety of regimes emerged after communism, so there is no singular post-communism. Perhaps we ought to focus on historical legacies, elite choices, institutional variations, and the differences in active citizenship (the ability of citizens to play active parts in the democratic processes) at the ballot box and in the streets if necessary.

Contrary to Zielonka, Ivan Krastev, in a book with Stephen Holmes, The Light that Failed (2019), sees the East European development after 1989 as an imitation of the West.2 In the book and in an interview (which is a part of the book under review), Krastev sees democracy in the East as a copy or an imitation of a victorious Cold War paradigm, which resulted in resentment of the elites who were behind the process of imitation and of the original which was being admitted. However, to explain the illiberal turn as a revolt against liberalism, Krastev and Holmes under-conceptualize liberalism. Beyond a set of values and norms, liberalism has a significant economic dimension. The rise of populism has some autocratic roots, but it is mainly a backlash against the transition-era neoliberalism.3 Perhaps the light did not go off. Rather, it was turned off by the elite presiding over the economic transformation.

This legacy of the era is low wages and poverty for significant parts of the population, and all hiding in plain sight behind macroeconomic indicators, such as GDP growth and low unemployment, not to mention the facades of palaces built by the Eastern European oligarchs. Economic deprivation among parts of the Eastern population, more than political “illiberalism,” shapes negative attitudes to migration and refugees. Inward migration benefits Western companies by keeping labor available and labor costs low. By opposing immigration and globalization, Eastern European workers are defending their economic interests.4

Westward migration is often the only option to escape local deprivation. The price is a brain drain of skilled professionals and poor working conditions for seasonal workers. The primary cause of the demographic “crisis” is not mass westward migration (with some key exceptions such as Bulgaria and perhaps to a lesser degree Poland), but the economic circumstances of young families and the lack of a balance between work and life.5

As the chapter by Bohle and Greskovits shows, the East is a reservoir of cheap labor, and the attempt to escape late capitalism incentivizes some to embrace illiberal populism and its promise of welfare chauvinism. Not only are these processes similar across the East (from East Germany through Poland to Hungary and beyond), but increasingly similar revolts can be seen across the West. There are differences in intensity and the casts of characters, but an increasingly sizable portion of European society is blaming liberal democracy for its failure to tame economic liberalism in the era of globalization.6

The one common aspect over the last decade across the region and the world is the decline in democratic quality. In terms of democracy, defined as a regime resting on pluralistic democratic institutions (a free press, civil society, and the rule of law), the East today is a set of countries with democracies in consolidation, defective democracies, hybrid regimes, and moderate and hardline autocracies. In terms of economy defined as a free market economy, one finds in the East highly advanced, advanced, limited, very limited, and rudimentary capitalist economies. There is extreme variation across the region both in terms of democracy and in terms of economy.7

There is little agreement on the symptoms, causes, effects, and trajectory of the ongoing change (or decline) in the quality of democracy in Eastern Europe and around the world in the secondary literature. A growing body of literature focuses on the recent changes, which are labeled backsliding, illiberal drift, deconsolidation, and swerving.8

One possible cause of democratic decline is the legitimation crisis triggered by the economic crisis. Habermas outlined a “chain reaction” from economic crisis to a crisis of democratic legitimacy.9 An economic crisis (a periodical event inherent to capitalism), triggers a governance crisis. The governance crisis (the inability of governments to cope with the economic crisis) triggers a legitimation crisis. A legitimation crisis is marked by a loss of trust in democratic institutions and a loss of support for democracy as a system of governance by citizens. Alongside economic crisis, external shocks which can trigger the crisis of democratic legitimacy can include globalization, deepening regional integration, and immigration, framed by anti-establishment elites as threats to national sovereignty.10

Democratic decline is not unique to the East. It can be observed all over the world. The symptoms include declining trust in democratic institutions, emboldened uncivil society, increased political control of the media, civic apathy, and nationalistic contestation. It is based on the notion of an illiberal turn from liberalism and pluralism.11 The critique of the backsliding/illiberal turn paradigm focuses on its underlining presumption of a more or less linear trajectory and a consolidated democratic system from which recent events are seen as a reverse, a lack of analytical distinction and precision of the loci of democratic decline (demand or supply-side), the resilience of democracy, and the counterbalance between strength and weaknesses on different levels of consolidation.12

If one cannot “lose what one never had,” what is going on in the East and the West? Bustikova and Guasti (2017) proposed a novel model of change characterized by a sequence of “episodes,” some of which can be characterized as an illiberal swerve.13 The notion of volatile episodes does not follow any distinct, coherent long-durée trajectory. It enables Bustikova and Guasti to investigate “the limits of path dependence and consider the possibility of an inherently uncertain path”. The use of a microscopic approach which focuses on smaller temporal sequences marked by elections or other clearly defined temporal sequences rather than on tectonic shifts in regimes provides valuable insights into the dynamic character of democratic quality and sharpens the analytical lens on recent developments in the East and the West. Perhaps it is a time to bridge the East-West divide by focusing our research on similarities rather than overemphasizing differences and oversimplifying their causes.

Some books answer questions, and some books inspire readers to ask more questions. The Legacy of Division: East and West after 1989 belongs to the latter group. In an essayistic way, it invites a broad audience to consider questions of the present and the past. Readers might include scholars, students, and journalists, but thanks to the essayistic style, any member of the broader public interested in understanding the varied nature and legacies of the East-West divisions will find the book engaging. The future is open, and our thinking about it is richer thanks to The Legacy of Division: East and West after 1989.

Petra Guasti
Charles University Prague
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1 https://www.uni-goettingen.de/de/cameralism/544617.html. Accessed September 26, 2021.

2 Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes, The light that failed: A reckoning (London: Penguin, 2019).

3 Eszter Kovats and Katerina Smejkalova, “East-Central Europe‘s Revolt against Imitation,” IPS Journal March 30, 2020, https://www.ips-journal.eu/regions/europe/east-central-europes-revolt-against-imitation-4205/.

4 Pavol Baboš, “Globalization and Support for Democracy in Post-Communist Europe,” Acta Slavica Iaponica 39 (2018): 23–43.

5 Nancy C. Jurik, Alena Křížková, Marie Pospíšilová, and Gray Cavender, “Blending, credit, context: Doing business, family and gender in Czech and US copreneurships,” International Small Business Journal 37, no. 4 (2019): 317–42, doi: 10.1177/0266242618825260.

6 Cf. Kovats and Smejkalova, “East-Central Europe‘s Revolt”; Baboš, “Globalization.”

7 Petra Guasti, “Democracy under Stress: Changing Perspectives on Democracy, Governance and Their Measurement,” in Democracy under Stress: Changing Perspectives on Democracy, Governance, and Their Measurement, ed. Petra Guasti, Zdenka Mansfeldova, (Prague: ISASCR, 2018), 9–27.

8 For the discussion, see Lenka Bustikova and Petra Guasti, “The Illiberal Turn or Swerve in Central Europe?” Politics and Governance 5, no. 4 (2017): 166–76, doi: 10.17645/pag.v5i4.1156.

9 Jürgen Habermas, “What does a crisis mean today? Legitimation problems in late capitalism,” Social Research 40, no. 4 (1973): 643–67.

10 Guasti, “Democracy under Stress.”

11 Bustikova and Guasti, “The Illiberal Turn.”

12 Guasti, “Democracy under Stress.”

13 Bustikova and Guasti, “The Illiberal Turn.”

Volume 10 Issue 4 CONTENTS

BOOK REVIEWS

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Vrijeme sazrijevanja, vrijeme razaranja: Hrvatske zemlje u kasnome srednjem vijeku [Time of development, time of destruction: Croatian lands in the late Middle Ages]. Edited by Marija Karbić. Biblioteka Povijest Hrvata 3. Matica hrvatska: Zagreb, 2019. pp. 637.

DOI 10.38145/2021.4.800

Vrijeme sazrijevanja, vrijeme razaranja is the third volume in the series Biblioteka povijest hrvata, published by Matica hrvatska in 2019. This series eventually will consist of seven volumes in Croatian covering the history of Croatia and the Croatian lands from late antiquity until the late twentieth century. The first volume was published in 2015 and the third, which covers the period of the late Middle Ages, in 2019. The third volume of the series has twenty-three authors (five more than the first one), who are the most prominent scholars in their fields, which include history, legal history, economic history, church history, and historiography, and the authors belong to the younger or middle generation of Croatian historians. The volume begins with a preface written by editor Marija Karbić, who highlights that the book covers a turbulent period of the Croatian history characterized by integration and disintegration. This period included the rise of Venetian authority in the coastal territories, continuous conquests by the Ottoman Empire, and turbulent periods when some of the Croatian lands were part of the Kingdom of Hungary. According to Karbić, the volume aims to follow the path of the first book in the series in its structure and topics. She also highlights that the volume follows the path of two previous Croatian history projects, “Hrvatska i Europa” and “Povijest Hrvata.”

This volume, like the first volume of the series, thematically can be divided into three parts. The first part is a general overview which offers different perspectives on and approaches to the history of Croatia and the Croatian lands. It also deals with fields that are usually less frequently discussed, and it offers new approaches alongside the traditionally popular topics. The first two studies, which were written by Borislav Grgin, give an overview of the political history of Croatia in the late Middle Ages (pp.3–23 and 25–38). They are followed by Ante Birin’s chapter on the history of the Croatian nobility (pp.39–54). Damir Karbić then discusses the characteristics of the late medieval Croatian peasantry (pp.55–61). The last chapter, which is about the general social history of the Croatian lands, was written by Gordan Ravančić, who offers a look at urban communities and society (pp.63–77). Following these discussions of social topics, Sabine Florence Fabijanec examines the economic aspects of Croatia, including farming, forestry, viticulture, fishing, trade, commerce, and finance (pp.79–98). Her chapter is followed by two chapters on the continuous Ottoman conquests, both of which were written by Ivan Jurković. The first chapter discusses the migration caused by the Ottoman conquests in the Balkans (pp.99–113) and military history and defense campaigns against the Ottomans (pp.115–33). Zrinka Novak and Zoran Ladić deal with church history and religious life in late medieval Croatia, including the history of the different orders, ecclesiastical organization, and social questions (pp.135–161). Nella Lonza then examines various legal developments (pp.163–77), and Sandra Ivović and Meri Kunčić deal with the intellectual and cultural history of the period in question. Zoran Ladić and Goran Budeč discuss some aspects of the history of the families and private life as the final part of the first thematic unit (pp.213–33).

The second main part of the volume reflects the historical and cultural regionality of Croatia. It deals with territories of Medieval Croatia, including lands that are part of present-day Croatia but were separated in the Middle Ages and territories that are culturally, socially, and historically closely connected to Croatia. The first two chapters, by Marija Karbić and Stanko Andrić, deal with northwestern and northeastern Croatia separately (pp.235–54, 255–304). Both chapters are structured in a similar way. They show the history of the regions in different periods of the Hungarian Kingdom and deal with urban, social, and church history. The following chapter, by Marija Mogorović Crljenko, deals with Istria and the Kvarner Gulf (pp.305–26), followed by a chapter on Gorski kotar, Lika, and Krbava by Ivan Jurković (pp.327–39). The late medieval history of Dalmatia is divided into three parts. Irena Benyovsky Latin offers an account of the history of northern and central Dalmatia (pp.341–59), and Zrinka Pešorda Vardić writes on the golden age of Dubrovnik (pp.361–90). The third part, by Ivan Majnarić, is about Kotor (pp.391–400). The final chapter of the second part, by Ivan Botica, deals with the territory of Bosnia and Hercegovina (pp.401–42).

The third and final section of the volume (which is also the longest section) provides geopolitical context, as it deals with the countries and empires that had close relationships with either the Croats or the territories of present-day Croatia or held any parts of it. Marija Karbić discusses Hungary (pp.445–62), followed by Kornelija Jurin Starčević’s examination of the relationship between Croatia and the Ottoman Empire (pp.463–80). Jadranka Neralić deals with the relationships between Croatia and the Papacy between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries (pp.481–502). Lovorka Ćoralić analyses Venice’s role and advances in Croatia (pp.503–20). Borislav Grgin examines Croatia’s ties to southern Italy and Spain (pp.521–29). Robert Kurelić deals with Croatia’s relationship to the Holy Roman Empire (pp.531–44) and Austria (pp.545–59). Damir Karbić analyses the history of the Czech territories and Poland (pp.561–69), and, finally, Vjeran Kursar deals with the Balkans (pp.571–97). After the final unit, the volume includes an index of people’s names (pp.599–616) and an index of geographical names (pp.617–36).

The volume is a continuation and the outcome of a huge project started in 2015. The authors of the volume are among the greatest experts in their fields, and they have composed one of the finest syntheses of Croatian history. Their work and the sedulous work of the editor offer new perspectives on Croatian history, with chapters written about topics that to a large extent have eluded discussion, though they fit well into present trends in international historiography. The division of the book also offers new perspectives. It helps further an understanding of Croatia’s regional diversity and the varying histories of the regions of the country, and it also puts the history of Croatia and the Croatian lands into an international and regional context. The volume includes impressive studies, and it will appeal not only to the community of historians, but also to the wider reading public. Furthermore, it constitutes an important addition to the materials available for educational purposes. This volume, like the first book in the series, is a modern historical synthesis, and as such, it provides an excellent example on which new projects on other Central European countries can draw.

Judit Gál
Institute of History, Research Centre for the Humanities
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Dalmatia and the Exercise of Royal Authority in the Árpád-Era Kingdom of Hungary. By Judit Gál. Budapest: Research Centre for the Humanities, 2020. 228 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2021.4.803

Coloman the Learned, king of Hungary (1095–1116), was crowned king of Croatia and Dalmatia in 1102. Within three years, he occupied the most important cities of northern and central Dalmatia, thus unifying Hungary and Croatia into a union that lasted till 1918. The monograph under review, this valuable contribution to common Hungarian-Croatian history, analyses the southernmost part of the Kingdom of Hungary, or more precisely, Dalmatian cities and their place within the kingdom in the first two hundred years through the lens of the exercise of royal authority. Although several aspects of this relationship have been dealt with by Hungarian and Croatian historians, Judit Gál’s monograph has two major strengths. First, it is a modern original work based on hundreds and hundreds of hours of diligent archival work accompanied with intelligent comparative analyses of both national historiographies. Second and no less important, it is a highly analytical, yet comprehensible piece of scholarly work written in English, or in other words, it is accessible to a comparatively wide audience.

The book begins with a concise but very useful discussion of the socio-historical and geopolitical background. On the one hand, there was a relatively young and quite active Kingdom of Hungary which managed to extend its influence on the Adriatic although, on the other side, the doge of Venice had adopted the title duke of Croatia and Dalmatia in the late eleventh century, at the time when the Byzantine Empire was occupied with other affairs in the east. Dalmatian cities, those precious ancient (apart from Šibenik) urban shells in that frustratingly narrow coastal strip beneath the mountainous region in the north, have always had special status and a degree of autonomy which they mostly maintained within the Kingdom of Hungary.

The study is pursued here in two major chapters, constructed and intertwined around the role of royal authority. The first one is dedicated to the church, which played an essential role even in the secular life of Dalmatian cities. When addressing ecclesiastic affairs, Gál focuses on the three most important aspects: the changes in the structure of the Dalmatian church and the role played by Hungarian rulers in its modification; the personalities of the prelates of Dalmatia and changes in their roles; and the role played by royal and ducal donations to the church in the exercise of royal authority. The kings of Hungary did not have permanent local representatives in Dalmatian cities, so the archbishops of Split were Hungarian kings’ right hands, administrators with an extended reach. Dalmatian bishops and archbishops served as symbolic representatives of royal authority who promoted royal policies in their cities. Split archbishops, who inherited the metropolitan status of ancient Salona and were primases of Dalmatia, connected their city with the royal court and helped manage local affairs and promote the kings’ foreign-policy interests.

In the second chapter, Gál examines aspects concerning the exercise of Hungarian royal authority related to secular administration and urban communities. First, she analyses the privileges granted by the kings of Hungary to the cities of Dalmatia. She then examines the roles of the representatives of Hungarian royal authority: the dukes of Slavonia and the bans of Slavonia. She concludes with a discussion of shows of royal power and authority, mostly displayed through royal and ducal visits to Dalmatia. Her analyses of rulers’ show of power reveal that these visits were in fact complex performances with practical and symbolic functions. King Coloman made his visits to Dalmatia, during which he was accompanied by his splendid retinue consisting of Hungary’s highest-ranking secular and ecclesiastic dignitaries (as well as their Dalmatian counterparts), according to a regular schedule: every three years. Other kings traveled less frequently, never managing to follow this pattern, while the dukes of Slavonia mostly travelled to Dalmatia shortly after acquiring their titles. The bans became increasingly powerful after the Mongol invasion of 1241–42, but the overall Hungarian royal authority deteriorated after King Bela IV died (1270), and the local oligarchy, especially the Šubić clan, gained more influence in Dalmatia.

There are four very useful appendices at the end of the book. The first is on “Iohannes Lucius’ Collection of Historical Manuscripts,” which Judit Gál probably knows better than anyone else at this point, at least among the younger generation of historians from both sides of the Pannonian border. The second is the list of “Dalmatian Toponyms in Various Languages.” The third is the list of “Hungarian Kings’ and Dukes’ Donations to Dalmatian Churches” (1102–1285). The fourth and final appendix is a list of “Hungarian Kings’ and Dukes’ Grants of Privileges to the Cities of Dalmatia.” The book ends with four other additions: two indices (of personal and geographical names) and two sets of historical maps. The first set presents the city maps of Zadar, Biograd na Moru, Šibenik, Nin, Split, and Trogir in the period of Árpád kings. The second shows Dalmatia in 1105, 1180, 1205, and 1298, and it also includes a map of the Catholic Church in Croatia (as of 1298).

Gál spent a substantial amount of time in the Archive of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb and the Archbishopric Archive in Split, and she has made admirable use of the sources she found in both. She came to Zagreb as a MA student, and she brought with her an infectious enthusiasm, good knowledge of Latin, and an ever-improving ability to use Croatian scholarly literature. Dr. Damir Karbić, the director of the Historical Department of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, quickly realized what a promising scholar she was, and showing his usual hospitality, he made sure that she had the proper guidance through Croatian institutions. But all other credit goes to her for her dedicated, disciplined, old-fashioned hard work in the archives. This book is not the only fruit of the many years she spent pursuing research. She has also written numerous scholarly papers, digitized material, and made fresh discoveries in the undeservedly forgotten yet very valuable collection of sources. Historians of Central Europe in the Middle Ages cannot help but be impressed by her achievements, and it is worth noting that Gál, who only completed her PhD in 2019, is still at the beginning of her academic career.

Mirko Sardelić
Department of Historical Research Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts
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Katonabárók és hivatalnok grófok: Új arisztokraták a 18. századi Magyarországon [Soldier barons and office-holder counts: New aristocrats in eighteenth-century Hungary]. By Tamás Szemethy. Budapest: MNL–BTK TTI, 2020. 479 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2021.4.806

Tamás Szemethy’s book, analyzing the emerging Hungarian “new aristocracy” of the eighteenth century from the viewpoint of social history, is based on a PhD thesis defended in 2020 at Eötvös Loránd University under the supervision of István Szijártó. Szemethy is one of the most promising members of a circle of young social historians who are gathered around Szijártó’s “school” at the Department of Social and Economic History of Eötvös Loránd University. Szemethy’s doctoral thesis was finalized and turned into a book within the framework of the research group “The political culture of the Hungarian estates’ system (1526–1848)” (NKFI K 116 166), coordinated by the National Archives of Hungary and the “Integrating Families” Research Group of the Institute of History of the Research Centre for the Humanities (LP2017-3/2017), supported by the “Momentum” (“Lendület”) Programme of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

The main goal of the book is simple: to validate or refute the topos of the “dilution of the Hungarian aristocracy” in the eighteenth century, which Szemethy considers a persistent commonplace in Hungarian historiography. The volume raises some crucial questions concerning the so-called “new aristocrats,” i.e., those who earned the title of a Hungarian baron or a count as plain nobles, characterizing it as a social group to establish his chosen research methodology. His main inquiry concerns the framing of the group, the careers of its members, and other factors preceding the elevation of their ranks, as well as possible explanations as to why the ruler decided to bestow on them a new rank. Finally, Szemethy also considers the typical career moves of the group.

Methodologically, the author commits himself prosopography, one of the auxiliary disciplines of social history, arguing that it can provide a qualified set of data which enables one to arrive at findings concerning the main tendencies of the group in question and general changes in the eighteenth-century social elite. Szemethy tries to define what he means by this in the first chapter, which could be treated as a practice-oriented contribution to this field of historical auxiliary sciences. According to this, not only has prosopography been separated from the traditional genre of archontology, but its advantages and disadvantages have also been considered. Referring to the work of English historian Lawrence Stone, Szemethy mindfully reflects on the limits and difficulties of doing prosopographic research, highlighting the problems of gathering sources that are of adequate quality and quantity, as well as the scarcity of narrative sources (first of all, ego-documents). He also cautions against conflating the typical characteristics of the whole group with those of its few prominent members, e.g., those individuals who held high offices and stirred interest among contemporaries. Based on these considerations, Szemethy constructs a group of “new aristocrats” as the subject of his analysis, zooming in on 91 people from 76 families between 1711 and 1799. He excludes from this group naturalized foreign aristocrats (indigenae) and those who earned the title due to their relatives and not their own career moves. In practice, apart from the chapters on atypical careers, his research is based fundamentally on the classical and more recent genealogical literature on the one hand and on the Royal Books (Libri Regii) on the other, though Szemethy also uses urbarial conscriptions, files from the Austrian State Archives in Vienna (nobility files, etc.), and other archival sources, if to a lesser extent. His style is succinct, clear, and factual, and his chapters are rhetorically well-structured, but the richness of the information provided sometimes makes it rather difficult to read them.

The book is divided into four main chapters and includes an almost 200-page long appendix, which contains all the relevant biographical and career data concerning the members of the group, as well a much shorter list of the high-ranking soldiers who earned the Military Order of Maria Theresa. This well-built database constitutes the backbone of the analyses. The structure of the whole book and the individual chapters is clear and logical, almost didactic. The short methodological introduction is followed by the longer prosopographic analyses of “typical” careers. The subsequent chapter then presents three “atypical” cases, and finally, a conclusion summarizes the achievements of the project.

Within the group of “new aristocrats,” two bigger subgroups, namely the office holders and the soldiers, have been set apart, and the title-donations of lower (baron) and higher (count) value are examined separately. By reason of the changing tendencies, the baronial donations implied different inner periodization and further subgroups: regarding the officials, the two subperiods are 1711–1770 (18 persons) and 1770–1799 (16 persons). In the case of officers, the timeframes are 1711–1758 (10 persons) and 1758–1799 (16 persons). In the first case, the dividing line is grounded in the emergence of a professionalizing office holder, marked by the baronial donation of Károly Reviczky, which approximates the conclusions of a study by Szijártó and Tünde Cserpes on the “high office holders” of the eighteenth century, cited frequently by Szemethy. The second case is much simpler, because the foundation of the Military Order of Maria Theresa definitely marks the beginning of a new period.

Concerning each group and subgroup, the careers, social backgrounds (ancestry, social status), and financial situations of its members are compared. Their financial situations are reconstructed on the basis of the amount of land they owned according to the urbarial conscriptions, an indicator which offers a rough approximation of the wealth of a certain family. However, the urbarial conscriptions indicate only possessions that were burdened by urbarial services. The measure of the current social status and the degree to which the “new aristocrats” could be said to have been integrated into the traditional aristocracy is assessed based on the connubium, i.e., the marital strategies of people recently elevated in position and their children from the perspective of the social and legal statuses of their spouses.

The subgroup of soldiers who earned baronial titles before 1758 is similar to the officials of the same period. In other words, most of them were elevated from wealthy noble families. After 1758, in contrast, several soldiers of humble backgrounds rose to the new aristocracy as well. However, the estimated wealth of the so-called “soldier barons,” based on the urbarial conscriptions, of the period was much less on average than the wealth of the officials. While the meritocratic elements of selection became significant among the soldiers in the last third of the century and this criterion (merit) also began to by more frequently applied within the central bureaucracy of the period, it remained only a subsidiary reason for bestowing a baronial title on officials. Regarding officials who earned a baronial title, Szemethy also points out that the father’s career was a factor only in a few cases of title donation, while the legal status of wives and mothers could also contribute to a certain extent to the rise of the nobility into the layer of aristocracy.

A subchapter focuses on those who earned the title of Hungarian count, making up the top elite of the emerging new aristocracy. As Szemethy points out, the Habsburg Monarchy had neither a unified aristocracy nor a unified nobility. Thus, the Austrian provincial, imperial, Transylvanian, Bohemian, and Hungarian title donations were all available at request at the same time, though at different prices and representing varying contents and values. The Hungarian titles were of the greatest value because of the political rights they potentially provided, i.e., the participation of aristocrats in the meetings of the upper house of the Hungarian diet in person or by proxy. The title of Hungarian count was not only more expensive than the title of baron, but as Szemethy presumed and has verified, it required a more successful military or civilian career, in addition to wealth and ancestry. From the group of 91 people, 28 became counts, and a third of them earned their title in two steps. As the author points out, most of them belonged to wealthy noble families with mid-size and large-size estates, and a significant number of them acquired their lands by themselves. While the number of official and soldier barons was balanced in the period, in the case of counts, only those who had a successful official career could advance, and only five soldiers were given this rank, who also needed to earn a significant land donation. Because of these reasons, until the end of the period under study, the subgroup of counts formed a more exclusive and prestigious circle than the barons within the new aristocracy and the group of magnates in general.

In contrast to the quantitative analysis in the second section, which is dry but rich in information, the third part focuses more on narrative methods and careers and elevation in rank of three persons considered “atypical.” These chapters originally were intended to complete and contrast the prosopographic analysis of the group of new aristocrats. However, each of them could be read as a micro-historical essay in itself. Zooming in on the three atypical careers, Szemethy shows further sides of his talent as a historian by examining other problematic questions and using new types of sources. In the case of István László Luzsénszky, Szemethy focuses on the role of the patron-client relationship between the ambitious nobleman and clergyman Luzsénszky and his influential patron, Imre Csáky. In doing so, he relies on their highly formalized “functional” correspondence, based on a method used by Heiko Droste. Szemethy points out that the elevation in rank was an outcome of the accumulation of Luzsénszky’s family inheritance as wealth and as socio-political symbolic capital. Reconstructing the case of György Farkas Chiolich, the author tries to track a charge of cradle-snatching against the bishop of Zengg-Modrus. He proves that Chiolich took steps to earn an aristocratic title in addition to his prelateship in order to accumulate more power and authority not only among the clergy, but also among laymen. Finally, the third case study focuses on Mihály Manduka, later known as Mihály Horváth, an ambitious Greek merchant of non-noble background who rose to become a figure of the Hungarian nobility and, a few years later, in the last decade of the eighteenth century, of the aristocracy as a baron. The chapter affirms the findings of renowned urban historian Vera Bácskai, according to which Horváth should be regarded as an “ennobled burgher” rather than as a “new aristocrat” who embraced the identity and ethic of the landowning nobility. Consequently, he could be considered one of the predecessors of nineteenth-century entrepreneurs.

In his concluding remarks, Szemethy, on the one hand, points out that the efforts of the Viennese court to make talented military officers more visible by bestowing titles on them led to a kind of “dilution” of the Hungarian elite. On the other hand, he calls attention to the fact that, of the officials, those who received a baronial title belonged to the wealthy and were able to reach the required standards. The new counts remained an exclusive group the members of which could assert themselves better in the environment of the traditional aristocracy. Szemethy summarizes his findings as follows: “[I]t would be more accurate to consider the social changes of the second half of the eighteenth century not simply as the dilution of the elite, but rather as its transformation and complementation with new elements.” All things considered, Szemethy has drawn a persuasive image of the eighteenth-century “new aristocracy” based on the method of prosopography, complemented in some cases with the inclusion of different kinds of primary sources, as well as some more innovative ways of analysis. Nevertheless, I cannot help but make a few critical remarks concerning some aspects of his undertaking which follow mainly from Szemethy’s presuppositions and the inflexibility of his method.

First, with regard to the treatment of primary sources, two significant shortcomings have to be mentioned. Szemethy did not research and use family archives systematically or extensively. Furthermore, his research on the practices of the chancellery and the changes it underwent over the course of the century is also flawed. Szemethy was frank about this, claiming that his “research in family archives yielded disappointing results,” and he mentions as an example the Luzsénszky family archive and the lack of narrative sources, first and foremost private family correspondence, diaries, and memoirs. Nonetheless, the conclusions he draws are hardly convincing, and they are even less so if all the related families are considered. Due to the lack of narrative sources, he is unable to demonstrate how “new aristocrats” considered and represented their own social status within the public sphere or what attitudes emerged in the narrower and broader social environment towards them. The contemporary set of the positive and negative topoi concerning new aristocrats should have been analyzed too, irrespective of their factual content. With regards to the former point, the case study of the Luzsénszky–Csáky relationship offers the possibility of narrative analysis, and with regards to the latter, the same is true of the “pilot study” on Gábor Draveczky in the first chapter. As for the practices of the chancellery, it would have been fruitful to consider the requests that did not result in title donations, particularly regarding the Military Order of Maria Theresa.

Second, while the starting date of the study, 1711, is unequivocally considered the beginning of a new era, marked by the year when Charles III ascended the throne, the ending year, 1799, is rather disputable. In Szemethy’s, his choice enables him to examine the tendencies of the fin-de-siècle in the context of late eighteenth-century military and political history, while the context of Napoleonic Europe provides a fundamentally different framework. The French Revolution and the Revolutionary Wars profoundly changed the political and military situation for the traditional powers of Europe, including the Habsburg Empire and thus the Kingdom of Hungary. Nevertheless, the whole period between 1792 and 1815 (or so forth) should have been treated rather in its entirety to show tendencies in progress under the rule of Francis I, marked as “cabinet absolutism.” This would have made it possible to assess the effects of the French Wars on the subgroup of the emerging “military aristocracy.” For example, the case of Dániel Mecséry, who earned not only the Knight’s but also the Commander’s Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa and thus became a baron still struggled for land donation in vain and died relatively poor. Moreover, he left behind a German autobiography which constitutes a valuable narrative source, in contrast with those on whom Szemethy has focused in his research.

Finally, some remarks should be made with regards to the structure and appearance of the book. The method of presenting factual information, sometimes to a superfluous extent within the main text (apart from the three analyses of the “atypical” careers, where it seems necessary for the reader to be able to follow the text), is to some extent debatable, because the appendix contains detailed biographical data concerning each member of the group. Instead of this, the publisher could have published the tables in the appendix as an online searchable database (which would have been a more concise and economical option). Fortunately, this is also in progress, according to the latest information. Since the subject and name indices are missing from the volume, the use of the appendix and, in fact the whole volume is difficult. Nevertheless, the book can be downloaded for free, which remedies this problem to a certain extent. Notwithstanding these remarks, however, the richly illustrated and attractive book is well-edited and of very high quality.

Ágoston Nagy
University of Public Service
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A Mighty Capital Under Threat: The Environmental History of London, 1800–2000. Edited by Bill Luckin and Peter Thorsheim. History of the Urban Environment. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020. 282 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2021.4.812

This collection of ten papers covers the major urban environmental changes in London over the past two centuries. The British capital was the first global city: the explosion of population growth and the concentration of the population in a smaller area during the nineteenth century presented previously unprecedented challenges. At these times, as was true in many countries in Europe, Central Europe, including the Hungarian capital, followed the technical and scientific innovations introduced in London in response to urbanization. From the 1850s onwards, London made several environmental improvements in order to enhance the living and health conditions of its citizens. Alongside news and publications, word was also spread by the flow of British professionals to Europe. Their role in the major infrastructure projects in Budapest (e.g., the Chain Bridge, the water and sewerage networks, etc.) also makes this volume of studies of particular interest to specialists in the history of Central Europe.

The book is introduced by a substantial editorial foreword, which provides insights into the historiography of urban environmental history followed by a brief overview of the last two centuries of London’s environmental history and the major crises and problems the city faced.

Jim Clifford’s study (“Greater London’s Rapid Growth, 1800–2000”) describes the city’s growth over the last two centuries and the changes that have occurred, drawing primarily on a comparative analysis of maps. Defining (the boundaries of) the city is extremely difficult. The administrative boundaries do not cover the whole of the city’s surroundings, and local government in this period operated quite independently of the (otherwise weak) central leadership. This and the following study, in its concluding remarks, draw attention to the increasingly serious and urgent need to address the continuous risk of flooding as a result of climate change and the city’s expansion. The second paper, by Christopher Hamlin (“Imagining the Metropolitan Environment in the Modern Period”), examines the history of London as an environment, with a specific focus on the human aspect of how contemporary people understood the city as a physical and social medium.

Anne Hardy’s study (“Death and the Environment in London, 1800–2000”) examines the problems we have seen so far from demographic and epidemiological perspectives. Rapid population growth in the nineteenth century presented environmental challenges to housing, and mortality rates were extremely high. The city authorities were unable to cope with these issues until the second half of the century. The problem was linked first to pollution and poverty and, from the middle of the century onwards, more specifically to the quality of air, water, and geographical locations and to periodic outbreaks of epidemics (e.g., cholera and typhoid). Environmental improvements were sought as a solution, and a slow decline in mortality did indeed begin. Contemporary and historical observations have described London as an environmental death trap, but this picture is much worse than the actual situation was. According to Hardy, this could be explained by poor central control, as the various historical studies have always been concerned with the administration of a given local borough, and thus the London-wide context is not really known.

Christopher Ferguson (“London and Early Environmentalism in Britain, 1770–1870”) examines the relationship between early environmentalists and London. The individuals and associations that fell into this category sought to understand the various impacts of urban growth on the environment with the aim of protecting and improving human life and its values. In many respects, they were important predecessors to today’s environmentalists. Although the medical approach of the 1870s focused more on the human body than on the living environment in terms of the development of disease, the spread of the idea of prevention and control led many European cities to focus on environmental hazards in terms of public health.

Finally, a later study in the book by Bill Luckin and Andrea Tanner (“‘A Once Rural Place’: Environment and Society in Hackney, 1860–1920”) also belongs to this thematic unit. This paper is directly linked to Ferguson’s study through its examination of the relationship between sanitation and environmental practices in Hackney, an inner London borough. The paper reviews the environmental hazards associated with health problems already identified in earlier studies. By the 1920s, the influence of the sanitary movement, which linked moral conditions to health, was beginning to fade. This case study also reflects and supports Hardy’s demographic conclusions.

Peter Thorsheim’s study (“Green Space in London: Social and Environmental Perspectives”) looks into the evolution of green space in London and the uses of green spaces over the past two centuries. The notion of sustainability, in which environmental, social, and economic issues are inextricably intertwined, are traced in this study of the history of uses of green space.

Leslie Tomory’s study (“Moving East: Industrial Pollution in London, 1800–1920”) explores London’s industrial pollution problems. The crises caused by industrial pollution in the nineteenth century were not as acute as the epidemics and pollution around dwellings, and they therefore have attracted less attention. Industry representatives also made it difficult for local authorities to regulate industries, and eventually they had to be regulated at government level. The city’s air was gradually cleaner as factories moved eastwards, where they could operate under less regulated conditions, but it was not until the mid-twentieth century that real changes were made in relation to smog.

Two papers in this volume are dedicated specifically to a historical examination of the problem of water supply. Vanessa Taylor’s study (“Water and Its Meanings in London, 1800–1914”) examines the changing meanings and management of water in the long nineteenth-century London. The chapter provides a substantial chronological summary of the history of water supply in London. The paper then thematically reviews the city’s debates about local supply, the relationship between changing conceptions of water and sanitation, and the changing forms and roles of domestic supply in everyday life. Increasing water supply in response to an elevated demand facilitated further population growth in expanding urban spaces. The possibilities and conditions of water availability for urban dwellers improved considerably, but major infrastructure decisions were made over their heads, and the ongoing debates about this in the nineteenth century were linked to London’s governance mechanisms (e.g., the lack of central control and the strength of local government). There were conflicting priorities regarding urban rivers (the public was more concerned with water supply and sanitation, while the administration was basically interested in the function of rivers as a pollution removal system, although it monitored their deteriorating condition over time), but their “natural” state did not yet matter much. The idea of the river as an ecosystem had not yet been raised. The final chapter of the book also expands on the issue of water supply and the urban environmental history of London with a comparative study of New York by Bill Luckin and Joel A. Tarr (“Water for the Multitudes: London and New York, 1800–2016”). As Taylor does in his study, Luckin and Tarr examine the ways in which the growing population was supplied with water. Which proved more efficient, a privately controlled water supply or a publicly funded water supply? New York’s system, established by the 1830s, solved the problem of supply through the use of sources far from the city. The water quality was better, but this meant regular conflicts with the locals, with whom a final agreement was only reached in 1995. In London, the problems of municipal administration were seriously resolved in 1902, when water supply was transferred from private companies to the then Metropolitan Water Board, which significantly improved the situation.

The volume concludes with an extensive appendix of notes and an index to the studies. In the former, the authors have taken care to draw the reader’s attention to a large body of additional literature on the various subtopics. The index is very rich, with names of persons, geographical names, and key terms. It is a particularly useful tool for the sub-topics that are covered by several studies from different perspectives (e.g., London’s administration, different territorial definitions, environmental and epidemiological issues, etc.).

Most of the studies are well structured, and cross-references between the chapters help the reader find links within a given topic. Hamlin’s study, which seeks to examine the global city from several angles, stands out somewhat. It fits in the volume in terms of its topic and ambitions, but it is more of an essay that raises thought-provoking points. Rather than dwell on the classic topics of urban environmental history, these papers offer a glimpse into the history of various complex debates (urban green use, the construction and control of urban space, the many different meanings of pollution and water, etc.). There is also a strong emphasis on the current and future impact of acute problems.

Ágnes Németh
Eötvös Loránd University / Budapest City Archives
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Vielfalt ordnen: Das föderale Europa der Habsburgermonarchie (Vormärz bis 1918). By Jana Osterkamp. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2020. 531 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2021.4.816

In the historiography, the Habsburg Monarchy has long been characterized as the “prison of the peoples” (Völkerkerker), a state which, allegedly, would inevitably have fallen apart because of “nationality conflicts” while it was also (again, allegedly) shaped first and foremost by the issues of “nationality politics.” However, in the more recent scholarship, more emphasis has been put (not least because of the pioneering works of Pieter Judson) on the fact that the Habsburg Monarchy offered a legal framework for different identities and self-localizations, beyond the national cluster thinking, and represented a functioning legal system.

While the micro-historical studies explore the complexity of the local level, Jana Osterkamp has tried to put these local pieces of the puzzle together in a new narrative. Given her legal and historical knowledge, Osterkamp is able to interpret new findings of Habsburg research from a legal perspective.

With her innovative concept of the “cooperative empire,” Osterkamp succeeds in capturing both in historical and legal terms the supranational and proto-federalist character of the Habsburg Monarchy, especially the Austrian half of the empire. She introduces the concept of the “cooperative empire” as a description for legal and political opportunities beside and among the local structures (Jana Osterkamp, Cooperative Empires [2016]). The concept emphasizes integration, equality, and symmetries among the imperial “peripheries.” Therefore, the Habsburg Monarchy can be understood as an interdependence of several centers and peripheries, in which a complex multi-level system was established beyond (and even against) the imperial centers.

This approach allows Osterkamp to make the supranational character and the legal-administrative functions of the Habsburg Monarchy more visible. Statehood was not nationalized in Austria (Pieter M. Judson, L´Autriche-Hongrie était-elle un empire? [2008]), and the Habsburg Monarchy did not grant any single people a constitutionally anchored supremacy because there was no “nation” in the sense of a political nation (Peter Urbanitsch, Pluralist Myth and National Realities [2004]). A very important legitimation function was therefore assigned to the law (James Shedel, The Problem of Being Austrian [2001]. Despite the empire’s ethnic-linguistic, religious, and regional diversity, which would have made neither the hegemony of a nation nor a democratic nation-state possible, all citizens enjoyed the same rights in the Austrian part of the Monarchy, regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliation or their professed native tongue.

In her new book, Osterkamp applies the results of federalism studies to the Habsburg Monarchy. She comes to the conclusion that proto-federalist elements can be recognized in the complex structure of Austria-Hungary, which, on the one hand, could not yet clearly come into play at the time (because of crown land interests, nationalisms, and the idea of an Austrian confederation), but which, on the other hand, anticipated a post-nation-state age of the “political.” Osterkamp perceives federalism as a pre- and post-modern idea (p.2 et sq.). In the age of emerging nationalisms and nation-states of the late nineteenth century, this federalist-supranational idea might seem outdated, but especially for the Habsburg Monarchy, the existing structures (such as the crown lands) gave new impulses and meanings while at the same time opening up discourses for new constitutional ideas.

With the concept of federalism, Osterkamp can overcome a state-focused perspective in both historical and legal debates: “Multi-level systems of rule do not have to be sovereign state in their entirety if one wants to examine them as federal systems” (p.10). In this sense, Osterkamp understands federalism as a “vertical division of the state power by different decision-making levels within a long-term existing political order” (p.215, emphasis in original).

The lack of a unified nation does not turn out to be backwardness or a reason for decay, but rather enabled new paths and ideas for an empire that had to legitimize itself beyond the “national”: “The state doctrine of the Habsburg Monarchy could not rely on the central idea of the nation. The place of the nation-state was taken by an enlightened ‘overall state idea’ [Gesamtstaatsideee] oriented towards the effectiveness and welfare of the population, on which Austrian political science had been working since the 18th century” (p.47). The social pluri-culturalism and the imperial-supranational structure corresponded to a formalistic-legalistic understanding of law, which—instead of relying on metajuristic-fictional and emotionally charged categories, such as “nation” or “state” —brought the dynamic processuality and the positivistic formality of the legal system to the fore (Urbanitsch [2004]). The lack of a unified “nation” and even the lack of such a state idea favored a model in which law and administration (as form and function) stood at the very center of state activities. This explains the strongly legalistic tradition of Austrian legal thought, which continued to have an effect after 1918 (and in fact until today) (Ewald Wiederin, Denken vom Recht her [2007]).

Osterkamp gives plurality and supranationality, long considered as deficits of the Habsburg Monarchy, a positive meaning. Although the Habsburg Monarchy could not build one nation (p.121), its constellation enabled a system in which ideologically motivated terms, like nation-state and sovereignty, were not in the foreground. The Habsburg Monarchy yielded a multi-level structure of the administration instead of centralized, one-dimensional governance (pp.87, 214 et sq.). Osterkamp differentiates between various forms of federal structures (administrative federalism, crown land federalism, union of dualism), which she compares with the federalist ideas of the time (trialism, non-territorial personal autonomy, a “United States of Austria,” etc.) (p.413).

Osterkamp’s analysis offers a new explanation for the state structure and cooperation within the Habsburg Monarchy, and it may also explain the discrepancy between the narrative of the “prison of the peoples” and the reality of a functioning (although muddled) administration. Pieter Judson ascribes a certain theatricality to Viennese politics: polarizing debates on the stage, but cooperation behind it, or, as Osterkamp writes: “People talked about each other in public, and in the back rooms with each other” (p.224).

Osterkamp investigates not only the structures existing at the time or the federalist (federalizing) proposals, but also takes into account the reality of proto-federalist cooperation as well, for example among the crown lands vis-à-vis Vienna. Her book also analyses the different compromise models (in Moravia and Galicia), the crown land conferences, the petition practice of the local population (especially in Galicia), the financial equalization between the crown lands and between Vienna and Budapest. Separate chapters are devoted to the proto-federalist agricultural, social, educational, administrative, and health policies.

Jana Osterkamp’s monography thus represents the first attempt to describe the constitutional functioning and the administrative practices of the Habsburg Monarchy as part of her innovative concept (“cooperative empire”) and also with regard to today’s jurisprudential and theoretical debates on supranational, federalist entities (like the European Union). It is an admirable attempt impressive in its findings and insights.

Péter Techet
Institute of Political Sciences and Philosophy of Law, Hans Kelsen Research Centre,
Albert-Ludwig-University of Freiburg / Centre for Legal History Research, University of Zurich
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Milan Rastislav Štefánik: The Slovak National Hero and Co-Founder of Czechoslovakia. By Michal Kšiňan. London–New York: Routledge, 2021. pp. 300.
DOI 10.38145/2021.4.819

In recent decades, Milan Rastislav Štefánik (1880–1919) has become one of, if not the, most important Slovak historical figures in Slovakia. Born in Nitra County, he left Hungary in 1898 after completing grammar school, first to study in Prague and then to live in France as an astronomer. He then spent years traveling the world and became a prominent figure in the French scientific and political elite. In 1912, he acquired French citizenship. He joined the French army when the war broke out and used his contacts with members of the political elite to reach Prime Minister Aristide Briand, through Czech émigrés Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, whom he knew from Prague, and Edvard Beneš. Together with them, he quickly won support among the great powers for the post-war liquidation of the Monarchy and the creation of new state structures. Štefánik’s political vision and his diplomatic and military organizational work thus played a major role in the creation of the new state of Czechoslovakia. Tragically, however, Štefánik never actually set foot on the soil of this new state. On his journey home, not far from Bratislava, his plane crashed on landing.

Several impressive papers on Štefánik’s life and work have been published in recent years. One of Kšiňan’s innovations in this already vibrant discourse is that he has created a deconstructionist biography: he deliberately does not follow a linear chronological sequence from birth to death (and does not bring his narrative to a close with Štefánik’s death, but rather ends much later). This method allows Kšiňan to focus on what he considers the most important issues in Štefánik’s life. Given the complexity of Štefánik’s personality and the remarkable turns his life took, it would be almost impossible to organize these penetrating analyses into a straight narrative. Over the course of some 39 years (and especially during the last decade and a half of his life), Štefánik pursued a multifaceted career that was almost unprecedented not only in Hungary, but probably in Europe. This presents the historian with daunting challenges. Within the framework of a single narrative, one has to delve into the inner workings of the French astronomical society of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries while also considering the subtle shifts in domestic politics in Ecuador, France, Bohemia (or the Czech lands), Russia, England, the United States, Italy, and Romania, not to mention the systems of rules and customs in the French salons, the functioning of the Masonic lodges, and countless other contexts, for without this detailed backdrop, Štefánik’s life and achievements are hardly comprehensible.

After an introductory historical overview intended presumably for the non-Slovak reader, Kšiňan has divided his book into four major themes. It is worth noting that he does not cover Štefánik’s entire life. Apart from a few digressions into some of the events of Štefánik’s youth, he concentrates on the last 15 years of his life, the period between 1904 and 1919, when Štefánik gradually emerged as an increasingly prominent figure in intellectual and political life in France. As Kšiňan himself states in the preface, he is primarily interested in the Štefánik as the “Slovak national hero.” More precisely, he seeks to consider the qualities, networks, relationships, and events in Štefánik’s adult life, between the ages of 24 and 39, that made him such an important figure, so rapidly elevated by the new state to the status of a national icon.

The first chapter, which begins with a discussion of Pierre Bourdieu’s understanding of social capital, examines how Štefánik created his network of French social contacts before the outbreak of World War I and how he transformed his social and cultural capital into economic capital. Kšiňan also considers how Štefánik used his interests and hobbies (astronomy, photography, a passion for collecting, an interest in the arts) to maintain his social capital. This analysis is important, as it furthers our grasp of how Štefánik was able to convince French decision-makers in the middle of the war to consider the views of two Czech emigrants (Masaryk and Beneš), how he was able to persuade them and Western public opinion to entertain a new vision of the future of Central Europe, and how he was able to balance the interests of Russia and France, powers which initially had different ideas about how to resolve the Czechoslovak question.

In the second chapter, Kšiňan uses Max Weber’s concept of the charismatic leader as a point of departure to explore, through various case studies and micro-studies, how Štefánik influenced his those around him, or in other words, how he used the network of relationships presented in the first chapter. Kšiňan devotes particular attention, for example, to Štefánik’s relationship with women, which was one of the most important elements of this network. From his Prague years onwards, Štefánik, who apparently was not a terribly fetching man, eagerly sought the company of the daughters of wealthy, powerful, aristocratic families with good connections, and he often accepted large donations from them. This subchapter also offers a good example of how Kšiňan, despite his basic premise, maintains a critical distance from the subject of his study. For instance, he makes the following contention: “Štefánik’s flirtations and frequent partings were a consequence of his impulsiveness and fear of being trapped by common stereotypes of relationships. Often, however, he enjoyed the process of seducing and conquering women; he was more of a seducer than a Don Juan. The interest of ladies certainly catered to his egocentrism and narcissism since he always needed to be in the spotlight.” The analysis of Štefánik’s mission to Ecuador is also outstanding. It offers a detailed discussion of the geopolitical context of Štefánik’s secret mission and how his negotiations brought the South American country into the French sphere of interest.

In the third chapter, which follows the most classical format of a biographical narrative, Kšiňan presents Štefánik’s military and political activities during World War I. Unlike many earlier authors, however, Kšiňan does not take the founding of Czechoslovakia as a fundamental goal, i.e., as a goal established at the outset. Rather, he suggests that it was a political innovation which took clearer form during the war years.

The final major section analyses Štefánik’s identity and the political debates after his death, showing that although Štefánik was far from satisfied with the setup of the new republic, he was not fundamentally in favor of Slovak aspirations for autonomy. Rather, he would have strengthened the Slovak presence in a centralist state on the basis of parity rather than Czech dominance. The last two subchapters provide superb micro-examinations of two myths about Štefanik. The first concerns the circumstances of his death, about which conspiracy theories are still common (for instance, that his plane was shot down by Hungarians or that it was mistakenly shot down by Slovaks who, because of its Italian markings, mistook it for a Hungarian plane, or that Beneš had the plane shot down, or that Štefanik deliberately committed suicide). With exemplary thoroughness and critical distance, Kšiňan points out that the circumstances of the crash cannot be clarified because of the negligence of the investigating authorities, and he convincingly refutes various unfounded theories. The second myth concerns Štefánik’s alleged Freemasonry, which is also a popular theory, though one finds no support for it in any sources and there are far more arguments against it than there are for it.

Kšiňan’s monograph, which draws on a vast source base of unprecedented size and new methodological approaches, persuasively rewrites the historical narrative concerning Milan Rastislav Štefanik, calling attention to details which previously were only superficially understood, introducing new topics, and refuting stubborn legends. The book is clearly one of the best biographies of the Štefánik. Kšiňan takes as his point of departure the notion that Štefánik is a national hero, but the book is really about much more than that. It furthers a far more nuanced understanding of who this man, known today as a Slovak national hero, really was.

József Demmel
University of Public Service / Historický ústav Slovenskej akadémie vied, Bratislava
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The Hungarian Agricultural Miracle? Sovietization and Americanization in a Communist Country. By Zsuzsanna Varga. Translated by Frank T. Zsigó. The Harvard Cold War Studies Book Series. Lanham, Boulder, New York and London: Lexington Books, 2021, 323 pp.
DOI 10.38145/2021.4.823

Zsuzsanna Varga’s comprehensive account of the political economy of Hungarian agriculture during the Cold War exemplifies the international and transnational turn in research on agricultural and rural history. The book is ordered chronologically and consists of seven chapters. After the introduction, which outlines the research approach, chapter one offers an overview of the Stalinist system of socialist agriculture and exports to East Central Europe. Chapters two, three, and four cover the phases of the collectivization of Hungarian agriculture and the retrenchment to private farming from 1949 to 1961. Chapters five and six deal with the transfer of Western knowledge and technology, including “closed production systems” from the USA, after the conclusion of collectivization. Chapter seven evaluates the successes and limitations of the “Hungarian agricultural miracle” in the wider context. In the conclusion, Varga synthesizes the central insights of her study.

Using a rich body of macro-, meso- and micro-level sources (official documents, international press, oral interviews, etc.), Varga explains the shifting route of Hungarian agriculture between the onset of land collectivization in 1949 and its definite abandonment in 1989 within the framework of “transnational comparison” (i.e., the combination of comparative and entangled approaches). She highlights two transsystemic transfers of politico-economic institutions, technology, and knowledge to Hungary: first, the “Eastern transfer,” which transplanted the Stalinist system of socialist agriculture, regarded as an “inner colony” for industrialization, into a pre-socialist mode of farming built on private property and market orientation; second, the “Western transfer,” which transplanted a capitalist production system into a socialist agriculture based on the Soviet model. Varga argues that Americanization was one sort of solution to performance problems caused by Sovietization in the 1960s. By the 1970s, a “hybrid agriculture” had emerged in Hungary that applied the latest Western agricultural technology on state farms and producer cooperatives created on the basis of the Soviet model. The end of food shortages and the growth of agricultural surpluses were labeled as the “Hungarian agricultural miracle.”

Varga clearly shows that the Hungarian agricultural transformation during the Cold War was not a well-paved path but, rather, a rocky road. Waves of state-led collectivization according to the Soviet model were interrupted by phases of de-collectivization that reflected the destabilization of the socialist regime, mediation by its agrarian lobby, and peasant agitation. While the Soviet model was implemented, negotiated, and adapted top-down by the Hungarian state apparatus, the adoption of Western technology and knowledge emerged bottom-up through partnerships of state farms and producer cooperatives with private companies from beyond the Iron Curtain. The resulting division of labor involved large-scale state and collective farms specializing in capital-intensive arable production as well as small private household plots specializing in labor-intensive vegetable, fruit, and livestock production. The study shows institutional and technological transfer between countries with different political and economic systems can increase agricultural performance, provided that actors at sub-national levels gain agency to mediate between systemic imperatives and everyday priorities.

Although Varga does not refer to James Scott’s notion of “high-modernism,” her monograph contributes to the debate on state-led agrarian change in the twentieth century. The emergence of a both Sovietized and Americanized mode of farming in Hungary highlights the limits of top-down development schemes by authoritarian nation states and their technocratic planners as well as the potentials of bottom-up initiatives from the countryside. Rather than state-enforced “high modernism,” the emergence of a Hungarian “hybrid agriculture” indicates a case of “low modernism” that shifts national economic performance through informal and formal institutionalization of sub-national grassroots activities. The creative adaptation of state-imposed collectivization by local actors – which was quite risky, as indicated by show trials against cooperative leaders – is framed in terms of a “successful alternative” to the Soviet model. From the prevailing socioeconomic perspective, this conclusion seems reasonable. However, doubts arise concerning the “successful” and “alternative” character of the “Hungarian agricultural miracle” when one shifts to a socio-natural view. The Western technoscientific package adopted by Hungarian state farms and producer cooperatives as well as the state-enforced Soviet model they struggled with rested on similar agro-industrial imperatives: the replacement of muscle power by machinery and agrochemicals based on fossil energy, the dissolution of the symbiotic relationship between arable and livestock farming, and the shift of both land and labor productivity according to the needs of industrial society. Seen from a socio-natural angle, the transnationally induced modernization of Hungarian agriculture during the Cold War might appear much “higher” (in Scott’s terms) than from a purely socioeconomic view.

This critical comment should not cast a poor light on the rich evidence provided by the monograph, but rather indicates a direction for future research on the “Hungarian agricultural miracle.” The well-researched and well-narrated account of the Hungarian agricultural transformation will be of great value not only for scholars of rural and agricultural history, but also for anyone interested in the international and transnational history of Communist Europe during the Cold War.

Ernst Langthaler
Johannes Kepler University, Linz
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Hungarian Historical Review 10, no. 4 (2021): –802

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pdfVolume 5 Issue 4 CONTENTS

BOOK REVIEWS

Slavery in Árpád-era Hungary in a Comparative Context. By Cameron Sutt. (East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages 31.) Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2015. 240 pp.

 

This study, which is based on a Cambridge dissertation supervised by Nora Berend, takes up a discussion—now more than one-hundred years old—about the actual status of persons called servi, mancipia, or ancillae in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries in Hungary. To put the issue in a wider context, the author first summarizes older and more recent research on the conditions of dependent labor in early medieval Western Europe. As his findings demonstrate, one should be cautious with any unequivocal or general definition of these people’s social positions: even historians working with a significantly wider array of sources than those available in Hungary have failed to reach any consensus on the question of whether or not these people could be accurately characterized as slaves, serfs, or any of the other names that have been given to them. Then, in contradiction to the contention that very little research has been devoted to this question in Hungarian historical scholarship (p.1), Sutt gives a thorough and informative survey of the literature from the beginning of the twentieth century to, roughly, the present day (pp.7–18).

A crucial subchapter follows on the definition of slavery (pp.18–32). Much of the debate rests on semantics. Most historians have tended, tacitly or otherwise, to equate the notion of slavery with the Antique Roman slave bands or the African plantation slaves of America. Sutt widens the discussion by introducing evidence from ancient Mesopotamia to present-day (or recent) slave-holding societies in Sub-Saharan Africa. As with other similar comparisons between ancient states or contemporary “societies without writing” and medieval Europe, I am not sure that these are as useful as the author believes. (The debate on this question, however, is far too broad for me to cover it in any detail here.) Sutt ends up with a four-point “definition” (p. 32):

1 a slave was property, and as such could be bought, sold, and traded in whatever manner his or her owner desired;

2 a slave was separated from his or her kin. Slaves may have children, but cannot establish the broader relationship of kin. Separation from kin found manifestation primarily in the inability of a slave to participate in the rights of patrimony. A slave could enjoy certain limited rights to property, and this property could be sizeable and may even have consisted of land in some form, but all of a slave’s property was merely part of his or her peculium. A prime characteristic of peculium was that a slave could not bequeath it to succeeding generations;

3 the labor of a slave depended solely upon the will of his or her master. Slaves could be required to perform all sorts of tasks, both heavy and light, but their master alone determined both the nature and the amount of work demanded of them;

4 slave marriages were not secure in all societies. This criterion must be qualified because, as we have seen, some societies allowed the legal protection of the union between slaves. Serfs, by contrast, always had such legal protection. Thus, while the presence of protected marriages does not necessarily indicate serfs, the forcible break up of unions does indicate slaves.

With these criteria in mind, the author peruses the laws of St. Stephen (pp.52–90), St. Ladislas and Coloman (pp.91–108), and other Hungarian records, always comparing them to the Lex Baiuvariorum and related sources, as well as evidence from Carolingian French territories. This inquiry is prefaced by a chapter on “Árpádian Hungary and the Land” (pp.35–51), which presents the discussions on the nomadic or semi-nomadic character of the Hungarians in the ninth and tenth centuries, the development of ecclesiastical and lay landed property, and their structure.

In the subsequent three chapters the evidence is analyzed topically, according to the author’s definition. He presents evidence suggesting that servi were regarded as “things” (res) (pp.109–22), i.e. they could be bought and sold even without land, that their labor obligations were mostly undefined, though less so on church property (pp.123–30), and that their families (pp.131–58) were systematically split up. The last point is the most contradictory, and is supported by the least reliable evidence. One frequently finds mention in the sources of married servi or ancillae, but some of these unions may have been between manumitted servants.

On the basis of the very systematic and exhaustive (as exhaustive as reasonably possible) survey of the scattered sources, Sutt finds evidence in the laws and charters of Árpádian-age Hungary for almost all of the points in his definition, although never for all. There is, however, evidence to the contrary as well, even apart from the exceptional case of a servus being in charge of a castle (Stephen II: 18). For example, when a distinction is drawn between Hungarian servi and others, the Hungarian servi are clearly regarded as persons, even though in another source they are listed together with cattle and tools. Surely, the Hungarian evidence points to conditions fairly similar to those of (earlier) Western European ones, in which there were very significant differences in the statuses of servile populations. From what can be established, the legal division of liber and servus was unequivocal, but that may not have covered the actual social and economic reality. (As in later centuries, the legal notion of nobilis covered great landowners and one-plot peasant-noblemen alike.)

The comparison with “serfs” (already used in the definition and then in the last chapter) is also problematic. To use this category—different from “slave”— in the Hungarian case is highly problematic. Calling the dependent tenants of the later Middle Ages and beyond—i.e. the jobbágy/jobagio peasants, who had de facto inheritable plots and the freedom to move (or be moved) to other lords—serfs is definitely misleading. Might it not be more useful, even in the case of periods as early as the first centuries of the kingdom, to speak of slave-like and serf-like dependencies among the servile laborers and peasants, but clearly to distinguish them from the later (from the late thirteenth century onwards) peasants? The attempt to make them ad glebam astricti and disarmed (in 1514) clearly suggests that their position was different before (and, in fact, did not even change for the worse in general thereafter).The study closes with a discussion of the disappearance of servi (pp.159–210), already touched upon. Sutt persuasively dismisses the influence of the Church, drawing on a wide array of theological sources and canon law. He also offers a good survey of the relevant debates and argues that in essence the servi disappeared because of changes in agriculture and settlement patterns (i.e. the end of the small praedia).

The book also includes a good index and a map of thirteenth-century Hungary. (It is, however, puzzling how northern Transdanubia became “Burgenland.”)  

My critical remarks notwithstanding, I regard this study as a very important one. Sutt is right to urge an up-to-date inquiry into this long-debated issue in a European context, and he has made a substantial contribution. By having made both the older Hungarian discussions of this question and his own extensive research accessible to the scholarly public beyond Hungary (the studies in Hungarian are almost entirely unknown abroad, as Sutt notes on p.1), he has done a valuable service for social and legal historians worldwide.

János M. Bak

Central European University, Budapest

Koldulórendi konfraternitások a középkori Magyarországon (1270 k. – 1530 k.) [Mendicant confraternities in medieval Hungary (ca. 1270 – ca. 1530)]. By Marie-Madeleine de Cevins. Pécs: Virágmandula, 2015. 308 pp.

 

The French historian Marie-Madeleine de Cevins is well known among Hungarian medievalists. She is one of the few Western European historians whose research field is in East Central Europe, more precisely in medieval Hungary. She has dealt with questions of ecclesiastical history for the last twenty or so years. In addition to a number of articles and a book on the church institutions in the Hungarian towns, she published a thick volume on Franciscan Observants in Hungary (Les Franciscains observants hongrois, de l’expansion à la débâcle [vers 1450 – vers 1540] Rome [2008]), and she also organized a research group dealing with mendicant economy in East Central Europe, financed by the French Agence National de Recherche (Marginalité, économie et christianisme: La vie matérielle des couvents mendiants en Europe centrale). The question of mendicant confraternities came up in the framework of this research.

Almost as if showing respect for a long tradition, works on medieval Hungarian history often begin with the contention that sources are scarce either because they never existed or because they did not survive the upheavals of East Central European history. Certainly there are far fewer written sources in this part of Europe than in the Southern or Western regions of the continent. However, there are some exceptions. The subject of de Cevins’ book seems to be one of them. Although confraternities are documented in Western Europe centuries earlier, the adoption of this form of piety in the mendicant orders seems to have found much less expression there than it did in East Central Europe, especially in Hungary.

The book consists of seven chapters, including a conclusion and a long appendix of nearly seventy pages containing tables, maps, graphs, photos of documents, followed by the publication of sixteen charters. Between the two sections, there is a fifteen-page bibliography which lists both published and unpublished sources, as well as works of secondary literature mainly in French, Hungarian and English, but there are also German and Flemish titles.

In the first chapter one of the main questions is the terminology, since confraternities need to be distinguished from other forms of piety such as, for instance, pro anima donations. In fact, one of the difficulties is that the sources are not only very uneven, but they also contain very few details. Sometimes even the name of the beneficiary is missing, not to mention the circumstances under which he or she joined the mendicant community. The first half of the chapter offers a short history of the confraternities and their monastic roots. The second part gives an overview of the historical research with a brief discussion of the secondary literature in English, French, Danish, Polish, and Czech, with a special focus on the works in Hungarian.

The second chapter enumerates the sources themselves, from the normative texts, which are very few in number, through the charters, the registers, and the formularia, including the relevant sources issued by the Pauline Order. De Cevins’ scope is larger here than the mendicant confraternity charters stricto sensu, partly due to the fact that the sources survived in very different forms and under very different circumstances. In this context, she also discusses the problem of conflating the confratres with the “simple” benefactors of the orders; this aspect is important when categorizing the sources. Finally, there is a short summary of the formal characteristics of the confraternity charters.

The third chapter, entitled “The success of mendicant confraternities in Hungary till about 1530,” is the main thematic part of the book. It discusses the chronology, spatial distribution, and social background of the phenomenon. As far is this last aspect is concerned, de Cevins underlines that the nobility is clearly overrepresented in the source material. This is not simply a Hungarian phenomenon. De Cevins quotes the English and Burgundian examples, but she notices an important difference, namely the relatively low number of aristocrats and, in contrast, the strong presence of the nobility. I agree with her contention that further research is needed in order to determine whether this phenomenon was a Hungarian peculiarity or not, but whatever the case, this detail fits well into our image of late medieval Hungarian society.

The following three chapters analyze the process of how one joined the confraternity and the levels of benefices (Chapter 4), the connections between the orders and their confraternities, including the mutual services (Chapter 5), and the religious aspects, the “value” of the confraternity from the point of view of the lay members (Chapter 6).

The conclusion focuses on three aspects. The first is the disciplined use of the confraternity as a religious institution. The hesitancy to issue blank charters contributed to the late medieval success of confraternities in Hungary, especially among nobles and aristocrats. Secondly, this group was particularly susceptible to this form of piety because of earlier monastic traditions (the high prestige of kindred monasteries) and the social demands of the elite. And thirdly, de Cevins again contextualizes the confraternity in the European framework, and she describes its place in the rich set of the forms of piety promoted or accepted by the mendicant orders.

It is rather unusual that a book by a non-Hungarian scholar is first published in Hungarian. In this case, given both the subject and the author it was auspicious that a Hungarian publisher undertook the task. However, a short remark has to be made about the translation. Obviously, one of the goals was to publish the volume as soon as possible, and the lack of time made it difficult to go through the translated text carefully. In some cases, this led only to annoying grammatical or orthographical mistakes, but unfortunately there are more serious problems. Certain phrases are hard to understand because of the unfortunate phrasing in Hungarian, and a few of them seem to mean just the opposite as the author’s intention simply because of a missing “not.” Hopefully, the French edition of the volume will also be published in the near future, and historians will at least have the opportunity to check the translation against the original text.

In summary, Marie-Madeleine de Cevins’s book yields new insights into the relationship between the mendicant orders and the surrounding society based on a neglected group of sources. She highlights the differences between the behaviors of the orders, as well as the differences within the orders in different regions. Finally, she discusses the subject in a larger European context, emphasizing that the exceptionality of the Hungarian case may be thrown into question if sources from other regions are analyzed, too. The book is the first but hopefully not the last comprehensive analysis of a subject that until now has suffered from neglect.

Beatrix F. Romhányi 

Károli Gáspár University, Budapest

A Német Lovagrend Poroszországban: A népesség és a településszerkezet változásai [The Teutonic Order in Prussia: Changes in population and settlement pattern]. By László Pósán. Máriabesenyő: Attraktor, 2015. 312 pp.

 

Works in Hungarian on the history of the Teutonic Order focus primarily on two issues: the events of the 1210–20s, when the Order held territories in Burzenland in southeastern Transylvania, and the diplomatic connections between Sigismund of Luxemburg and the Teutonic Knights. However, the events preceding the presence of the Knights in Hungary, as well as their lasting and significant rule in the Baltics beginning in the 1230s, have not captured the interests or attention of Hungarian scholars. László Pósán, associate professor at the University of Debrecen, has been trying to fill this gap for decades by publishing numerous articles concerning the history of the Order in Prussia and Hungary. This monograph provides a summary of Pósán’s research on this subject.

Pósán summarizes the relevant German, Polish, and English secondary literature and provides an excellent complement with a list of primary sources illustrating the major processes and changes that were at work in the region. His work is divided into four main parts, organized chronologically.

The first part offers a broad overview of the Prussian territories and the tribes that inhabited the region before the arrival of the Knights. Pósán provides a vivid description of the harsh and unhospitable conditions of the land, which has proved one of the biggest difficulties for the Teutonic Knights.

The second part presents the everyday life of the Prussian population and prevailing power relations up to the Treaty of Christburg (1249), which is often characterized as the conclusion of the First Prussian Uprising (1242–53), though the fighting did not actually cease until 1253. The treaty guaranteed liberties to all Prussians who converted to Christianity, but it did nothing to establish peace, as many Prussians did not wish to convert and the Knights swore to root out paganism. Pósán convincingly argues that the Christburg treaty brought consolidation to the lands belonging to the Teutonic Knights, as many members of the Prussian aristocracy were won over by the offer of various benefits. Nevertheless, Prussians who were dissatisfied with the rule of their new German lords or simply wanted to practice their old pagan religion undisturbed moved to the territories inhabited by the still independent tribes in East or North Prussia and Pomeralia. The chapter ends with a narrative of the Great Prussian Uprising (1260–74), a rebellion led by the Prussian aristocracy against the aggressive and drastic transformation of the whole power system in the region.

In the third chapter, Pósán discusses the transformation of the internal conditions in Prussia brought about by the Knights. This process included the reshaping the natural environment by deforestation and drainage, the organized colonization of Prussia with the help of locators, and finally the remodeling of property structures. The most significant merit of the chapter is the overview it offers of a pattern of a settler movement (which culminated between 1310 and 1370). The author also enumerates the locators, who were entrusted by the Order with colonizing vast but deserted or uninhabited territories. The key initiator (apart from bishops and landlords) was the supreme seigneur, the Teutonic Order itself, which gave locators lands in average between 10–100 Hufen (Hufe = peasant parcel) to found villages using settlers recruited from Germany and Poland. In the second half of the fourteenth century, the number of Polish settlers and locators who took part in the process of colonization increased significantly. Pósán draws his reader’s attention to the fact that the Order also tried to lure more settlers from Lithuania in the second half of the fifteenth century by offering far more favorable conditions. In the frontier zones, the Order favored donating properties burdened with military obligation to create a solid background for campaigns. Pósán points out that, thanks to the constant flow of settlers, the Great Plague did not break the backbone of the Orders’ economy. As a matter of fact, as was the case in other East European states, the epidemic had only a limited impact on the territories governed by the Ordensstaat. Around 1400, with about 480,000 people under their authority, the Teutonic Knights were at the zenith of their power and development. Nevertheless, if one compares other European countries with the state of the Teutonic Order, the latter was not among the most densely populated (8 people/km2 for a territory of some 58,000 km2). However, the number of inhabitants and the settlement density were highly unbalanced in different geographical areas. The valley of the Vistula River and especially the region of Kulmerland were more densely populated, even exceeding the averages in Poland and Silesia. 23 percent of the population lived in the 93 cities that had been founded mainly by hospites.

The fourth and last chapter deals with wars waged by the Teutonic Knights against Poland–Lithuania and later the Prussian Confederation (the Thirteen Years’ War, 1454–66). Both parties preferred or were forced to use mainly mercenaries, and this had serious financial consequences. Worse, the unpaid mercenaries plundered the countryside even if the settlements belonged to the party that had hired them. Thus, one could observe a catastrophic decline in terms of economy and demography (depopulation in all Prussia reached 40–50 percent) in territories most exposed to military movements: the southern border areas, Kulmerland, and along the Vistula River, areas which were known as the most developed and urbanized regions in the state of the Teutonic Knights. The cost of food grew rapidly, causing famines, epidemics, and riots. Numerous territories never recovered completely from the damages caused by the war. In the first decades of the sixteenth century there were properties which had been abandoned in 1410 and remained deserted. War did not spare livestock either. The tremendous loss of (war)horses offers an additional explanation as to why the Order was forced to use more and more mercenaries after 1410 instead of its reliable and efficient cavalry. These negative tendencies were only tempered by fugitives and peasants fleeing from Lithuania (8,000 people in the middle of the sixteenth century) and Poland. Polish kings always tried to reclaim this manpower on border courts (Richttag, iudicia), an institution founded to observe the Treaty of Brest (1435). However, quite understandably, since the Order was in need of manpower, it did not show any great willingness to force these people to leave their lands.

According to the Second Peace of Thorn, which put an end to the Thirteen Years War in 1466, the Order lost its most developed regions (Pomeralia, Kulmerland, the region of Marienburg, Elbing, and Ermland), which were ceded to the Polish Kingdom. In spite of being the vassal of the Polish king, the Teutonic Order did make huge and desperate efforts to regain its lost domains (Polish–Teutonic War, 1519–21), but it failed. In accordance with the treaty at Krakow, which was concluded between Grandmaster Albrecht von Brandenburg and King Sigismund in 1525, the Teutonic Order in Prussia was dissolved and Prussia turned into a secular Duchy under the suzerainty of the Polish crown.

Its title notwithstanding, Pósán’s book deals a lot with political and military history, especially in the last chapter. However, this does not affect the structure and narrative negatively. Rather, the information concerning political and military history completes and explains the author’s statements relating to economy, population, and settlement patterns. The list of primary sources cited constitutes one-third of the monograph. This illustrates Pósán’s extensive use of primary sources. These documents allow the reader to acquaint him or herself with contemporary names, measures, and customs of Prussia. Furthermore, the reader can observe the amalgamation of the languages, customs, and techniques of two different cultures: the Christian Germans and the Pagan Prussians. All in all, the book provides a great overview of Teutonic economy and colonization on the basis of diplomatic sources.

Benjámin Borbás

Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites: Religion, Politics, and Resolution. Edited by Elazar Barkan and Karen Barkey. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. 440 pp.

The factors informing religious and ethnic conflict and coexistence have been at the center of research by scholars in the social sciences and humanities for the better part of the twentieth century, and they remain high on the scholarly agenda today. One of the most complex elements within the dynamics of confessional and ethnic pluralism concerns the question of shared sacred spaces: why do certain holy places become politicized and turn into sites of inter-communal violence among different religious groups at a particular time, while others retain their status of apparently peaceful coexistence? What are the factors that determine the positions of these sites on the axis of conflict and concord, and who are the agents that bring about transformation in the meanings and functions of these places?

Critically engaging with the theory of “antagonistic tolerance” (AT) and moving beyond the “clash of civilizations” paradigm, Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites offers a unique exploration of the intricate politics of choreographies that emerge around sacred spaces, coupled with cautious scrutiny of the ways in which diverse religious and political motivations are activated and juxtaposed. It does so by focusing on the role of the state and its attitude towards various ethnic and religious groups in fashioning a context of “competitive sharing,” as well as on the reactions of these communities to these state-initiated actions. Because it examines the choreographies of daily life both in synchronic and diachronic perspectives, This book is crucial not only to the study of competitive sharing within contemporary societies, but also to new understandings of the issue of religious coexistence in general and shared sacred spaces in particular in different historical periods. As the editors note in their introduction, “historically and in contemporary cases the importance of sacred sites lays [sic!] both in the particular “‘choreography of daily life’ around the site and in the manner in which public authorities frame the context of relations between religious and ethnic groups” (p.2).

The relevance of the book lies not only in the methodology employed by the authors, but also in the particular cases on which they focus. What connects these shared sacred sites is the legacy of the Ottoman Empire: the places under discussion in the Balkans, Palestine/Israel, and Anatolia were all part of the same imperial formation. Thus, in addition to examining the forces and strategies that determined how the use of these spaces was accepted, negotiated, and contested, the examples given by the authors offer perspectives that go beyond the glass of “Eurocentrism,” since the territories analyzed within the framework of the volume usually do not fall within the purview of scholars dealing with religious coexistence in European societies. The authors focus on three main areas in their attempt to illustrate adequately how boundaries (physical or conceptual) around shared sacred sites were created, maintained, negotiated, and transgressed in the aforementioned territories. They tackle the issue of coexistence, which is the most fundamental category for an understanding of the daily mechanisms and arrangements around sacred sites, and they analyze the particular features of sacred sites, such as narratives, centrality, and indivisibility. They also explore the manners in which state-society relations articulate the division of sacred sites.

All of the articles in the volume merit separate praise, but given the limitations of space I single out a few that I consider particularly eye-opening in terms of their topic and methodology. Karen Barkey uses the example of the Ottoman Empire to demonstrate that one has to move away from previous theories of Ottoman tolerance, institutionalized in the millet system, and analyze the vast number of shared sacred sites (churches, shrines, and mausoleums) across the Empire in order to capture the day-to-day complexity of interreligious and interethnic relations. By using the example of a Marian sanctuary in Algeria, Dionigi Albera’s work analyzes the historical development of the political and religious context that articulated the “mixed attendance” at this shrine in order to illustrate how particular religious sites could become “reactivated” in different time periods. David Henig’s study on Muslim Bosnia attempts to prove that the politicization and/or nationalization of sacred sites through various state regulated mechanisms cannot be described simply as a top-to-bottom process. Rather, one has to look at the “grassroots activities of divergent social actors who intersubjectively construct and negotiate the more fluid meaning and practices involved in actually sharing sites from day to day” (pp.133–34). Wendy Pullan’s analysis of the conflictual nature of Al-Wad Street in Jerusalem illustrates how multiple layers of meaning can exist at a particular place, and how one ought to approach the sacred and the profane/secular not as a diametrically opposed phenomena, but as parts of a “continuous but differentiated structure” (p.169). This issue is further developed and corroborated in the closing article of the volume by Rabia Harmanşah, Tuğba Tanyeri-Erdemir, and Robert M. Hayden. By providing a comparative analysis of the Haci Bektaş and Mevlana museums in Turkey, the authors meticulously demonstrate the role of various state and communal actors in turning religioscapes into secularscapes and vice versa.

By illustrating the pliability of sacred spaces with mixed attendance and demonstrating that the choreography of a particular site results from the complex interplay between day-to-day interactions and political maneuverings, Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites will enhance our understanding of the peculiar dynamics around shared sacred places and open new research avenues in the study of confessional and ethnic coexistence in different historical time periods.

Emese Muntán

Central European University, Budapest

Brokering Empire: Trans-Imperial Subjects between Venice and Istanbul. By E. Natalie Rothman. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012. xx + 323 pp.

 

This work had been a long awaited one, particularly by students of early modern Venetian, Ottoman, and Mediterranean history: the reasons for this excitement were Rothman’s widely circulated doctoral dissertation entitled “Between Venice and Istanbul: Trans-imperial Subjects and Cultural Mediation in the Early Modern Mediterranean” (2006) and some of her frequently cited early journal articles that drew on it. Despite its oft-mentioned shortcomings, namely that while turning her dissertation into a book Rothman omitted some of the best parts of that dissertation, and that the monograph falls short of the comparative perspective that its subtitle promises, Brokering Empire remains one of the most noteworthy and influential works of the past few years in Venetian historiography.

The focus of the book is groups and individuals crossing various—religious, political and linguistic—boundaries between Venice and the Ottoman Empire in the period from 1570 to 1670. In the introduction Rothman posits that colonial sojourners in the Serenissima and the converts, merchants, translator-interpreters (dragomans), and diplomats, whom she collectively terms “trans-imperial subjects,” operated in a political, geographic, cultural, and ethno-linguistic contact zone in which the now forgotten institutional overlaps between Venice and the Ottoman Empire are demonstrable. However, Rothman claims, trans-imperial subjects also played a central role in elaborating and naturalizing key categories of alterity (“Christendom” vs. “Islam,” “Europe” vs. “the Levant,” etc.) that continuously recreated the very boundaries across which they mediated. Rothman suggests an investigation of various aspects of trans-imperial subjects as intermediaries between Venice and Istanbul sheds light on the roles of these culture brokers in the process of the creation of “Europeanness” and its relation to Orientalism.

In the four parts and seven chapters that follow, Rothman offers support for these claims. In Part 1 (“Mediation”) she discusses trans-imperial subjects as merchants and commercial brokers in Venice. The Venetian state appointed brokers to mediate between foreign and local merchants, and it required them to be loyal Venetian citizens representing the interests of Venetian merchants and, consequently, those of the state. As successful mediation assumed excellent foreign communication skills on the broker’s part, former slaves, Christian émigrés from Ottoman domains, converts, and Jews made ideal brokers. Their appeals to be appointed as brokers reveal the strategies adopted by the petitioners in their attempts to prove to the authorities that they were trans-imperial subjects and prospectively useful “citizens” of metropolitan Venice. In Chapter 2 Rothman analyzes the mediating roles and duties of such brokers in Venice, claiming that while brokers were considered semi-official bureaucrats in Venice, as part of a prevailing practice, they also acted as merchants and were involved in the business transactions of their mercantile colonial relatives as unofficial brokers.

In Part 2 (“Conversion”), Chapter 3 Rothman argues that narratives by and about converts reveal different Venetian conceptions of conversion for Protestants and Ottoman Jews and Muslims. While Protestants were considered as having changed location as a consequence of a purposeful religious conversion, in the case of Ottoman subjects conversion was regarded as an unintended consequence of a transition from one spatially defined religious community to an other. Ottoman conversion to Catholicism was associated with changes in religious practices rather than with spiritual transformation, which sheds light on early modern Venice’s understanding of conversion in the Ottoman Empire: a religio-political shift defined by the sultan’s patronage of converts and devoid of spiritual commitment. Chapter 4 focuses on Venetian mechanisms in the management of the conversion of Muslims and Jews. Through conversion, these “prototypical others of the Venetian state were transformed into properly constituted Catholic subjects capable of filling the normative kinship and institutional roles in metropolitan Venetian society” (p.161). The Pia Casa dei Catecumeni, or House of Catechumens, played a key role in this transformation: administrating bequests, negotiating dowries, and arranging adoption and employment, the House integrated new converts into Venice’s horizontal and vertical networks of patronage and clientage.

Part 3 (“Translation”), or Chapter 5, discusses translation and Venetian interpreter-translators, the dragomans. Like the first chapter, this part discusses petitions and rhetorical strategies, this time with the focus on Venice’s public dragomans. In their petitions, dragomans frequently stressed their intimate familiarity with all matters Ottoman and their loyalty to the Serenisimma as citizens of Venice. In other words, they portrayed themselves as both local and foreign. In turn, due to their own life trajectories between Venice and the Ottoman Empire, as well as their access to the Venetian elite and the city state’s highest offices, they played an important role in defining what “foreign” and “foreigner” effectively meant in early modern Venice.

In Part 4 (“Articulation”) Rothman examines the interactions between the groups of trans-imperial subjects discussed in the previous chapters and communication between them and other foreigners. These interactions, which inescapably led to the categorization of trans-imperial subjects into groups defined by people’s linguistic competencies, played a key role in articulating boundaries in the Veneto–Ottoman borderlands. Chapter 6 deals with the ways in which such linguistic categorizations influenced decisions about which merchants coming to do business in metropolitan Venice were required by the authorities to reside in the Fondaco dei Turchi, or Turkish Exchange House. While the category of the “Turk” came to include subcategories like “Bosnians and Albanians” and “Asiatics,” “higher” ethno-linguistic categories were also (re-) defined in the process. Chapter 7 addresses the changes the meaning of the term “Levantine” underwent over time both in Venice and Western Europe. Rothman convincingly argues that in Venice the term came to be used to refer to Christian, Muslim and Jewish merchants from Ottoman and Safavid domains doing business in the city-state. Therefore, she suggests in the “Afterword,” it should be acknowledged that the early modern Venetian definition of “Levantine” and the ethnolinguistic taxonomies discussed throughout the book paved the way for eighteenth-century Orientalists, who categorized Mediterranean peoples on the basis of language, ritual, and custom, much like their trans-imperial forebears had done in their institutionalization of their specialized knowledge of things Ottoman.

In recent years, Brokering Empire has been one of the most significant contributions to the literature on early modern Veneto-Ottoman interactions. Despite the lack of discussions from the Ottoman perspective, four years after it was first published the book remains an indispensable reference point for historians of early modern Venice and an informative reading for students of Ottoman and Mediterranean history. As Christian and Muslim “confessionalization(s)” and early modern conversions of various sorts—and consequently the processes through which religio-political boundaries were defined and traversed—are currently in the forefront of early modern historical research on Venice, the Ottoman Empire, the Mediterranean, etc., Brokering Empire will remain frequently cited and in circulation for years to come.

Tamás Kiss

Central European University, Budapest

Humanitarian Intervention in the Long Nineteenth Century: Setting the Precedent. By Alexis Heraclides and Ada Dialla. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015. 253. pp.

 

One of the most fashionable trends in scholarship today is research on the effects and effectiveness of humanitarian intervention. The subject is particularly popular among political scientists, scholars of international law, and philosophers. They tend to focus on events since 1990, and they usually regard humanitarian intervention as a phenomenon that began to become significant in the post-Cold War era. They generally search for the roots of concepts and practices of humanitarian intervention in legal and philosophical antecedents in Western European history and political thought, and instances of humanitarian intervention from earlier times are mentioned only as illustrations. The book by Alexis Heraclides and Ada Dialla constitutes a significant contribution to these discussions, in part because it examines the emergence of humanitarian intervention as concept and practice in the early nineteenth century and offers analyses of several case studies.

The first monograph to call attention to the possibility that research on the practical and theoretical aspects of humanitarian intervention in the nineteenth century could enrich our understanding of the phenomenon of humanitarian intervention today with new perspectives and precedents was authored by Davide Rodogno (Against Massacre. Humanitarian Interventions in the Ottoman Empire, 1815–1914: The Emergence of a European Concept and International Practice [2012]). As Rodogno showed, post-Cold War instances of humanitarian intervention could be meaningfully compared with instances of humanitarian intervention that took place in the period between 1821 and 1918.

Heraclides and Dialla share many of Rodogno’s views, and their book represents a continuation of his work. The chapters authored by Heraclides, a political scientist and scholar of international law with a thorough knowledge of nineteenth-century history, present the relevant events not through the eyes of a twenty-first century academic, but rather from the perspective of someone who lived at the time the events in question took place. Heraclides offers a subtle and critical presentation of the relevant schools of political thought and the various debates and representatives of conflicting viewpoints, and he puts his discussion in the context of the events at the time. Dialla is first and foremost a scholar of nineteenth-century Russian history. In her chapters, which draw first and foremost on Russian historiography, she focuses closely on the relationship between legal theory, foreign policy, and public opinion.

According to Heraclides and Dialla, the few people who are aware that humanitarian interventions have a rich array of clearly documentable antecedents in the period between 1821 and 1918 are hesitant to consider these antecedents as precedents. Heraclides contends that they make mention of the long nineteenth century first and foremost when seeking justifications in the past for contemporary doctrines (p.IX). In contrast with the few works that touch on the nineteenth century, Heraclides and Dialla note as a critical observation that, while scholars dealing with the question have recognized that the study of Orientalism and relations between the Ottoman Empire and the European great powers is particularly important to our understanding of the history of humanitarian interventions, they do not consider relations between the empires of Central Europe and the East. And last but not least, Heraclides emphasizes that, in its study of nineteenth-century humanitarian intervention, the research on the subject has neglected concepts and doctrines from contemporary international law (pp.X–XI).

The primary goal of the book is to use comparative tools to present the theoretical and practical aspects of humanitarian intervention in the nineteenth century. The chapters on the theoretical side of the subject consider philosophical axioms and relevant phases of the development of European law. They then present the views represented by experts on international law who dealt with the question, divided up into periods on the basis of the emergence and evolution of humanitarian intervention. Heraclides and Dialla link the chapters that approach the subject from the perspective of practice with a periodization that they establish on the basis of the evolution of international law. The relationship between the two (international law and humanitarian intervention as practice) is significant, since the introduction of legal measures regulating humanitarian intervention is inseparable from the study of concrete cases of humanitarian intervention.

Heraclides offers a clear presentation of how international law grew in part out of the ad hoc international regulations concerning humanitarian intervention. What we refer to as international law was hardly unified or homogenous in the nineteenth century. Numerous contradictions arose from the way in which the ad hoc regulations were contrived, one after the other. One of the signs of this lack of homogeneity is the simple fact that the very term humanitarian intervention only came to be used in a consistent manner in the languages of the various great powers in the early twentieth century (p.12). Heraclides and Dialla also note that the concept of international law was used in two different ways in communications among the great powers of Western Europe and in their dealings with the world beyond Europe. The manner in which international law shaped relations between Christian states was very different from the manner in which it shaped relations between Christian and non-Christian states (including the Ottoman Empire, Iran, China, and Japan). This difference gave the practice of humanitarian intervention a distinctive legal background.

Heraclides and Dialla deserve praise for having included both Russia and the United States in their discussion, alongside the empires of Asia. It is also worth noting that in their five case studies from the nineteenth century (the Greek War of Independence in 1821–32, the French intervention in Lebanon and Syria in 1860–61, the Bulgarian atrocities in 1875–78, the Balkan crises of 1878, and the Cuban War of Independence in 1895–1898) they treat national histories with a critical eye and at times raise questions and offer interpretations from the perspectives of the Muslim world. The ideas with which the individual chapters conclude are based on a consistent set of perspectives, thus making the events which took place in Greece, Syria, Lebanon, Bulgaria, and Cuba understandable in a comparative context for a lay-reader.

One could make the critical observation that the book is not based on the nineteenth-century great power system. Fundamentally, the site of humanitarian interventions at the time was the Ottoman East. It is difficult to understand why the authors make virtually no mention of the Habsburg Empire when at the same time they offer detailed analyses of the Western European and American responses (from the perspectives of politics, public opinion, and international law). In the discussion of the Eastern Crisis (1875–78), for instance, they examine the reactions of the United States, but Austria-Hungary, which was one of the main players in the events, is given only passing mention. One has the impression that a double standard is being applied: the topic is being discussed almost exclusively from the perspective of the states that would later emerge as the great powers of the twenty-first century.

This is true of several legal phenomena as well. Since Western Europe in the nineteenth century did not consider capitulations to the Muslim world and the cult protectorates that were based on these capitulations part of international law, Heraclides and Dialla also do not consider them part of international law. However, both Russia and Austria-Hungary did, in large part because for them the Ottoman Empire was not a distant world somewhere beyond the seas, but rather a great power with which they had essentially shared a border for three centuries and a state with which they had had to find an everyday modus vivendi, much as they had had to do with the states of Western Europe.

Sadly, the book is of acute relevance today, at a time when, amidst the ruins of states that have crumbled, humanitarian crises have broken out the world over. The book will be of interest not only to scholars of Ottoman history and international relations in the nineteenth century, but also to politicians and experts dealing with humanitarian intervention as both a concept and practice.

Krisztián Csaplár-Degovics

Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Another Hungary: The Nineteenth-Century Provinces in Eight Lives. By Robert Nemes. (Stanford Studies on Central and Eastern Europe.) Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016. 312 pp.

 

The Hungarian provinces in the nineteenth century are often associated with backwardness, poverty, and are characterized as places where time stands still. In standard accounts, whether academic, belletristic, or travelogue, provincial Hungary was defined by its lack of the blessings of modernity, or, more precisely, its transition to the modern age has been characterized as severely limited. Another Hungary by Robert Nemes challenges this portrait, and thus joins the growing literature that takes aim at the concept of Central and Eastern European backwardness. Through his examination of eight individuals from northeastern Hungary, Nemes sheds light on the “movers and shakers” (p.4) of provincial Hungarian society.

The book is divided into eight chapters, each of them telling the story of one individual. The oldest among them was Count József Gvadányi, a military officer who served in several wars during the eighteenth century, and who, after his retirement, engaged in literary activity and consequently gained considerable notoriety. Ráfáel Kästenbaum, a Galician-born Jewish merchant in Zemplén County, earned respect by designating a huge sum of money in his will for the establishment of a modern Jewish school in the small town of Sátoraljaújhely. The third protagonist, engineer Pál Vásárhelyi, is still regarded as the founder of modern river control in Hungary; in particular, he led work on the Lower Danube and drew up the plans to reengineer the Tisza river. Klára Lövei was a pioneer in women’s education and was among the first women to engage in journalism. The central character of Chapter 5, Iosif Vulcan, edited a popular Romanian weekly, and in addition to his Romanian nationalist activism, was a respected member of the middle class of Nagyvárad/Oradea. Ármin Schnitzer, a rabbi in Komárom/Komárno, was also an esteemed member of his community in the nineteenth century. He exemplifies the typical career and intellectual path Neolog Jews trod in the nineteenth century. A lesser-known figure, the tobacco specialist and journalist Vilmos Daróczi is featured in Chapter 7. Finally, the last chapter discusses Margit Kaffka, who is considered to be the first professional female writer in Hungarian literature.

These eight figures convincingly demonstrate the social complexity of provincial Hungarian society: Gvadányi and Kaffka were Catholic, Lövei was a Calvinist, Vásárhelyi a Lutheran, Vulcan a Greek Catholic, Kästenbaum, Schnitzer and Daróczi were Jewish. The former four were noblemen (Gvadányi was even a count), Vulcan had a mixed gentry and commoner background, while the three Jews were commoners. Some of the eight were (wo)men of letters, while Kästenbaum hardly could write. Yet, for all this diversity, these people had far more in common than it would appear at first glance. All of them were born in northeast Hungary, and while most of them left for shorter or longer periods, they all maintained their social contacts there, and their native province played a persistent role in shaping their mental maps. Furthermore, none of them was born wealthy, and they used innovative techniques to make their own way in society, in particular through their mobility, which was exceptional by the standards of the period.

Nemes’ selection of figures is both original and careful. While a few protagonists, such as Gvadányi, Vásárhelyi and Kaffka are vaguely remembered in Hungary, the others have been almost completely forgotten. For those readers who are not experts in Hungarian history, probably all of them are unfamiliar. The result of this selection is that Nemes is able to tell stories that move beyond the standard biographies of notable politicians and artists. He brings the social realities of provincial elites to the fore, draws the structure of their respective networks, and reconstructs their mental maps. He also points to the importance of intellectual achievement as a means for people without substantial wealth to secure a living—a remarkable feature of nineteenth-century modernity was, after all, the increasing demand for people whose minds were their most important resource.

Through these eight lives, Nemes shows that during the nineteenth century, the Hungarian provinces were not merely the passive recipients of modernity. Rather, they produced individuals with original agendas, who envisioned novel ways to forge a different, more modern Hungary—hence the title of the book. To what extent these attempts were successful is another matter. But one certainly can point to some immediate success stories such as the establishment of a modern, i.e. secular and Hungarian, Jewish school in Sátoraljaújhely, and the management of Hungary’s major rivers which enabled long-distance shipping and secured arable farming lands. (The fact that these river regulations changed the environment on a scale that would certainly be regarded as catastrophic by today’s standards is another matter.)

The micro-perspective of the book, which is its greatest advantage, however, poses some limits. A wider macro-perspective appears only as a means of contextualizing the individual trajectories. The absence of the more humble classes in the book is remarkable: all of the protagonists represent either the old provincial gentry or the advancing Jewish Bürgertum. Even Vulcan could claim partial gentry origins, in contrast to many Romanian intellectuals of the age. Nemes duly addresses the non-representativity of his subjects with regard to the broader provincial population (p.4). Yet, his selection indirectly suggests that the “movers and shakers” of provincial Hungary can be reduced to two groups: the gentry and (Neolog) Jews, which is, ironically, a profoundly traditional explanation. To what extent Gentile commoners contributed to the modernization of the provinces, is thus a question that the book does not address, and indeed cannot address due to the selection of the protagonists.

As innovative as some of the book’s may be, and as creative as this collective biography is, Nemes by no means challenges the conceptualization of Hungary, and in particular its northern and eastern territories, as poor and backward. Yet, by pointing out some of the self-made men and women of these lands, Nemes draws a more complex picture of provincial life in the nineteenth century. Given the deep commonalities between northeast Hungary and other peripheral regions of Central Europe, Another Hungary is a must read for anyone interested in the emergence of modernity beyond the well-known metropolitan contexts.

Bálint Varga

Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Globalizing Southeastern Europe: Emigrants, America, and the State since the Late Nineteenth Century. By Ulf Brunnbauer. London: Lexington Books, 2016. 376 pp.

 

The history of migration has produced an uneven historiography; the history of immigration occupies the center stage, while the history of emigration barely receives any attention. Similarly, only seldom do studies follow migration patterns over multiple epochs. In Globalizing Southeastern Europe, Ulf Brunnbauer makes a significant contribution to the history of migration in both regards. In his analysis of “emigration regimes” in the Balkans from the late nineteenth century to the 1950s, Brunnbauer convincingly demonstrates the benefits of taking a longue durée perspective on migration processes. Appearing in the midst of the current heated discussions about migration policy in Europe, this highly original and innovative book is both important and timely.

Focusing on “the relationship between territory, human movement and political interventions” (p.4) in Southeastern Europe, Brunnbauer makes a strong case for the relevance of both the social fact and the topic of emigration in the creation of political communities in the region. Reaching back to the beginning of the nineteenth century, the tradition of seasonal migration of itinerant laborers from the mountain areas established a “habitual imprint” of migration in the region and prepared the ground for large-scale overseas migration at the end of the century. The transition between various forms of migration was a complex process, in which the building of the Suez Canal in the 1860s played a key role: “Emigration to Egypt was a kind of a preparation for going to America” (p.25). The characteristics of seasonal work-migration—maintaining close emotional and economic family ties and the expectation of return—continued to define both the contours of emigration from the region as migrants travelled increasingly long distances in search for employment, as well as the various political regimes’ understandings of the dynamics of emigration.

Weaving together the perspectives of individuals, organizations (emigrant associations, shipping companies, etc.) and states, Brunnbauer demonstrates that the social practice (and later the memory of emigration), as well as the discussion about the relationship between emigrants and the state, remained at the center of definitions of the political community through the succession of state forms and political regimes: in the multi-ethnic empires (Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire) as well as the independent nation-states (Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, Serbia), the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and later the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The first three chapters examine the period until the First World War: Chapters Two and Three look at emigration at both ends of the migration process from the perspective of emigrants and the organizations that facilitated their migration and shaped their experiences, while Chapter Four examines the “emigration regimes” of the states governing this region. Chapters Five and Six focus on the interwar period and the socialist era respectively to show the long-lasting legacy of the social reality of emigration even after the heyday of overseas emigration had long passed. Keeping his readers constantly mindful of the regional specificity of the experience of emigration, Brunnbauer argues for the continued significance of emigration for the self-understanding of states governing this region despite their diverging conceptions of the political community (as imperial, national, “trinational” or socialist). Claiming the emigrants in distant places as “their own”, these states engaged in what Brunnbauer fittingly calls “transterritorial nation building” (p.321).

One of the overarching themes of the book is the exploration of the dynamics of emigration. Brunnbauer shows how such singular and often contingent events like the spread of the Phylloxera, which disrupted wine production in the 1890s, influenced emigration patterns, and how quickly these effects solidified into self-reproducing patterns. Transnational networks on various levels of social organization (families, associations) turned emigration into a “persistent fact of social life in the emigration regions even when hardly any new emigrants left” (p.82). The social fact of emigration (“transnationalism from below”) generated a broad spectrum of state responses (“transnationalism from above”). The responses ranged from strict prohibitions mostly ignored by local officials (Ottoman Empire), to attempts at “ethnic engineering” by encouraging some ethnicities to migrate and others to return (Hungary), and open emigration policies which integrated emigrants into the nation-building project from the beginning (Greece and Montenegro). States displayed genuine concern for the well-being of emigrants, whom they still considered members of the body politic at home, albeit both economic considerations (states had to pay for the repatriation of their citizens) and the interests of the military (young men should not be able to evade military service) shaped state interventions. The extension of the consular service, a direct response to transnational emigrant networks, similarly combined the controlling and protectionist elements of state paternalism as consuls both assisted and monitored emigrants abroad. Although several states passed emigration laws (Hungary, 1903; Bulgaria, 1907), international shipping conglomerates successfully resisted state intervention and emigrants regularly circumvented passport or other administrative requirements.

The First World War changed the parameters of emigration from the Balkans to the United States on both ends of the migration process. Strict immigration laws in the United States severely limited the number of emigrants from the region, while the newly-founded Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (1918–29) (and subsequently the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) faced the challenges of creating a unified state apparatus covering diverse territories and of instilling the sense of a national community in the population. Brunnbauer shows continuities in the discourse on emigration; only those emigrants who fit into the understanding of the national community (e.g. the emigration of the non-Slavic population was supported as was the repatriation of Slavs) continued being considered members of the nation. The First Emigration Law (1921) underscored the significance of overseas emigration by defining emigrants as those who re-settled for work outside Europe (modified in 1927). Emigrant organizations, periodicals, and the establishment of emigrant museums in Yugoslavia further illustrate the role of emigrants in honing the identity of the new state. Emigrants came to literally embody Yugoslavia after its 1941 dissolution, “their double reality—as an ideological project and as a social fact—created a link not only between America and Yugoslavia, but also between the interwar and the postwar period” (p.248).

The Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia initially restricted emigration, before, uniquely among socialist countries, opening its borders for labor emigration. According to Brunnbauer these apparent ruptures occlude continuities and a “learning curve” of the Yugoslav state in matters relating to emigration (p.261). Yugoslavia encouraged repatriation as a “demonstration of the superiority of the socialist system” (p.263), but only selectively, and continued to use emigration laws as tools of “ethnic engineering,” encouraging some groups to return while discouraging others. Cultural organizations (Matica) kept in contact with emigrants and wrote them into the pre-history of the socialist state as victims of the destitute conditions that prevailed under monarchical rule. Organized on the level of the republics, the Matica had a nationalist character, which in some cases the socialist state considered suspicious (like in the Croatian case), while in others it encouraged them (Macedonia). In every case, however, they served as production sites and repositories of knowledge about emigrants. This knowledge and the continued positive experience with emigrants, whose remittances served as the main source of hard currency for Yugoslavia until the late 1950s, provided a solid foundation for the increasing normalization of work emigration. Illegal emigration flourished; thus “when the government allowed officially emigration for work reasons 1963–64 it was legalizing an already existing practice” (p.298). Opening the borders for labor migration also eased the pressure on the labor market, alleviated the housing shortage and generated revenue. These benefits outweighed the ideological reservations about citizens of a socialist state working in a capitalist system. The “conceptualization of emigrants and the politics of exit played a major role in the process, which ultimately made Yugoslavia the socialist country most tightly interwoven with the West and the world at large” (p.269).

The geographical focus of the analysis shifts across the chapters to follow the migration patterns as Brunnbauer presents an impressive array of case studies covering emigration not only to the United States but also to South America and Australia. The relationship between these various kinds of overseas migrations remains at times unclear, however. While the experiences of the first wave of emigrants to the United States clearly defined developing narratives about overseas emigration, were these narratives confirmed through emigration experiences elsewhere or were they automatically projected onto other places? Similarly, Brunnbauer makes a convincing case for the continued significance of overseas emigration for the emigration discourse even after the center of emigration shifted to Europe; in fact it is one of the most highly innovative aspects of his book in that it shows the persistence of perceptions about emigration despite changing practices. Yet, one wonders whether European migrations did not also generate their own, perhaps diverging but related narratives. Chronologically, the book ends as the Gastarbeiter movement (with West Germany as the primary destination for emigration) begins, so perhaps the European migration becomes relevant only later. However, there are earlier moments in the narrative as well—for example, the revision of the 1921 Emigration Law to include Europe as a destination for emigration—that raise such questions.

Overall, Brunnbauer succeeds in “firmly position[ing] the state as an important factor in the emigration story” (p.321). By highlighting the dynamics between the transnational networks of emigrants and the transnational practices of states and the interconnectedness of emigrant networks and nation building, Brunnbauer constructs a compelling histoire total, whose relevance reaches far beyond the history of Southeast Europe. Brunnbauer’s analysis of the dynamics of migration systems (one of the main red threads running through the book) and his reflections on the strengths and limitations of migration theories to explain actual migration processes make a significant contribution not only to migration studies but also carry highly relevant messages for the contemporary discussion about migration.

Heléna Tóth

University of Bamberg

Zionists in Interwar Czechoslovakia: Minority Nationalism and the Politics of Belonging. By Tatjana Lichtenstein. Bloomington–Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2016. 473 pp.

 

To be a Zionist in interwar Czechoslovakia, writes Tatjana Lichtenstein in her recent book, was a way for Jews to energetically stake their collective claim to sustainable Jewish life in the Diaspora as a patriotic and reliable national minority. Zionism in that place and time meant real participation in the Czechoslovak state-building process as equal citizens. Through Zionism, Jews could “articulate their belonging in the places they already called home” (p.20). Lichtenstein’s study represents an important shift away from the usual forms of inquiry into the Zionist project predominantly based on analyses of Zionist congresses, party politics, ideological conflicts, and its manifestations in Palestine. She brings Zionism down to earth as a local workaday project of regular people committed to securing their well-being and dignity in dramatically altered geopolitical conditions. Zionism was, after all, an east central European nationalism—born and bred—and Jews were its stateless nation. Zionists in interwar Czechoslovakia, Lichtenstein argues, set about building their nation through everyday institutions, schools, and sports clubs, where Jewish nationality “came to life” (p.2). Lichtenstein’s work disrupts the conventional “here” (in the Diaspora) and “there” (in the land of Israel) examination espoused in modern Jewish national political histories, pointedly reminding us of the diversity of Zionist voices before 1945, and the current limitations of the Jewish political imagination.

Based on scrupulous Czech and German-language archival research conducted in seven archives in the Czech Republic and in Israel, Lichtenstein’s book makes a dynamic contribution to the recent historiography of the Jewish experience in twentieth century Czechoslovakia grounded in fundamental questions of Jewish–state relations at the intersection of modern Jewish and east central European history. The state itself takes pride of place in her overall argument as the focus and framework of Zionist activism. She keeps our attention drawn to the inescapable reality that in modern Jewish history the state is the arbiter in the continuous “question of Jews’ suitability for citizenship, for equal rights,” and that in the center of Europe, Jewish emancipation had been explicitly conditional upon states’ perception of Jews’ transformation into loyal, acculturated, and moral subjects (p.3). The link between the two became only more acute in the Habsburg Monarchy’s successor states through the cataclysm of the First World War and the new postwar criteria of belonging. The retrospective weight of the soon-coming atrocious revocation of Jewish emancipation hangs over each of the book’s seven chapters in their introductory or concluding materials, until the ax falls in the epilogue. Czechoslovak Zionist activists then found themselves in the rare position of having access to precious immigration certificates to Palestine, as they pondered whether to seek refuge elsewhere in Europe, in Palestine, Shanghai, or the Americas, or whether to remain (p.317). The Zionist activist and writer František Friedman, Lichtenstein’s protagonist, remained at home in Czechoslovakia, enabling him the opportunity to negotiate the “Czech transfer” of 2500 to 3000 Jews to Palestine in 1939. He died following a grave illness in May 1945 (p.322).

Lichtenstein’s book rightly focuses on the Bohemian Lands as the locus of centralized Zionist authority in interwar Czechoslovakia, yet she does not neglect the wider story of the diversity of the state’s Jewish population. She highlights the continuity between the leadership of the Zionist movement in Bohemia and Moravia in the last decades of the Habsburg Monarchy and in the interwar period, while showing how the shape of their project was determined by the commonalities and peculiarities of the Jewish experience across statewide linguistic (German, Czech, Hungarian, Slovak, Yiddish), religious (from Orthodox to Reform, traditional to non-practicing), and sociocultural fault lines. She weaves Ivan Olbracht’s tale “The Sorrowful Eyes of Hana Karajich” into an illuminating and appealing opener to her first chapter in order to strikingly demarcate attitudes toward Zionism from the west to the easternmost reaches of Subcarpathian Ruthenia where it was simply “heresy” (p.32). The Bohemian Zionist leadership unceasingly struggled to mobilize the Jews of the eastern regions of the republic, Slovakia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia, where the greatest proportion of Jews in Czechoslovakia lived, and where Jewish communities were predominately Orthodox, traditional, or Hasidic. Jews’ multilingualism was deemed a “national trait” and “nationally neutral” by the Zionist leadership, which also declared Jewish nationality and Jewish national politics in Czechoslovakia to be a neutral path that avoided national conflict. As Lichtenstein shows, these claims did not bear out, as Jewish nationalism functioned as a buttress for the state’s dominant Czech national group statistically and in its political culture.

The book’s chapters effectively develop this story of everyday Jewish nation-building practices through meticulous examination of early Zionist interactions with Czech leaders, their utilization of the state-wide census as a political and tactical tool, how they built revitalizing Jewish national cultural structures on the basis of existing communal institutions, the vital role of Jewish schools and sport in fashioning new Jews, and in a gripping tale of competing nationalist and socialist utopias. At the outset, Zionist leaders gained a pivotal strategic achievement in convincing Czech leaders that the fate of the Jews was important to the newly established state by cultivating concern for Czechoslovakia’s image abroad, though this approach revealed the Jews’ lack of other compelling arguments. Lichtenstein’s longest chapter by far (“Mapping Jews”) is a satisfyingly deep investigation of the Zionist turn to statistics “as an instrument for political assertion … [adapting] an important mode of governance and legitimization developed by the modern state” (p.91).

Though she underscores František Friedman’s argument that “the right conditions for a sustainable Jewish national future existed in Czechoslovakia” (p.135), Lichtenstein’s work is no rosy endorsement of the interwar republic’s fabled status “as a uniquely welcoming and tolerant place for the Jews in interwar Eastern Europe.” Nor does she present a cheery vision of a homeland in Palestine. Lichtenstein has no banners to wave. But she does offer the grudging assessment that “it is fair to say that conditions for the Jews were better [in Czechoslovakia] than in countries such as Poland, Hungary, and Romania” (p.327). Hers is an inspiring alternate view on one of the twentieth century’s most influential ideologies.

Rebekah A. Klein-Pejšová

Purdue University

The Invisible Jewish Budapest: Metropolitan Culture at the Fin-de-Siècle. By Mary Gluck. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2016.

 

The Invisible Jewish Budapest is built upon a dark and sophisticated notion: namely, that the Budapest of the 1900s, a city that was nearly a quarter Jewish and that many of us celebrate for its vibrant modernism, was tainted by pervasive efforts to render invisible the decisive influence of Jews on its cultural life. Mary Gluck’s understanding of what it meant for Jews to be invisible refers to the stigmatization of a Jewish presence by the nationalistic Hungarian establishment, which, even if it did not render the Jewish presence technically invisible, at least kept it “symbolically unacknowledged.” In other words, Jews who participated in public life were expected to leave their distinctively Jewish markers at home, which, of course, was also one of the main tenets of assimilation among the Jewish establishment. Because much of the Jewish population in Budapest was engaged in the creation of a secular, metropolitan culture, their influence as Jews was both profound and invisible. It is here that Gluck’s recovery begins: by stepping into the vivid nightlife, entertainment industry, and bohemian cultural life of Hungary’s blossoming capital city, her aim is to rediscover the lost contours of this modern cultural world that was deeply shaped by the “Jewishness” of its creators, but was never named as such.

The irony is, of course, that Jews were never quite as invisible in the eyes of the antisemites, who were quick to identify everything that was wrong and “sinful” (bűnös) with the city as Jewish, even going as far as coining the term Judapest to refer to the presence of Jews in Hungarian culture. However, this was a calling out that was meant to erase, not emphasize, Jewish visibility in Budapest. For the historian of modern European history, this creates an uneasy moral quandary, because in order to make visible the presence of Jews as Jews prior to 1914, one has to turn, beside the elusive stirrings of popular culture, to the writings of antisemites. This observation, however troubling, actually corresponds to the everyday reality of the fin de siècle. Gluck’s protagonists—semibohemian journalists, humorists, music hall composers, and cabaret writers—lived side by side with the antisemitic vitriol of right-wing journals such as Függetlenség (Independence), the diatribes of Győző Istóczy and his antisemitic party in the Hungarian Parliament, and the virulence of local pamphleteers at the time of the infamous Tiszaeszlár blood libel of 1882–83. While passionate responses to anti-Jewish hatred were carefully avoided in the public realm, on the pages of satirical magazines such as Borsszem Jankó, or in the theatre, outrage and indignation could be transformed into humor, and humor created and sustained a sense of identity, community, and life. It is here that the antisemitic voices received a decisively Jewish response.

In fact, while the Jewish establishment was trapped by the successes of its own mythmaking, never doubting for a second the validity and endurance of their position as truly integrated Hungarian patriots, Gluck’s Jewish entertainers stepped away from this public and complacent self-representation. In elaborate caricatures and on the stage of the Budapest Orpheum they created ironic, urban Jewish identities that transcended the inevitable paradoxes of their social situation. Against the background of a strong push to nationalize the Hungarian past and anchor it in a pre-modern, feudal myth of origin that was desired and created not only by the country’s political elite but also by literary scholars such as for instance Zsolt Beöthy, Jews in Budapest came to see themselves as cultural insiders, fully in charge of the joyful, humorous, and subversive universe they both shaped and inhabited. In hindsight, their creation was destined to break, but at the time it was a source of strength and sustainability, a way to exist with all life’s complexities.

At the heart of Gluck’s book is her intricate portrayal of the first Jewish Member of Parliament, Mór Wahrmann, and her analysis of two “pivotal expressions of Budapest Jewish public culture,” the Judenwitz and the Jewish music hall. In highly engaging prose, Gluck brings to life the transformative power of the Jewish joke as a means to deflate and de-essentialize social and moral agendas, making it the subject not only of a vital aspect of Jewish identity formation, but of serious academic discussion. As Mór Wahrmann also realized, humor was a way to confront and at times triumph over ideology within the narrowly scripted political realm. His “Jewish ambassador joke” rescued him from many awkward encounters, but it also spoke of a deeper truth. In exchange for recognizing that Jews formed a separate ethnic identity—something that could not be admitted in liberal Hungary lest the loyalty of “Hungarians of the Jewish faith” be put in a bad light—with their own nation state, Wahrmann, as the future Jewish ambassador to Budapest in Palestine, earned the right to return home to Hungary. In everyday life, however, this ethnic distinctiveness could not be articulated, let alone lived. Only in the realm of popular culture, in caricatures and on the stage, could an ethnic Jewish particularity be performed and enacted without bringing into question Jewish loyalty to the state. The novelty of Gluck’s argument lies in the ways she shows how these seemingly opposite realms of laughter and law converged in the multifaceted and invisible presence of Jews in pre-World War I Hungarian society.

As the contours of Gluck’s Hungarian Jewish modernism are revealed, it becomes clear that in the world of the fin de siècle, expressions of Jewish difference could exist in the realm of popular culture, but had to be handled “with tact” in the sphere of public liberal politics. The latter demanded knowledge of extremely refined cultural codes, requiring Jews to perform a constant balancing act between silence and rebuttal. Fears of antisemitic violence, such as that which broke out at the Budapest universities in the 1890s, were “ever present under the surface of liberal society,” and Jews tread carefully to prevent the eruption of violence from below. What is striking here is how much Gluck’s analysis of late nineteenth-century Hungary has in common with what we know about Hungary’s post-World War I period. Both the political crisis of the early 1880s, with its accompanying anti-Jewish violence, and the influx of large numbers of Jewish immigrants fleeing pogroms in Russia caused the Jewish question to flare up, revealing the deep-seated unease of the liberal establishment. It is the paradox of Hungarian liberalism: it could not merge its own humanist vision with a lasting and peaceful interpretation of the Jewish question.

The Invisible Jewish Budapest has a truly bold vision that is expressed in subtle, poignant analyses of the many cultural layers of turn of the century Budapest. The six chapters are intricately linked, and, like a novel, the book presents a self-contained reality that impresses the reader with the depth and pervasiveness of its argument. Gluck does not pay lip service to the air of nostalgia that pervades the memory culture of Hungarian Jewish life under the Dual Monarchy (and of the fin de siècle in general). In fact, she has unearthed a vast array of sources that contradict such an optimistic narrative about this era. On the surface, it is hard to find a more patriotic group singing the praises of their homeland than Hungarian Jews during the Dualist period. But Gluck’s skepticism is not just a matter of historical hindsight; it is also there in the hearts and minds of her protagonists, who hailed from popular culture, not from the bourgeois or religious elite. Indeed, her semibohemians were all immersed in the gritty realities of everyday life in the city: they tasted the mud and scandal as well as the glamour of urban metropolitan existence; they talked to prostitutes as well as politicians. Mary Gluck’s retrieval, indeed, her illumination of this lost cultural world is so powerful exactly because it leaves room for its darker side. She has descended into the underbelly of the golden age of Hungarian Jewry, and emerged with a diamond.

Ilse Josepha Lazaroms

Center for Jewish History, New York

Justifying Genocide: Germany and the Armenians from Bismarck to Hitler. By Stefan Ihrig. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2016. 460 pp.

 

Justifying Genocide explores German discourses on Armenians, the Armenian question, and the Armenian genocide from the era of Bismarck to the Third Reich. Stefan Ihrig suggests that the Nazi worldview had “incorporated the Armenian Genocide, its ‘lessons,’ tactics, and ‘benefits’” (p.349) into its own understandings on the new racial order that the Third Reich intended to establish. The book is of particular significance in part because denialism and even various justifications of the Armenian genocide have been gaining more and more grounds in modern nationalist discourses today, both in Turkey and elsewhere, as was the case in interwar Germany, where such justifications contributed to the fortification of genocidal ideologies.

Justificationalism, a term coined by Ihrig, is indeed a key concept of the book. It relates to “the ‘intellectual’ effort and coherent and sustained theoretical attempt to ‘justify’ genocide” (p.12). Ihrig provides a case study analyzing the discourse on the Armenian genocide in Germany in the interwar period, the great genocide debate, as he calls it, on the intended and organized nature of the Armenian genocide and Germany’s role in and responsibility for it. This was the first real genocide debate in Germany, and it included arguments for genocide that were then transferred into arguments for the “final solution” of the “Jewish question.” The approach introduced by Ihrig will further a broader understanding of the Holocaust, and it will be highly pertinent to genocide studies, given that similar developments took place in other states preceding World War II, particularly the states that allied themselves with the Axis Powers. The book examines a variety of primary sources, from manuscripts to photographs, with particular emphasis on press analysis.

The first part of the book, entitled “Armenian Blood Money”, exposes the prehistory of the German understanding of the Armenian question and the Armenian genocide. Germany’s position on its relations to the Ottoman Empire changed significantly in the last decades of the nineteenth century, with an increase in pro-Turkish sentiment. During the Egyptian and Bulgarian crises of the 1880s, the German–Ottoman alliance started to take shape. The Armenian topic was one of the key issues that brought Germany and the Ottoman Empire together and created a foundation for German anti-Armenianism and Armenian-related paranoia. During the Hamidian massacres of 1894–96, a full-blown debate developed on the “Armenian Horrors” in Germany, with emerging pro-Armenian and pro-Turkish fractions. The debate in fact saw the first usage of the German word for genocide (Völkermord) in a political debate in Germany, which was accompanied by a growing anti-Armenian and racialist backlash, whereby Armenians, often called the “Jews of the Orient,” were supposed to be ruthless merchants, usurers, thieves, fraudsters, and terrorists who had thus brought their own extermination upon themselves (as was argued in articles printed in the Kölnische Zeitung).

The next section, entitled “Under German Noses”, demolishes a common assertion in secondary literature on the myth of “forced silence” in Germany about the Armenian genocide and demonstrates that official and public Germany during and after World War I was very well informed about the ongoing genocide in the allied Ottoman Empire. A certain “jihadi euphoria” was witnessed in Germany over the Ottoman participation in the war, and Ottoman military propaganda was broadly echoed in the German press. In the meantime, the intended and organized annihilation of Armenians in the allied Ottoman Empire commenced. Official, governmental Germany knew practically everything about the events. German consuls in Anatolia “extensively chronicled the ongoing genocide and voiced their protest” (p.105). Although the government kept silent on these reports, the general public was well-informed. After October 1914, articles on events in the Ottoman Empire became prominent in the German press, as did articles touching or focusing on the Armenian question. From May 1915 onwards, the German press was practically flooded by news on the murders and dislocations of Armenians. Talât Pasha himself spoke about the subject in an interview conducted by the Berliner Tageblatt, in which he admitted that during their transfer, Armenians had been attacked by Kurds, and many of them had been killed. He also pointed out that there was no way to draw a distinction between guilty and innocent Armenians, since “[someone] who was still innocent today could be guilty tomorrow.” He emphasized that the deportations were a “national and historical necessity” (p.163). Moreover, another claim made in the press was that in fact Armenians themselves were mass murderers of Muslim Ottoman citizens. According to one article, which based its claims on “reliable reports”, some 1.5 million Turks had been killed by Armenians. This contention constitutes one of the first instances of justificationalism in Germany.

The third section of the book, entitled “Debating Genocide”, presents the history of the great genocide debate in Germany in the 1920s. As the author explains, after the war three main charges were hurdled at Germany: the Belgian atrocities, submarine warfare, and the German guilt in the massacres of Armenians (for which now we use the term genocide). In 1918, official and non-official Germany began to combat allegations of the role German played in the massacres and deportations of Armenians. The genocidal (intended and organized) nature of the campaign against the Armenians and the German guilt in this campaign swiftly became a central topic of public discourse. Two key figures of the debate on the pro-Armenian side were Johannes Lepsius and Armin T. Wegner. They held public lectures and published extensively on the “systematic annihilation” and “mass murder” of Armenians, and also on the plights of refugees—in other words, the genocide and its aftermath.

The emerging war crimes question also included the question of German guilt in the Armenian genocide. For example, Liman von Sanders, top military adviser to the Ottoman Empire, was accused of having given orders to murder Armenians. Official Germany responded to the accusations by calling upon Johannes Lepsius to publish a collection of diplomatic documents and an overview of German–Armenian relations. His allegedly “open access” to Foreign Office documents resulted in his 1919 publication Germany and Armenia, which sought to disprove German involvement in the Armenian massacres and whitewash German guilt. After its publication, for a year or so, the debate on genocide became a central topic in the German press and public discussions. Prominent periodicals, such as Vorwärts, the Berliner Tageblatt, Braunschweiger Landeszeitung, Vossische Zeitung and Frankfurter Zeitung, published numerous articles on the matter, including the writings of one of the main architects of the Armenian genocide, Djemal Pasha. By late 1919, various German papers often charged the Ottomans with “genocide,” the intentional murder of an entire people, however, as Ihrig points out, the pro-Ottoman fractions of denialists and justificationalists still remained in the majority, presenting the massacres as acts of military or “racial” self-defense.

The debate gained even more ground after the assassination of Talât Pasha, one of the three main masterminds behind the Armenian genocide, by Soghomon Tehlirian in Berlin in March 1921. The case “resonated all across Germany, even in the smallest village” (p.227). Talât would come to be regarded as a martyr of the Turkish nation or, on the contrary, as the “butcher of the Armenians.” Tehlirian’s trial was covered by the media even more intensively as one of the most spectacular trials of the twentieth century until then. Vorwärts saw the true meaning of the trial not in the charge of murder. According to the periodical, the true charge wasthe ghastly Armenian Horrors, not his [Talât’s] execution by one of the few victims left alive” (p.235). The trial was indeed more about the genocide than the charge of murder. Most of the experts and witnesses, and Tehlirian himself too, talked for the most part about the massacres and deportations as motives for the murder. Although state prosecutor Gollnick justified the “dislocation” of Armenians by emphasizing that the Armenians “conspired with the Entente and were determined […] to stab the Turks in the back” (pp.255–56), defense attorneys developed a notion of “self-defense,” contending that Talât had intended to follow Enver Pasha to Russia to continue the Armenian horrors there in the close future. Tehlirian was eventually found not guilty and set free on account of “temporary insanity.”

“What changed in the immediate aftermath of the Talât Pasha trial was that many more papers became committed to a pre-Lemkin definition of genocide […] the terminology became equivalent to that which we would commonly describe with the term genocide,” Ihrig maintains (p.271). However, recognition of the genocidal nature of the annihilation of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire did not result in opposition to the policy of mass violence; on a large scale, former denialists now turned to justification, characterized by a growing sense of anti-Armenianism, its core argumentation lying in the claim that Armenians stabbed the Turks in the back. Later, the Armenian topic was connected to the so-called “foreigner question,” equating Armenians with “Berlin West,” “Eastern Jews,” and “criminal foreigners” under the umbrella of “Semitic cousins.”

The final part of the book, “The Nazis and the Armenian Genocide”, explores racialist and National Socialist understandings of the Armenian “race” and its annihilation as a policy of “national interest.” As Ihrig maintains, “modern Central European anti-Semitism [was] … the lens through which the Armenians and the Armenian question were perceived by a large portion of politicians, journalists, and commentators in Germany” (p.301). The idea of an (imagined) racial group called “Armenoid” circulated in racial anthropology and racialist literature (both German and international) as “the source of all the racially negative traits that the racist and anti-Semitic discourse identified in the Jews” (p.303.), including Armenians, Jews and Greeks. In racialist literature, Armenians were predominantly described as a “lower race” (Unterrasse), with racial characteristics that were either similar to the racial characteristics of the Jews or even “worse,” or they were simply characterized as “über-Jews.” Hitler himself expressed similar views.

Although there can be no doubt that the Armenian Genocide held a crucial position in the broader Nazi worldview, it can be witnessed only indirectly through an analysis of Nazi discourse on Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s “New Turkey.” Opposing generally acknowledged premises found in the secondary literature (e.g. Ernst Nolte’s statement that Mustafa Kemal’s “national defense-dictatorship” should only be observed “on the horizon of the examination of fascism”, see Der Faschismus in seiner Epoche: die Action française, der italienische Faschismus, der Nationalsozialismus [1963], p.37), Ihrig demonstrates that “Kemalism” or, rather, its interpretations played a crucial role in shaping National Socialism and genocidal ideologies in Germany. An appraisal of a “postgenocide” country can be observed, which maintained that the modern, “völkisch” state of Turkey, struggling against the “Turkish Versailles” (the Treaty of Sèvres) and protecting its integrity and national character, had “solved” its minority question on a grand scale and in a “final” manner. In the Nazi worldview, terror and “national purification” were crucial steps of this policy of “modernization”, the establishment of a new Turkey and, also, a new (Third) German Empire. Mustafa Kemal’s “New Turkey” was often proclaimed as a role model for Nazi Germany. Characteristically, Nazi biographies of Hitler, Atatürk, and other historic “Führers” often identified Atatürk as the perfect Führer, and Hitler himself called Mustafa Kemal his “shining star” in the “darkness” of the 1920s.

Ihrig’s findings are significant for international scholars of genocide and the Holocaust, and perhaps in particular for historians of Hungary, since xenophobic and genocidal ideas were to a large extent derived from German sources regarding both anti-Semitism and anti-Armenianism in pre-1945 Hungary. Also, Hungarian appraisals of Mustafa Kemal’s “New Turkey” significantly contributed to the prevailing nationalist ideologies of the times.

 

Péter Pál Kránitz

Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Piliscsaba

Szálasi Ferenc: Politikai életrajz [Ferenc Szálasi: A political biography]. By László Karsai. Budapest: Balassi Kiadó, 2016. 524 pp.

 

Historian László Karsai’s political biography of Ferenc Szálasi, one of the most controversial historical personalities in twentieth-century Hungarian history, was published seventy years after the fall of Szálasi’s Arrow Cross regime and his subsequent execution for his war crimes. Karsai claims in his introduction that he has been dealing with Szálasi’s biography for nearly three decades, and after many previous publications and several professional discussions this book ought to be seen as the culmination of his work. The book, which comes to 524 pages, is divided into thirteen chapters, which introduce Szálasi’s life in chronological order, discussing his origins, family circumstances, birth, and childhood, concluding with his arrest in 1945. Moreover, the last chapter provides a detailed description of his conduct at the court of law and his eventual conviction. The main body of the text is complemented with a brief appendix: a chronology, sources, an annotated bibliography of secondary literature, and a list of explanations of terms which Szálasi invented, such as “life-community” (“életközösség”) or “blood-home” (“vérhaza”). The index of names also contains profiles of people who were closely associated with Szálasi.

The contested question related to Szálasi’s role in history is not whether he played a positive or a negative role; it was rather easy to recognize that his state ideology was in contradiction with the values of European civilization, and Karsai`s work offers eloquent proof of this. The real value of this book rather lies, in addition to the many details it provides, in the questions Karsai raises and the answers he offers concerning Szálasi’s popularity and his manner of attaining power. At one time, historians argued that Szálasi’s national socialist party became popular in Hungary towards the end of the 1930s because it received financial support from Nazi Germany. In more recent years, historians have refuted this contention and have shown that Germans had practically no connection to Szalasi’s party until the spring of 1944. Szálasi neither asked nor received any financial help from Germany. His popularity was much rather closely connected to the Arrow Cross Party’s social mission and policy. Karsai and his colleagues have analyzed a source which had not been investigated previously: the Arrow Cross’s official personal certificates concerning 27,500 of its members, or almost ten percent of all registered members. Earlier, a stereotype had gained widespread acceptance according to which there were many criminal elements, deadbeats, and deviants among the members of the party, while others were recruited from the less educated strata. According to Karsai, this is a historical misconception: there might have been a slight overrepresentation of lower class people among party members, but alongside the blue-collar workers there were also white-collar workers, and the party clearly had its share of office holders and public servants.

Karsai provides clear descriptions of Szálasi’s character and reflects on his serious neurotic disorder, which found manifestation, above all, in his paranoia and sense of mission. This neurotic disorder was the source of two serious symptoms: his fanaticism and his loss of a sense of reality. Karsai offers several examples of Szálasi’s madness: beginning in the early 1940s, Szálasi’s close contacts thought their leader suffered from insanity and needed to be examined by a doctor. However, these symptoms did not mean that he never was or never appeared to be rational. They might even have helped his political cause because his followers thought that behind Szálasi’s addle-brained deeds and speeches lay something magical, a form of superior leadership, which they therefore simply could not fully comprehend. For all that, not unlike other fascist leaders, in his private life Szálasi was able to present himself as an agreeable person. Otherwise, however, he was neither an eminent political leader nor a particularly charismatic man. He won popularity and a position as a leader not due to his personal abilities, but much rather because of the historical and political circumstances. The main reasons were the economical crisis and the difficulties of the wartime situation.

Karsai analyses in detail Szálasi’s pronouncements on the “Jewish question,” which did not contain any plans of physical annihilation. In his first programmatic pronouncements from 1933–35, he did not formulate any Jewish policy. His public anti-Semitism was noticeable from 1936 onward, and by 1938 this topic appeared to be of utmost importance to him. Szálasi did not call his brand of racism anti-Semitism, but rather preferred the term A-semitism. Karsai maintains that Szálasi adopted the expression from the Jesuit Béla Bangha’s 1920 publication Magyarország újjáépítése és a kereszténység [Hungary’s Reconstruction and Christianity], but the expression is not actually used in the book. According to Szálasi’s own explanation, the term expressed the idea that Hungary needed to be released from the influence of Jews. In his opinion, anti-Semitism only referred to “the little or common Jews,” but never to those in the background. In contrast, A-semitism indicated that Hungary was to be purified of the alleged Jewish influence, but not in a physical way, because Jews would have to be given a chance to create a new world for themselves. At the same time, Szálasi and his party’s leaders never articulated any detailed plans of deportation from Hungary. Accordingly, Karsai emphasizes that the ghettoization and deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz was not committed under Szálasi’s rule, but took place under the Sztójay government (which was in power between March 22 and August 29, 1944). In other words, the Sztójay government fulfilled German expectations in matters related to the Holocaust, whereas Szálasi contradicted them in some cases.

Szálasi strongly connected the Jewish issue to his economic platform, and he propagated the idea that all properties belonging to Jews be handed over to Christians. He wanted to create a workers’ state and a workers’ society in which the nationalization of assets would be part of a system in which workers would be paid according to their levels of efficiency. The economic programs presented by Szálasi and his experts contain many demagogical phrases (such as “avoiding economic bankruptcy” and “fixing the prices and the wages”), and they hardly ever explain the actual mechanisms with which they would be implemented.

Szálasi considered Hungarian and German National Socialism coequals. He refused the theory of racism, and he maintained that German Nazism was almost like “Jewish ideology,” since both aimed at world domination. The result was that, in contrast to other politicians in Hungary, he did not want to subordinate Hungary to Germany’s demands. Szálasi thought that the national socialist powers of Europe needed to establish regional dominance and cooperate with one another. Germany had taken control of Austria and the Czech lands, and Hungary should possess its own region too, including some parts of Yugoslavia and their ally Poland. According to him, the Hungarians were the sole state-founding nation in the Carpathian basin, and the new political structure should be shaped by this fact.

Until as late as April 1945, Ferenc Szálasi believed that the national socialist powers would win the war. He simply considered it impossible that the “Jewish-liberal states” could defeat them. He firmly believed in the superiority of states based on the nationality principle, much as his belief in his own “nation-saving” abilities was unfaltering. László Karsai’s political biography thus clarifies that Szálasi suffered from a kind of personality disorder. His career was that of a fanatical political leader who thought of himself as the savior, believed exclusively in his own views, and had no understanding of the values of a democratic state or human rights.

Zoltán Paksy

Zala County Archives of the Hungarian National Archives

The State, Antisemitism, and Collaboration in the Holocaust: The Borderlands of Romania and the Soviet Union. By Diana Dumitru. New York: Cambridge University Press; published in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2016. XVIII+268 pp.

 

The book is an extended version of the article Diana Dumitru coauthored with Carter Johnson that received the American Political Science Association’s Mary Parker Follett Award for the best article or essay published in 2010–11. Its main argument can be summarized as follows: during World War II, the local gentile population in the two borderland areas—Bessarabia and Transnistria—exhibited strikingly different attitudes: more hostile in Bessarabia and more compassionate in Transnistria. The popular violence against Jews in Bessarabia began before the arrival of the German and Romanian troops and reached its peak in the first days and weeks of Romanian rule. This violence took different forms—from beating, plunder of property and expulsion from homes to providing assistance for the troops and gendarmes as they massacred and/or interned Jews in concentration camps. Dumitru sees little evidence that this violence was confined to particular social or age groups of males, and she suggests that perpetrators were statistically representative of the local male population as a whole (esp. pp.155–57). In contrast, there were virtually no cases of “spontaneous” popular violence against Jews in Transnistria. In the great majority of cases, when locals participated in the murder of Jews, they did so on the express orders of the occupiers and as members of an occupier-created police force. Dumitru also draws on the enormous amount of postwar testimony of Jewish survivors to argue that they encountered much more sympathy and willingness to help in Transnistria than in Bessarabia, where the rare cases of assistance were almost exclusively confined to the narrow circle of personal and family friends (esp. p.207).

These observations do not provoke any disagreement. Indeed, it has been known for quite some time that the western borderlands of the Soviet Union, in particular areas annexed in 1939–41, were the sites of the most widespread, deadly, and systematic popular violence against Jews at the beginning of World War II and that the more one moved to the east, the less violently anti-Semitic local gentiles tended to be (see, for example, Yitzhak Arad, “The Local Population in the German-Occupied Territories of the Soviet Union and Its Attitude toward the Murder of the Jews,” in David Bankier and Israel Gutman, eds., Nazi Europe and the Final Solution [Jerusalem: International Institute for Holocaust Research, 2003], discussed on pp.186–87). For Dumitru, however, these findings are the starting point for her search for the factor(s) that might explain these differences. As Dumitru ascertains, the levels of anti-Semitism and proclivitires for anti-Jewish violence were approximately the same in both Bessarabia and Transnistria before the Great War, so references to long-term anti-Semitism in the region cannot explain the differences in the provinces’ records during World War II. She also discusses various theoretical models of interethnic violence that downgrade the importance of ideology and discards all of them as inapplicable to these cases. Instead, she insists, it was the policies of the Soviet state during the interwar period that substantially weakened (if not completely eradicated) popular anti-Semitism in Transnistria and instilled the values of the equality of all ethnicities and the sense that they all belonged to the Soviet community. Dumitru enumerates persistent Soviet efforts to fight popular anti-Semitic prejudices by means of propaganda; the promotion of positive images of Jews in popular cultural artifacts such as movies, songs, posters, and school education; and the judicial prosecution of expressions of anti-Semitism as counter-revolutionary crimes. These efforts bore fruits during World War II.

In contrast to the Soviet Union, Dumitru’s argument goes, Greater Romania was a nationalizing state in which ethnic nationalism served as a national ideology, while xenophobia and anti-Semitism were widespread. She marshals an impressive array of evidence to prove that anti-Semitic prejudices in Bessarabia were persistently propagated by political actors, priests, and teachers, who routinely presented anti-Semitic convictions as a sine-qua-non attribute of a “good Romanian.” Thus, at a time when anti-Semitism was weakened in Transnistria, it took stronger hold of the popular mind in Bessarabia.

Nothing of this is wrong and little is new. Nevertheless, Dumitru’s major thesis must be considerably modified for it to be plausible. First and foremost, her insistence that the Soviets’ efforts to eradicate anti-Semitism combined with the accelerated intermixing of various ethnic groups in the period of forced industrialization and collectivization of agriculture prompted gentiles to become more accepting of and less hostile to the Jews ascribes to “the state” an unpersuasively strong power to reshape the popular imagination in a relatively short period of time. In the debate between historians such as Jochen Hellbeck, who describes the “productive” capacity of the Soviet regime to form, with the participation of their subjects, “illiberal subjectivities” of the latter, and scholars who, like Sheila Fitzpatrick, reveal the widespread use of the practices of “wearing masks” and “speaking Bolshevik” by the Soviet citizens, who remained largely impervious to the Soviet ideology, Dumitru takes the side of the former (pp.10–11). The problem with this assumption is that the experiences of war and occupation revealed the superficiality and fragility of the supposed “Sovietness” of many a Soviet citizen.

The rejection of basic Soviet ideological premises signified the regime’s failure to reshape its subjects’ mentalities to conform to its set of values. This rejection manifested itself through joyous welcome of German and German-allied troops in many Soviet locales (not only western ones); the mass surrender of Red Army men, especially in the early stages of the war; the enormous number of Soviet subjects who joined various military formations to fight against the Soviet power; the occupiers’ quick destruction, with the enthusiastic cooperation of locals, of the guerilla groups that the party, the army, and the NKVD had left behind to fight in the enemy’s rear; mass collaboration with the enemy in various forms, from innocuous to criminal; popular clamor for the unimpeded exercise of religious practices, the dismemberment of kolkhozes, and for free trade and other forms of private enterprise, to list only a few. Even the return of Stalin and the party leadership to traditional Russian nationalism to bolster its legitimacy during the war, their partial reconciliation with the Orthodox Church, and their use of unprecedentedly brutal measures to sustain the combat abilities of their troops testify to the weak influence communist ideology had exerted on the popular imagination and popular strategies of identity creation and maintenance. In view of these facts, which are all now well-documented, how could the regime succeed in eradicating anti-Semitism when it failed in every other aspect of the project of “forming a new man”? Unfortunately, Dumitru ignores this question.

She is on even shakier ground when she extrapolates from the supposed Soviet success the ability of a generic “state’s” potential to fight popular prejudices successfully and improve interethnic relations (p.9). What is missing here is sufficient awareness of the profound differences between various states, including the structures of their institutions, practices, and ideologies and the variations of their influence on societal forces. The Soviet state was unlike the others. Effectively, it was ruled by a small minority committed to the reconstruction of Russian society and, ultimately, of humanity as a whole. As such, this state confronted what it believed were backward and “reactionary” prejudices and practices headlong, without regard for public opinion. It also prescribed a particular type of education in schools all over the country, censored the press and other mass media, promoted publications that taught its ideology, and spread entertainment materials that suited its aims while forbidding materials that might have thwarted them. It could and did use unprecedented violence against ideological deviants. Most states do not have such powers, and rarely do they aspire to acquire them.

The latter was true of Greater Romania, also a fact of which Dumitru seems at times to be oblivious.Most of the anti-Semitic propaganda in Bessarabia was conducted not by “the state,” but by autonomous societal actors whom the governments could not control. Even if a part of government’s bureaucracy, police force, and army did display sympathy with and even supported anti-Semitic movements, the governments themselves usually took a more reserved and even hostile attitude toward anti-Semitic movements, subjecting them to administrative pressure and police repression. Anti-Semitic ideology was propagated and sustained by opposition forces much more than by “the state” itself. The forcefulness of anti-Semitic ideology and the density of networks of Judeophobic activists in Bessarabia were the result not so much of an intentional policy as of the inefficiency and restraint of the Romanian state. Romanian governments failed to curb the tide of popular anti-Semitism, sustained by the efforts of numerous public intellectuals, journalists, priests, demagogues, half-educated exalted youngsters, and resentful opportunists of all sorts. They did not promote it.

In the interwar period, Greater Romania was, of course, not an exception but a norm among the countries of East Central Europe, in which official nationalism, economic hardship, and the inefficiency of state institutions combined to facilitate the spread of extremist xenophobic and anti-Semitic movements. The real exception was the Soviet Union, not so much because of the Soviets’ efforts to fight interethnic prejudices and teach equality and collaboration as because of the simple fact that the regime did not tolerate any autonomous social or political activity. The combination of twenty-two years of unprecedented repression, close surveillance, never-ending harassment, social upheavals, and material privations demobilized Soviet society, disabused Soviet citizens of any notion of independent initiative, and broke virtually all networks of friendship and trust among them. This, however, did not make Soviet citizens committed communists or progressive internationalists.

Indeed, against this background it is not at all surprising that Transnistria did not witness spontaneous outbursts of anti-Jewish violence, for the simple reason that no spontaneous activity following the takeover was registered, except perhaps expressions of loyalty to the new regime and willingness to collaborate with it. However, expulsion of Jews from their dwellings, their incarceration, and their mass murder did not encounter open opposition, apart from isolated cases when women in some Ukrainian villages shamed soldiers and policemen for their inhumanity. Romanian sources are unanimous in assessing the locals’ reaction to the persecution of Jews as exceedingly positive, even celebratory. Their appropriation of the property of murdered Jews is well documented, as is the participation of local policemen in organizing and carrying out executions of Jewish internees.

It would be unhelpful to deny that certain parts of Transnistria’s gentile population did exhibit some greater influence of Soviet education and propaganda on their behavior, including their willingness or inclination to help Jews. Younger people demonstrated stronger pro-Soviet inclinations, and the efforts made by some of them to help rescue Jews are well documented. However, Ukrainian peasant women—another demographic that is prominent in the accounts of attempts to provide assistance—and local Orthodox priests—who, unlike priests from Romania, were noted for their willingness to baptize Jews in spite of the authorities’ strict ban on such acts, which were meant to offer Jews a cover against persecution—were likely moved by motives other than Soviet-type internationalism.

Explanations that rely on a single cause rarely work in the study of history, and Dumitru’s book, despite its many strengths (which include a wide source base and substantial historiographical knowledge, theoretical awareness, and clarity of exposition), ultimately confirms this truism. The correct answer to the central question of the book would inevitably be multifaceted and knotty. However, by forcefully making her case, Dumitru’s book is certain to provoke further research and debate, which is, in itself, a serious achievement.

Vladimir Solonari

University of Central Florida

Die große Angst: Polen 1944–1947. Leben im Ausnahmezustand. By Marcin Zaremba. Paderborn: Schöningh, 2016. 629 pp.

 

Die große Angst (the Polish title is Wielka trwoga, which in English means Great Fear), published originally in Polish in 2012 and appearing in German translation in 2016, is a highly important contribution to the field of Polish postwar historiography as it represents one of the very first studies on the history of emotions in Poland. The book highlights the constitutive role of fear and anxiety in shaping Polish postwar society. The key concept of the book, trwoga, is rather difficult to translate into English or German; it basically refers to the emotions and social tensions that emerged as a consequence of the dramatic wartime events, prevailing uncertainty, and the material threats of the postwar months, as well as the radical processes of social change and the brutal transition of power.

One of the virtues of the book is that Zaremba does not provide any simple answers, presenting rather a complex survey of diverse phenomena. He also avoids the pitfalls of the Polish martyrological tradition. With some of his remarks, Zaremba takes a rather moderate position in the relentless debates on the controversial arguments of Polish-American sociologist Jan Tomasz Gross, who just a few years ago published a book about Polish anti-Semitism after Auschwitz entitled Fear.

In twelve chapters, Zaremba analyses different fields of social activity and many possible reasons for the widespread traumas in the years between 1944 and 1947. He begins with some remarks about the phenomenon of generally pervasive fear in the Polish culture of the first half of the century, which often found expression in a mental act blurring or erasing the conceptual borders between Bolshevism and Judaism. Second, he takes a look at the situation in Poland immediately after the end of the war, where he finds a combination of relief, joy, and anxiety within Polish society. The conflicts between different actors, the prolonged chaos and, especially, the behavior of the invading Red Army had a very strong negative influence on the common mood.

The book describes different uprooted social groups in a lively manner: deserters, beggars, speculators, and policemen. The juxtaposition of several centers of power and the fight for “the survival of the fittest” manifested itself in a wave of plunder and common banditry. Nothing seemed to be forever; a feeling of temporality was omnipresent. Hunger, high prices, and diseases made the life of the common Pole almost unbearable. Zaremba shows that in the middle of this period of lawlessness and hopelessness there was enough room for the resurgence of pre-war stereotypes and the bashing of even weaker social and, especially, national groups. The search for culprits for the crisis, or, more simply, for defenseless victims, engulfed wide segments of the population, including people who had survived the war with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

One of the most impressive features of the book is the regional range of Zaremba’s research and the richness of historical detail. Because of the author’s extensive archival work, he can offer a panorama of the entire country, not only select regions. Zaremba has trudged through huge numbers of printed and unprinted sources. Letters which are cited in the text at great length offer especially valuable insights into the postwar everyday life of members of all of the social classes. However, this strength of Zaremba’s narrative could also be called its biggest weakness. The letters can rarely be properly contextualized, and their authors usually remain anonymous. Beyond this, from a German perspective of the early twenty-first century, it is quite unusual to read so many drastic descriptions of Soviet cruelty to Poles. There is not always a sound reason to dwell on people’s misfortunes. One might recognize in that practice some—far from praiseworthy—parallels with the (politically motivated) publication of the Documentation on Crimes Perpetrated against Germans in Connection with Their Expulsion in West Germany since the late 1950s.

If Soviet influences are one of the main topics of Die große Angst, another is the role of rumors and anti-Semitism. In times of insecurity and in the context of a missing base for reliable communication, rumors and their spread acquire great importance. This applies in particular to the remaining members of the national minorities. Here, Zaremba chooses as a central topic the behavior towards the surviving Jews. By doing so, he explicitly takes part in the international debate, for instance by adopting a position with regards to the controversial texts of Jan T. Gross. Zaremba focuses not so much on economic motives for the killing of Jews, but rather stresses the subliminal continuing effects of old ritual murder legends as a cause for pogroms. One could doubtlessly discuss further whether Zaremba’s argumentation plays down material and racist motivations. In any case, in the larger context of discussions among historians, the author adopts a rather centrist position.

The passages in which Zaremba discusses eschatological fears and religious fundamentalism are of special interest too. Here, he clearly antagonizes other scholars, who place unilateral emphasis on the material background of fears. Zaremba argues, in contrast, that irrationalism and so-called superstitions merged with the traditional mindset of the Roman Catholic Church to form an unholy alliance against supposed strangers.

To be sure, one could assess the structure of the book rather critically. Apart from the ubiquitous discussions of fear, the main line of argument is not always clearly indicated. As a whole, however, the book still reads very well and is never uninteresting. It is also a book free of ideological grimness and regimentation, which makes it all the more pleasant to read. For instance, it is highly stimulating to read Zaremba’s criticism of the myth of the “cursed soldiers” (żołnierze wyklęci), who tend to be depicted as historical heroes by the current national-populist government of Poland, even though many of them were ordinary criminals.

A study about pervasive fear, which examines emotions and their role in processes of social transformation, almost inevitably tends to underestimate other causes of the crisis of the postwar and civil war years. However, an author always has the right to make his choices. It was obviously not Zaremba’s intention to consider international comparisons in a sustained way either. One could argue that, had he done so, this would have allowed him to grasp much more clearly that fear actually constituted a pan-European phenomenon. For a long time, German angst remained the sole topic of discussion, and only recently has Pierre-Frédéric Weber shown how the fear of Germany determined European politics after World War II (Timor Teutonorum: Angst vor Deutschland seit 1945: eine europäische Emotion im Wandel [2015]). Such emotions were not only felt in Poland with regards to military considerations (where it took the various forms of fear of a new war, the military dominance of the Soviet Union, and the possible return of the Germans). A comparison with Great Britain or Greece, and their efforts to deal with hunger after 1945, might well have shown that Poland simply did not constitute an exceptional case in history, though Zaremba continuously makes and relies on this questionable line of argument throughout his book.

The basis of this review is the 2016 German edition of the book, which, on the whole, it of high quality, although the translator, Sandra Ewers, sometimes uses expressions at odds with accepted historical terminology and—especially—geography. The translator was not always able to decode the place names which have been used in the genitive in the Polish text. To provide only one example, the Polish word Pomorze should definitely not be translated with the German Pommern; Pommerellen would have been the correct choice.

Apart from some publications on the history of World War II, and in particular on the fate of the Jews and the behavior of Poles towards them, there have not been many internationally successful books by Polish historians in recent years. Marcin Zaremba’s book on fear and anxiety as constitutive and decisive parts of Polish postwar society might represent an exception, as it offers, despite its weaknesses, profound insights into early postwar Polish society.

Markus Krzoska

University of Gießen

 

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FEATURED REVIEW

Felvilágosult vallás és modern katasztrófa között: magyar zsidó gondolkodás a Horthy-korban [Between Enlightened Religion and Modern Catastrophe: Hungarian Jewish Thinking in the Horthy Era]. By Ferenc Laczó. Budapest: Osiris, 2014. 299 pp.

 

What is a (Neolog) Jew? Ferenc Laczó’s monograph, adapted from his PhD thesis, is an attempt to answer this apparently simple but actually highly complex question. His approach is idiosyncratic in several respects. Firstly, as the author notes several times, the shadow of the Holocaust lurks behind the entire investigation, although he does not subject thoughts expressed prior to 1944 to the teleological reading that genocide was their inevitable outcome, but traces a more complex causality. He asks how much contemporaries knew of Auschwitz, whether they were aware of its significance and, if so, how they behaved and reacted. It is this aspect of Hungarian Jewish thinking between the wars that comes in for his analysis. He also shows that the historians, literary historians, etc. who have treated this period have mainly been interested in – to use the words of Isaac Deutscher – “non-Jewish Jews,” people whose work was very important from the individual point of view, but whose activities do not and cannot characterize the official Jewish forums, associations, weekly and monthly periodicals, cultural journals, etc.

The author has focused his research on the question of what it meant to be Jewish for the authors of the yearbook of the Hungarian Jewish Literary Society (Izraelita Magyar Irodalmi Társulat, IMIT; yearbook revived in 1929 and survived until 1943), the journal Libanon (1936–1943) and the yearbook Ararát (1939–1944). While keeping the Neolog aspect in view, the author consistently maintains that this was not some kind of homogeneous discourse, but involved highly diverse values, organizing principles and goals, making it extremely difficult to reconstruct what was Jewish and what it meant to be a Jew in this period. A lucid expression of this dilemma is Béla Zsolt’s novel Kilenc koffer [Nine Suitcases], about the diversity and even moral divergence of people crammed together into the ghetto of Nagyvárad (now Oradea, Romania) and legally regarded as all of a kind. “Then there emerged a different kind of finickiness: the progressive, European-looking Jews did not want the payot-wearers to mix with them. There were murmurs of, ‘There’s always trouble with that lot.’” 1

The moral imperatives of the Holocaust have caused us ex post facto to regard the Jews of the time as homogeneous, but the historical reality was different. It was not simply a matter of denominational divisions (Orthodox, Neolog, and status quo ante) and the distancing arising from the associated externals, but the very meaning – in a society that was becoming “modern” – of the Jewish religion and the culture intimately bonded to it. This is the implicit social-theory message of Laczó’s book. Although eleven chapters are devoted to analysing the discourse of the yearbooks and journals, it is not, in terms of its approach, a work of media history. The distinction arises from the thematic rather than descriptive nature of the analysis. The thematic criteria have been chosen to bring the academic discourse on Hungarian Jewish thinking into line with international studies. This is an essential condition for the critical treatment of international academic work on Hungarian Jews and the adaptation of the associated methodology, concepts and comparative approach. The author consciously distances himself from the metaphors and half-truths that abound in the Hungarian public discourse and journalism; he requires a discourse that looks at the Hungarian Jewish past from the outside. Significantly, a large proportion of the 69 footnotes in the introductory historiographical chapter are foreign-language references.

The first chapter takes as its context the creation of Jewish religious institutions and examines attempts to harmonize thinking based on religious tradition with the modern professional academic ideal that had been emerging since the nineteenth century. Following Michael Brenner, Laczó demonstrates the dual character of the Wissenschaft des Judentums, an endeavour that transcended national borders and national problems, although it was also propagated in the Hungarian language. It both promoted the emancipation of the Jews among non-Jewish majority society and pushed for internal reform and modernization of Jewish communities. One of the most important stations in attempts to harmonize the Jewish religion and modern academia was the foundation of the Budapest Rabbinical School in 1877 and the opposition it provoked among Orthodox Jews. Of similar significance was the setting up of IMIT in 1894. IMIT adopted a broad profile which embraced the translation of the Jewish religious, literary and historical tradition into Hungarian and support for the Jewish Museum. It published yearbooks regularly from 1895 onwards. The process was interrupted at the end of World War I, but IMIT relaunched the series in the period under study, so that IMIT yearbooks appeared between 1929 and 1943. The reason for mentioning this set of sources at such length is that they form much of the base for Laczó’s book, and he analyses them in chapters 1–7.

Chapter two examines the Neolog movement and the issues of fitting religion into modern society and conveying to the non-Jewish majority the “essence of Jewishness” in a secular framework – other than through history, music and the arts. Particularly interesting is the ambivalent assessment of the role of Moses Mendelssohn, in which Ármin Kecskeméti went as far as to state that re-evaluating and appreciating culture at the expense of religion was upsetting what he saw as a traditional balance. He did value Mendelssohn, however, for having the two-pronged objectives of bringing culture to the Jewish community and bringing Jewishness into “cultural Jewishness,” which meant convincing the increasingly irreligious Jews of the central role of tradition in faith. Laczó considers as a unique feature of the Neolog movement the discussions in the IMIT yearbooks surrounding how Jewishness relates to morality, and truth to mentality.

One of the most absorbing intellectual exchanges concerning the Neolog interrelationship between “religious Jew” and “polgár” [member of the mainstream middle class] was the issue of incompatibility. The debate surrounded how Jews who tried to take their places in secular life but wanted social assimilation without acculturation could identify themselves in modern Hungarian society. Since this involved a dual identity arising from equal love of homeland and religion, the key question is how to define or discover the essence of Jewish self-consciousness (from which, logically, a constitutive element of identity arises). Here Laczó distinguishes seven types, differing from each other only in nuance. The first four are: denominational identity; joint or mixed Hungarian-Jewish (assimilating but remaining) identity; the subtly different progressive, “forward looking” identity that upholds retention of Jewishness; and the idea of the “Jewish people,” whose members are also Hungarian Jews. The author admits that these are subtle distinctions, difficult to formalize, and are all characterized by a wish for consensus and harmonization.

Chapter four deals with a discourse that always offers a legitimating force to minorities, the question of “contribution.” What did the Jews contribute to Hungarian scholarship, culture, economy and everything else that, in its time, was regarded and appreciated as an accomplishment? Laczó takes a critical approach to this question, perceiving that its underlying assumption of a need for self-justification affords it the status of an apologia. In addition, it creates the false impression of being a kind of group-forming force, while actually regarding the minority to be an integral, inseparable part of majority society (or to be no more than formally distinct). Chapter five discusses the Hungarian Jews’ connections to Erec, which was centrally concerned at the time with the question of political Zionism. About twenty years ago, Gábor Schweitzer convincingly demonstrated why Hungarian Jews, some of whose most prominent figures had dressed up in the Hungarian ceremonial military and civil attire during the Millennium celebrations, people like Berthold Weiss, Sándor Deutsch of Hatvan, Lajos Krausz of Megyer and Zsigmond Kornfeld, had no need for political Zionism.2 The causes, or rather stereotypes, mentioned right at the beginning include being “unpatriotic” or “irreligious.” These concerns were clearly in direct opposition to what we have seen were the aspirations of the Neologs. Indeed, through all the disputes and confrontations among the three divisions of Hungarian Jewish society (Neolog, Orthodox and status quo ante), aversion to Zionism almost uniquely constituted a common thread. Nonetheless, the author’s analysis of the IMIT yearbooks has convinced him that despite the paucity of writing on the themes of Zionism and Erec in general, certainly compared with the attention paid to Hungarian Jewish identity, Zionist voices were still present in the Neolog milieu between the world wars, as were reports about Palestine, and these unavoidably contained talk of the Jewish people.

While the preceding chapters partly attempt to adapt the problems inherited from the nineteenth century to the new context within the territory of post-Trianon Hungary, chapters 6–10 concentrate on reactions to the steadily worsening situation and attempt to characterize them. The central concept here is crisis. What did contemporaries know about the discrimination of the time and the passage of laws that scorned basic legal principles, and how did they perceive these developments? Did any kind of crisis consciousness emerge in response? From his analysis of the IMIT yearbooks, Laczó concludes that until the passage of the First Jewish Law in 1938, the Neolog discourse predominantly followed what Bourdieu and Boltanski called a “compliance strategy”, and reproduced the prevailing political discourse almost without criticism.3

Despite the rising volume of critical voices in the IMIT yearbooks following the Nazi takeover of 1933 and – even more so – after the passage of the Jewish Law of 1938, and despite the pronouncement of “end of the liberal era” and the emergence of crisis consciousness in response to European (German) and Hungarian events, the internally-constructed identity policies, however sophisticated, lost ground. As Laczó points out, reports by Fülöp Grünvald made clear at least a year before the deportations started exactly what was meant by the Endlösung, and “when the crime of the century was being committed, (…) Hungary’s Jewish intellectuals could have been the force to shake the slumbering conscience of people living within the Axis Powers” (p.172), but the published revelations remained a cry in the wilderness. Amid the internal constructions and debates over identity, the authors of the IMIT yearbooks seem to have overlooked the change in the external political – and increasingly the legal – context of their debates, so that the self-understanding of the (Neolog) Jews and their positioning among Hungarian citizens were no longer the issue. In this changed discourse, the definition of “Jew” came from outside the communities, because the closed ideological system, by virtue of its closedness, was uncompromisingly defining the political language in which the world was to be conceived.

The unbinding of the analysis unbinds from its sources – the IMIT yearbooks and the periodicals Libanon and Ararát – presumably aims to fulfil the objective promised in the subtitle of discussing general and thus not exclusively Neolog “Hungarian Jewish thinking”. In fact, to dispense with the interpretative adjective “Neolog” would imply an objective for the book which is almost unattainable, because even the other periodicals coming out during that period, Egyenlőség, Múlt és Jövő, and even Századunk (carrying on the spirit of Huszadik Század) kept this issue on the agenda. The left-wing journals Szocializmus and Korunk also addressed this problem, and the list goes on. The contents of the bibliography make clear that Laczó is aware of this, and so the critic is somewhat at a loss to understand why the subtitle, which usually narrows down the subject, remains so wide (even if it does not bear the definite article). Since the book sketches out the background and context of each journal, its virtue would have been to place the analyses in a conceptual field and not talk about “the” Jews in the interwar period. If he was bent on broadening the base of his sources, he could have extended his discussion to the Jewish Museum, which he does mention several times (e.g. p.46); its role and function at that time is being steadily revealed through the research of Zsuzsanna Toronyi.4

One not entirely fortunately formulated sentence and a slightly imprecise subtitle should not distract us from the many virtues of this short monograph. By integrating the problem into international historiographical and methodological developments and providing minute analysis of hitherto largely neglected sources, Felvilágosult vallás és modern katasztrófa között does great service to the better understanding of the history of ideas among the Jewish community of the time.

Zsolt K. Horváth

1 Béla Zsolt, Kilenc koffer [Nine Suitcases] (Budapest: Magvető, 1980), 58, 59, 60. The expression “progressive” meant what we now call the Neolog movement. Zsolt was born into such a family in Komárom in 1895.

2 Gábor Schweitzer, “Miért nem kellett Herzl a magyar zsidóknak? A politikai cionizmus kezdetei és a magyarországi zsidó közvélemény” [Why did the Hungarian Jews Have No Time for Herzl? The Beginnings of Political Zionism and Public Opinion among Hungarian Jews], Budapesti Negyed, 2 (1994): 42–55.

3 Pierre Bourdieu and Luc Boltanski, “La production de l’idéologie dominante,” Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 2–3 (1976): 3–74.

4 See Zsuzsanna Toronyi, “A magyar zsidó múzeum épületéről” [On the Building of the Hungarian Jewish Museum], in Kép–keret. Az identitás konstrukciói [Picture-Frame. Constructions of Identity], ed. Gantner B. Eszter et al. (Budapest: Nyitott Könyvműhely 2010), 269–80, and Zsuzsanna Toronyi, “Egy budapesti kert történetei” [Stories of a Budapest Garden], Korall, 41 (2010): 97–112.

pdfVolume 4 Issue 4 CONTENTS

BOOK REVIEWS

On the Road: The History and Archaeology of Medieval Communication Networks in East-Central Europe. By Magdolna Szilágyi. Budapest: Archaeolingua, 2014. 250 pp.

 

There is very little secondary literature in Hungarian historiography on the subject of the history of roads, or Altstrassenforschung. A few works by József Holub (1917), Endre Tóth (1970/2008), and in particular Lajos Glaser (1930/33) are indeed the only bits of scholarship on the topic in Hungary. This makes the stimulating and innovative inquiry under review here even more important and, indeed, pioneering.

Szilágyi’s study of the history of roads and routes of travel in East Central Europe is based on archival research. She examines an immense quantity of written sources and engages in additional selective fieldwork. With regards to the Hungarian secondary literature, her work represents the first profound and comprehensive study in the field of the historical and archaeological study of medieval road systems, their different functions, and the hidden remnants of tracks in the landscapes. This extract of a dissertation, Árpád Period Communication Networks: Road Systems in Western Transdanubia (defended at Central European University, Budapest, 2012), is a pioneering work in the study of East Central Europe that constitutes a significant contribution to the growing body of scholarly literature on the study of old roads in the European context.

The selected area of study is within Vas County in Western Transdanubia. However, given the approach and geographical framework of the inquiry, in which Szilágyi raises several general research questions, it constitutes much more than a mere case study of a given area. The regional focus in this case—and this is essential—helps establish the precise limits of the investigation, which is not merely a traditional historical-geographical reconstruction of the topography of a regional road network based on maps and fieldwork. The period in focus is the Árpád Era, i.e. the period from 1001 to 1301.

In her monograph, Szilágyi uses written sources and map collections held in the Hungarian National Archives, the National Széchényi Library, the Archaeological Archives of the Savaria Museum and the Archive of Vas County, as well as a considerable number of printed sources. Selected field observations complement the traditional sources, and Szilágyi offers penetrating evaluations of recent findings of archaeological investigations, not going beyond the limits of individual excavations as such. She is thoroughly familiar with the necessary complementary analytical methods, which she uses in her reconstruction of medieval road systems on the basis of the historical terminology, archaeological evidence, historical and topographical documentation, and personal identification of features in the field.

A 44 page-long bibliography demonstrates wide-ranging insight into recent regional research in Hungary. It includes translations of the Hungarian titles into English, which is very useful in a work intended for an international readership. The many footnotes (566 in total), which primarily provide citations of the wide spectrum of hodonyms (names of streets or roads) in their original contexts, indicate that the inquiry is predominantly a historical–etymological study based on written sources. The written sources, which are indispensable in the study of medieval roads in Hungary, consist primarily of documents—in particular regarding perambulations—drawn up for legal purposes (property boundaries). Related sketches and maps come up later. Most of the terms are in Latin, which is hardly surprising given the subject and the period of history in question, though there are some in German and Hungarian. More recent road maps (from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) were used to locate medieval tracks. The maps of the Cadastral survey that was carried out in the nineteenth century were of special importance in identifying toponyms (field names), which were often related to old roads in their function as boundaries.

After a brief but concise presentation of the historiography and the sources, the main problems discussed in the related chapters are: the possible constancy of Roman roads in the medieval road system (Chapter 2) and the terminology of medieval roads (hodonyms), hierarchies within the road network, legal differentiations (rights, obligations), functional aspects, modes of travel and transportation, topography, road construction (especially urban archaeology) and river crossings (fords, bridges) (Chapter 3). Within the context of the European scholarship on medieval roads, this investigation adopts a distinctive approach, creating a framework of eight “categories” (relevant characteristics), which are treated in individual subchapters. These chapters, which are grouped under the headline “Terminology and characterization of medieval roads,” form the main section of the study. They inspire further individual and comparative studies in each field and in other regions.

One of the specific and, in research on the former Roman provinces, essential research questions concerns the influence (continuity) of the Roman road network on the development of a new and different settlement pattern and related road networks in medieval times. This question is often a subject of debate. The medieval documents—specifically the ones from or pertaining to Western Transdanubia—mention “ötteveny” or “kövesút,” terms which refer to the wide strips of gravel that remained from ancient Roman road constructions. Roman alignments survived in urban street patterns (especially in Savaria, where the city of Szombathely stands today, and to some extent Scarbantia, today the city of Sopron). However, due to later transformations of settlement locations, many sections of Roman roads fell into disuse and decay. The remnants of the ramparts were even avoided and alternative medieval routes evolved.

A comprehensive chapter is devoted to a functional differentiation of the medieval road network based on considerations related to production, transport and travel, drawing primarily on analyses of documented terms. Certainly, most of the tracks did not serve one specific function, but this approach opens up a broader view on the economic history of traffic and communication based in part on the complexity of the road network. It is important to note that the focus of the study is thus not only main routes of long-distance travel and transport, but also the connections between places of production and consumption (regional transport systems), including for instance salt roads, wine roads, market roads, livestock roads, drift roads, mill roads, etc., and also between private and public demands (for instance, pilgrims routes, military roads, and church roads).

The subchapter on salt roads (3.3.3.1.) in the section on functional aspects is particularly interesting. The terms referring to these roads point to a well-organized transport system in the hands of the king from sites of production (mines in Transylvania) to centers of trade (Szeged, Szalacs) and from these centers to a regional distribution network. Here “sajtosút” (road of the salt carriers) is mentioned as a specific term that was in use in Transylvania. Salt roads have been a distinct field of research in Germany and Austria for quite some time now. The long-distance cattle drove roads constituted another specific network connected with distinctive infrastructure. The monograph thus touches on an additional field of research by incorporating discussion of the relevant sources.

This historical-archaeological study, which adopts an ambitious and theoretically nuanced approach and aspires to offer more than a mere reconstruction of a regional historic road network, opens up new directions in the investigation of medieval and Early Modern road systems for travel and transport in East Central Europe, drawing on the long-standing and also recent intensive research activities in this field, especially in Switzerland, Austria and Germany. Szilágyi’s challenging and substantial study, in which she adopts a historical and philological approach, is a welcome contribution to the various initiatives concerning the study of the history and development of communication, travel and transport networks in a European context. This noteworthy book should stimulate further investigations in Hungary and East Central Europe.

Dietrich Denecke

 

A pozsonyi prépost és a káptalan viszálya (1421–1425). A szentszéki bíráskodás Magyarországon – a pozsonyi káptalan szervezete és működése a XV. század elején [Conflict between the Provost and the Chapter of Pressburg (1421–1425). Jurisdiction of the Holy See in Hungary – Organization and Operation of the Pressburg Chapter in the Early Fifteenth Century]. By Norbert C. Tóth, Bálint Lakatos, and Gábor Mikó. (Subsidia ad Historiam medii aevi Hungariae inquirendam 3.) Budapest: MTA TKI, 2014. 464 pp.

 

One of the increasingly prominent topics of research in recent Hungarian medieval historiography is ecclesiastical history and, more precisely, the investigation of the middle class in the medieval clergy, i.e. members and the operation of chapters. In 1971, Elemér Mályusz issued his fundamental monograph (composed mainly in the 1930s) on Hungarian ecclesiastical society before the battle of Mohács. In the monograph he drew attention to the fact that the middle and lower layers of the medieval Hungarian clergy had not been examined. Only a decade later, József Köblös, embarking down the path blazed by Mályusz, published the first archontology of four chapters (Buda, Székesfehérvár, Győr and Pressburg). Some years later, he published a comparative sociographic analysis of the prebendaries in these four institutions. Inspired by these works, over the course of the last fifteen years several researchers have made significant contributions to the study of this topic. (Cf. Tamás Fedeles, “Die ungarische Dom- und Kollegiatkapitel und ihre Mitglieder im Mittelalter. Forschungsstand, Aufgaben, Initiativen,” in Kapituly v zemích koruny české a v uhrách ve středověku [The Chapters in the Czech and Hungarian Kingdoms in the Middle Ages], ed. Václav Ledvinka and Jiři Pešek. Documenta Pragensia Supplementa II [2011], 161–96.)

Tóth, Lakatos, and Mikó’s book is itself based on a charter and its copies from January 1425, which the three authors came across as the following twelfth part of the Zsigmondkori Oklevéltár was being compiled. (Norbert C. Tóth and Bálint Lakatos, Zsigmondkori oklevéltár [Sigismundian Cartulary], vol 12 (1425) [2013].) A thorough examination revealed that there are altogether fifteen (!) copies of the charter, which all together contain a composite legal procedure between the chapter of Pressburg (Hungarian Pozsony, today Bratislava) and its provost, László Sóvári Sós. The research group, having finished the aforementioned volume of the sourcebook, managed to examine the legal case in detail, which resulted in this book.

The work of the three medievalists consists of four separate units. The first part includes six separate studies that mostly concern the functioning of the courts of the Holy See in the Middle Ages, the structure of the chapter of Pressburg, and a detailed analysis of the court case between the provost and the chapter. The second main part provides data on three members of the collegiate chapter of Pressburg who were important with regard to the court case, followed by a prosopographic database and survey of the estates of the chapter. The third main part contains the Latin documents that are connected to the legal case, regardless of whether they are later transcriptions or full-text publications of authentic originals. The edited documents are complemented by an explanation of some legal terms and short summaries of the individual documents. The fourth part is the obligatory detailed index of place and personal names discussed in the book.

By tackling the exhausting textual and genealogical problems of the charter, the authors ended up raising questions, the answers to which demanded separate analyses. The first study covers the historiography of Hungarian ecclesiastical jurisdiction and presents the operation of the Esztergom Holy See during the vicariate of Vicedomini Máté (Matheus de Vicedomini de Placentia) and his delegate substitutes. The authors conclude that the legal actions of the Esztergom Holy See, compared to the practice of European and other Hungarian Holy Sees, consisted mostly of affairs concerning marriage and inheritance, whereas cases in which members of the clergy formed both parties are less in number but were more significant. The second study is a penetrating examination of the personal relationships within the chapter itself. As discussed by the authors, the collegiate chapter of Pressburg lacked both the lector and cantor, and consisted of 14 members. It was the custos and the provost who determined the life of the chapter, and royal nomination dominated the selection and promotion of members within the body. The following chapter is an overview of the course and sections of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. In addition to a valuable overview of the existing literature (both Hungarian and in other languages), it provides new data concerning legal terms in the medieval Kingdom of Hungary. The analysis of sessional data led to the conclusion that, apart from major feast days (i.e. Christmas and Easter) and the period around the harvest, ecclesiastical jurisdiction and the operation of the Holy Sees was continuous, as was true in the case of secular courts.

The fourth paper investigates the suit of the chapter against its own provost concerning the prebendaries’ action and the provost’s counter-action, commissioning the case to delegated judges in Pressburg, the investigation and judiciary stage in the city, and the provost’s appeal to King Sigismund himself, who ordered György Pálóci, archbishop of Esztergom, to review the case. The chapter as a body accused Sóvári with altogether 34 different articles, including liturgical defaults, offences against the prebendaries and economic misdeeds. The provost was compelled to compensate the chapter financially (306 florins and the cost of the proceedings), but the most humiliating detail for him was that he was obliged to make apologies to the body. As a result of Sóvári’s appeal, one fee was waived, deadlines for liquidation were disburdened, and the obligation that he apologize was abrogated.

The fifth and sixth studies deal with the rights and obligations of the chapter. The right to the quarter or, in some villages, to the whole tithe (which, according to the suit, had been violated by the provost) was financially crucial to the prebendaries, as three-fourths of their whole income might have originated from ecclesiastical earnings, and manorial income was only the remaining one-fourth.

Among the expenditures of the church, an unmarked tax is analyzed in the last study, namely the 63rd article of the acts issued by King Sigismund in 1397. This stipulated that every ecclesiastical figure should spend half of his income for military purposes. The paper comes to the conclusion that the middle class members of the clergy actually paid this tax, though less than the prescribed half, whereas prelates supplied their banderia, mounted forces. Calculations suggest that middle class members of the clergy contributed with an annual 11,000 florins to national military expenditures, and prelates did so with more than 60,000 florins, which meant a significant portion of the royal budget for defense.

In summary, the book provides a complex approach towards both the history of the Pressburg chapter in a relatively narrow scope and an overview of medieval ecclesiastical legal proceedings in Hungary at the same time. It calls attention to the fact that records of legal cases (even if copies) might contain significant data concerning ecclesiastical bodies and the individuals they involved, and charters of this kind should be analyzed with similarly thorough methods. (For a similar case between the Veszprém chapter and its provost, Pál Emődi, see the recent Monumenta Ecclesiae Vesprimiensis 1437–1464, edited by Gábor Dreska and Balázs Karlinszky and published in 2014 by the Veszprém Diocese.) The book provides a summary of its findings in German and Slovak, as well as a detailed bibliography, which will be useful to further investigations of the topic.

Balázs Karlinszky

 

Cities and their Spaces. Concepts and their Use in Europe. Edited by Michel Pauly and Martin Scheutz. Cologne–Weimar–Vienna: Böhlau, 2014. 324 pp.

 

Urban settlement has always had a strong and complex spatial dimension. According to some definitions, one of the main distinctive criteria between towns and villages is precisely the more sophisticated topography of the former. Every town or city develops its unique structure and built form, which undergoes changes over time, providing ample food for thought for many branches of historical research. One might think that the spatial turn in history writing, which has been acknowledged now for a long time, would have been particularly welcome among urban historians. Indeed, as noted in the introduction to the present volume (which was written by its two editors), the localization of various features in urban space has always been on the agenda of scholars of a city’s past. The identification of particular buildings or neighborhoods and the ties they had to families or social groups have been familiar themes in praises of towns, city chronicles, and academic works alike. From the perspective of methodology, however, urban history can strongly benefit from the sociologically and theoretically inspired new wave of modern and post-modern spatial studies, which are presented in the volume in Keith Lilley’s essay on “Conceptualizing the City.” After having been engaged for centuries with the questions of “who, what and where,” urban historians have now been prompted by these new impulses to engage more systematically with the issue of “how?” and—no less important—“why?”.

The book reviewed here does a great service by extending the scope of up-to-date spatial inquiries, or at least providing good raw material for them, concerning cities in regions that are often neglected in this context or studied within the boundaries of national paradigms (and languages). The reason for this greater openness is that the present collection of 19 articles (14 in English, 4 in German, and an introduction in both—one gratefully acknowledges the efforts of the editors to have the articles translated) is based on two conferences of the International Commission for the History of Towns (ICHT) organized in Sibiu (Hermannstadt) and Prague, both of which welcomed a good number of local speakers and participants. These two cities at the same time are home to institutions that have been active in editing and publishing the Historic Towns Atlas series of their respective countries. Knowledge of primary sources and recent research on the spatial development of a good number of towns is therefore readily available.

It follows logically from these premises that the great flagship enterprise of the ICHT, the towns’ atlases, are utilized as reference works in many of the articles here. Ferdinand Opll, the editor-in-chief of the already completed Austrian atlas series, shows new ways of using the toponyms on the maps and in the topographical gazetteers (mainly in the Irish atlas series) for comparative research. Regarding the example of the names of gates and suburbs that lay beyond them, he offers a typology of naming patterns as reflections of spatial thinking and awareness of the hinterland and its main contact points. His study demonstrates that it is well worth pursuing comparisons in the cases of other kinds of urban toponyms on a European scale.

The four studies connected to the territory of modern-day Romania also draw on many examples from towns that have been included in the atlas series. Paul Niedermaier, the initiator of the Romanian atlas project and author of multiple volumes on urban development in Transylvania, follows his own hypothetical-deductive method, suggesting previous phases of development by studying the plot-patterns on cadastral maps. While one may express some skepticism concerning the accuracy of the reconstructions and their dating, the processes of the “genesis of closed spaces” and market infill that he describes with reference to the example of Sebeş (Szászsebes, Mühlbach), Sibiu, Sighişoara (Segesvár, Schäßburg) and other settlements have parallels in many towns of Europe. His disciple, Maria Crîngaci Ţiplic, examines the relationship between trade privileges and the evolution of urban space in the same three towns. It is indeed worthwhile looking at these two phenomena in parallel, but it is difficult to distinguish cause and effect, especially knowing that the pace at which the kings “followed up” on the development of commercial contacts with administrative measures depended a great deal on royal policy. It is also important to distinguish which kinds of privileges actually had local impact. Liberation from paying customs at faraway places could have at best indirect consequences, whereas, for instance, staple right resulting in increased need for storage could indeed influence the structure of the merchants’ houses and the use of public space, as has also been demonstrated in the case of Hanseatic towns.

Urban development in the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia is discussed in the articles by Laurenţiu Rădvan, the author of a comprehensive monograph on the subject, and Dan Dumitru Iacob. Rădvan’s well-balanced analysis follows long-term processes in the shaping of streets and plot structure and the roles of monasteries between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. He clearly distinguishes between the first period, when the influx of German and Hungarian settlers via Poland and Transylvania brought along a “systematic topographical outline of inhabited space,” whereas from the sixteenth century onwards colonists arriving from the Balkans and the Levant spread other models of organizing space, such as the wide areas of bazaars and the encroachment of orthodox monasteries, which in the long run contributed to reductions in urban autonomy. Iacob’s study takes up the story from this point and describes the modernization of the markets of Iaşi in the nineteenth century. He considers commercial streets and zones both in the center and the suburbs and explains how the carefully crafted projects of creating civic or parade squares were carried out by local authorities.

Similar sets of questions concerning the centers and central marketplaces are taken up by Roman Czaja in his discussion of cities in the territory of modern-day Poland, taking Elbląg (Elbing) as the central example. Czaja observes a strong conservative tendency in retaining the medieval main square as a commercial and community center and even keeping the fortifications intact. It was partly due to major town fires or to the unavoidable need for modernization in the nineteenth century that the medieval inner city lost its exclusive role as the most important urban space, although it still retained its role as a platform for public rituals and a social meeting place. The phenomenon of incremental growth is demonstrated by the maps of Görlitz, Auma (in Thuringia), Bruneck (in Tirol) and Ljubljana in Karlheinz Blaschke’s contribution. The German historian has dedicated the work of a lifetime and several monographs to plot the churches dedicated to St. Nicholas and the adjoining merchants’ settlements as catalysts of “spontaneous development” of urban spatial structure.

Abandoning the order of the volume, I complete my look at the range of contributions on Central Europe with two studies on medieval and Early Modern Bohemia. Martin Musílek’s investigation of property transactions in the Old Town of Prague in a relatively short period between 1351 and 1367 seems to imply a micro-historical approach, but as the author points out, these seventeen years capture an important moment of transformation of the urban elite from an old stock of merchants to a new, more craftsmen-dominated group of house-owners and council members. One may wonder if the Black Death of 1347–49 had any impact on this shift, although there is no reference to this in the article. However, the similarity of this process to the changes in Buda’s leading elite a few decades later makes it seem likely that such a change would have taken place in any case. In Robert Šimůnek’s study on towns as “theatres” of sacral representation Prague plays rather a supporting role, while the center stage is taken by Český Krumlov, from where an exceptionally detailed fourteenth-century description of the local Corpus Christi procession has survived. The author explains the importance of such an exercise in the visualization of social hierarchies and also touches on some of the changes at the turn of the fifteenth century.

On the western periphery of Europe, Ireland has set a new trend in topographical research with its high quality town atlases, which include detailed and informative gazetteers. This series is the basis for the articles by Anngret Simms and Howard B. Clarke, two of the great movers and shakers of the atlas project on a European scale. Simms provides a masterly example of the comparative use of three atlases, those of Tuam, Armagh and Limerick, highlighting the impact of the Reformation on the uses of urban space. She points out that due to the political circumstances, i.e. the close association of Reformation and colonization in Ireland, resisting the new movement and reestablishing the Catholic Church in particular quarters of the towns in question can be considered a form of ethnic survival. Her study can be instructive for scholars investigating the topographical impact of the dissolution of monasteries in any other part of Europe, too. Clarke’s insightful analysis of the hinterlands of medieval Dublin offers an overview of the main directions of contacts and their changes over time in five periods from the eighth century to 1500. His study also points out the importance of assembling the evidence from the broadest possible spectrum of sources for periods when no administrative records are available, from place-names to church dedications or the distribution of church prebends or special types of pottery produced in Dublin.

Remaining with the topic of hinterlands, Jean-Pierre Poussou discusses this issue in the case of the four largest French port cities, Bordeaux, Nantes, Rouen/Le Havre and Marseille. He examines whether there was a relationship of dominance or relative interdependence between the big ports that were (with the exception of Marseille) by estuaries of rivers 50-120 kilometers away from the open sea, the smaller outer harbors and the settlements along the same rivers or beyond, on the mainland. He also examines the change caused by the increasing volume of colonial trade, especially with the West Indies in the eighteenth century, which reinforced “the primacy of the large ports.” Hinterlands are also the subject of inquiry in Caroline Le Mao’s contribution on the provisioning of French maritime arsenals with the most essential raw materials, particularly wood, in the late seventeenth century. Although these large military-industrial complexes were established and run not by towns but by the absolutist state, according to Le Mao, “a town and its arsenal were inextricably linked,” thus their well-researched system of transport infrastructure has relevance for the civilian aspects of urban life as well. The fourth article concerning hinterlands, by Máximo Diago Hernando, offers a broad overview of the territorial politics of Spanish towns from the eleventh to the nineteenth centuries. His concept of hinterland is more legal than economic, unlike the two French contributions presented above. He shows that towns in the kingdoms of Léon-Castile and Aragon received by royal decree large territories to control in order to foster the colonization of areas reconquered from Muslim rule. Later, the controlled estates were often reduced due to the crown’s actions to donate or sell some villages, while the towns, especially in Aragon, managed to purchase more land for their lordships. In any case, strong royal supervision remained the defining factor.

Rosemary Sweet’s analysis stands out because of her decision to focus on the “conceptualization and cultural production of historic urban space rather than its purely physical manifestation,” connecting closely to the postmodern agenda outlined by Keith Lilley’s introductory essay. She eloquently demonstrates how, through the combined effect of a growing body of knowledge on the architectural heritage of cities and towns and the increasing modernization in a time of rapid urban change (“uncovering Roman sewers while digging their own”), views and value judgments on urban space have changed. Her examples refer to Rome and Britain, but similar inquiries can and should be profitably extended to other parts of the continent, including the Kingdom of Hungary in the nineteenth century.

Finally, two articles discuss urban space in modern and post-modern times. Lars Nilsson describes processes in Stockholm between 1860 and 2010 to show changes in the town planning strategies in certain neighborhoods of the inner and the outer city. Two of the most instructive questions raised here are the recovery and restructuring of the Inner City in the face of deindustrialization and the impact of spatial transformations on social inequalities and segregation. Peter Clark traces the emergence and typology of green spaces in cities, from promenades and parks to recreation grounds, allotment gardens and private gardens. His focus, however, is more social than spatial, looking for agents of change and the interest groups benefitting from them.

The essays in this volume, which were written by prominent urban historians from all over Europe, clearly demonstrate that the study of cities and their spaces is rewarding. As Anngret Simms emphasizes, cities and settlements “reflect historical processes” and long-term changes over time. She adds that “large-scale topographical maps … communicate cultural meaning and as such, we should learn how to read these maps as the expression of cultural shifts.” The validity of her statement goes beyond Irish towns and should be a helpful reminder to all readers, and some of the authors too. Many of the articles use maps skillfully to demonstrate their point, while others unfortunately are not supported with visual materials, although their authors definitely used them in their research. Another minor shortcoming is the lack of mention of historic place names and the failure to provide a proper gazetteer of these names, especially in the case of Transylvania. In sum, the main value of the book lies, in addition to the practical information in contains, in the relevant and thought-provoking questions that may be, mutatis mutandis, posed across regions and over time, questions that will increase our understanding not only of urban space, but also of those who created, inhabited and perceived them.

Katalin Szende

 

Dzsámik és mecsetek a hódolt Magyarországon [Mosques in the Territories of Hungary under Ottoman Occupation]. By Balázs Sudár. (Magyar Történelmi Emlékek. Adattárak.) Budapest: MTA Bölcsészettudományi Kutatóközpont Történettudományi Intézet, 2014. 650 pp.

 

The Ottoman occupation of Hungary, which lasted roughly a century and a half, fundamentally changed the fates of the peoples living in the Carpathian Basin. Yet soon after the expulsion of the Ottoman forces from the region, very few traces of their presence remained. Within a short period of time, the majority of the works of Islamic architecture had been partly dismantled or rebuilt to serve other functions. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why romantic historians in the nineteenth century, distanced from the period of occupation by two centuries, wrote ever more positively about the era. The question of the balance of salutary and regrettable consequences of the Ottoman occupation remains a subject of debate today. Thus, one of the tasks for historians was to determine the extent to which the Ottomans came to inhabit the occupied territories of the Hungarian kingdom and the extent to which they transformed the settlements to better fit their culture and lifestyles. Balázs Sudár has undertaken this task. He has gathered all of the data on the mosques that were built in the Carpathian Basin and published them in this thick book.

The book, which was published by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, is divided into three long chapters. The first part is essentially a preliminary study in which the author summarizes the relevant data and information already known to the community of scholars and presents the sources. At the beginning of the chapter, which has been further divided into ten subchapters, he provides a detailed presentation of the Islamic and Christian written sources and image sources, including archeological findings. This is followed by a brief history of the scholarship and a short though all the more important explanation of the terminology, which contains precise definitions of the terms “occupation” and “Turk.” Sudár then offers a summary of Islam belief and practice on the basis of the current Turkish and international secondary literature. This summary is important in part because, lamentably, to this day European publics still have little more than a superficial knowledge of Islam and the role it plays in the lives of Muslims.

The chapter dealing with the number of places of worship for Muslims in the territory under occupation is an important part of the book. As Sudár notes, in the 1660s, when Evliya Çelebi was writing his famous travelogue, there were roughly 400 places of prayer in the parts of Hungary that had fallen under Ottoman rule. If one considers the size of the Balkan peninsula, this might seem a comparatively small number. If we recall that at the beginning of the sixteenth century, there were roughly 9,000 Christian edifices in the Carpathian Basin, 400 seems trifling. There were minarets only in some 50 cities, and they were lost in the surrounding forests of Hungarian villages. This shows that the influence of Islamic culture was limited at most. The Hungarian population was not responsive to the new faith. However, if we closely follow the process of the construction of mosques, we see that over the course of the seventeenth century the occupying forces came to settle in the lands more and more, and thus in the long run there was a perfectly good chance that the areas of Hungary that had fallen under Ottoman occupation might have shared the same fate as Bosnia or Albania.

The last subchapter of the introductory essay deals with the people who founded the places of prayer and the people who maintained them, as well as the distinctive features of the buildings themselves. The reader gains a thorough understanding of the construction and functions of the mosques and the roles they played during the period of occupation.

The reference section comprises the longest part of the book, consisting of some 450 pages with information about the individual mosques. The text, which has been arranged in alphabetical order on the basis of the names of the settlements, contains everything we can know about the various edifices. Alongside citations from the sources, one also finds a chronology, biographies of the people who founded the mosques, and a list of the works available in the existing secondary literature. One of the great strengths of the book is the inclusion of a wide array of relevant images and visual sources. For instance, one finds many prints, maps, and archeological ground-plans that help one understand details of the text. Thus, the book contains a great deal of new information for local historians, so hopefully knowledge of these kinds of details will soon reach the wider reading public. The book also contains innumerable interesting tidbits, for instance mention of the distinctive windows and two mihrabs of the Suleiman mosque in Szigetvár, no similar versions of which have yet been found anywhere in the Balkan peninsula.

With this work of scholarship, Balázs Sudár has done a great deal to fill a lacuna in the secondary literature on the subject of the traces of Ottoman religious culture in the territories that were once under occupation, and his book contains a wealth of information that will be of interest both to Hungarian historians of the era and people curious about Islamic culture and local history. Given the value of this book, it would be important to have it translated into English well and as soon as possible, since it would constitute an indispensable resource for the international community of scholars with an interest in Ottoman history.

Szabolcs Varga

 

A Divided Hungary in Europe: Exchanges, Networks and Representations, 1541–1699. Vol. 1–3. Edited by Gábor Almási, Szymon Brzezinski, Ildikó Horn, Kees Teszelszky, and Áron Zarnóczki. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014. 738 pp.

 

This three-volume publication is the product of a four-year research program entitled “Hungary in early modern Europe,” which was headed by the late Ágnes R. Várkonyi. The purpose of this Hungarian Scientific Research Fund-funded program was to study Hungary’s presence and place in Europe and its role on the “European stage” in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The 29 case studies arranged in three volumes put the cultural, religious, intellectual and political relationships between Hungary and the rest of Europe in focus. They examine questions of cultural transfer and exchange, thus seeking to situate Hungary in the European context. They are the result of an international cooperative endeavor. Although most of the contributors are prominent Hungarian historians, one also finds Slovak, Polish, American, Croatian and Dutch scholars among them.

The first volume (Study Tours and Intellectual-Religious Relationships) investigates how cultural exchange between Hungary and Europe affected intellectual life in Hungary. The essays in this volume deal with two major subjects, academic study tours and intellectual-religious exchange. For instance, Gizella Keserű examines the study tours of Unitarians from Transylvania. András Péter Szabó investigates those of the Lutherans from Upper-Hungary to Prussia. Gábor Almási compares the peregrination tours of Hungarian students with the study tours of students from other East-Central European countries. Ildikó Horn investigates the peregrination of the Transylvanian elite, providing an explanation for the decline of such ventures in the seventeenth century. In regard to intellectual-religious relationships, three studies examine international Catholic intellectual life and scientific exchange. Farkas Gábor Kiss studies the possibilities and severe limitations of the exchange of scientific knowledge between Hungary and the rest of Europe based on the case of Athanasius Kircher. Ildikó Sz. Kristóf examines descriptions of peoples and lands of other continents in the calendars published by the University of Nagyszombat (Trnava). Another Jesuit, Martinus Cseles, and his discovery of the account of Brother Julianus are the subject of an essay by Paul Shore. Two other essays approach the question of cultural transfer from a different perspective. István Monok compares the publishing activity of three major cities (Paris, Basel, Venice) from the point of view of books on Hungary and Hungarians, and Péter Király studies the role of foreign musicians in Hungary.

The intention of the second volume (Diplomacy, Information Flow and Cultural Exchange) is to investigate the history of cultural transfer in the areas of international relations and diplomacy. For instance, Dóra Kerekes studies the interpreters, an important group of cultural mediators in seventeenth-century Istanbul. A topic closely related to the exchange of culture and knowledge is the research on information flows in politics, which is the subject of several of the essays. These chapters study the details concerning information gathering networks, both the networks of the Transylvanian Principality as a whole (Gábor Kármán) and those of individuals (e. g. Ferenc Nádasdy by Noémi Viskolcz). The crucial role of the individual actors in these information-gathering and diplomatic networks is emphasized. Mónika F. Molnár examines the activities of a famous “information agent” and scientist, Luigi Marsigli, and his activities at the Habsburg-Ottoman borderline. The Transylvanian István Kakas and the broadly international contexts of his mission to Persia are investigated by Pál Ács, and the Hungarian contexts of the assassination of Antonio Rincón and Cesare Fergoso are studied by Megan Williams. Péter Tusor examines the unexpected appointment of Péter Pázmány to the position of Archbishop of Esztergom and the responses and repercussions in Vienna and Rome.

The third volume (The Making and Uses of the Image of Hungary and Transylvania) deals with the image of Hungary and the Hungarians in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the various local uses to which it was put in the political communication across Europe. Two essays focus on the Holy Roman Empire. Nóra G. Etényi studies the news pamphlets and publications on the military and political developments in Hungary which appeared in the Empire in the second half of the seventeenth century. Orsolya Lénárt analyzes changes in the image of Hungary based on Eberhard Werner Happel’s novel. Two studies deal with the Low Countries as well (the essays by Kees Teszelszky and Orsolya Réthelyi). Another two essays examine the images of Hungary in Early Modern Croatian (Iva Kurelac) and Moldavian and Wallachian (Klára Jakó) historiography. Tamás Kruppa and Szymon Brzezinski investigate the perception of Hungary and Hungarians and related topoi in Italy and in Poland-Lithuania.

The authors of the volumes focus on the questions of cultural transfer and exchange and by this approach they seek to place Hungary in a European context. They approach the aspects of diplomacy and politics too in terms of cultural exchange, and consider the image of Hungary as a product of this exchange of knowledge and information as well. Besides they concentrate on the intellectual and diplomatic networks and the important role individual historical actors played in these networks. These approaches have already gained significant international attention (cf. primarily the fundamental work Cultural Exchange in Early Modern Europe, vols. 1–4, ed. R. Muchembled and W. Monter) but have just recently started to be applied in Hungarian scholarship on the country’s period under Ottoman rule.

The importance of the publication therefore lies not simply in the fact that the authors used a wide array and large quantity of new sources, thanks to their extensive archival research (the essays are based on archival sources from more than 25 cities across Europe), but primarily in the use of these new research methods and approaches. The research areas and themes represented here (such as church history and the history of communication) likewise constitute topics and fields that have undergone considerable development over the course of the past few decades in Hungarian historiography. Thus, these volumes seek to give insights into current Hungarian historical scholarship as well.

The references and footnotes are thorough and shed light on the most recent historiography of Early Modern Hungary, and they were composed with an international readership in mind. All of the essays in this compelling three-volume publication provide ample material for the study of the connections of Hungarian elite circles to the contemporary European cultural trends in the Early Modern period. Much as the Hungarians of the period in question kept up with trends at the time, the authors of these essays have remained abreast of international scholarly trends and tendencies today, and indeed they have “provided us with a state-of the art knowledge of early modern Hungary” (Vol. 1, p.ix).

Krisztina Péter

 

 

Pálos missziók Magyarországon a 17–18. században [The Pauline Order’s Missions in Hungary in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries]. By †Ferenc Galla. Edited by István Fazekas. (Collectanea Vaticana Hungariae – Classis 1, vol. 11.) Budapest–Rome: MTA-PPKE ‘Lendület’ Egyháztörténeti Kutatócsoport–Gondolat, 2015. 536 pp.

 

Ferenc Galla (1888–1977), a Catholic priest and historian and at one time a professor of church history (Royal Hungarian Péter Pázmány University of Budapest, Faculty of Theology), was one of the greatest researchers of sources on the Early Modern history of the Hungarian Catholic Church in Rome, mainly in the Archives of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide). As he spent almost the last three decades of his long life living under a communist regime in Hungary, he was not allowed to publish much of the data he had collected. He spent these decades of forced silence supplementing the Roman material with sources from the National Archives of Hungary (Archives of the Hungarian Treasury and the Hungarian Chancellery). He wrote several important monographs and essays on these sources, which remained unpublished at the time, but which are now held in the National Archives of Hungary (Archives of Families, Corporations and Institutions), together with his huge bequest of manuscripts. These manuscripts were discovered by the narrow community of professional historians in the early 1990s, and they have since served as sources of inspiration for various scholars, but were still waiting to be published.

For more than 10 years now, the series Collectanea Vaticana Hungariae has published monographs, essays, source materials, repertories and bibliographies concerning Hungarian historical research in the Vatican. Thus, Galla’s legacy found the perfect caretaker in its editorial committee, which is under the leadership of Péter Tusor. The volume under review is the third one published as part of the series, following Ferences misszionáriusok Magyarországon: a Királyságban és Erdélyben a 17–18. században [Franciscan Missionaries in Hungary: In the Kingdom and in Transylvania in the 17th and 18th Centuries], which was issued in 2005 (Classis 1, vol. 2), and Pápai kinevezések, megbízások és felhatalmazások Erdély, a Magyar Királyság és a Hódoltság területére (1550–1711) [Pontifical Provisions, Faculties and Commissions in Transylvania, Habsburg and Ottoman Hungary (1550–1771)], which was published in 2010 (Classis 2, vol. 3). The editing and redacting of the present text, as in the case of the aforementioned volume issued in 2005, was done by István Fazekas and is ample testimony to his competence and attentiveness.

The volume consists of three parts, which are arranged chronologically. The first deals with the history of the Pauline Order from its general reform in the 1630s to the late 1670s. The chapter is structured around the biography of János Vanoviczy (c. 1612–1678), Pauline missionary and head of the apostolic prefecture maintained by the order, but this part also deals with the monasteries that had been in continuous operation since the Middle Ages, as well as the ones that were founded in the period under discussion. Focus, however, is on the beginning of the evangelistic activities of the Paulines and the establishment of the apostolic prefecture in 1667. The second part is dedicated to the development of Pauline missions during the wartime period of 1671–1711, namely the anti-Habsburg uprisings, Kuruc Wars, the Great Turkish War and Ferenc Rákóczi II’s war of liberation. This chapter, however, uses a regional division. After an introductory section on the Pauline missions of the era in general and the old and new monasteries (again), it contains four sections concerning four different territories affected by the missions of the order, namely Szepes (Spiš) and Árva (Orava) Counties, Transdanubia and the regions recaptured from the Ottoman Empire (in this case, only the Diocese of Pécs, the city of Nagyvárad (Oradea)and Transylvania). Finally, the third part, which is considerably shorter than the previous two, summarizes the characteristics of the Pauline missions in the eighteenth century and evaluates the work of the order in this area. The last seventy pages of the volume consist of a list of sources and a bibliography, a particularly extensive index of people and places, and a detailed English abstract (some 10 pages long) including a map of the Pauline missions in the seventeenth century.

Although the published manuscript represents the most complete surviving version of the monograph, it is still an unfinished variant, as the work was probably never totally finalized by Galla. Thus there are significant differences between the three parts of the volume. First, as already mentioned, the third part is only one-third as long as the first two. Second, only the annotations of the first part survived or were made up by the author. Accordingly, there were differences in the editorial work on the text. The first part needed only the revision of the originally ponderous style of the author to make it more flowing and the division of the enormously long notes into shorter ones. However, the annotations in the first part still remain long, and as every single note relates to several paragraphs, sometimes even pages, they contain many repetitions of the main text when specifying the exact topic to which they pertain. In the other two parts, the annotations were compiled by the editor, partially on the basis of the original notes of the author from a former version of the manuscript. Fazekas also cited recent historical literature in order to refresh the study, which is more than half a century old.

As is the case in other works by Galla, his positivist method of accumulating data is often supplemented by explanations of the histories of families and places, general national and church history, and biographies of individuals, mainly members of the Pauline Order and Hungarian aristocrats. More importantly, he summarizes certain sections in general terms either before or after the given details, and in these sections he has ventured several ascertainments that have not been discredited since. These are the features that make Galla’s recently published volume really notable, not to mention his treatment of a huge amount of data, so far unknown, from Rome as well as from Budapest, the importance of which can hardly be overestimated.

Dániel Siptár

 

Conflicting Values of Inquiry. Ideologies of Epistemology in Early Modern Europe. Edited by Tamás Demeter, Kathryn Murphy, and Claus Zittel. Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2015. 410 pp.

 

The fact that a collection of essays that will in all likelihood find its place on library shelves reserved for philosophical studies is being reviewed in a historical journal by a sociologist should be taken as a good sign. The editorial intention, beyond doubt, was to deliver a bouquet of studies primarily philosophical in their subject matter and to show that, in addition to a revisionist approach to primarily classical chapters in the history of philosophy, a wider, social scientific questioning and treatment of their subjects can also yield essays interesting and relevant for a broad interdisciplinary academic readership.

The volume, however, seeks to achieve further goals, or, if you will, even higher purposes. As Tamás Demeter, one of the editors, highlights in his introductory essay (“Values, Norms and Ideologies in Early Modern Inquiry”), studies aimed at exposing underlying political, religious or ideological commitments in scientific debates have been in vogue since Shapin and Schaffer came out with Leviathan and the Air-Pump in 1985 (Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life [1985]), and while such aspirations have not yet become part of the mainstream, they are familiar enough now to venture beyond or away from the territories that they have uncovered. Hence, “the present volume suggests that with an awareness of this context, it is now worth turning back to questions of the epistemic content itself” (p.2).

In the first essay, which also serves as an introduction to or an overview of the aspirations of the articles that follow, Peter Dear, a renowned historian of science, gives a short account and evaluation of Leviathan and the Air-Pump, the milestone work that this volume now goes beyond, at least if the contributors have met their aim. “Going beyond,” Professor Dear assures his reader, does not mean turning against, and his overview serves to avoid throwing out “the baby with the bathwater when attempting to elaborate other sorts of accounts” (p.11). The so-called Sociology of Scientific Knowledge, or SSK exemplified by the Leviathan and the Air-Pump called for an account of scientific ideas in terms of the acts and actions that they facilitate (p.12), a kind of a contextual analysis that rejects the internal logic of the history of science, refutes the notion that scientific knowledge can be accounted for solely on the basis of prior forms of scientific knowledge, and argues that these systems of knowledge are not purely built upon and consequences of one another. This contextual analysis, also known as the “Strong Program,” advocates an elaboration (explanation or understanding) of all scientific knowledge, whether held to be true or false by contemporaries or present-day representatives of the field, with reference to the historical, political, ideological etc. context within which they are expressed. As Peter Dear puts it, it calls for an interpretation of knowledge-production in terms of an understanding of the stakes that scientific discourses and debates carried for the participants. This approach, as he points out, equates the answers yielded by “instrumental” questions with “understanding.” It is precisely here that the present volume most sharply diverges from the SSK program, for it draws a categorical distinction between the two. Dear considers this a “fundamental incommensurability” between the questions posed by an intellectualist history of science and philosophy and those addressed by SSK.

That there is such a sharp difference or even incommensurability between the emphasis on the instrumental use of ideas and, as is the aim of this volume, their account with reference to “values” (understood in a broad sense) is not entirely clear. Neither Peter Dear nor the other authors seem entirely convinced, in their presentation of their arguments, that this is the case. The distance, however, that Conflicting Values manages to put between the SSK and its own endeavor is less significant than the vast and up-to-date knowledge and the novel questions and interpretations that the authors of the volume offer in their supposedly “post-SSK” scholarly essays on early modern European science.

As is evident from many features of the book (from the perspective of form the similar structure and length of the chapters and from the perspective of content the effort to revise traditional readings of well-known episodes of the history of science and philosophy), the editors had a clear vision which they managed to sustain. The authors, says Tamás Demeter, were asked not to write traditional chapters in the history of philosophy but instead “to explore how certain non-epistemic values had been turned into epistemic ones, how they had an effect on epistemic content, and eventually how they became ideologies of knowledge” (p.2) In fact, as indicated in a short acknowledgment, the collection was based on two preceding workshops in the course of which the ideas were discussed at length and common grounds were established. Hence, this volume, authored by a rather impressive group of historians and philosophers of science, succeeds in avoiding the trap into which many such collections fall. Rather than merely presenting some writings that are at best interesting in themselves, this book grows into an organic whole the parts of which not only function together but also enhance one another.

The unifying idea behind the essays puts the volume at a crossroads of history, philosophy and sociology: “the volume as a whole drives towards the study of those values, norms, and standards that unify knowledge-making practices, which otherwise, from the perspective of different disciplinary canons, may easily seem to be entirely disjointed” (pp.8–9). This junction has been marked by certain territorial battles. As John Henry, himself a highly acclaimed associate of the Edinburgh School of Sociology of Scientific Knowledge, contends in his essay (“Testimony and Empiricism: John Sergeant, John Locke, and the Social History of Truth”), while philosophers in the modern tradition have been “blind to social epistemology until very recently” (p.121), the sociology of knowledge entered territory hitherto occupied by philosophy and history, and so, as an even more recent development, sociologically inclined interpretations are more abound in philosophy, suggesting an attempt to recover lost ground. However, the volume shows—and this is one of its greatest merits—that peaceful learning and inter(trans)disciplinary cooperation can flourish in the place of conflict, bringing a deeper understanding of how philosophical and scientific knowledge has been (and is being) produced. For as John Henry contends, “the fact is, our epistemologies, our theories as to what counts as knowledge, and therefore our ideas about what is true, as much as those developed in the early modern period, depend upon our social and political starting points; and if they change, they do so because those broader circumstances have also changed” (p.121).

The general topic of the essays, as is marked in the subtitle of the volume, is Early Modern European philosophy and science. The subject matter of the chapters ranges from very well-known figures of the history of philosophy (such as Kant or Hume) to less familiar characters, such as the controversial Catholic thinker John Sergeant or the hydraulic engineer Giovan Battista Aleotti. Nonetheless, the choice of the topic is not the innovative aspect of the studies. Whether they concern well-known or forgotten chapters in the history of European thought, they all aspire to frame their subject in a novel way, and they all propose new interpretations of their topics.

Thus, in the first thematic block (“Devices and Epistemic Values”) we learn about the important but rarely acknowledged role that sixteenth-century engineers, through the processes of codification of their practical knowledge, played in the emergence of theoretical knowledge and empiricism as a scientific practice (Matteo Valleriani). Or, as an example of reclaiming and reinterpreting classic topics, Dániel Schmal’s essay examines the famous metaphor of the camera obscura. Schmal argues against the traditional view, claiming that the simile does not suggest a concept of the enclosed nature of the mind but can more plausibly be interpreted as illuminating an active mind, a cognitive machinery that comes into contact with reality through rather complex processes.

The second part of the book focuses on a topic now fashionable in science studies: the epistemic status of testimony. John Henry gives a reevaluation of John Sergeant’s thought. As far as testimony is concerned, Henry claims that it is a crucial feature of Catholicism, which is at the core of Sergeant’s thinking, and that it is purely based on testimonial and consensual (communal) knowledge, whereas in Protestantism, knowledge is based more on the individual mind. This difference, argues Henry, necessarily led Sergeant to an epistemology also inherently different from that of Locke, and it inevitably deemed Sergeant to obscurity. In the next chapter, Falk Wunderlich closely scrutinizes Hume’s theory on the testimonial evidence of miracles. Since Hume rejected the possibility of miracles, this starting point led him to a more refined notion of the epistemic status of testimonies than is generally held, argues Wunderlich.

The third thematic block of the volume revolves around the role religious embeddedness at times plays in scientific inquiry. Giora Hon questions the widespread notion that it was Copernicus whose work marked the transformation of science, and attributes such significance instead to Kepler’s Astronomia nova. Her core argument is that Kepler’s natural philosophy is essentially theological, and it is the theological context of his work that should be acknowledged in order to reconcile the conflicting views in historiography that prevented him from being elevated to the status of the astronomer who revolutionized science. Tamás Demeter’s chapter invites us to look at Hume again. He shows how Hume regarded natural theology, a theologically guided inspection of natural phenomena and the dominant scientific approach at the time (and up until the second half of the nineteenth century, one might add), as something akin to superstition. As Demeter points out, the notion that, as an organized body of knowledge, religion needed to be judged by the same epistemological standards as other bodies of knowledge (such as natural and moral philosophy) contributed to the emergence of a secular ideology of natural inquiry. The next chapter ventures far afield from the British Isles, to eighteenth century Hungary. János Tanács examines the history of mathematics. As is a common denominator in the volume, he challenges a widely held notion in the history of science. He claims that the so-called Problem of Parallels—and Bolyai’s revolutionary problem-solving, which marked the emergence of non-Euclidian mathematics—was not simply motivated by Kant’s ideas (as has been discussed in detail), but was also deeply influenced by the Protestant intellectual milieu. His essay explores the “confessional embeddedness” of this mathematical question in late eighteenth-century Hungary.

The next thematic unit consists of two essays that analyze cases of strategic communication in situations of conflict or controversy. Gábor Áron Zemplén describes how Newton’s “strategic maneuvering,” found in passages on rainbow colors, helped him circumvent objections and accumulate social credit for his new theory, which conflicted with contemporary geometrical optics. Thus, the reader can learn how, even in the case of a seemingly “pure” scientific argument, strategic communication and rhetoric played a role not to be ignored or underestimated. Zemplén’s conclusion describes Newton as more of a great rhetor than a rigorous scientist of physical phenomena: “[i]n theology, Newton believed that God revealed the truth through prophecies, ‘to try men, and convert the best’. And that is exactly what his first article tried, and, with time, achieved” (pp.242–43). In the second essay of the block, Axel Gelfert takes a look at Hobbes’s natural philosophy (his writings on science and geometry), seeking again to expose a strategy, a kind of a hidden agenda, behind the scholarly thoughts. In this case, the conclusion is not all that surprising, since, according to Gelfert, it is Hobbes’s attempt to contribute to peace and provide ways of managing conflicts and disagreement (which poisoned his society and caused him considerable concern) that lies underneath his scientific argument.

Following the essays on scientific devices, testimony, religious context and strategic communication, two writings are paired in a block on the “science of man.” Thomas Sturm explores attempts to develop theories of the mind based on Newton’s methods of analysis and synthesis and concludes that none of them were “good enough” (i.e. they were overshadowed by Newton’s optics) to grow into an early form of psychology. Eric Schliesser’s essay takes us back to Hume, providing a thorough analysis of three passages from various texts to reconstruct distinct intellectual traditions (and the differences between them) to which Hume claimed to belong at various times in his career. These intellectual traditions also framed a system of sciences and placed the “science of man” within it.

The last thematic unit (“Ethics in Epistemology”), with its moral philosophical focus, contains what could perhaps be considered the most “traditional” studies in the book. And yet, even in these three writings, a clearly discernible aspiration to untangle underlying values or personal agenda and to demonstrate how such factors are thickly woven into the threads of philosophical and scientific thinking leads to arguments no less novel or provocative than the ones presented in the previous chapters.

Sorana Corneanu’s approach to Francis Bacon’s concept of the charitable, beneficial character of legitimate knowledge is historical par excellence. She traces the historical context of the concept of charity in order to arrive at a nuanced interpretation of Bacon’s notion of the benefits of knowledge. She shows how Bacon’s concept was embedded in different traditions but at the same time new in some aspects of his understanding. Not surprisingly, Corneanu’s interpretation also serves to refute the nineteenth-century utilitarian reading of Bacon that still exerts an influence on receptions of his writings today.

Even Spinoza is not spared thorough scrutiny that unveils his personal attachments to certain ideals which, apparently, gave way to some logical flaws and a whole conceptual edifice constructed from top to bottom. Ruth Lorand looks at Spinoza’s theories of the ideal life and shows that, despite the seemingly strict logical structure of Spinoza’s argument, the conclusion (the description of the “free man” and the valuable life) preceded the theorizing. According to Lorand, Spinoza basically molded his metaphysics with the final conclusion already in mind. However, Spinoza is not the only great emblem of ethical thinking whose prejudices are challenged: in her conclusion, in line with Hume (and Max Weber), Lorand intimates (without, however, providing any further support) that Spinoza can be taken as a paradigm for the inevitable problems encountered in the course of any attempt to base metaphysics on values, for “the effort to validate a normative theory is self-defeating” (p.368).

From the point of view of disciplinary boundaries and boxing, the last philosophical study of the collection is perhaps the least ambiguous. Catherine Wilson paints a portrait of Kant that is considerably less flattering than the usual accounts, revealing the significant extent to which his epistemological interests were subservient to his normative ones, as he sought to reject the views of his contemporaries. In other words, he is exposed to have had a “deeply personal and not altogether appealing agenda” (p.405).

As is probably obvious from this short overview, the book offers essays that cover a wide range of topics from the volume’s main thematic realm. Some are more philosophical in their focus or emphasis, others perhaps more sociological or historical in their considerations or methodology, but each one of them presents strong and thought-provoking arguments in support of novel (sometimes even provocative) interpretations of familiar topics. They shed new light on fairly well-known themes and figures while, in accordance with the editorial conception, persuasively arguing in support of the conclusion that, in order to understand ourselves better, it is worth looking at how issues of personal, religious and political preferences and similar factors affect or are inherent parts of the ways in which we construct theories. These scholarly essays demonstrate the main theme of the volume and illuminate ways in which non-epistemic values not only play a role in the process of the construction of great scientific theories, but themselves become epistemic values, assumptions about what counts as “true” and what does not: ideologies of knowledge. Put blatantly, whether we approach the question of knowledge as historians, philosophers or sociologists (or other representatives of the sciences), it would be prudent to keep in mind that we are (only) human.

Eszter Pál

 

Császárválasztás 1745 [Imperial Election of 1745]. By Márta Vajnági. Budapest: ELTE BTK Középkori és Kora Újkori Egyetemes Történeti Tanszék, 2014. 186 pp.

 

Márta Vajnági’s monograph, Császárválasztás 1745, investigates the circumstances of the propaganda war that received more publicity than any other in the history of the Holy Roman Empire. After the death of Emperor Charles VI, the War of Austrian Succession was fought not only on the battlefields, but also with pamphlets and an array of press products in the political publicity. In 1745, after the death of the Bavarian Emperor, given the military and political situation, the Habsburgs seemed to have a good chance at a run for the throne of the “king of kings.”

The book is the paperback edition of Vajnági’s doctoral dissertation, which she defended in 2011. Primarily, Vajnági follows the approach used in works on the history of propaganda and in the study of diplomacy and representation. She does not merely examine the context of the imperial election on the basis of available archival sources (Elias Fromm, Die Kaiserwahl Franz I., ein Beitrag zur deutschen Reichsgeschichte des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts [1883]; Josef Posch, Die Kaiserwahl Franz I. 1745 [1949]), but rather offers a comparative analysis of the pamphlets that were published in large numbers during a period marked by upheavals in press technology. The main subject of the volume is the ways in which the campaign for the election of the emperor in 1745 appeared in the contemporary political media and political sphere.

Beginning in the 1990s, the problems of propaganda and the public sphere in the Early Modern era began to be given more and more attention in Hungarian and international historical scholarship. The history of the Holy Roman Empire, in which there were extensive reading networks and numerous active presses, has proven a particularly engaging field for research. For instance, Francis Stephen of Lorraine, whom the eighteenth-century historiography left in the shadow of Maria Theresa, emerges as a very exciting figure. Although Hans Leo Mikoletzky wrote articles about Francis I in the 1960s and called attention to his indisputable role in and talent for addressing economic issues, Renate Zedinger’s monograph, published in 2008, was the first and so far the only comprehensive contribution to the scientific biography of Francis I that attempted to assemble a less fragmentary picture of the Emperor. (Hans Leo Mikoletzky, “Franz Stefan von Lothringen als Wirtschaftspolitiker,“ Mittelungen des Österreichischen Staatsarchivs 13 (1961): 231–57; Renate Zedinger, Franz Stephan von Lothringen (1708–1765). Monarch, Manager, Mäzen [2008].) One finds a similar example in the Hungarian scholarship dealing with Francis of Lorraine, who tends to be mentioned only with reference to his Hungarian governorship (1732–1741). (Bernadett Bakács, “Franz Stephan von Lothringen als Ungarns Statthalter 1732–1741,“ Jahrbuch für österreichische Kulturgeschichte 10 (1984): 27–36.) From this point of view, the importance of the Vajnági’s monograph can hardly be thrown into question.

Vajnági discusses the historiographical antecedents and the sources, and she defines the applied conceptual categories very precisely. She then offers an introduction to the extensive diplomatic context of the imperial pre-election, the very sensitive and constantly shifting systems of alliances and the military and fiscal background of the hostile powers. It is also important to observe that the author not only analyzes the so-called Reichspublizistik sources, but also takes into account the Dresden and Hanoverian diplomatic records of the well-known diary writer, Johann Joseph Fürst von Khevenhüller (1706–1776), who served as Grand Marshal (Obersthofmarschall) and, from 1745, Grand Chamberlain (Oberstkämmerer).

In the middle parts of the book, Vajnági examines both the German and the French arguments of the pro-Habsburg and anti-Habsburg pamphlets and considers the tractates of 1745 from a comparative approach. Hence, the reader is given clear insights into the debates in which the two sides used anonymous publicists to underpin their own political legitimation and power representation. These analyses exemplify the richness of contemporary political culture in their complexity regarding interpretations of the most prominent historical and legal arguments, which were often used in supportive propaganda materials and in attacks. On the one hand, the three hundred-year imperial continuity of the Habsburg dynasty seemed to guarantee the permanent security and sway of the empire. On the other, the long rule of the Habsburgs provided obvious arguments against development and in favor of suppressing the orders of the Empire. The topoi, rhetorical formulas and ideas that were used for the defense of Francis of Lorrain (such the depiction of Maria Theresa as a German heroine who embodied all the virtues of her Habsburg ancestors) were completely accommodated to the image-building policy of the Habsburg(-Lorraine) dynasty in the eighteenth century. The conclusions of the chapter will be useful for other fields of research, such as interpretations of funeral speeches, imperial laudations, and different sorts of gala speeches and poems.

In the final thematic part of the book, the ceremonies of the imperial election come to the fore. Vajnági not only describes the coronation, but also examines the historical-legal traditions and regulations. In these chapters, she admittedly tries to adapt the approach to the study of rituals and representations initiated by Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger to her subject, and she discerns symbolical meanings behind the spectacular ceremonies. (Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger, Des Kaisers alte Kleider. Verfassungsgeschichte und Symbolsprache des Alten Reiches [2008].) In Vajnági’s interpretations of the ritual acts, the reader recognizes not only the ceremonial Ordo, but also the participants and the insignia of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, which represented symbolic unity in an age of internal warfare and disintegration.

In conclusion, the well-edited monograph presents a clear, perspicuous, but also complex picture of the imperial election of 1745, the working mechanisms of the Holy Roman Empire, and the diplomatic, political and ritual historical dimensions. Although the book was written in Hungarian, Vajnági has also published more articles in English in which she presents her conclusions. (Márta Vajnági, “Britain-Hanover and the Imperial Election of 1745,” Hungarian Journal of English and American studies 14, no. 1 (2008): 1, 51–64; Márta Vajnági, ”The Habsburgs and the Impeial Crown in the Eighteenth Century,” Das Achtzehnte Jahrhundert und Österreich 26 (2012): 92–102.) The appendix includes two highly important German and French pamphlets, which exemplify the predominant attitudes of the debates. The book will prove interesting and valuable for scholars who have an interest in the German political and media culture of the eighteenth century.

Zsolt Kökényesi

 

The Charmed Circle. Joseph II and the “Five Princesses,” 1765–1790. By Rebecca Gates-Coon. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 2015. 380 pp.

 

For a decade, research on the Imperial and Royal Residenz has called for a new understanding of the circle of the five princesses that dominated aristocratic social life during the coregency and reign of Joseph II (1765–1790). So far, studies on Vienna have systematically referred to the seminal work of Adam Wolf (Fürstin Eleonore Liechtenstein, 1745–1812 nach Briefen und Memoiren ihrer Zeit [1875]), which examines the correspondence of Eleonore Ötting, princess of Liechtenstein. Wolf’s insights remain profound and valuable today, and the challenge of outdoing his penetrating analyses is both daunting and alluring. Rebecca Gates-Coon seems to aim to do just this. She ventures the contention according to which the société played a significant role in the reforms implemented by Joseph II. It was, she suggests, a kind of Imperial shadow cabinet that generated confusion between the court and the government.

After the first chapter, which provides the information necessary to understand the close ties between the families (Hohenzollern-Hechingen, Sternberg, Öttingen-Spielberg, Clary, Kinsky, Lichtenstein, and Kaunitz), Gate-Coon examines the five Dames in the context of the history of European aristocracy, which she defines as a “social class,” regardless of the differences in national status and economic, social, political and cultural circumstances across the continent and even within Austria. However, the debate on the domestication of the nobility, which is based on a discussion of Norbert Elias’s paradigm of societé de cour, is limited to two paragraphs, in spite of the fact that it represents one of the most complex and thoroughly studied trends in European history of the eighteenth century. Gates-Coon’s position is clear. She sticks to the Austrian historiographical mainstream and pays little if any attention to the counter-models recently developed by Jeroen Duindam and Éric Hassler, which she regards as little more than samples of academic erudition. The latter’s work (La Cour de Vienne, 1680–1740: service de l’empereur et stratégies spatiales de l’élite nobiliaire dans la monarchie des Habsbourg [2013]) actually provides a very accurate analysis of Viennese aristocratic society between 1680 and 1740, which was not organized around the Emperor or the Imperial family at all. Thus, the “société des cinq princesses” would have constituted a new form of socialization for the members of the Imperial family, an insight that Rebecca Gates-Coon seems to have missed. However, she does provide a narrative of the social activities and distractions of the Viennese court over the course of the second half of the eighteenth century, drawing heavily on primary sources, which is one of the great strengths of the book.

Chapters 3, 4 and 5 examine the circle itself. The society was established during the coregency (1765–1780), when the Emperor was associated with the government of the Austrian Lands. Gates-Coon contextualizes the rise of the circle in the milieu of the profound and sometimes controversial reforms of the monarchy. She also emphasizes the organization of the circle and the central position hold by Eleonore Liechtenstein, writing that “the Emperor’s friendships with the other four Dames developed naturally in the course of his association with Eleonore Lichtenstein” (p.127). However, Gates-Coon’s decision to base her inquiry almost exclusively on Eleonore Liechtenstein’s correspondence indicates a bias that is never questioned.

Gates-Coon emphasizes the influence of the princesses on the Emperor. To understand this influence, it would have been interesting to compare it with the one of the other circles with which Joseph II socialized, for instance the one of Count Windischgraetz. Philipp Cobenzl’s Memoiren gives valuable information concerning this circle (briefly mentioned on p.35), which brought together men and women of less important aristocratic rank to discuss the sciences, philosophy and politics. Cobenzl clearly acknowledged that this société functioned until women lived, and he felt that women were the vital element of this sociability. Cobenzl also helps his reader grasp a fact that Derek Beales has already noted, namely that Joseph II acceded to the circle of the five princesses through the mediation of Cobenzl and the Windischgraetz society. While the Grand Chamberlain Rosenberg was an active member of the five princesses’ circle, the people that Joseph promoted politically were the men of the Windischgraetz’s entourage.

In fact, the circle of the five princesses had more influence on the court than it did on the government, an important detail that Gates-Coon seems to acknowledge when she writes, “she [Eleonore] would prefer, she said, that he (Joseph II) have less regard (bontés) for her and greater consideration for her husband Charles” (p.120). Joseph was clearly aware of this, saying “please be just, I beg you, to the emperor, who can do nothing about the constitution of his Empire, and to Joseph, who can do nothing about the fact that he is emperor” (p.140). Other contemporary sources, like Count Fekete de Galántha’s Esquisse d’un tableau mouvant de Vienne in 1787, which Rebecca Gates-Coon fails to mention, throw into question the notion that such a coterie could have exerted any significant political influence. As a radical Josephinist, Fekete hardly censured this aristocratic society or its habits, which Rebecca Gates-Coon very precisely describes. Finally, it would have been interesting to look at this société as a conservative group of interests, superficially concerned about their position at court and how reforms and wars would affect their incomes, more than as a sign of a fashionable female Austrian Aufklärung, a fact that the book, its initial claim to the contrary, ultimately acknowledges.

David Do Paço

 

“A Sanguine Bunch.“ Regional Identification in Habsburg Bukovina 1774–1919. By Jeroen van Drunen. (Pegasus Oost-Europese Studies 24.) Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Pegasus, 2015. 653 pp.

 

The mythos of Bukovina as an allegedly successful regional “realization” of the Habsburg vision of the supranational state seemed interesting enough to contemporaries before 1914 to be the subject of feuilletons, reports, and similar kinds of publications. After 1918 and in particular during the Cold War, another facet of the mythos was added that owed its existence to a romanticization of the past (with a look back on the fate of Europe since) and that affectionately cultivated an image of the vanished world of Bukovina as an Austrian crownland and at the same time a charmed “Europe in miniature.” With the disintegration of the Eastern Bloc, people set out in search of this fabled crownland in memoirs, travelogues, and collected impressions of places. Admittedly, the not infrequently miserable everyday realities of the region (which is now divided between Romania and Ukraine) brought observers back to their senses or, quite the opposite, prompted them to sink deep into the mythos of the past. From the outset, nationalist perspectives on the history of Bukovina represent an opposing standpoint. The focus from the national perspective is always on one’s “own.” The other “foreign nations” existed only on the margin, as a kind of foil. Van Drunen pays particular attention to this in his introductory overview of the secondary literature. Even when, at first glance, this introduction seems a bit inconsistent, it contains a decisive benefit in comparison with other works on Bukovina. Beginning with newer monographs on the history of Bukovina (after 1918) and covering historical narratives (before 1918), including contemporary descriptions of the late eighteenth century that in this context may well have been better used as sources, van Drunen covers a long arc to strongly nationalistic (German, Romanian, and Ukrainian/Soviet) studies. He discusses detailed individual, central works (such as writings by Ion Nistor, Rudolf Wagner, Vasyl Botushanskij) and their selective perspectives, which to a large extent in turn influenced the (national) secondary literature on this one-time Austrian crownland since World War II and particularly since the fall of communism in Central Europe. On the whole, it is up to the more recent literature on Bukovina (and in particular the work under review) to take the whole question and subject it to critical scrutiny and not simply to address selected moments and events.

In his dissertation, which he submitted to the University of Amsterdam, van Drunen offers a persuasive investigation of the subtleties of the question of the identity of Bukovina: “The central question remains to which extent a regional identification was experienced and debated during the crownland’s existance” (p.4). In the discussion, which is divided into four blocks (I - Introduction and theoretical framework; II – Bukovinians; III – Elements of Regional Identification; IV – Summary and Conclusion), van Drunen attempts to cast light on the complex situation from various perspectives. He emphasizes from the outset the meaning of the multiple identities of a space (region) and its population, which in the pre-Modern era was largely organized around agriculture and therefore had a settlement structure in which the cities resembled islands. In his discussion of the secondary literature, van Drunen finds fault with the widespread reliance of historians on sources the origins of which lie in one of the given national discourses and/or were predominantly urban in nature and therefore have only limited relevance in a discussion of the majority of the people, who lived in rural settlements (one finds pertinent remarks on this on pages 43, 113, and 161). Even in the varied development of nationally active elites there were people with distinctive and sometimes ambivalent backgrounds (for instance Silvestru Morariu Andrievici, p.168). A clear categorization is therefore often only possible with regards to a concrete occasion. Even the national parties—and this is one of the important conclusions of the inquiry—saw themselves as essentially Austrian. The functioning constitutional state gave them the necessary form and sphere for their activity (p.394). The current search for structures of identity among the rural population—and van Drunen must concede this point—can therefore only be carried out in an indirect manner, and it remains, whether we like it or not, focused or even restricted to the urban elites (p.180).

Van Drunen draws attention in his inquiry to numerous salient elements of the foundations of regional identities, which also opens the door to the themes he has chosen. Here lies one of the great merits of the monograph for the scholarship on Bukovina and, naturally, the history of the Habsburg Monarchy. The central institutions include the diet and the university (Part III), but also the Church (characterized as “the quintessential Bukovinian institution” (p.581), which van Drunen analyses in another context (Part II). There is another institution that van Drunen also could have made use of from this perspective as a meaningful source with a wide scope: the Bukovina (German-language) press. Recently, many important studies have been published that place particular emphasis on this aspect (for instance Ion Lihaciu, Czernowitz 1848–1918. Das kulturelle Leben einer Provinzmetropole [2012]; Corbea-Hoişie et al., Prolegomene la un dictionar al presei de limba germana din Bucovina istorica (1848–1940) [2012]; Zeitungsstadt Czernowitz: Studien zur Geschichte der deutschsprachigen Presse der Bukowina (1848–1940) [2014]). First and foremost, the Czernowitzer Allgemeine Zeitung, which was edited and published by Philipp Menczel, provided a public forum which was consistently as aware as it was critical of the supranational idea of the Austrian state and therefore became a primary basis for regional (if predominantly urban) identity creation (p.612). Van Drunen has a critical view of the oft-mentioned National Compromise of 1910. The significance of the Compromise is often interpreted retrospectively, though actually it really gave rise to a kind of adjacent existence at the time, and much less a shared existence or coexistence (p.371). Nonetheless, one should note that in comparison with the other crownlands of Cisleithania this attempt alone and the agreement that was reached (even if there was never really enough time to begin to implement this agreement before the outbreak of war in 1914) were both signs of a certain awareness of identity, based on the will (which found manifestation in the agreement itself) at least to search for a way of getting along with one another. Thus, here two of the analytical levels of the study overlap. It is quite correct that the Compromise was not an expression of a kind of tolerance that was widespread throughout the region, but rather more an idea cherished by the urban (primarily the Czernowitz) elites. Tolerance among the rural people of Bukovina was based, in contrast, on a pre-modern form of loyalty and a sense of belonging (the embodiment of which was the Kaiser), and not on any kind of reaction founded on anti-national sentiment. The elites, in contrast, were navigating stormy seas of national feeling. For them and for the Austrian administration, the Compromise was a momentous achievement, an affirmation of the lowest common denominator that could be reached at the time. It was a formidable step, in spite of everything, even if it only managed to take the wind out of the sails of the increasingly radical nationalist demands for a short period of time (p.372).

Van Drunen examines in minute detail various examples of efforts that were intended to foster a sense of identity or at least could be seen as having had this as their goal, but he presents them in all of their contemporary ambivalence. In doing so, he identifies the danger that each of these institutions could at the same time become a platform for intolerant nationalism. Ironically, the shared feature of the national movements lay in the fact they were among the phenomena that essentially had been imported and were largely based in urban communities. They were therefore often dependent on diametrically opposed figures who were characterized as foreigners or aliens (see pp.232, 603). At least—and van Duren puts considerable emphasis on this in his inquiry—national aspirations came from the rural (majority) population, even if the elites targeted these groups and also drew on them for their efforts to assert their legitimacy.

Finally, the Austrian administration saw, in cautious maneuvering between the parties and their largely nonpartisan conduct, one of their most important tasks (p.599). The reader might perhaps have the—incorrect—impression, while reading the monograph, of a failure that was foreseeable from the outset. Yet Bukovina society functioned until 1914, in spite of the pervasive quarrels, and it portrayed itself positively, without of course meaning, in saying this, to intone a hymn to the mythos I mentioned at the beginning of this review. If one were looking to find fault with van Drunen’s superb contribution to the secondary literature, I would mention his failure to discuss a fundamental facet that must always be taken into consideration in an assessment of Bukovina: namely the context, i.e. the relationship of the crownland at the time to the rest of the Habsburg Monarchy, but also to its international neighbors, the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Romania. Not that mention of this would have cast any less critical light on the direly flawed political attempts (such as the diet, the liberal alliance, or the National Compromise), as van Drunen quite accurately observes, but rather because a flavor of reality at the time allows us to see the distinctive features of this crownland and the (missed) chances it had in an entirely different light. The social, political, and economic problems are discernible in other peripheral areas of the empire. Van Drunen demonstrates in his presentation the complexity of this crownland by the example of the question of identity. And yet Bukovina itself was not so unusual. Rather, it was the context in which it existed that was unusual.

Kurt Scharr

 

Die Donauschwaben 1868–1948. Ihre Rolle im rumänischen und serbischen Banat [The Danube Swabians: Their Role in the Romanian and Serbian Banat]. By Mariana Hausleitner. (Schriftenreihe des Instituts für donauschwäbische Geschichte und Landeskunde, Band 18 – Quellen und Forschungen, Band 2.) Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2014. 417 pp.

 

Mariana Hausleitner’s monograph on Danube Swabians in the Romanian and Serbian Banat between 1868 and 1948 is a well-written and balanced study that aims to explain the reasons behind the different treatment of Swabians in the two countries at the end and in the immediate aftermath of World War II. In Yugoslavia, a process of ethnic cleansing took place that involved mass killings and expulsions, whereas in Romania anti-German provisions included expropriations and deportation for forced labor to the Soviet Union. The latter measures were nevertheless smaller in scope in comparison with what happened to Germans in Yugoslavia.

Hausleitner’s comparative approach is welcome, considering that academic research on German “expellees” tends to be country-focused. Furthermore, Die Donauschwaben also has the merit of presenting and comparing the developments related to Banat Swabians in Romania and Yugoslavia in a wider context. It emphasizes, for example, the links between what happened to Swabians and what happened to other ethnic groups in the two countries.

The study is divided into seven chapters. The first one presents the rationale underlying the comparative approach. The point of departure is the question “why so many Danube Swabians in the Yugoslav part of the Banat were killed after 1944 and why the survivors were expelled” (p.9, my translation - C.C.). This question grew into a comparative investigation of the reasons for the differing fates of Swabians in Romania and Yugoslavia. The second chapter explores the pre-1918 history of the Swabians of the region in its broader multi-ethnic context. Thus, it sets the stage for the core of Hausleitner’s research, which unfolds in the following four chapters. The third chapter gives particular attention to the workers’ movement in Banat and its stance on the minority issues in the interwar period. The fourth one looks at the “nationally-oriented” Danube Swabians in the two countries and their relationships with their neighbors. The fifth chapter analyzes the period 1938–1944 in the Romanian and Serbian Banat, marked by National Socialist radicalization. The sixth chapter examines the anti-German measures in the two countries in the aftermath of World War II. Finally, the seventh and last chapter sums up the similarities and differences between the historical developments related to Swabians in the Romanian and Serbian parts of the Banat.

Hausleitner’s answer to the question as to why the treatment of Swabians was so different in the two parts of the Banat at the end of World War II is the conclusion of a rich and complex line of argumentation. One of the main points she raises has to do with the significantly different experiences of the war and of Swabian participation in the war in the two countries. Romania was, until August 23, 1944, an ally of Hitler’s Germany, whereas Serbia was placed under military occupation by the Nazis. Swabians were in effect directly involved in the administration and plundering of the communities of Western Banat. The gruesome deeds of the SS division Prinz Eugen (which targeted both partisans and civilians), the population resettlements, and the property confiscations, all of them processes in which a significant number of Swabians played important roles, contributed to the growth of anti-German feeling, which may offer some explanation for the massacres that took place at the end of the war. In the Romanian Banat, Swabians became a privileged ethnic group, enjoying the open support of Nazi Germany. Nevertheless, this led to different developments, as Romanian authorities also aimed to put a cap on these privileges. For example, they directly and successfully opposed attempts of Swabians to get hold of confiscated Jewish property, in order to prevent Romanian Germans from acquiring too much power.

Furthermore, there was some opposition to National Socialism in Eastern Banat, albeit frail, from within the German community. It came on the one hand from conservative Catholic circles and on the other from organized left-wing workers in industrial centers, such as Reşiţa (Reschitz). There was no such opposition in Western Banat. Thus, at the end of the war, as Hausleitner shows, there were still voices who could claim to speak on behalf of Germans in Romania, which was not the case in Yugoslavia. This observation leads me to another great merit of Hausleitner’s study, namely the attention she devotes to the left-wing movement in Banat. She shows, for example, how before 1918, in a context in which bourgeois Swabians were prone to adopt Hungarian culture and learn and use Hungarian, Social Democrats and workers’ associations promoted the German language and German culture in their milieus, but without embracing nationalism. In this context, it is worth noting that the German-language left-wing tradition in Eastern Banat is usually ignored in Swabian historiography, as it does not tie in well with the conservative, völkisch, right-wing outlook of the latter. Consequently, Hausleitner’s final observations on the postwar West German career of former Swabian National-Socialists, who bore significant responsibility for the tragic fate of the community, are also relevant. Hausleitner shows how the West German associations that purported to represent Swabians from Romania or from Yugoslavia were from the very start heavily influenced by the presence of former Nazis who managed to stylize themselves as protectors of the community.

Die Donauschwaben is undoubtedly a study valuable in both its empirical and methodological dimensions. Yet in addition to pointing out small factual errors which do not change in any way the overall value of the author’s arguments (e.g. Ante Pavelić died in Madrid, not in Argentina, as footnote 63 on page 305 suggests), I would also raise a point of more substantial criticism. Hausleitner depends to a large extent on archival sources in Romania, whereas her discussions of the Yugoslav case are based mainly on secondary sources. It is true that the existing scholarship on Western Banat is richer than the scholarship on Eastern Banat, and Hausleitner emphasizes this very early in the book (p.10). Nevertheless, this difference between the use of primary and secondary sources in the two cases gives at times the impression that the arguments on Eastern Banat are better grounded than the ones on Western Banat. However, this is perhaps merely a semi-important asymmetry in an otherwise solid piece of scholarship.

Cristian Cercel

 

Enemies for a Day: Antisemitism and Anti-Jewish Violence in Lithuania under the Tsars. By Darius Staliūnas. Budapest: CEU Press, 2015. 284 pp.

 

It is by now a commonplace in the secondary literature that before 1905, at least, no pogroms occurred in the “Northwest provinces” of the Russian Empire (today’s Lithuania and Belarus), but only in the southwest (Ukraine) and Polish gubernii. John D. Klier’s magisterial Russians, Jews, and the Pogroms of 1881–1882, to name just one important work, argues along these lines. Darius Staliūnas does not directly contradict this thesis. He also concludes that the “Storms in the South” did not significantly spill into neighboring provinces to the north. His purpose in the book is a more subtle one: to show how anti-Jewish sentiment, based on religious, social, and economic factors, developed and led to clashes between Jews and Christians in the decades before World War I. This book is a significant contribution to our understanding of the region’s history, Jewish history, and the dynamics of interethnic tension and violence.

Staliūnas focuses geographically on the “Lithuanian” provinces of the Russian Empire, i.e. Vilnius (Vil’na), Kaunas (Kovno), and Suvalki provinces and chronologically on the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, i.e. the period after the 1881 pogroms. His title suggests a loose (though entirely appropriate) understanding of “anti-Jewish violence”: most of the incidents he investigates involved a rise in tension and violence, followed by an ebbing of antagonisms within a few days. At the same time, Staliūnas provides us with an excellent picture of the background to this violence: the general mistrust that existed between Jews and their Christian neighbors, the prevalence of the belief that Jews (at least some Jews) used Christian blood for certain ceremonies, and a frequent conviction among Christian peasants that a certain, limited amount of violence toward Jews was sanctioned by the authorities. This careful and sophisticated examination of the background of anti-Jewish violence is, to my mind, every bit as important as the well-researched “case studies” of pogroms.

The first trigger of anti-Jewish violence that Staliūnas considers is the blood libel. A number of case studies (the earliest from 1801) from the archives are examined and a general pattern is established: a child disappears, Jews arouse suspicion by (for example) not allowing peasants to enter a house or tavern, a mob attacks Jewish residents and businesses, the violence is over in a few hours. Interestingly, in some of these cases, when appealing to the Russian authorities local Jews used anti-Polish (and anti-Catholic) tropes prevalent among Russian officialdom, especially from the 1860s. Not all accusations of ritual murder, however, led to violence. The author concludes that the Russian authorities’ general antipathy to the Jews and their unwillingness (or inability) to respond swiftly and effectively to anti-Jewish violence reinforced the peasant belief that this violence was simply a way of “achieving justice” by punishing (alleged) Jewish malefactors.

Staliūnas devotes an interesting chapter to the crucial years 1881 and 1882, concluding that while major pogroms did not take place in the Lithuanian provinces, tensions did exist, and certain Lithuanian-language flyers and songs from those years can be interpreted as calling for violence against Jews. Still, other texts specifically called on Lithuanians to refrain from violence, and, a few small squabbles aside, major incidents were avoided.

Violence against Jews gained steadily in frequency and intensity after the turn of the century. The Kishinev pogrom (1903) is probably the best known of these episodes, but the Białystok pogrom three years later was much more devastating. As Staliūnas documents, significant violence against Jews occurred in the Lithuanian provinces already in 1900. The author explains these attacks as the outcome of “insulted religious feelings” among Lithuanian Catholics. It should be noted that in the Lithuanian incidents, unlike in Kishinev and Białystok, violence rarely escalated to murder and the most significant consequence was property damage. Still, the background of “righteous indignation” against Jewish lack of respect for Christian dogmas and rituals cannot be dismissed when investigating later, more violent pogrom waves during the 1905 Revolution and World War I (especially 1915). The book concludes with a comparative analysis of anti-Jewish violence in the Lithuanian and neighboring Belarusian provinces.

Enemies for a Day significantly deepens our knowledge of the dynamics of anti-Jewish violence in the Lithuanian provinces before 1914. In this way, this book makes a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the roots of Lithuanian antisemitism. Enemies for a Day is recommended for anyone interested in the history of Jews in Eastern Europe and the study of ethnic relations and violence.

Theodore R. Weeks

 

 

Les guerres balkaniques (1912–1913): Conflits, enjeux, mémoires. Edited by Catherine Horel. (Enjeux internationaux 31.) Bruxelles–Bern–Berlin–Oxford: P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2014. 348 pp.

 

This volume, edited by Catherine Horel and containing essays in English and French, is the second book in part of a larger international project. The first volume, also edited by Horel and published in 2011, deals with the reception and the consequences of the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1908 (Catherine Horel, ed., 1908, l’annexion de la Bosnie-Herzégovine, cent ans après [2011]). Obviously, any scholar dealing with the Balkan Peninsula would have great expectations regarding a book that contains essays by a group of internationally renowned experts on the history of the area, particularly, focuses on the Balkan wars of 1912/13, which shook the very foundations of the peninsula, even if it is clear from the outset that an assortment of essays addressing a wide array of themes will never be entirely cohesive. At the same time, the volume includes essays by several authorities on the subject, offering readers samplings and insights into the latest theoretical findings and approaches. However, one should not expect the articles, which discuss the various questions from different angles and according to frequently contradictory national or global narratives, to offer a more nuanced understanding of the conflict or the authors to reflect on one another’s contentions, nor does any dialogue or conversation emerge regarding the conflict, which can be regarded as the direct precursor to World War I (at least in the sense that it clearly demonstrated that the concert of Great Powers was no longer an effective assurance against instability). The volume provides insights into individual issues, but the bulk of the essays either seem to lack the knowledge required to address these questions in depth or, conversely, address overly specialized or specific problems as the subjects of their inquiry. Not even the leading scholars attempt to synthesize the existing scholarship on the subject, let alone provide a comprehensive interpretation of the conflict within the framework of recent theoretical developments, since the volume is first and foremost a collection of case studies. The essays are not only uneven, they are also often one-sided (the conflict is approached almost exclusively from the point of view of the Entente countries and their allies). They do not offer a nuanced overview of the conflict.

The articles have been divided into three thematic groups. The essays in the first section provide a historical analysis of the conflicts. In this group, both in terms of its subject matter and its approach, the most remarkable study is Dimitar Tasić’s interpretation of the role and the social basis of the irregular armed forces on the basis of a comparative analysis of the acts and functions of various paramilitary groups. Tasić argues that the irregular armed forces were by and large heterogeneous regarding their aims and methods, as well as the nationalities of their members and the social backgrounds and origins of their leaders. For instance, many of the soldiers serving under Major Vojislav Tankosić, who was in charge of the Prokuplje Operating Base, were Bosnian Muslims and Albanians, who—although they were fighting to further Serbian aims—were primarily occupied with taking revenge for personal grievances (which were not necessarily of a nationalistic nature). The detachments under the command of Major Branko Vukosavjlević were disciplined, orderly and tolerant, and they followed the orders issued by the higher levels of command.

One of the most outstanding essays is Patrick Louvier’s thought-provoking study on the slow decline that can be observed in the number of the Cretan Muslim inhabitants in the period beginning with the Greco–Turkish War of 1897 (the autonomous Cretan State was established in 1898) and ending in 1913. Louvier’s analysis breaks away from the long-established approach, according to which most of the Turkish people in Crete were town-dwellers, and it offers an examination of the percentage of immigrants and renegades among them. Using several primary sources and consular reports, Louvier also attempts to reconstruct the change in the number of inhabitants during the years.

An insightful essay by Emanuele Constantini deals with the Jewish community of Thessaloniki. More specifically, it provides an analysis of the diplomatic negotiations conducted by the members of this community on the city’s status. Their primary concern was continuity in the commerce of the city. As Constantini’s study shows, the Jewish community not only had large-scale representation in Thessaloniki (with members from diverse social groups, such as factory workers and industrialists), it also used connections with the Jewry of the Great Powers and various international organizations to exert an influence on policy makers.

Bernard Lory analyses the historiographical reception of the Albanian and Macedo-Bulgarian insurrection of 1913 and provides an attempt to reconstruct the events of the rebellion as well. Lory relies primarily on Bulgarian secondary literature in his study, making use also of the memoirs of Hristo Matov, one of the leaders. However, he does not use excerpts from the diary of one of Matov’s rivals, Petar Chaulev, which has also been published. Thus, significant holes remain in his reconstruction of the internal structure of the insurrection.

An essay by Vojislav Pavlović adds little to our understanding of the conflicts, as it provides barely more than an overview of the ideas of the Serbian national historiography in French. Much better is the study by Traian Sandu on the Romanian stance regarding the political situation in the Balkans. His inquiry is impartial and free of political overtones concerning the versatility of the Romanian aspirations and the principles on which they rested. Similarly, Gabriel Leanca’s essay on the Romanian acquisition of Southern Dobruja and the French-Russian alliance is a highly useful work that draws on sources in Romanian, Bulgarian and French.

The second half of the volume deals with the various ways in which other countries intervened in the conflict, but most of the essays offer little more than overviews. The essay by Fabrice Jesné and Mathieu Jestin, which offers an analysis of the roles played by the Great Power consuls during the war, give the collection a refreshing dash of color. It addresses the acts and functions of the consuls with due consideration of their humanitarian, diplomatic, and economic interests. Nadine Akhund’s essay on the scholarly and political work of the Carnegie Commission, which was established in the wake of the war with the task of inquiring into its causes, is similarly useful. Akhund provides a detailed account of the goals of the people who organized the commission, the manner in which the people who participated in the writing of the report were selected (the leader of the commission asked personal acquaintances and confidantes to serve, most of whom, however, arranged to have someone else represent them), their networks of relationships, and their attitudes towards one another. Of the six people who put together the report, two never even made it to the actual site of the conflict, or rather left the group early. The sentimental attachments of Pavel Miliukov, an expert on Macedonia, and Englishman Henry Brailsford to the Bulgarian national cause are palpable in the report (which was also published as a book). Miliukov and Brailsford knew each other well, and given their biases, the report, on which they exerted a significant influence, can hardly be considered objective. But it was the first account prepared by civilians of the costs of the war and the atrocities that had been committed. Odile Moreau analyses the accounts of the fighting by Stephane Lauzanne, a reporter for the French newspaper Matin. The essay is significant in part because there were relatively few Western journalists active on the Turkish side, and it provides a systematic analysis of the chaotic political situation in the Ottoman Empire. It is thoroughly footnoted and draws on recently published Turkish sources on the war.

The third section contains studies of reports, memoirs, and historiographical analyses dealing with the conflict. The essay by Daniel Cain merits particular mention. A main street is rarely named after a journalist. James Bourchier, at one point a reporter for the Times, earned this distinction, as a busy street in Sofia bears his name. Bourchier worked hard to build up the Balkan League and eventually came to serve as a self-appointed diplomat. As an Irishman, he was perhaps particularly sensitive to the plights of “oppressed peoples.” Claudiu Topor examined the role of national rhetoric in the Romanian press during the Second Balkan War, an interesting question in the case of a war in which Romania could hardly appeal to the ethnic principle.

In contrast with some earlier volumes, this collection contains no contributions by nationalist historians representing extremist views, and this is one of its indisputable merits. It is surprising, however, that one finds hardly any Austrian, Hungarian, or Russian authors among the contributors (not to mention the works cited), in spite of the fact that these countries were dramatically affected by the events (Anglo-Saxon authors are only found in the footnotes). As the volume contains essays based on presentations of a conference held in Paris, it is perhaps not surprising that most of the authors are French or Italian, but fortunately representatives of smaller states have also been included. The international network of French historiography is quite palpable. One can sense an attempt to maintain a safe distance from the events (Bulgarian politics are analyzed by a Romanian contributor, the Albanian-Macedonian uprising of 1913 is examined by a French author). While the essays may well have been carefully selected and make use of recent secondary literature (one can reconstruct, on the basis of the works cited, the network of relationships), one notices a kind of circular process of citation, which itself demonstrates how a scholarly community can be constructed. One also notes that Romanian historiography remains well-connected on the international scene. The volume is perhaps interesting reading for specialists familiar with the wide-ranging historiography on the conflicts. The dozen or so well-conceived and thoroughly documented essays offer some compensation for the dozen or so weak essays, the generally uneven standards, and the regrettable typos.

Gábor Demeter

 

A régi Magyarország utolsó háborúja 1914–1918 [The Last War of Old Hungary 1914–1918]. By Tibor Hajdu and Ferenc Pollmann. Budapest: Osiris, 2014. 416 pp.

 

This volume, authored by two doyens of Hungarian military historiography, fits well into the series of publications aiming to meet public demand on Hungarian history during the Great War. In contrast with earlier attempts, this book aspires to provide a complex and holistic summary of Hungary’s role in World War I. It is divided into six main chapters, out of which the first presents the international and domestic preludes to the war, followed by a balanced analysis in five consecutive sections of every year of the war. In these chronological chapters, the authors focus mostly on the political and military aspects of the Hungarian participation, but they occasionally also discuss the economic consequences of the conflict and the cultural history of the era.

The first part examines the international context leading up to the war with consideration of the main political aims of the great powers. The authors contend that the war was not inevitable, but the unwise behavior of the European political and military elite, together with rising nationalism in Eastern Europe, led to the outbreak of conflict. Although—in accordance with trends in contemporary scholarship—the book emphasizes the responsibility of actors other than Germany during the July crises, it unfortunately fails to engage with the most current “Sleepwalkers” debates (Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 [2013]).

The second chapter focuses on the problematic nature of mobilization and the strategic dilemmas of the Austro-Hungarian military leadership in the summer of 1914. It discusses the first military encounters, particularly the background and the conduct of the ill-fated Potoriek offensives on the Serbian front, and explains why the Austro-Hungarian mobilization plans failed to function during the first month of the war.

The third part not only focuses on the political and military developments of 1915 (including the successful Gorlice-Tarnów offensive), but also provides insights into other aspects of the new industrial warfare. The authors analyze the economic consequences of the war for Hungarian agriculture and industry, explaining these phenomena in an imperial framework. They also present the ways in which the most important technological developments, for example the use of gas weapons, made an impact on warfare both on the Western and Eastern Fronts.

Alongside the operational history of 1916, the fourth chapter gives an overview of the experiences of civilians and the changing mood on the home front during the war. Here Hajdu and Pollmann discuss both the intellectual responses and the popular reactions to the conflict, using mostly already published first-hand accounts.

In the chapter on 1917, the focus shifts to diplomatic history. The authors attempt to make a contribution to the long-lasting debate on how the Hungarian elite could have avoided the great territorial losses of the country after the war. Besides presenting the operational history of this year, the authors also argue that the vast majority of Hungarian politicians were too blind to assess the consequences of an alliance with Germany that had become too close, and this led to the very weak position of Hungary after the inevitable defeat in 1918.

In the final part the authors analyze the last desperate attempts of the military and political leadership to change the course of war. They discuss Emperor Charles’ relationship with the civil-military leadership of the empire and they also present how wishful thinking and strategic miscalculations led to the disastrous offensives on the Piave River. In this chapter the authors are generally very critical of the last vague efforts of the Austro-Hungarian political elite to negotiate peace and transform the Empire into a federal state.

A régi Magyarország utolsó háborúja is undoubtedly a well-written analysis of Hungary’s participation in the Great War. It provides in many respects a far better overview than similar books published earlier in Hungary. The authors manage to write a focused national history, which also demonstrates the Hungarian developments in a wider geographical context. For example, Hajdu and Pollmann present the military and diplomatic history within an imperial framework and provide good insights into the personal relationships between the leading actors of Budapest and Vienna. The volume also discusses briefly the most important military and political developments outside the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, demonstrating their effects on the Habsburg Empire. Furthermore, the book is very well structured and the arguments are clearly formulated, so it successfully achieves a balance between the demands of the academic audience and the wider readership. However, in some cases it would have been preferable to have included more references for the academic audience.

In spite of the fact that A régi Magyarország utolsó háborúja is a balanced summary of Hungary’s participation in the Great War, it also reflects the main problems of the current Hungarian military history scholarship. Over the course of the past few decades, World War I has been a relatively neglected topic in Hungary, and the vast majority of studies have restricted their focus to the operational and political history of the conflict. Consequently, the book’s chapters in which these issues are discussed provide far better and more cutting-edge analyses then the chapters on the social, economic and cultural aspects of the war.

Contrary to the case of operational history, in these fields Hajdu and Pollmann can only rely on a handful of up-to-date studies. It is therefore not surprising that the authors were not able to present any complex analyses of such significant issues, like the memory of the conflict or the transformation of gender roles between 1914 and 1918. The absence of these two topics from the volume is acute, because they are probably the most widely discussed problems in the international scholarship of the past several decades.

No doubt Hajdu and Pollmann, who were both keen on using modern methodology in their earlier works, made a huge effort to involve some other fields (fields which in Hungary have not been given adequate attention) in their investigation. For example, they write relatively extensively about the brutalizing effects of the war, particularly with regards to such technological developments as gas warfare. Unfortunately, mostly due to the outdated secondary literature, they are not able to engage with the ongoing international debate and present the long-term consequences of the war on domestic and political violence in Hungary. Similarly, the absence of up-to-date studies prevent the authors from providing a cutting-edge analysis of the economic and social aspects of the conflict.

In spite of these problems, A régi Magyarország utolsó háborúja is probably the best and most complex summary of Hungary’s participation in World War I so far. It draws on many findings in the current historiography, especially in the chapters discussing the operational history of the conflict. Unfortunately, due to the lack of basic research, it does not live up to the same standards in the fields of social, economic and cultural history. Hajdu and Pollmann’s book, with all its pros and cons, reflects well the present stand of Hungarian scholarship on World War I.

Tamás Révész

 

KL. A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps. By Nikolaus Wachsmann. London: Little, Brown, 2015. 880 pp.

 

Synthesizing the main findings of a vast corpus of secondary sources and drawing extensively on the author’s own primary research as well, Nikolaus Wachsmann’s KL aspires to offer nothing less than the first comprehensive and integrative history charting the development of the Nazi concentration camps. The book’s integrated approach to the altogether twenty-seven main camps and their over 1,100 satellite camps combines a macro analysis of Nazi terror with micro studies of individual actions and responses. It compares conditions and developments between and within individual camps while also putting them into their wider political and cultural contexts.

The author repeatedly emphasizes that “the KL acted much like seismographs, closely attuned to the general aims and ambitions of the regime’s rulers” (p.626). Accordingly, his KL explores the various incarnations of these flexible instruments of lawless repression over time. The book exemplifies the changing functions of the concentration camps, for instance by discussing how, between 1933 and 1945, Dachau was variously meant to serve as a “bulwark of the Nazi revolution, model camp, SS training ground, slave labor reservoir, human experimentation site, mass extermination ground, and center of a satellite camp network” (p.593).

In accordance with its key agenda of thorough historicization, the over 800 meticulously researched pages of KL (the notes alone fill some 158) proceed in a largely chronological fashion. They trace the non-linear escalation of “terror” in excruciating detail. While Wachsmann highlights that “periods of rising terror” in the camps could be followed by moments of relatively greater “moderation,” such as in the mid-1930s and even in 1943 (p.188), he also explains that absorbing change and adapting without losing its core mission proved to be one of the most terrifying features of the institution (p.192). Alongside its key agenda of historicization, another central ambition of the book is to show how a singular focus on the SS’s attempt to demonstrate its absolute power oversimplifies SS policy, which was in fact also guided by considerations of a more ideological, economic, or simply pragmatic nature (p.158).

The first three chapters of the book chart the origins, formation and expansion of the KL system between 1933 and 1939. Here, Wachsmann shows that the primacy of political terror set the Nazis on the road to absolute rule already in 1933, when up to 200,000 political prisoners were detained. However, there were neither detailed blueprints, nor a coordinated national network of Nazi camps at the time. The many hundreds of new sites could hardly have been more varied. By the mid-1930s, it even seemed likely that the KL system, which held some 3,800 inmates at a time when regular prisons in Nazi Germany held well over 100,000, would simply wither away.

As we know, precisely the opposite happened. The camps expanded, even as domestic political opposition diminished, and by 1937/38, measures related to them were centralized and escalated. Potentially boundless camps, such as Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Flossenbürg, Mauthausen, and Ravensbrück were opened, characterized by “a uniform administrative structure, a common architectural ideal, a professional corps of SS men, and a systematic brand of terror” (p.134). As Wachsmann shows, they emerged as “firm fixtures of the Third Reich, outside the law, funded by the state and controlled by a new agency,” the Inspectorate for Concentration Camps (p.134). The main function of these camps soon shifted from browbeating political opponents to terrorizing social outsiders. The twenty months prior to the outbreak of World War II then brought the first huge rise in the death rate, as 2,268 people lost their lives inside the camps (p.169).

Subsequent chapters on the early years of World War II examine wider developments of the camp system as well as daily life in individual camps to thereby explore the descent of the camps into sites of mass death and executions. Arguing that the lethal turn of the KL system had begun as early as between 1939 and 1941 (p.191), the author shows that many key features of the wartime camps, such as “bigger compounds, new camps outside the German heartland, masses of foreign prisoners, lethal living conditions, murderous everyday violence, and planned executions” emerged early on (p.238). By the fall of 1941, the Nazi war of extermination also entered the KL: “with the killing of infirm inmates with poison gas still in full swing, the Camp SS embarked on an even more radical program”, the murder of “tens of thousands of Soviet POWs” (p.242). As Wachsmann rightly highlights, this was “a cataclysmic moment dwarfing all previous killing campaigns” (p.262). By this time, the concentration camps had developed a dual function. As KL asserts, the systematic murder of exhausted, weak, and ill prisoners had become one of their permanent features, and “many structural elements” of the Holocaust had emerged inside the camps before the SS crossed the threshold to genocide in 1942 (p.287-8).

KL focuses on the experience of altogether around 2.3 million registered inmates who were dragged into concentration camps between 1933 and 1945 and of whom over 1.7 million lost their lives. The story it tells thus only partially overlaps with that of the Holocaust. At the same time, the book fully acknowledges that systematic mass killing turned into genocide as the Holocaust entered the KL in 1942. It in fact traces in detail how the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex, a focal point for SS economic ambitions and a center of the Nazi Final Solution, was transformed into the largest and most lethal camp by far and became the central location of the Holocaust by 1943. On the other hand, while pointing to institutional and organizational connections between the KL system and the three Globocnik death camps, Wachsmann discusses the latter sites only briefly. (The Globocnik death camps admittedly did not function as concentration camps. As Wachsmann puts it, in them, terror was compressed to its very essence.) However, KL does highlight that 1942 was also the year in which a shift in power between legal and SS terror could be observed as, for the first time, camps held more inmates than German prisons.

The KL prisoner population grew exceptionally rapidly the following year, shooting up from an estimated 115,000 to around 315,000 by the end of 1943 (p.414-5). Over the course of the year, the SS started to press more and more prisoners into the war economy. By the autumn of 1943, a veritable scramble for KL prisoners started, which also meant that the Camp SS could exert less control over them (p.453). Even if concentration camps were admittedly never turned into significant hubs for the German war economy and their main “product” remained the misery and death of their prisoners, Wachsmann argues that their “dramatic descent into squalor and death, which had begun with the outbreak of war in autumn 1939” was thereby “temporarily arrested and reversed”(p.427).

One of the last chapters of the monograph is devoted to the spread of slave labor and satellite camps, whereas others analyze prisoner communities and the final phase of violence. 1944 meant “the climax of the Holocaust in Auschwitz,” when, upon the arrival of Hungarian Jews, “the largest extermination program the KL system had ever seen” was implemented (p.458-9). At the same time, Wachsmann diagnoses a partial erosion of the importance of ideology as a determining factor in 1944, as economic pressures started to dilute the full impact of Nazi racial policy (p.474). Even if there were very clear limits to flexibility, the new policy meant a U-turn in the deployment of Jews, implying a mass influx of Jewish prisoners far into the territory of Nazi Germany. The rapid rise of satellite camps also led to the recruitment of tens of thousands of new guards, among them elderly soldiers, women, and even non-Germans. However, terror continued even as the SS presence diminished. Frighteningly, the everyday operation of the KL apparently did not require a vast army of political soldiers (p.471).

Regarding the inmates, more generally, KL suggests perseverance, solidarity, and defiance as key perspectives from which to analyze their behavior (p.499). Wachsmann explains that the KL provided the most barren grounds for the growth of defiance, and those aiming to violently oppose their tormentors faced terrible dilemmas (p.527). While he emphasizes that inmates retained a sense of right and wrong within the warped world of the camps, he essentially argues that for the most part, theirs was a tale of degradation and despair with few heroic and uplifting moments.

Last but not least, KL dissects how the climax and collapse of Nazi concentration camps went hand in hand. As we learn, at both chronological ends of the Third Reich, the camps were characterized by a high degree of improvisation: in 1933, the KL system had not yet formed and by 1944, it was already starting to fray (p.465). However, as camps increasingly turned into disaster zones, the final months of the KL system proved to be among the most lethal. In early 1945, there was a record of 714,211 registered KL prisoners in all (by comparison, 80,000 men and women were locked up in 1942). When the war ended a mere four months later, an estimated forty percent of them had already died.

KL is likely to remain the definitive overview of its subject for many years to come. However, as is the case with any book aspiring to be comprehensive, some of KL’s emphases may also be debatable. Gender-related issues and questions of memory and remembrance receive rather brief treatment, while the biographical analysis of perpetrators might have been extended too. In terms of the main interpretative thrust of the book, Wachsmann depicts the Nazi concentration camps as a highly distinctive system of domination and contextualizes them almost exclusively within a national framework. Instead of expanding on their comparative and transnational dimensions, KL argues that the sources of their inspiration were German disciplinary discourses and practices rather than foreign precedents and that their manner of transformation made Nazi camps significantly distinct from other “totalitarian camps,” notably the Gulag. Such somewhat debatable choices and contentions aside, KL offers meticulous scholarship and a largely convincing interpretation of how murderous orders from the top and local initiatives from below radicalized each other and ultimately plunged the KL into a maelstrom of destruction.

Ferenc Laczó

 

The Nation Should Come First. Marxism and Historiography in East Central Europe. By Maciej Górny. Translated by Antoni Górny. Editorial assistance Aaron Law. (Warsaw studies in contemporary history 1.) Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2013. 302 pp.

 

For a long time, the scholarship of historians who were working behind the Iron Curtain during the Communist period was mostly regarded by the “international” (i.e. predominantly the “Western”) community of scholars as part of propaganda efforts and was not taken seriously. In the few cases when it was given due consideration, for instance the works of the internationally renowned Hungarian historians György Ránki, Iván T. Berend, and Péter Hanák, the explanation for this lay in the fact that they had at some point abandoned the gray-suited army of those who falsified and manipulated history behind the Iron Curtain and joined the bright, colorful, “free” world of Western scholarship. So why should the small field of the history of historiography care about this group of pseudo-historians (in the eyes of the West), who did not even speak the right languages, and this not only in the literal sense (since they published their writings in Polish, Hungarian, Czech or Russian instead of English, French or German), but also in the sense of a language that consists of different assumptions and concepts, taken mostly from Marxism-Leninism? But in the 1990s, a few German and other Western historians began to become interested in the historiography of East-Central Europe for two essential reasons: because it concerned seemingly foreign countries, more foreign than their own pasts, and because it was part of the culture of State Socialism, a new field that suited the necessities of post-totalitarian perspectives, which had begun to take an interest in how the world of ideas, attitudes, understandings of Communism worked. And they found, of course, exactly what they were looking for: historians who represented the inner logic of the communist party state.

Now, two decades later, we are well beyond these earlier misunderstandings of the historiography of East Central Europe. The Nation Should Come First is one of the best introductions to this new knowledge. Maciej Górny’s book is the English translation of a text that was first published in Polish (2007) and then in German (2011). Górny’s main thesis is that historical writing in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and even East Germany in the first two decades of State Socialism was marked by strong continuities with pre-war traditions, or, to put it negatively, the influence of Marxism-Leninism and the “manipulation” of historical scholarship by the Communist party and by ideologically “brain-washed” historians had a much weaker impact than is often assumed. In other words: the nation was supposed to “come first” in most history books, not the party. Maciej Górny presents his argument in five chapters.

The first chapter introduces the main questions and debates in the field. The history of historiography is treated as “a broad panorama of concepts and events shaping an image of the past” (p.23). This is, to some extent, an affirmation of the project of the cultural history of historiography of the 1990s, especially regarding the GDR, but, and this is emphasized by the author, the perspective of “postmodernist” Diskursgeschichte has often neglected the study of the content of historiography by almost completely focusing on institutions, forms and styles of discourse and ultimately arriving at the conclusion that historical professionalization was somehow distorted to the east of the Elbe River (p.19). This is a critique of studies by Martin Sabrow and others, though Górny does not include Siegfried Lokatis’ study (which was published within the same Potsdam school), which explicitly shows how the form and content of the history of the German labor movement was shaped by historians embedded in a dense web of institutions of the SED. (Siegfried Lokatis, Der rote Faden. Kommunistische Parteigeschichte und Zensur unter Walter Ulbricht [2003].) Admittedly, this concerns the most political and most controlled part of GDR historiography, but Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung (eight volumes of which were published before 1966) was not just one history book among others. It represented a model for the whole area of modern history.

In contrast to the “postmodernist” school, Górny tries to look at institutional and political dimensions, but also at “interconnections between historiography and historical tradition, the imaginings of the national past, the history of ideas and collective memory, and finally, historical myths” (p.24). Chapter 2 examines the institutional changes and continuities and the “creation of early postwar narrations” in the four cases (East German, Czech, Slovak and Polish historiography). He acknowledges that there were numerous personal changes and discontinuities after 1945, although less so in Poland and Czechoslovakia, where universities managed to keep more of their independence than in East Germany (p.39). Similarly, the production of new, Marxist national textbooks of history was less successful in Poland and Czechoslovakia than in Germany, and thus the conclusions of Lokatis’ work cannot be extended to other East Central European countries.

Chapter III, the central part of the book, describes how historians were searching for “progressive” traditions that could be used in the context of the new national historical narratives and how they mostly had little choice but to return to earlier established themes, topics, and heroes already cherished by nationally minded historians of earlier periods. Here, Górny convincingly shows how national narratives, especially in Poland and Czechoslovakia, celebrated their comebacks garbed in new “Marxist-Leninist” language, but with little actual change regarding content and interpretation. In the 1950s, the older historiographical traditions came under attack from “progressive” historians, but their defenders profited from the problem of providing a clear definition of “progressiveness” (p.250). In the end, the fierce debates concerning which traditions were more “progressive” than others only revealed the central dilemmas of Stalinist Soviet-style centralized historiography, which was marked by an attempt to limit the multiplicity of interpretations, which is precisely what keeps the work of historians from becoming dead letters completely detached from reality. The last chapter provides a brief comparison of the four historiographies with other Communist cases (Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria).

Árpád von Klimó

 

Otthon és haza. Tanulmányok a romániai magyarság történetéből [Homeland and Home: Essays on the History of the Hungarians of Romania]. By Nándor Bárdi. Csíkszereda: Pro Print, 2013. 607 pp.

 

Nándor Bárdi’s Otthon és haza is a summary of more than two decades of intense research on the history of Hungarian minorities. Nevertheless, the book is not a synthesis in which the author adopts one of the two typical approaches to this issue, narrating it either as a story of tragedy, decline and heroism or as a sober, rational and resigned account of inevitable loss. Its nine chapters, each of which would qualify as a separate book on the basis of its richness, take different perspectives on the question of how a minority community was constructed out of a group of people separated from Hungary and attached to Romania. Bárdi understands the term “construction” in a very practical way. In the various chapters of the book, he analyzes the means and mechanisms of establishing the institutions of a(n imagined) community and seeks to further an understanding of how different actors from Budapest, Kolozsvár (today Cluj in Romania) and Bucharest gained or lost agency mainly at one another’s expense. As one might expect, the vision of such a newly emerging community was hardly stable, and this created another field of contestation between the actors, namely contestation over different representations of the minority Hungarians.

The chapters give a detailed analysis of the transition that took place at the end of World War I in the remote city of Székelyudvarhey (today Odorheiu Secuiesc in Romania), a community which was almost entirely Hungarian-speaking. In the wake of the war, revolutionary passions were fading away as the struggle against the Romanianization of the administration became more prominent and intense. The zig-zagging of Hungarian politicians in the first few years of the existence of Greater Romania would have been impossible had they not been able to find allies, for they were compelled to navigate between the expectations of Budapest that they would preserve the loyalty of Hungarians to the Hungarian state and the necessities of finding a place in the Romanian political system. Bárdi discusses in detail the methods with which they secured a level of autonomy vis-à-vis Budapest while also maintaining the unity of a fragile party. Bárdi also shows how and why the members of the first minority generation abandoned the idea of the equality of nationalities based on a vision of organic nations living side by side in harmonious internal unity. They sought instead to establish Hungarian supremacy and regional devolution in Northern Transylvania between 1940–1944 in order to avoid the supposed mistakes of liberal Hungary, which allegedly had led to the dismemberment of the country after World War I.

Two further chapters introduce the reader to the complex and secretive world of pseudo-civic and governmental organizations in Budapest, which channeled funds and information between Romania and Hungary after 1920. These organizations also aimed to control Hungarians abroad to the point of devising social research and identity building projects. The two closing chapters in turn set out a typology of minority political strategies on the basis of their relationship with Hungary and Romania. Bárdi discusses the sequence of generations and their visons of the community, which were formed under the impact of extraordinarily different circumstances following the fall of dualist Hungary and the creation of Greater Romania, including the communist takeover and its consequences.

The author focuses on the ways in which this community was built in the minds and designed on the desks of government bureaucrats, experts, old fashioned noble politicians, young visionaries and calculating political technicians in a fervent search for stability and authentic social organization that was meant to solidify a group thought otherwise to be doomed. In its effort to dissect various relevant trends, the book lacks an overarching argument apart from a modest proposal to complement Brubaker’s famous triadic nexus model with a fourth field of international organizations and international law. This additional dimension is meant to reinterpret the relationship between mutual expectations, fulfilment or non-fulfilment and permanent adaptation. The various perspectives are also bound together by the author’s emphasis on underlying processes of differentiation. Such differentiation was the gradual result of the involuntary and forced separation of Hungarians from Hungary who found a new balance in an altered, more distant relationship with their kin-state, even acquiring a sense of moral superiority over inhabitants of the “motherland,” who, according to some narratives, were (and are) in need of a kind of “national salvation” originating from the Hungarians of the minority community.

Bárdi is unquestionably in his element when he is setting out the details of the politics and policies, the connections between personalities, institutions, the past relationships and present animosities and how the actors used one another while they were attempting to create something called the “Hungarian minority of Romania.” He can account for the last penny spent on Hungarian-language theater brochures, and he describes how these sums were requested, authorized, disbursed and taken to Romania, a process involving plenty of maneuvering on the part of almost everyone concerned. Albeit seemingly insignificant, such minutiae convey details of politics and its mechanisms would never have been discovered in the traditional sources on political history. This abundance of detail helps one deconstruct the typical narratives and makes palpable the concept of “minority construction.” One should note the inflexibility of Bárdi’s model of three distinct elites, which neither allows for a realignment of forces nor can it take into account regional level actors from the majority. It is, however, eminently capable of revealing how fragile the very construct of the Hungarians of Romania as a community and its representations as a unitary group were. This construct remained limited, despite the best efforts of all kinds of social actors, to a dwindling set of institutions, the nationally educated middle-class, and the larger part of the peasantry. The invention of this new society in fact implied a strange existence between two nation states. This conclusion inevitably raises another question: how best to study such a limited and fragile—from a certain perspective almost non-existent—subject?

Gábor Egry

 

Revolution with a Human Face: Politics, Culture and Community in Czechoslovakia, 1989–1992. By James Krapfl. Ithaca–London: Cornell University Press, 2013. 292 pp.

 

The historical phenomenon of the 1989 revolutions in East-Central Europe is a prominent topic of historiographical research in the field of contemporary history and Slavic studies. (See Padraic Kenney, A Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe 1989 [2003].) Regarding the Czech and Slovak part of the story, an impressive array of books and articles has been published over the course of the past two decades. However, this literature was published mostly in Czech and Slovak and was concerned with rather particular issues, such as regional aspects of the Velvet Revolution or the memory of prominent actors of 1989. (See Milan Otáhal and Miroslav Vaněk, Sto studentských revolucí: studenti v období pádu komunismu - životopisná vyprávění [1999]; Pavel Marek, Prostějovská „sametová revoluce“: příspěvek k počátkům demokratizace české společnosti v letech 1989–1990 [2009]; Ivana Koutská, Vojtěch Ripka, and Pavel Žáček, eds., Občanské fórum, den první: vznik OF v dokumentech a fotografiích [2009].) Apart from the monumental monograph Labyrintem revoluce (Through the Labyrinth of Revolution, a political history of the Velvet Revolution written by Czech historian Jiří Suk, there has been no attempt to publish a comprehensive or at least empirically and intellectually more ambitious history of 1989 in Czechoslovakia. (Jiří Suk, Labyrintem revoluce: aktéři, zápletky a křižovatky jedné politické krize: (odlistopadu 1989 do června 1990) [2003].)

In 2009, Canadian historian James Krapfl published a Slovak version of the book under review. (James Krapfl, Revolúcia s ľudskoutvárou: politika, kultúra a spoločenstvo v Československupo 17. novembri 1989 [2009].) It was a significant development to have, in the year of the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, a fresh and pioneering account of the events of 1989 in Czechoslovakia finally be made available for readers in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The English edition of this book is thus a kind of culmination of Krapfl’s research project, which was launched already in the late 1990s. Its publication was preceded by the publication of several case studies. (James Krapfl, “Revolution and Revolt against Revolution: Czechoslovakia 1989,” in Revolution and Resistance in Eastern Europe: Challenges to Communist Rule, ed. Kevin McDermott and Matthew Stibbe [2006], 175–94; James Krapfl, Poetický základ politiky: Dějiny významu roku 1989, in Kapitoly z dějin české demokracie poroce 1989, ed. Adéla Gjuričová and Michal Kopeček [2008], 134–57.) The Slovak edition of the book was praised as a path-breaking historiographical account of 1989, as Krapfl’s book was the first historical narrative of the Velvet Revolution that aimed to analyze the events “from below” and with respect for both the Czech and Slovak cultural and political contexts.

The narrative of Revolution with a Human Face is based on an extraordinarily impressive source base. The author pursued extensive research in more than forty Czech and Slovak archives and gathered a unique collection of historical documents. The majority of the archival materials used by Krapfl were produced by local activists and revolutionary enthusiasts. Rather than reading numerous official statements produced by Prague and Bratislava revolutionary elites, Krapfl analyzed declarations, posters, leaflets, bulletins, articles and complaints which were formulated in numerous regional hubs of the revolution. These sources enabled him to write a cultural history of the Velvet Revolution that focuses on the Czechoslovak revolutionary community. Whereas the majority of available histories are concerned primarily with the agenda of the highest metropolitan representatives of the Civic Forum and Public against Violence, Krapfl lets the rank and file of revolutionary movements speak, who have been portrayed by the vast majority of historians as well as by the post-socialist political and media elites as an anonymous mass rally in the streets and squares of Czechoslovak cities. In this book, these local protesters and activists are finally portrayed as genuine historical actors aiming to push their political agendas based on their specific sets of revolutionary ideals and values.

The first part of the book analyzes narratives of the Velvet Revolution. Krapfl distinguishes between four discourses of revolution: revolution as romance, revolution as comedy, revolution as tragedy and revolution as satire. These four narratives are in fact major interpretations around which the controversy about 1989 was structured since the very first days of the Velvet Revolution. This shows how this revolution was understood by its actors and how its outcomes were evaluated by the Czechoslovak revolutionary community. Although there was an ongoing conflict of interpretations, the fact that all four competing narratives characterized the events of late 1989 and early 1990 as a revolution makes the debate concerning whether 1989 was a revolution, a regime change, or something else seem quite pointless. According to Krapfl, in Czechoslovakia 1989 amounted to a revolution because it was understood as a revolution by those actively involved in the events.

The most important and intellectually most exciting part of the book consists of the chapters analyzing the constitution of the revolutionary community and portraying a specific set of values characterized by the author as the “ideals of November.” Krapfl carefully describes collective symbolic practices and public acts, such as happenings, which helped create the new sense of community. His aim is to analyze the ways in which the revolution was experienced by its actors and how the “system of signs and symbols enabled citizens to communicate with one another in new ways and to make sense of the world in ways that had scarcely been imaginable before” (p.70). Thanks to the sophisticated study of numerous texts produced by revolutionary activists, Krapfl managed to define essential values and ideals of the Velvet Revolution. He is able to reconstruct the mental horizon of 1989 in Czechoslovakia in a coherent and convincing way. The book mentions the following crucial ideas and values shared by the members of the revolutionary community: nonviolence, self-organization, democracy, fairness, socialism and humanness. Among other important ideals of the revolution were liberty, human rights, informality, criticism of corruption and emphasis on dialogue. Such “revolutionary idealism” was driven by emphasis on the necessity of overcoming the failed state socialist system, which had produced various inequalities and was corrupt, alienated from the citizenry, excessively centralized, highly bureaucratic and essentially anti-human.

Krapfl’s account of the “ideals of November” is explicit polemics with thinkers like Jürgen Habermas or François Furet, who claimed that the 1989 revolutions did not invent any new or substantial ideas and were essentially backward-looking revolutions of regional importance with rather modest ambitions to restore liberal democracy in East-Central Europe. Krapfl argues convincingly that such interpretations are fundamentally mistaken and flawed by a lack of insight into the original thought that was characteristic of 1989. The originality and novelty of the 1989 revolutions lay in the centrality of ideals of humanness, respect for human dignity and nonviolence. According to Krapfl, the conviction shared by members of the revolutionary community that non-violence and humanness were driving forces of their revolution and more important than any conventional political ideology was a fundamental contribution of the 1989 revolutions to the long tradition of European democratic politics and political thought.

However, the aim of the book is not to create an idealized picture of the “revolution with a human face.” Krapfl also describes the conflicts that arose with the emergence of new power relations and hierarchies after November 1989. The inner dynamics of revolution gave birth not only to an insistence on and assertion of the aforementioned humanist ideals and values, but also to more controversial aspects of public debates, such as regionalism and nationalism. Of significant importance was also the conflict between the centralist aspirations of revolutionary elites and local activists aiming to preserve certain levels of political autonomy. Krapfl collected plenty of evidence showing that local activists were increasingly upset and frustrated by the fact that the metropolitan leaders of the revolution ignored their complaints and appeals. There was a growing suspicion on their part that leaders of the Civic Forum aimed to slow-down the revolution or even bring it to a standstill. This conflict between the pragmatism of new political leaders, who aimed to consolidate power and begin to govern the country, and local enthusiasts and activists, who called for more far-reaching changes, was, according to Krapfl, a chief source of political controversies in the early 1990s. The pressure from below led to the gradual dissolution of the Civic Forum and Public against Violence and the subsequent formation of new powerful political parties, such as the Civic Democratic Party in the Czech Lands and the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. These political subjects arranged the dissolution of Czechoslovakia and played a pivotal role in the further development of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in the 1990s.

Ironically, the initial struggle of local activists for direct democracy and a general deepening of revolutionary transformations led in the longer perspective to the establishment of two post-socialist national regimes whose functioning was in many respects in sharp contrast with abovementioned “ideals of November.” In the course of the 1990s, it was increasingly evident that the “ideals of November” had not been incorporated into the political culture and political economy of post-socialism. Krapfl’s book thus not only offers an insightful, balanced and highly innovative history of the Velvet Revolution. His analysis of the revolutionary community, its ideals and its internal contradictions also opens new perspectives for reflection on the developments in East Central Europe in the last 25 years. It is worth posing the question to what extent the recent rise of populism and distrust in politics in the region has been influenced by the fact that the “ideals of November” were not further developed or at least adopted by the majority of citizens or the post-socialist political elites. Revolution with a Human Face could thus also serve as the starting point for further critical examination of the developments from the “revolutionary idealism” of the 1989 to recent popular disenchantment with post-socialist democracy.

Vítězslav Sommer

pdfVolume 5 Issue 1 CONTENTS

BOOK REVIEWS

Das Preßburger Protocollum Testamentorum 1410 (1427)–1529, Vol. 1. 1410–1487. Edited by Judit Majorossy and Katalin Szende. (Fontes rerum Austriacarum, 3. Abteilung, Fontes iuris 21/1.) Vienna: Böhlau, 2010. 535 pp.
Das Preßburger Protocollum Testamentorum 1410 (1427)–1529, Vol. 2. 1487–1529. Edited by Judit Majorossy und Katalin Szende. (Fontes iuris, Geschichtsquelle zum österreichen Recht, 21/2.) Vienna: Böhlau, 2014. 572 pp.

The use of late medieval testaments as sources in the study of legal issues, economy, culture and everyday life has been popular for some time now. In noble, ecclesiastical and urban settings, this type of source material offers a large pool of information on everyday life, economic and social ties, religious piety, understandings of the afterlife, provisional mechanisms, etc. In recent decades, a good number of collections of last wills originating from Bohemia and Moravia, Hungary, Austria and Dalmatia have been edited and analyzed. Apart from Hungary, intensive research has also been conducted in Bohemia and Moravia, where the last wills from the cities of Prague, Olomouc, Pilsen and Tabor were edited and analyzed. Well-preserved testament collections of Dalmatian cities such as Zadar, Split, Trogir and Dubrovnik are all frequently consulted by scholars. In Austria, the evaluation of late medieval wills has been intensified with the editions of the collections of Vienna, Wiener Neustadt and, recently, Korneuburg. In the 1980s, Gerhard Jaritz, member of the Institute of Medieval Material Culture in Krems and professor at the Central European University in Budapest, initiated the edition of the collection of legal instructions known as Wiener Stadtbücher, which also contain a large number of wills. This has been used as a reference for the current edition of the Pressburg (Pozsony in Hungarian, today Bratislava in Slovakia) Protocollum Testamentorum. In close cooperation with the Commission for Austrian Legal History (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna), four volumes have been published so far.

The manuscript kept in the Bratislava Municipal Archive is the first of a series of testament books kept by the city of Pressburg until 1872. In close cooperation with the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Archive, two prominent Hungarian urban historians, Katalin Szende and Judit Majorossy, prepared this two-volume edition of the first volume of the Pressburger Protocollum Testamentorum. A third volume, an extensive index, is in preparation. They fundamentally worked on the material in terms of formal auxiliary science. The editors prepared a full-text edition, in which all parts of the text were reproduced in full. A register at the beginning of each entry provides short information on the types of documents involved, the dates of their genesis, and the people involved. In addition to the recent editorial work, which has been underway for more than a decade, they also carried out extensive research on the history of Pressburg and its position in the changing social, political and economic environment. Pressburg became one of the Hungarian “free royal cities” at the beginning of the fifteenth century, as it gained more and more influence under the rule of King Sigismund. He preferred Pressburg to Buda, as it was located further upstream on the River Danube and closer to the Holy Roman Empire.

In the following I highlight some elements of the 844 wills preserved in the testament books and edited by Majorossy and Szende.Recorded my last will” – many burghers of Pressburg used this phrase in order to express their personal and independent will as testators. Declarations of will have survived in many European cities. This form of transmission is the result of the need to express and preserve the last will in a legally secured way. Municipal governance provides the basis for this. The competence of the civil community to assure independently the legal rights of its members is a particular feature of late medieval urban communities in the region. The recording and archiving of these legal documents in an accurate way was one of the most important priorities of a municipal administration.

From an economic point of view, an interesting element of the estates of Pressburg, frequently referred to in the wills was their vineyards. In the Danube region, vineyards were not only the most common form of land ownership for the townspeople, they also enjoyed a special legal status because of the labor-intensive cultivation that they involved. Thus, they became easily accessible capital, as we can see in the testaments, where wine is treated more like a substitute for money than a consumer product. The foreign relations of the merchants of Pressburg also had effects on individual dispositions: monetary and material debts are evidence not only of the usual practice of trade on commission, but also of regional and national business contacts: Vienna, Bruck an der Leitha, Enns or Nuremberg, Landshut and Cologne belonged to the regional trading area of the local merchants. A prominent example for the social range of monetary debts is preserved in a testament: the Austrian duke Albrecht VI (†1463), was indebted to a merchant of Pressburg. As an illustration of the usefulness of the testaments published in the volumes as sources that offer far more than mere insights into economic history let me refer to the testament of Liebhard Egkenfelder, town chronicler of Bratislava. Egkenfelder’s will contains a detailed inventory of his partly acquired, partly self-compiled library and his mobile and immoveable property, the intended use of which after his death he specifies.

Information on individuals and their economic, religious and social environments can rarely be gathered in such detail on the basis of other types of sources. Social relations have been activated but also deactivated – through the exchange of material and the negotiation and production of intangible resources, such as social prestige or access to social networks. The various forms of relationships that could exist between two burghers are clearly discernible in the various last wills. The executives of last wills themselves were chosen on purpose. The group affiliations and other social connections are all very well reflected in testaments. Even the nomination of a trustee is an expression of the significance of the relationship to that person. Sometimes wills gave people opportunities to give expression to existing relationships or even fashion new ones.

The edited testaments of Pressburg offer perfect ways to get information about heredity practices, as well as the forms in which religious and social affiliations found manifestation over a long period. They also offer insights into the cultural processes and practices of an ever-changing urban community.

Elisabeth Gruber

 

Sopron. Edited by Ferenc Jankó, József Kücsán, and Katalin Szende with contributions by Dávid Ferenc, Károly Goda, and Melinda Kiss. (Hungarian Atlas of Historic Towns, 1.) Sopron: Győr-Moson-Sopron Megye Soproni Levéltára, 2010. 87 pp.
Sátoraljaújhely. Edited by István Tringli. (Hungarian Atlas of Historic Towns, 2.) Budapest: MTA Történettudományi Intézet, 2011. 81 pp.
Szeged. Edited by László Blazovich et al. (Hungarian Atlas of Historic Towns, 3.) Szeged: Csongrád Megyei Honismereti Egyesület, 2014. 155 pp.

With the publication of these three fascicles (text and maps), Hungary has joined the European Historic Towns Atlas project. As is outlined in the introduction to the first volume, this project was set up by the International Commission for the History of Towns in the aftermath of World War II with the aim of encouraging comparative studies of European towns that would be based on large-scale (cadastral) maps. The principal map for each town was to be the same in scale, 1:2,500. There are now eighteen countries involved in this project, and atlases of more than 500 towns have been produced so far.

The Hungarian Atlas of Historic Towns started in 2004 under the auspices of the late András Kubinyi, a prominent urban historian. It was continued by Katalin Szende, who took responsibility for the Hungarian project. Towns were selected in order to represent different settlement types and different geographical locations. A very important asset of these three fascicles is that all the explanatory texts and keys to the maps (unfortunately not the topographical gazetteers) have been translated into English, opening up a brave new world about which English speakers knew very little previously.

The cadastral surveys of the second half of the nineteenth century served as the basis for the 1:2,500 maps showing the preindustrial topography of the three towns in question. The original names were kept. In the case of Sopron, the names of public buildings are in German, but in the case of the other two towns, the names of the buildings are in Hungarian. It would be very helpful if an English translation of the functions of public buildings could be provided as part of the key. The surroundings of the three towns under discussion are shown on selected sheets of the 1st and 2nd Military Surveys, rescaled to 1:50,000. A reproduction of an early twentieth-century plot-level survey, at a scale of 1:50,000, and large-scale aerial photographs show the modern expansion of the towns. In fact, the Hungarian Atlas provides more original research for the transformations of towns in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries than other European atlases, which were designed in their time not to go beyond 1900. The International Commission formulated their recommendation that the atlases should continue into the twentieth century only at their meeting in Prague in 2012.

In the three Hungarian volumes the cadastral and related maps constitute Series A, which is obligatory for each fascicle. Series B compliments these maps with cartographic representations of recent research on the morphology and social topography of the towns in question. Series C contains reproductions of early maps and prospects depicting topographically relevant features. Like the Irish Historic Towns Atlas, the Hungarian Atlas includes a thematically arranged topographical gazetteer. This is a most welcome addition, as the historical data compiled in the gazetteer greatly facilitates comparative work. In one important methodological aspect the Hungarian atlas differs from its European counterparts: there is no comprehensive growth-map. Instead, there are a series of growth-maps arranged side by side on one sheet. No doubt this method allows for greater accuracy in the representations of the individual growth-phases. Perhaps a composite growth-map at a greater level of abstraction might be added to the individual ones in the future in order to help the reader.

As a scholar of urban history working at the far western end of Europe, I found reading the above three volumes a demanding but very worthwhile venture. The challenge when looking at the three Hungarian volumes (and this is true of the European Historic Towns Atlas project as a whole) is that you look at primary source material. When you study the principal maps of the three towns, you are struck by the differences. Sopron is surrounded by a massive wall (inherited from antiquity), while the other two towns have no town walls at all. In Sopron the individual house plots are built side to side. In other words, houses are contiguous, while in Sátoraljaújhely and Szeged gable-sided houses cover only part of the plot. In all three towns irregular market places appear to be an open space associated with the earliest church. They are not comparable with the rectangular market places that we know from medieval town foundations in the area east of the Elbe, modern Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

Sopron originated as a trading post on the former Roman Amber Road. On the basis of archival sources and topographical and archaeological evidence, Szende shows that the early layout of the town in plots occurred simultaneously with the arrival of the Franciscans. In other European countries Franciscan friaries were only set up once the towns were well established. I believe that this very early division of the town into plots is not found in any of the other European atlases. The archaeologists made a particularly significant contribution to the Sopron Atlas with reconstructions of the former Roman town and the eleventh to mid-thirteenth-century ispán castle (the castle of the royal representative). The transformation from the ispán’s castle to the royal town in the mid-thirteenth century coincided with the arrival of the Order of the Knights Hospitallers, who were settled in Sopron by Béla IV in 1247. There are parallels in other countries: the Hospitallers arrived in Kells (Ireland) at the time of the foundation of the town by an Anglo-Norman lord.

Sátoraljaújhely was planned as part of the effort to rebuild the kingdom of Hungary after the Mongol Invasion. Its charter dates to 1261 and is detailed, portraying an advanced civil society with more rights for the citizens than citizens appear to have enjoyed later in the landlord period of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the Middle Ages, the town was home to a parish church, Saint Emeric, a Pauline Monastery dedicated to Saint Giles, and the Saint Stephen’s Augustinian Friary. The history of the town between 1526 and 1711 was strongly influenced by the nearby presence of the Ottomans. The Ottomans never entered the town, but the Crimean Tatars did in 1566, and they burned down 86 percent of the houses and took denizens of the town as slaves. After the town was no longer in royal ownership, it became part of the estates of various aristocratic or noble families over time, including the Pálóczi, Perényi, Dobós, and Rákóczi families, who demanded services and taxes from the citizens.

A special characteristic of Sátoraljaújhely is the formation of districts which segregated areas of the town according to the ruling landlords. The aristocratic Perényi family was Lutheran, and the Újhely church became Lutheran until 1567, when the inhabitants took up Calvinist doctrines. In 1554, the Augustinian friary was dissolved and the lord integrated the street in which the friars had owned property into his domain. The Pauline monastery survived until the end of the sixteenth century and only reappeared as part of the Catholic Restoration of the 1640s. By the end of the seventeenth century, the population was divided among three religious traditions: Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, and Calvinists. In 1789, the Calvinists built a new church. By the end of the nineteenth century, Judaism had become the fourth major religious denomination. In 1940, there were 4,960 Jewish residents in Sátoraljaújhely. Tragically, by 1949 only 360 remained.

The maps showing the surroundings of Szeged, adapted from the 2nd Military Survey, provide a lively picture of the Tisza River, with all its meandering bends, that flooded parts of the town whenever the waters rose. Szeged was occupied by the Ottomans. Its fascicle contains a fascinating thematic map showing the social topography of Szeged in the sixteenth century on the basis of two tax registers, one from 1522 and the other from 1548, i.e. before and shortly after the Ottoman occupation. The map shows that in the suburb east of the castle (the so-called Palánk), judges, scribes and master craftsmen resided. North of the castle we find farmers, flock owners, and vineyard owners. The reader will wonder where the merchants were. My Hungarian colleagues tell me that local merchants were subsumed into the categories of flock-owners and vineyard-owners, because cattle, sheep, and wine were the main export articles both before and during the Ottoman period. Merchants specializing in other goods (spices, textiles, etc.) were usually not local residents, but rather people who traveled through the town.

The map also shows important buildings, including churches. It is interesting to learn how long into the period of Ottoman occupation churches survived. Only the Franciscan friary in the so-called Alsóváros part of the town remained and provided pastoral care to the surviving Catholic population. Otherwise, all the other Catholic churches were turned into mosques. The Ottoman occupation lasted from 1543 to 1686, but no buildings from that period have been preserved. In Szeged Sokollu Mustafa’s palace was situated in the marketplace in a building that most probably had been there prior to the Ottoman occupation. One wonders if it is still standing. It would be helpful if the atlas also gave indications of the dates at which buildings were demolished, redesigned, or put to other uses.

The presentation of the history of the three towns is done chronologically. Therefore, Szeged is discussed as a royal town between 1247 and 1543. The thematic map showing medieval churches and associated settlements vividly portrays the churches as focal points, which were surrounded by the houses of the wealthiest families. During the period specified in the next heading, “16th to 18th centuries: the late medieval city and Ottoman rule,” the town stagnated and became a military assembly point. According to an Ottoman tax register, in 1548 there were 1,203 heads of household in the city, 300 fewer than in the census of 1522. The Ottomans converted the Saint Demetrius Church into a mosque and built a minaret next to it. One interesting aspect of the period is that many churches fell into ruins, but cemeteries survived. The same observation applies to Ireland after the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in the sixteenth century. Under the Ottomans, the town was divided into different quarters along ethnic lines. From 1554 to 1560, the Turks expelled the entire Christian population from the central town-quarter, which was called Palánk. The wealthier among them abandoned the city. This process is reminiscent of what happened in former Roman towns along the Rhine when the Roman Empire collapsed in the fifth century.

The suggestions is made that in the post-Ottoman period there was no consolidated bourgeoisie in Szeged. Bad floods and epidemics were responsible for the fact that the number of inhabited plots fell by 50 percent by the middle of the eighteenth century. In the latter part of that century, life began to improve in Szeged due to an economic revival. After 1711, Szeged again became the nationwide center for salt storage. In the context of the Counter-Reformation, prominent buildings were built in the baroque style. The nineteenth century was a time of modernization, which bore witness to the construction of new squares, new public buildings in a neo-classical style, and improved infrastructure. The reconstruction of the town that followed the disastrous floods of 1879 turned Szeged into a modern city with a circular layout of roads reminiscent of Frankfurt am Main, where boulevards follow the line of a former medieval wall, as shown in the Szeged Atlas in order to further comparison.

These three fascicles are a tremendous achievement. While there is an editorial board, there is as of yet no host institute. The editors had to rely on sponsorship from archives and museums. Without the tenacity of the senior joint editor, Katalin Szende, that would hardly have been possible. The lack of a permanent hosting institute and an executive officer has deprived the Hungarian series in some instances of a unified approach. For example, the introduction to the Sopron volume contains an outline of the role of the Commission as founder of the series and a discussion of the importance of cadastral maps and the military survey for the production of the core maps. It would be helpful for readers of later fascicles if this information were repeated. Why is it that only the Sopron volume includes a CD with a PDF version of the publication? This situation will most likely improve in the near future, as a full-time researcher and coordinator has been appointed, who will streamline the project and iron out any inconsistencies. As of 2016, the Institute of History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has been hosting the project.

Judging from the bibliography, a large amount of research had been done in Sopron and Szeged before the work of compiling the atlas was undertaken, while in Sátoraljaújhely a lot of research had to be undertaken by the author himself. The bibliography for Sopron consists of 340 entries very few of which have been published in Latin (medieval sources), German, or English, and works by archaeologists like János Gömöri in Sopron or medieval historians who work in a pan-European context, like Mozdzioch, Piekalski or Szende. If one takes into consideration the fact that a vast amount of research has been incorporated into the atlases and thereby made available, along with primary source material in the form of maps, illustrations, taxation records and fieldwork, then we begin to appreciate just how important these atlases are for researchers in Hungary but also for urban historians from other parts of Europe and beyond. We owe a debt of gratitude to our colleagues who took on this meticulous work. On some occasions, the authors of these volumes point towards comparative urban studies and tempt the reader to think of more comparisons with other towns that are part of the European Historic Towns Atlas project.

These three beautifully produced volumes open the door to Hungarian urban history. They are essential for defining the typology of Hungarian towns, and they will facilitate comparative urban studies on a European scale. Furthermore, they will enable scholars and instructors to teach the history of Hungarian towns on a much wider scale than has previously been possible.

Anngret Simms

 

Egy székely két élete: Kövendi Székely Jakab pályafutása [Two lives of a Székely: The career of Jakab Székely of Kövend]. By Bence Péterfi. (Sziluett. Korszerű történelmi életrajzok.) Pécs: Kronosz, 2014. 165 pp.

Hungarian medievalists are to some extent exceptionally lucky. I know of hardly any country where the surviving medieval documentary evidence can be more easily accessed than in Hungary. Thanks to the digitalization projects undertaken by the Hungarian National Archives, more than one hundred-thousand legal documents can be accessed online with ease. This database provides a sufficient foundation for research on virtually any aspect of the history of the Hungarian Middle Ages. However, there are a number of topics for which the scholar is compelled to consult further archives. One of these topics is the study of someone who was involved in the political life of more than one country or court, such as Jakab Székely of Kövend, the focus of a new book by Bence Péterfi.

The book is a biography of a medieval self-made man who hailed from Transylvania. The Székely (Szekler) family of Kövend (present-day Plăieşti in Romania) may not have belonged to the richest class of the Székely society, the primores, but by the time Jakab Székely died in 1504 he had become a frequent visitor at the imperial court of Maximilian and owner of a number of major estate complexes, both in the Hungarian Kingdom and the Holy Roman Empire. His career was extraordinary, even in the Middle Ages. The book explores the ways in which a nobleman in the second half of the fifteenth century was able to achieve such a position.

Jakab Székely was born around 1445–1450, but we hardly have any information about him before 1472, when he and his family were given a number of estates in the Székely Lands and also in other areas of Transylvania. But it is more telling that from the mid-1470s Jakab Székely was frequently to be found in the entourage of King Matthias I. Székely was among the numerous delegates who went to Naples in 1476 to accompany the future wife of Matthias, Beatrice of Aragon, to Hungary. In addition to the roles he played at the court, it was his military service that allowed him to rise rapidly in the social hierarchy. During the war against Frederick III in the 1480s, he was one of the most important leaders of the Hungarian army, as indicated by the fact that he became the captain of two of the most important captures, the wealthy trading centers of Ptuj and Radkersburg for more than a decade. From the mid-1480s, he served as chief commandant of the Hungarian army in Steiermarkt, while István Szapolyai, later palatine of Hungary (and father of János Szapolyai, future king of Hungary), served the same position for Austria. Székely’s positions suggest that he was in command of a considerable proportion of the means spent on the war against the Habsburg territories. During these years, he acquired even more estates. His growing importance is clearly illustrated by the fact that he had enough power to marry a woman from a baronial family, the Szécsi family, which was thanks to his efforts in negotiating the settlement of a dispute between the family, Miklós Szécsi, and King Matthias I.

After the death of Matthias in 1490, the political situation in Hungary became increasingly complex. There were a number of claimants to the Hungarian throne (Beatrice, John Corvin, the natural son of the late Matthias, Maximilian, the son of Frederick III and king of the Romans at the time, as well as two members of the Jagiełło family, Władysław II, king of Bohemia and John I Albert, later king of Poland). In this period, it was difficult for a landlord to navigate successfully between the claimants, but as Péterfi demonstrates, by turning to the Habsburgs as early as July 1490, Székely managed to do so. In this period, however, he had to hand over some of his castles to Frederick, but he was able, in the meantime, to put his hands on others. The civil war, which lasted for more than a year, came to an end with the treaty concluded at Pressburg between Frederick, Maximilian and Vladislaus II in 1491. According to the treaty, Székely, along with others who had managed to occupy castles, had to hand them over to their lawful lords. This treaty has been familiar to scholars for some time now, but Péterfi is the first historian to draw attention, both in recent publications and in this book, to the fact that some of the treaty’s conditions were never implemented. In consequence, along with a number of other families, the Székelys became permanent landlords in two realms, the Holy Roman Empire and the Hungarian Kingdom. After the treaty was concluded, he never changed political sides again. He remained loyal to the Habsburgs, which turned out to be a rather prudent decision, as in the long run he not only managed to keep most of his properties in Hungary but also was able to leave a number of castles and their furnishings to his heirs in the territory of the Empire. Péterfi shows that Székely’s incomes from his possessions in Steiermarkt may have been more significant, but even taking into account only his income from lands in the Hungarian Kingdom, by the end of the fifteenth century he had emerged as one of the major landlords. Because of his loyalty to the Habsburgs, he was generously rewarded both materially and symbolically in the Empire. The author shows that Székely’s seal-usage as well as his title as knight banneret (Bannerher) were both signs of his strong position in Frederick’s and later in Maximilian’s court. Péterfi discusses Székely’s military and diplomatic missions in the second half of the 1490s, which increasingly were against Italy and France, rather than the Hungarian Kingdom. The monograph does not conclude with the death of Jakab Székely in 1504. Rather, it also includes a summary of the history of the family from the execution of Székely’s lost last will and testament to the extinction of the male line of the family in 1643.

The book offers a thorough analysis of the surviving narrative sources (Bonfini, Unrest, Tubero etc.) that concern the political events of the 1480s and 1490s, combined with other documentary – mostly archival – evidence from Hungarian and Austrian archives. The biography is more than a mere presentation of an undeniably splendid career. It is a well-chosen example of the ways in which a talented member of the lesser nobility in the second half of the fifteenth century could rise to become a member of the higher classes of society. The secondary literature on the history of the period contains examples of a few people who had similar careers, both laymen and members of the clergy, but we nonetheless know very little about the strategies that were used in order to achieve these successes. It is also a well-chosen example because of the insights it offers into the ways in which a nobleman with estates in two realms (“amphibious nobility,” as the author calls it) could prosper. Finally, it provides a concise overview of the political history of the period around the death of King Matthias, in particular with regards to the events that took place at the border region between the Habsburg territories and Hungary.

The work was published in a new series launched by a lesser known publisher, Kronosz, which aims at presenting grey eminences of Hungarian history to a wider audience. It is of course not the reviewer’s task to question the legitimacy of the publication of Jakab Székely’s biography in this series, but it reasonable to wonder about the extent to which the book will reach the intended readership. Because of the decision by the publisher to attempt to reach a wide audience, the book includes only a few endnotes and a rather limited bibliography. On the one hand the attempt to demonstrate to the wider public that the study of medieval Hungary is more than the study of kings and political history is of course to be welcomed. However, perhaps the most self-evident and possibly the most eager readership, historians of the Middle Ages, will have to grapple with difficulties when using the book, since much of the valuable information, which is the result of extensive archival work on the part of the author, is hard to track down.

András Vadas

 

Towns and Cities of the Croatian Middle Ages: Authority and Property. Edited by Irena Benyovsky Latin and Zrinka Pešorda Vardić. Zagreb: Hrvatski institut za povijest–Croatian Institute of History, 2014. 534 pp.

This volume, which is the product of an international conference entitled Towns and Cities of the Croatian Middle Ages: Authority and Property (Zagreb, November 2010), consists of 22 studies dealing with topics ranging from Late Antiquity to the beginning of the Early Modern Period. Geographically, the studies focus on the Eastern Adriatic and Central Europe. This volume attempts to answer questions regarding the relationships between urban authorities and the urban space by analyzing cities which are underrepresented in modern historiography. The articles are not organized in chronological order, but rather in thematic groups, with an introduction that outlines the theoretical background of the volume.

The first group of articles deals with the question of public and private property in the cities and the surrounding areas, drawing mainly on the example of Istria (pp.35–114). The studies in this group analyze the transition that cities underwent between the fifth and the tenth centuries by highlighting the process of ruralization of urban centers and its long-term consequences. In this period, the privileged elites began to associate themselves with the municipality, blurring the borders between public and private. The cities underwent significant expansions, amassing greater areas of arable land, and this led to new territorial organization of the municipality. The expansion of ownership also affected the relationship between the authorities, members of the nobility, and the Church.

The studies in the second group observe the development of urban centers and their relationships with the local nobilities (pp.115–271). As addressed by these authors, the lack of written sources does not indicate a lack of developed urban centers in the Early Middle Ages, and the use of archaeology can cover the gap left by the scarcity of written sources. Most of these studies draw attention to the connections between kindred groups and cities and the effects that kindred control had on urban development. The studies in this section consider the administrative and economic developments of cities, analyze the trade networks established between the oligarchs and the cities, and compare the development of the urban centers with the models of premodern cities promoted in the works of Max Weber and Fernand Braudel. The conclusion is reached that urban centers tended to develop as a means of protecting and controlling trade.

The third group of studies examines the status of urban elites and the mechanisms with which the elites increased their lands and their influence over the city and its districts (pp.273–437). The nobility in medieval Dalmatian and Italian cities had a privileged position in building towers but also greater obligations in the organization of the defense of the city. While the property in the hands of the nobility of Dubrovnik was constantly expanding through the appropriation of new city quarters, the growth of the property and influence of the confraternities led to attempts by the city authorities to introduce regulations. The articles in this group make particular use of notary and judicial sources, as well as material remains. This enabled authors to study the fate of the lands in Venetian Dalmatia that were originally owned by key members of the nobility of Trogir (Ana Plosnić Škarić), as well as to observe fluctuations in the real estate market and its functions in the late medieval community of Split (Tonija Andrić). The last article moves away from the coastal towns and introduces prosopography in the research concerning the owners of luxurious palaces in Gradec (Zagreb) in the fifteenth century.

The fourth group deals with the rights of marginal groups, namely women and foreigners (pp.439–68). The work of Marija Karbić looks at the right of women to own and sell property. Karbić examines the ways in which women could become citizens (cives) in the medieval urban centers of Gradec and Varaždin. The second chapter, by Ante Birin, examines city statutes from the late Middle Ages and analyzes the decisions that regulated the position of foreigners (forenses) and their ownership of town properties.

The fifth group examines the legal regulations and procedures concerning the ownership and management of property in medieval Dalmatia (pp.469–508), mainly by focusing on urban laws and how they regulated daily life in the city. These laws dealt with a number of issues, including business transactions, regulations of testaments, pledging, forcible taking of property, thefts, and fines. The last work in this group, by Nella Lonza, compares the work of the legal institution of Dubrovnik with its statute in order to uncover differences between “common” and “heavy” burglaries.

The last article in the volume did not fit in any other group. Trpimir Vedriš (pp.509–34) analyzes symbolic ownership based on the theories of capital by Pierre Bourdieu. Vedriš moves away from the definition of property as an actual material thing and observes the role of the translatio of the relic of Saint Chrysogonus to Zadar and the social memory attached to the relocation. By comparing the translatio with several donation charters, Vedriš detects the existence of “social knowledge,” and he comes to the conclusion that the population of Zadar viewed the preservation of the memory of the burial of the saint as an important way of building communal identity.

Beyond the variety of topics it contains, this collection’s most novel contribution is the application of recent or less frequently used theories and approaches in medieval scholarship. Despite the variety of topics addressed in the volume, there are some absences, such as articles dealing with the relationship between the Church and urban ownership. This is a key issue, since in many of the Dalmatian and Istrian communes discussed in the articles the Church had considerable land holdings, both in the enclosed areas of the cities and in the hinterlands. However, this shortcoming does not detract from the generally positive qualities of the book or its scholarly importance. The volume as a whole is a valuable contribution to the study of urban history, presenting, in English, the latest developments in research concerning the medieval lands of present-day Croatia and the surrounding areas.

Mišo Petrović

 

Customary Law in Hungary: Courts, Texts, and the Tripartitum. By Martyn Rady. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. 266 pp.

In nineteenth-century Hungary, the history of Hungarian law was often compared with the history of English law. The contention was made that in both places local tradition maintained its primacy. Roman law was not slavishly adopted, and both countries had strong parliamentary traditions. After all, the observation was made, the Magna Carta and the Golden Bull, the foundations of English and Hungarian constitutional law respectively, both dated to the same era, 1215 in the case of the Magna Carta and 1222 in the case of the Golden Bull. In the twentieth century, German historian Fritz Kern, one of the founders of the comparative study of the history of constitutional law, drew a parallel between the history of the Hungarian and the English parliaments in his typology of European parliaments. Today, we speak of this question from different perspectives. The phrase “adoption of Roman law” became another one of the many outdated historical concepts that proliferated at the turn of the century. Hungarian law in the late Middle Ages and Jus commune were so intertwined that it is both pointless and impossible to speak of an opposition between them. The Magna Carta had no influence whatsoever on the Golden Bull. Today, we know significantly more concerning the mechanisms of European parliaments than was known one-hundred years ago. That we are unable, our increasingly detailed stock of learning notwithstanding, to compose the kinds of broad statements that were made at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth is another question entirely. Today, no one would expect a British historian to provide a comparative study of the history of English and Hungarian law. So we are left with synthesis. The book by Martyn Rady, the first study of Hungarian customary law in English, is just that.

Rady offers a focused examination of Hungarian customary law. The so-called Tripartitum, the first summary of Hungarian customary law, is at the center of his inquiry. The Tripartitum was written by István Werbőczy, one of the magistrates in the royal court of justice and a man who later had an influential career as a politician. He completed the Tripartitum in 1514, and three years later he submitted it to a printing press. The Tripartitum is not technically a book of statutes for two reasons. First, it is not a summary of previously existing laws, but rather a collection of the norms of customary law at the time. Second, it never actually became law. It was simply a legal work that had been compiled by a private individual for practical use. Rady is one of the most highly esteemed scholars on medieval history in Hungary and Central Europe. He has innumerable publications, including a book on Buda in the Middle Ages and the medieval Hungarian nobility. This book, which is in no small part the fruit of earlier research and publications, was conceived when Rady participated in the translation and publication of laws from the Jagiellonian era and the Tripartitum for a series entitled The Laws of Hungary.

Until the twentieth century, legal tradition in Hungary was dominated by customary law. Rady’s book certainly does not stop at 1514, when Werbőczy wrote the Tripartitum. He examines the history of Hungarian law until 1959, when the first code of Hungarian civil law was proclaimed. In his assessment, it was not until 1959 that the rule of consuetudo in Hungary came to an end. As a characteristic example, he refers to the publication of the Tripartitum in 1897 (as part of the celebrations marking the millennial anniversary of the arrival of the Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin in 896), in which the editors used bold typeface to set off sections that they regarded as prevailing law (as was done at the time when any Hungarian book of laws was published). In the case of the Tripartitum, some 70 pages of the text, i.e. more than one-third, were regarded as statutes in force (the document was 160 pages, not including the 25-page Prologue). According to Rady, however, this practice was little more than an “empty fiction.” Rady reflects on the contentions that were made in the nineteenth century concerning the similarities between the English and the Hungarian constitutions. In his view, this was a “spurious parallel” (p.240). As this ascertainment exemplifies, Rady’s conclusions are simple. When he finds something too artificial, he does not adopt even a century-and-a-half old concept like H.S. Maine’s widely used concept of “fiction.”

The organization of the book is logical. The historical introduction and a section in which Rady clarifies what he means by customary law are followed by a presentation of the Tripartitum. This is followed by a presentation of the sources of common law: charters, legislation, and a description of the courts. There is a separate chapter on the intricate interconnections between the nobility and the king, as well as a separate chapter on crimes and a presentation of medieval rules of procedure. These chapters are followed by sections dealing with the Early Modern Era and the Modern Era, including the political and institutional changes in the new era, processes of codification that took place after Tripartitum, and a presentation of jurisdictions in the eighteenth century. The book concludes with a chapter entitled “Custom and Law in the Modern Period.”

Rady’s assessment of customary law is founded on the most up-to-date literature on legal history. He does not content himself with the repetition of an opposition between law and custom, an opposition used even by Werbőczy himself. On the contrary, he provides a very precise, understandable presentation of the complex relationship between written law and customary law (p.8).

Rady’s task was not made much easier by Hungarian historians. Following the socialist reorganization of the sciences, the study of the history of governments and systems of government continued to thrive, but the study of the history of law faltered. The sections of Rady’s book that address topics that other historians have already examined are the most thorough and convincing. Like the vast majority of Hungarian legal historians and historians, Rady attributes considerable significance to a few of the tracts from the Tripartitum. However, apart from the preface and the sections that are of political and social significance, he only writes in detail on the titles, which concerned the rules of inheritance. Rady provides a short and clear description of the courts of the royal presence (p.51), as well as a convincing section on processes of codification after the Tripartitum (chapter 10), in which he presents the essence of the Early Modern works. There is no description, however, of the royal court system in the period between 1541 and 1691. This is not a mere matter of chance. To this day Hungarian historians have failed to address the subject adequately. In 1541, Hungary was divided into three parts: the middle swath of the country was occupied by the Ottomans, Transylvania became an independent principality, and a slender strip in the west and the north remained under the rule of the Habsburgs as the Hungarian kings. In this part of the country the old court system remained in place, though by the time the country was liberated of Ottoman rule in 1691 the courts had undergone major transformation.

Rady’s book, however, is by no means a simple abridgment or collage of the existing secondary literature. He raises new questions and examines the conclusions of the works he consults, comparing them with the primary sources. He uses both published and archival sources. His description of the relationships between witch trials and public prosecution represents a very important contribution to the history of criminal law in the Early Modern Era (p.119). He also makes the accurate observation that the contention according to which the barons blocked the passage of the Tripartitum into law because it did not recognize the superiority of the rights they enjoyed over the rights of the lesser nobility is unpersuasive (p.18). This contention is as widespread as it is unconvincing.

Rady writes in a clear, comprehensible style. He avoids complicated modern legal terminology and words that are fashionable in some of the tendencies in the writing of legal history, even though they often obscure the point of an inquiry. There are some small mistakes, but they do not undermine the essence of the book. For instance, the Magyars and the Onogurs were not two peoples who melted together. Rather, the two terms were used to denote the same people (p.1).

Customary Law in Hungary is far more than a new monograph on the history of old Hungarian law. Rady’s use of sources is original and does not get lost in the details. He adheres consistently to his initial goal: how and why did customary law remain the decisive thread of Hungarian law until the twentieth century? By adopting this approach, he sets a high standard for those who seek to follow in his footsteps. Any attempt to characterize old Hungarian law without consulting this book would be quite unthinkable.

 

István Tringli

Geschichte schreiben im osmanischen Südosteuropa: Eine Kulturgeschichte orthodoxer Historiographie des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts. By Konrad Petrovszky. (Balkanologische Veröffentlichungen: Geschichte, Gesellschaft und Kultur in Südosteuropa, 60.) Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2014. 272 pp.

It was the fate of the pre-modern states that were inhabited by numerous peoples to be presented by the national histories of the successor states, which later came into existence in competition with one another and were based on notions of a unified linguistic and cultural space, in a fragmentary manner. This is as true of the Habsburg Monarchy as it is of the Ottoman Empire. In the case of the Ottoman Empire, an additional consideration is the simple fact that the historiography on the realm, which first began to be written in the Renaissance, has been studied with greater duration and depth than the practice of writing history in the Ottoman-Orthodox cultural and communication space itself. We know very little about the multilingual Orthodox chronicles, annals, and other historical texts of the Early Modern Era in southeastern Europe. This is where the monograph (originally submitted to the Faculty of Philosophy at Humboldt University as a doctoral dissertation) by Konrad Petrovszky comes in. Petrovszky is not concerned with providing a conventional narrative of the Orthodox Christian historiography in southeastern Europe under Ottoman rule, nor does he offer an assessment of the historiographical texts, which for the most part were written in Greek, Church Slavonic, and Romanian. He is far more interested in the shifting relationships between these texts and social constellations, as indeed the subtitle of his book suggests. He seeks to further a deeper understanding of “the social and communicational preconditions of the writing of history” and provide “a dense contextualization of historiographical practices” (p.12).

Petrovszky takes the multilingual nature of southeastern Europe and the accompanying diversity of its traditions of writing, which inevitably hinder any attempt to offer an integral study of the historical texts of the Ottoman Empire that embraces the multiplicity of languages, as a challenge. He is quite at home in the languages that are used in the primary sources (Greek, Bulgarian, Serbian, and Romanian), whether printed or handwritten texts, much as he is at home in the many languages of the relevant secondary literature. He offers persuasive arguments in support of his choice of sources, and the spatial and temporal frameworks of his inquiry also seem reasonable. This is particularly true of his decision to ignore the writing of history in Transylvania and Veneto, where the forms and practices adopted by historians differed strikingly from the practices used in the neighboring territories.

The ambitious goals that Petrovszky has set for his treatise and, therefore, his own praxis as a scholar, become clear in the dense introduction, which is rich with ideas and provides an exemplary presentation of the subject of the inquiry. The book, a well-informed inquiry, is eloquent and persuasive from the first page to the last. One has little difficulty following his argument, thanks in large part to the clear and balanced structure. The introductory chapter on trends and tendencies in social and cultural developments in Ottoman southeastern Europe between 1500 and 1700, in which Petrovszky offers a sketch of the interrelationships among political, administrative, cultural, social, and religious processes of exchange, is followed by a chapter that focuses on the Orthodox historiography. He is concerned with the circulation of knowledge in the Early Modern Era: education and the relevant backdrop and paths, the safeguarding and dissemination of knowledge, and finally the role of book printing. Petrovszky then presents “the craft of history writing between the spoken, written, and printed word.” He is concerned with the specific circumstances of the transmission of individual texts, phenomena such as the limited written culture of southeastern Europe, evidence of a shifting understanding of writing, and the gradual rise of the vernacular in the seventeenth century. While the first half of the monograph is focused on the constraints and preconditions of historiographical practice, the two chapters that follow bring questions of content, discourse, and models of history to the fore. For instance, Petrovszky discusses the meaning of the Byzantine tradition for the Orthodox Christian writing of history, and he presents various narrative models and distinctive regional characteristics.

The conclusions of this inquiry, which is persuasive both in its methods and erudition and in its ideas and argumentation, are manifold. Petrovszky convincingly demonstrates that “the Orthodox written culture of southeastern Europe remained throughout the period in question closely tied to the religious sphere or at least under its strong influence. […] In the area in which the south-Slavic languages prevailed, the writer, the place of writing, and the place of printing remained more strongly bound to the field of the Church than they did in other Orthodox regions and language areas” (p.229). In addition to presenting this finding, which he supports with numerous examples, Petrovszky offers insights into the relationships between political context, social diversification, educational migration, the transfer of knowledge, and Orthodox concepts of history and the writing of history. The same is true of his observations concerning content. Thus, for instance he determines that Islamic history writing is given no reception whatsoever in the texts that are in the center of his inquiry. It is quite clear “that the existence of a large space in which intercommunication was possible, such as the space that was undoubtedly created by the space of Ottoman rule, did not always mean permeability and actual exchange” (p.232). This inquiry, which far surpasses the standards set by other treatises submitted to complete academic requirements for historians in Germany, constitutes a significant contribution to other, quite varied disciplines in the humanities. This is true not only for the departments and institutes that deal with the culture and history of southeastern Europe, but also for scholars who are interested in the early modern intellectual history in Central and Western Europe.

Joachim Bahlcke

 

A gyulafehérvári hiteleshely levélkeresői (1556–1690) [The requisitors of the Gyulafehérvár place of authentication (1556–1690)]. By Emőke Gálfi. (Erdélyi Tudományos Füzetek, 283.) Kolozsvár: Erdélyi Múzeum Egyesület, 2015. 235 pp.

In the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era, there was a network of institutions in Hungary known as the “loca credibilia,” which were chapters or convents that served as places of authentication. The functions of these places of authentication included serving the role of notary public. In recent years, historians have begun to realize that the documents that were produced by these places of authentication, which have traditionally been used as sources in the study of diplomatic and institutional history, are also indispensable in the study of the history of Early Modern society. In the decades following the defeat of the Hungarian army at the hands of the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the development of the institution began to take a different turn in Transylvania than in the Kingdom of Hungary, where it continued to function. In 1556, the places of authentication in Transylvania became secular, and the tasks relating to the maintenance of records were taken over by secular scribes, so-called requisitors, who begin to be mentioned in the sources in 1559.

The goal of Emőke Gálfi’s monograph is to examine the lives and careers of the officials of the place of authentication of the chapter of Gyulafehérvár (today Alba Iulia in Romania) and the history of the institution, from its secularization in 1556 to the end of the principality, from the perspectives of governmental and social history. Gálfi has divided the monograph into three longer chapters. In the first, she presents the evolution of the office of the requisitor and, in this context, the secularization of the Transylvanian chapter (one of the consequences of the Reformation) and the functions and roles of the first requisitors. In the second chapter, she examines the social strata of the intelligentsia represented by the requisitors. She begins with the process according to which they were appointed and the tasks with which they were entrusted (which were the traditional tasks of the archivist) and then provides subchapters on their incomes and estates. As the reader learns from these subchapters, on the basis of their estates and the number of serfs belonging to their estates, most of them were members of the medium-sized estate-owning nobility. It is worth noting that roughly half of them were not originally from Transylvania. Rather, their families had fled to Transylvania from regions of the country that had fallen under threat from the Ottoman Turks. Regarding their social backgrounds, eleven of them had come from urban settings or market towns. Four of them belonged to the middle nobility. One of them was a serf and two were Székelys. The rest either were members of the lesser nobility or of an indeterminate background. However, by the end of their lives, thanks to the roles they had played in these offices, all of them were able to achieve noble rank. Sources indicate that at least fifteen of them had had thorough schooling. From the perspective of their denominational makeup (they were Unitarians and Calvinists), it is quite clear that almost exclusively people belonging to Protestant churches were regarded as suitable for this important position. Indeed this factor determined to a large extent the network of their relationships. They were closely tied to the Calvinist elites. They also seem to have adopted very deliberate strategies with regards to marriage. They strove to improve their circumstances by marrying women who either were of equal social position and wealth or of higher social position and wealth. The 32 wives on whom information is available of 22 requisitors (the difference is due to some of the man having had more than one wife) were mostly of noble origins. Only men from more humble social backgrounds chose wives from among the burghers.

The third chapter, which examines the documents and data concerning the requisitors, is the most expansive. Gálfi offers a detailed presentation of the social backgrounds, educations, careers, and material and familial relationships of 38 requisitors in chronological order on the basis of thorough knowledge of the primary sources and secondary literature. The appendix is an important complement to this chapter. It contains in extenso supplements concerning the requisitors, including certificates, correspondence, last wills and testaments, letters regarding the division of properties, inventories of assets, etc.

Gálfi’s monograph addresses what has remained something of a blank spot in Hungarian historiography. The publication of the book is important from at least two perspectives for scholars. First, the history of the institution itself, the loca credibilia, has hardly been a subject of much interest among historians. Her book may well serve to draw attention to its significance in the larger context of institutional history. Second, it is admirable for the thoroughness and nuance with which it examines the functions and social composition of the Transylvanian requisitors, who represented an institution essentially unfamiliar in Hungary. Thus, Gálfi has enriched the field with a monograph that addresses an important subject and constitutes a significant contribution to our knowledge of the period in question. It may well prompt further inquiries into the history of the roles of loca credibilia in the Early Modern Era.

Irén Bilkei

 

Török szövetség – Habsburg kiegyezés: A Bocskai-felkelés történetéhez [Ottoman alliance – Habsburg compromise: On the history of the Bocskai uprising]. By Sándor Papp. Budapest: Károli Gáspár Református Egyetem–L’Harmattan, 2014. 398 pp.

The anti-Habsburg movement led by István Bocskai, which took place between 1604 and 1606, has always been given a place of prominent importance in Hungarian historiography. There are several reasons for this. As the first piece of legislation concerning the religious freedoms of the Hungarian estates was the result of the peace treaty that was signed at the end of this uprising, Bocskai was quite obviously seen as a hero of the Reformation by the Protestant historiography of the nineteenth century. This denominational perspective—canonized at the International Monument to the Reformation in Geneva, where Bocskai’s statue is the only one representing the region—was paired with another political message very popular in nineteenth-century historiography, namely that Hungary’s repeated attempts to achieve independence represented one of the most important threads in its history. As this uprising was the first occasion on which the Hungarian estates had taken weapons in hand to defend their liberties against their legitimate king, Rudolph of the Habsburg House, Bocskai was an obvious choice for a national hero, who represented not only religious freedoms but also the struggle for independence. After 1945, the uprising became canonized as a “szabadságharc,” an ambiguous term that can refer to a fight for (political or religious) liberties (which the uprising beyond any doubt was), but also has the connotations of a struggle for national independence, especially since it is used to refer to the Revolution of 1848.

It was the latter connotation and everything that it entails in respect to narratives of long-term historical developments that prompted a revisionist interpretation ten years ago, on the occasion of the publications of a massive quantity of writings produced for the anniversary of the uprising. One of the most important arguments presented by historian Géza Pálffy in his critique of interpretations of the Bocskai uprising as a fight for independence was that its leader, István Bocskai, was, in the course of the events, not only elected prince of Transylvania, a tributary state of the Ottoman Empire, but also enjoyed the sultan’s military support. Thus, he had no chance of emerging from the fight as a ruler of a Hungary independent of the two neighboring empires. One of the most important reference points used by Pálffy was the early studies by Sándor Papp on the Ottoman contacts of the Bocskai uprising, which brought forth many novel results and has now grown into a monograph, a dissertation that secured its author the title of Doctor of the Academy of Sciences.

Having acknowledged the ideologically heavily loaded character of his field of research, Papp promises to make a thorough reconstruction of the chronology and causal connections between the various moves of different actors in this complex game of politics and war based on the broadest possible selection of primary sources. This is a promise he fulfills to the letter. He draws on his philological skills in Ottoman Turkish paleography to provide documents to enrich his reader’s understanding of the Ottoman perspective on an unprecedented scale and also dedicates longer sections to the meticulous study of sources long familiar and long misunderstood. With his keen aptitude for detail, Papp at times risks jeopardizing the coherence of his inquiry because of his meticulous focus on the close study of primary sources. Some sections have little to do with the main topic of the book, such as the painstaking reconstruction and critique of the sources related to the alleged poisoning of Bocskai in 1606 (which Papp ultimately finds unlikely ever to have taken place). It may have been prudent to have published such sections as separate articles. In most instances, however, Papp’s method yields important insights into the questions he posed as the most important focus of his research.

The Bocskai uprising took place in the very last phase of the Long Turkish War at the turn of the seventeenth century (or the Fifteen Years War, as it is known in Hungarian historiography), a fact that has been acknowledged by all authors writing about this historical event, though no one has taken it as seriously as Papp has. He begins his narrative several years before the uprising, and he provides an account of the various attempts at peacemaking between Habsburgs and Ottomans, a prehistory of Bocskai’s campaign. It is thus immediately apparent why the Hungarian uprising was met with such a hearty welcome from the Ottoman side and why the grand vizier found it important to issue in the name of the sultan an inauguration document for Bocskai as king of Hungary only some months after his initial successes. A rare collection of correspondence between Bocskai and the Ottoman dignitaries and also among the sultan’s office-holders involved in the Hungarian campaign enable Papp to trace the steps in the process of coordination between the parties. This material shows that the details of military cooperation were continuously discussed, and Grand Vizier Lala Mehmed expected a great deal from Bocskai’s activities. It is also clear that the Ottomans tried to keep Bocskai and his Hungarian supporters interested in not concluding a final settlement with the representatives of the king of Hungary until there was a chance to reach an agreement on the questions debated at the Ottoman–Habsburg peace negotiations that led eventually to the Treaty of Zsitvatorok.

One of the most important focal points of Papp’s narrative is the personal meeting between Grand Vizier Lala Mehmed and István Bocskai (who by that time had been elected prince of Transylvania and Hungary) at Rákosmező on the November 11, 1605. On this occasion, Bocskai was given a crown by the Ottoman dignitary. Apart from clarifying the origins of this crown (and identifying it as a Byzantine jewel, which had been renovated in Constantinople for the occasion), Papp also provides convincing arguments against one of the widely familiar myths concerning the Ottoman relationship to the Bocskai uprising. On the basis of the apologetic contemporary description of Johannes Bocatius, Hungarian historiography for centuries has claimed that Bocskai accepted the crown only as a jewel, not as royal insignia, and that he did not seek to challenge the right of Rudolph, the legitimate ruler, to the Hungarian throne. A close reading of Bocatius’ narrative has persuaded Papp that such an insult would not have been possible at an audience staged by the second most important person in the Ottoman Empire for a prince who had been in subordinate position towards the sultan. Recently discovered Ottoman and Hungarian sources also support this conclusion.

All in all, the thorough source analysis, paired with an interest in the wider political context, make Papp’s monograph a valuable contribution not only to a more realistic understanding of Hungarian history, but also to a more nuanced grasp of the history of the Ottoman Empire and its relationships to its tributaries.

Gábor Kármán

 

Bécs vonzásában: Az agrárpiacosodás feltételrendszere Moson vármegyében a 19. század első felében [In the pull of Vienna: The preconditions of the development of the agrarian market in Moson County in the first half of the nineteenth century]. By Gergely Krisztián Horváth. Budapest: Balassi, 2013. 695 pp.

Gergely Krisztián Horváth’s new monograph is a masterpiece of Hungarian economic and social history, both of which are undergoing a refreshing revival. It offers a thorough picture of the economic processes of the protoindustrial period, the various effects they had on society, and the responses (which showed varying degrees of flexibility) that were given to the challenges that arose, all of which led to a gradual loosening of the hierarchical feudal social order in the region before 1848. In order to present the economic processes that were taking place in the first half of the nineteenth century and loosening the existing social structure, Horváth chose to examine Moson County, which lies in the western corner of Hungary, at the gateway of Vienna.

The book is structured around a gradual approach to its subject. The introduction, in which Horváth raises the fundamental questions of his study, acquaints the reader with the conclusions in the available secondary literature and clarifies the theoretical framework of the inquiry. This is followed by a presentation of the structural characteristics of the region. Here, Horváth adopts a gradual approach, beginning on the regional level (the relationship between Vienna and Moson County at the beginning of the industrial revolution in Austria, which led to deindustrialization as a complementary process) and then examining local circumstances (the social structures of the villages). This is followed by a description of the system of natural and geographical preconditions of the development of an agricultural marketplace and a discussion of the ways in which this was influenced by anthropogenic factors. The archducal estate of Moson County and the county itself are presented separately as independent agents with diverging interests, as are the social factors (from work done in the service of a landlord to schooling) that shaped peasant farming and determined the surplus quantity that could be sent to market. This is followed by other factors that influenced trade, including border and customs policy and conflicts involving transportation. Finally, Horváth provides a quantitative analysis of exports, including their composition and the roles they played in the provision of supplies for Vienna and the living conditions of the peasantry. The book follows a logical structure in which the various elements build clearly on one another, while at the same time the many case studies and comparisons offer an array of information.

Horváth adopts primarily an analytical approach. The best example of this is perhaps the chapter in which he examines the relationships between demographic, social, denominational, and ethnic differences (how did religious affiliation affect family size and economic influence, and was it a decisive factor in the success of adaptation strategies) and the extent of the influence of this on economic development (was there a connection between the size and production capacity of a plot of land and the social or ethnic background of its owner). The map appendix, which illustrates natural and social-economic processes and regional differences in these processes, helps orient the reader.

Horváth’s decision to focus on Moson County proved fortuitous. Influences arriving from the West and the interregional division of labor (industrial goods for agricultural goods) hit this region first in Hungary. Thus, the effects they had can be examined directly. Because of the geography of the land and the potentials this created for transportation, the region profited from the situation. The production and social indicators of the county, which were comparatively favorable on the national level, were as much consequences as they were preconditions of this process. According to Horváth, of the favorable conditions one of the most significant was the ratio of livestock to serfs, which was remarkably high in comparison with the rest of the country, as well as the literacy rate and the ethnic makeup (it was the only county in Hungary with a German-speaking majority, and thus there were no real obstacles to communication with Austria). The presence of the archducal estate in Mosonmagyaróvár was also a favorable circumstance: the concentration of capital helped solve problems that were in principle the responsibility of the county, but the administration was unable to address them because of lack of will and lack of sources. Individuals were no better able to solve these kinds of issues, since at the time, i.e. in the early days of the emergence of a burgher middle class, they did not have the necessary financial resources or the forums for self-organization. Large estates played a significant role in the development of higher education, the modernization of farming, the spread of industrial and agricultural innovation, and protective measures against floods, which threatened people’s livelihoods and sustenance. Thus, the dynamic development of the region was not due so much to its natural and geographical features as it was to the economic and social structures that emerged relatively early here in comparison with other parts of the country.

It is worth asking why the region, which lay near to an industrial center, was not itself able to embark on the path towards industrialization (Horváth examines this in the chapter entitled “Protoindustrialization contra the Agrarian Market”). According to classical interpretations, the explanation for this lies in the relative prosperity enjoyed in the field of agriculture, which was a consequence of the division of labor that had emerged. It led to a decline in small industry in the region that served the industrial center because of competition with the manufacturing industry. However, the turn for the better in “terms of trade” and the growth in agricultural exports (according to theory, this in general leads naturally to deindustrialization, since it is more profitable to invest in agriculture) created an accumulation of capital that could have been invested in industry (instead of this, the consumption of imported industrial goods was on the rise). The explanation for why this did not take place lies in the absence of social structure as an institutional background and the hindering effects this had. In Horváth’s assessment, the fact that Moson County often was more rigid than a given estate, village, or social stratum in its responses to the challenges that arose (the problems of drainage and the regulation of waterways to protect the marshlands of Hanság from flooding and create more arable land or the economic problems concerning customs duties on the internal Austrian-Hungarian border) was a clear sign of the disintegration of the traditional frameworks. In contrast with the county administration, the estates, villages, and social strata found back doors in the system, gradually cracking its frameworks at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

The book is a work of both economic history and social history. It relies on a number of methodologies, including microhistorical analysis, cliometric methods used in quantitative economic history, and an array of methods used in sociology, as well as agrarian history and ethnographic observations. This is complemented with a critical analysis of the writings of Anton Wittmann and Andreas Grailich, two proponents of modernization. Their work makes it possible to determine the labor productivity among peasants and compare it with productivity in other territories. The book is pioneering from the perspective of methodology as well, and not simply because of its statistical approach (Horváth examines the proportions of Hungarian exports, Viennese imports, and production on the county level, each of which places a different aspect of the complex interrelations in the foreground), but also because of the conclusions the author draws. Thus, it will be of interest and use to historians, specialists in agriculture, geographers, and economists. The importance of geography is always at the fore, as natural problems were clearly often in the background of social phenomena. The book even contains theories and arguments that draw on the natural sciences (for instance, arguments concerning plans for the regulation of the Hanság marshlands). Thus, it will also be informative and interesting to geographers and specialists in water engineering, and it provides insights into economic interests that exerted an influence on regulation plans and projects. We are even given a kind of archetype miniature of the debate concerning the regulation of the Tisza River and the social groups and organizations that took part in this debate, each of which had diverging interests. The importance of geographical considerations is palpable even in the discussion of principles of economics. As far as Horváth is concerned, the administrative borders of Moson County were not congruent with the actual borders of the economic spheres of the county or even individual settlements. He takes the regrettably rare and all the more admirable step of considering not how the different institutions were supposed to function according to the law (whether we are speaking of an institution of agricultural education, an assessment of taxes, the closing of a border, the issuing of a passport, the manner in which a plot of land was used, etc.), but actually how these institutions did function. This enables him to assess the disintegration and transformation of the nobleman’s county and hierarchical feudal society.

Given the breadth and depth of his inquiry, Horváth had to familiarize himself with an array of written sources. He seems to have consulted almost every available archival source, from notices of loss to requests for remittal of tax debts to schematics on schooling. His ability to organize the data he uncovered in the course of his research is eloquent testimony to his knowledge of theoretical questions and his practical gift as a writer. His descriptions offer a clear grasp of the ways in which the systems functioned, and the book will be an indispensable crutch for scholars pursuing research on local or regional history. Horváth has used every assessment of taxes and source of information in order to compile as much data as possible, and anyone who has ever attempted to compare data from different eras and based on different units of measurement in order to create a coherent kind of database knows what a daunting task this is, full of snares. One of his strengths is his ability to use soft variables alongside hard variables in order to draw subtle conclusions, and he does a good job alternating dense and focused description with looser narrative. His holistic approach allows him to flirt with the idea of writing a “total” history.

Horváth also provides a critical analysis of the existing secondary literature, including the comparatively few works on Moson County and works that examine the region in general. He reflects on some of the traditional views found in Austrian and Hungarian works on economic history, sometimes adopting a contrary standpoint and throwing into question the plausibility of the contentions that have been made. Both the reliability of scales, measurement units, and theories about the significance of the double customs border in the development of Hungary are discussed. Someone seeking to provide an assessment of another county or region according to a similar set of perspectives must confront the fact that the phenomena described in this book are not necessarily of general applicability. Thus, the most important virtue of the work is not that it can serve as a general handbook (of collected methods), but rather that it demonstrates persuasively that it is possible to reconstruct, in addition to the basic functional mechanisms of power and administration, the economic substance of regulations and units of measurement and thus to further an understanding, alongside sources of conflict, of social capacities to assert interests. Furthermore, Horváth offers on the micro-level a sketch of the successes of the various strategies of economic (dairy farming, grain production, transportation, viticulture, providing provender) and social adaptation (breaking the law, tax evasion, education) and compares these strategies.

Gábor Demeter

 

Pánszlávok a kastélyban: Justh József és a szlovák nyelvű magyar nemesség elfeledett története [Pan-Slavs in the manor house: József Justh and the forgotten history of the Slovak-speaking Hungarian nobility]. By József Demmel. Bratislava: Kalligram, 2014. 284 pp.

Social history and the history of mentalities, which began to become increasingly popular subjects of study in East Central Europe after the fall of communism, are unquestionably among the most dynamic areas of the field of history today. As far as national and political identity of noble families is concerned, it has been a subject of interest in writings on Hungarian history since the Middle Ages. Half of the Hungarian noble families lived in the northern region of pre-World War I Hungary (what today is Slovakia), where the population was primarily Slovak-speaking. They enjoyed privileges, they were also obliged to fight in defense of the country, but none of this meant that they had to speak Hungarian. Until 1844, the language of state in Hungary was Latin, and much of the written culture of the region in question was in German or Czech. The nobility of the territory regarded itself as part of the Hungarian nation politically and socially, but ethnically it identified with the Slavic nation (broadly understood). With the rise of the modern concept of linguistic nation and nation state in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the non-Hungarian-speaking nobility was expected to accept ethnic Hungarians as the ruling nation. This demand did not encounter major resistance, and gave rise to a prevalent optimism at the time and even in later assessments of the period. Research projects and initiatives that were launched in the 1970s confirmed this view. These inquiries asserted the claim that one finds, in the mentality of the era, a mass tendency towards spontaneous assimilation, thus presenting the reader with an image of the country as a kind of melting pot. The repeal of feudal privileges in 1848 did not slow the process. Thus, an 1878 pamphlet, for instance, read “ambitious Slovaks raise their boys to be Hungarian gentlemen. In their minds, the word ‘Slovak’ and the word ‘gentleman’ are mutually exclusive” (Béla Grünwald, A felvidék: Politikai tanulmány [1878], 29).

In contrast, the nationalist Slovak elite of the nineteenth century, which was active in parallel or, more precisely, in opposition to the Hungarian elite, condemned these noble families for their “betrayal”, though these families were expected to take their place at the vanguard of the fight for Slovak equality. Pamphlets and speeches emphasized that, in earlier centuries, the Slovak nobility had played a leading role in the protection of the borders and rights of the country and Slovak had been used in public and Church affairs. According to this elite, these nobles could only be members of the Slovak nation, which was of the same status as the Magyar nation.

To this day, the question of dual Slovak-Hungarian identity has not been the subject of any serious research projects. József Demmel’s new work breaks from the ideological and normative approach. In the introductory chapter Demmel offers a persuasive presentation of the ways in which a dual identity functioned by drawing on the examples of specific individuals. An aristocrat in the second half of the nineteenth century on the one hand resolutely opposed the Slovak national movement, while on the other he felt himself as Slovak in the company of Hungarians and wrote fine poetry in Slovak in the solitude of his manor house. At the middle of the century, relatives of Lajos Kossuth living in Turóc (Turiec) County wrote much of their correspondence and discussed the economic affairs of the family for the most part in Slovak, in spite of the fact that Kossuth himself, as perhaps the most recognized figure of Hungarian politics, was always a staunch opponent of the Slovak national movement. According to Demmel, this was all quite natural, given the linguistic environment in which the child of a noble family grew up in the region. Family members spoke German and Slovak, the larger community spoke almost exclusively Slovak, and the children only began to use Hungarian (and Latin) in school. Thus, these people did not choose dual identities, but rather inherited these identities as part of the legacy of the multilingual communities in which they lived. They regarded themselves as part of the noble Hungarian nation (the Natio Hungarica), but in many of the most important spheres of their lives they used Slovak (and in writing for a long time Czech) as the dominant language. Demmel, however, does not simply content himself with his observation concerning this nuance. He analyzes the trends in local politics in Turóc County (the population of which was entirely Slovak-speaking) by putting the county in the larger context of the party struggles and conflicts of the 1830s and 1840s, showing persuasively that the national struggle between the liberals and the conservatives provided a background for the local struggles between the leading families of Turóc County and their political supporters. The family of the person whom Demmel has chosen as the focus of his inquiry, József Justh, had been locked in a struggle for centuries with another influential family of the area for the leading role in the community. In the 1840s, Justh’s faction supported the policies and goals of the liberal parties, which meant opposition to the use of Slovak and Latin in public life and support for the use of Hungarian. Thus, he had support on the national level, while the conservatives, who were being pushed from local positions of influence, began to support the Slovak national movement in its struggle against efforts to make Hungarian the language of public affairs. These leading figures of this movement, however, proved too liberal for their inclinations, and they soon distanced themselves from them. It is one of the ironies of history that the debate between the two camps took place for the most part in the columns of the newspaper of the Slovak national movement, as this was the forum in which the two sides were best able to express their views.

Gradually, József Justh became a leading figure of liberal politics in Hungary on the national level. In 1847, he became a delegate of the national assembly, and during the 1848 revolution he was made commissioner of Turóc County and the leader of a neighboring county. He was charged with the task of keeping a watchful eye on the Slovak national movement and harassing its leaders. As the military constellation began to shift, he was taken prisoner by the pro-Habsburg Slovak troops that occupied Turóc County. However, his political inclinations and responsibilities notwithstanding, he maintained his ties to the Slovak community. In the 1840s, he defended one of the leaders of the Slovak national movement, Jozef Miloslav Hurban, who was accused in a Church affair of anti-Hungarian activity, and though in 1849 he himself was Hurban’s prisoner, the two men maintained respect for each other throughout their lives. After the Revolution, Justh maintained his friendship with Ľudovít Štúr, the leader of the Slovak nationalism (whom Justh had been supposed to apprehend in 1848), and in the 1850s he supported (though unsuccessfully) Štúr’s plan to create an institutional framework for secondary schooling in Slovak. His sons were educated for years at a time by people who openly supported the Slovak nationalist movement (as indeed the title of the book, Pan-Slavs in the manor house indicates). The zenith in his political career came in 1861, when a memorandum demanding local autonomy was accepted at the national assembly of the Slovak nation. Justh took part in the drafting of this document and even agreed to serve as a member of the delegation that was to be sent to the national assembly in Budapest. What might have prompted him to take part, quite openly, in the struggle for equal recognition for the Slovak nation? As Demmel suggests, Justh had had a chance to experience, during the Revolution, the power of the Slovak national movement. He had born witness as the leaders of the movement had managed to mobilize all of Turóc County in support of their aims. The statements they made in the 1850s and 1860s convinced him that the Hungarians regarded the non-Hungarian peoples of the country as equal partners (in this he was mistaken). However, the attacks that were leveled against the Memorandum made plain to him the fact that the Hungarian leaders continued to espouse and labor in support of a notion of a single, unified Hungarian nation and Hungarian state. He immediately did an about-face (he withdrew from the delegation) and from then on distanced himself from the political aspirations of the Slovak community. He remained an influential representative of liberal Hungarian politics. He continued to serve as the delegate of Turóc County. In 1869, he was elected to serve as president of the governing liberal party under Ferenc Deák, and he was celebrated by his contemporaries as a staunch opponent of “Pan-Slavism,” i.e. the Slovak national movement. In the course of the election campaigns, he did indeed come into conflict with candidates who represented the aims of the Slovak national movement. He used corrupt tactics to ensure victory in these skirmishes (which was perfectly common at the time), but in the background, “as a kind of silent Slovak” (to use Demmel’s characterization), he supported Slovak institutions (the savings bank, printing press, comprehensive school, casino, and Matica slovenská, the society for public education).

Justh’s political and personal life fell to pieces in the mid-1870s. As Demmel shows, he was unable to represent effectively in Turóc County the aims of Hungarian nationalist circles, at least not to the satisfaction of these circles, who saw him as someone all too willing to reach compromises with local Slovak groups. He had lost many of his supporters and his financial resources had dwindled, and he and his remaining group were regarded as an obstacle to the termination of the Slovak comprehensive schools and Matica slovenská.

Demmel rejects the notion of archetypes and resolutely remains within the theoretical framework of micro-historical analysis, focusing on individual cases as individual cases, rather than as examples. Nonetheless, his selection of a prominent figure of history seems to have been a perfect choice as an illustration of his thesis. Justh’s career and life show the major turning points in the politics and ethnic relations of the nineteenth century and, more narrowly, the process of Magyarization, which was by no means an unbroken, uncontested development.

Barna Ábrahám

 

In Search of the Budapest Secession: The Artist Proletariat and Modernism’s Rise in the Hungarian Art Market, 1800–1914. By Jeffrey Taylor. Saint Helena, CA: Helena History Press, 2014. 260 pp.

Jeffrey Taylor’s book covers the emergence of the modern art market in Hungary, locating the evolution of Hungarian artists’ groups, organizations, and exhibition venues from the early nineteenth century to World War I within the international developments of the era. Taylor interprets the fin-de-siècle, one of the richest periods of Hungarian art, from a hitherto underexplored angle, placing the intricate mechanisms of the art market in the focus of his investigations. Protagonists like the Nagybánya group or The Eight and major modern artists like József Rippl-Rónai or Lajos Tihanyi thus appear in an unusual light, portrayed not only as pioneering artists but also as conscious actors in the art trade and inventors of groundbreaking (self-)marketing strategies.

The author is currently assistant professor of arts management and entrepreneurship at Purchase College, State University of New York, and for a long time has been an active participant in the art business himself. Thanks to his practical expertise, Taylor knows the art market from the inside and from the outside: he is intimately familiar with the mechanisms of the art trade in a way in which very few academic art historians are. The great strengths of Taylor’s book stem from the author’s multi-faceted knowledge: his hands-on experience on the one hand, and his academic erudition on the other.

The book’s introductory chapter outlines the emergence of European art markets and points to the dispersion of models, originating in France and the Netherlands but adopted also by the European peripheries in the course of the nineteenth century. During the process of what Taylor calls market pluralization, the intermediaries of art (exhibition venues and organizations) would multiply, beginning with breakaway movements which challenged the monopoly of dominant national organizations and continuing with an ever-increasing number of private galleries and splinter organizations, which created rival forums for the art trade. After outlining the pan-European models, Taylor briefly marks out the position of Hungarian art organizations within the international trends, indicating (at this point, only in an introductory manner) the similarities and differences between the core countries of Europe and a peripheral state like Hungary.

The question raised by Taylor in the introduction as one of his chief problems involves the dating and identification of the Secession in Budapest: his question concerns which particular group or movement can be characterized as equivalent to the well-known Secessions of Central Europe, i.e. the Vienna Secession, the Munich Secession, or the Berlin Secession. But “Secession” as a term is not used by Taylor exclusively to designate movements and organizations which have gone down in art history by that name. He interprets Secession as a movement which shatters the market monopoly of a formerly hegemonic organization and therefore has key importance in the development of modern art markets. By tracing the evolution of nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century art organizations in Hungary, he sets out to devote his book to the quest for the Hungarian Secession.

Chapters 1 and 2 deal with the evolution of the art market in nineteenth-century Hungary. Chapter 2 presents the emergence of a major national art organization, the National Hungarian Society of Arts (Országos Magyar Képzőművészeti Társulat), and analyzes the role its exhibitions, modeled on the Paris Salons of the period, played in a period in which the art market in Hungary was just in the making.

Chapter 3 discusses the history of the National Salon, a second large art organization in Hungary founded in 1894, which was the first significant formation to challenge the former monopoly of the National Hungarian Society of Arts. At the beginning of the chapter, Taylor formulates an excellent reading of what Nemzeti Szalon was all about, interpreting the new institution from the point of view of market logic and competition within the profession, rather than explaining its emergence by aesthetic differences. In his introduction of the pre-World-War-I history of the National Salon, Taylor offers excellent close readings of the conflicts, struggles and rivalries within the Hungarian art world. In this chapter, Taylor also examines the problem of the artist proletariat, going deep into the roots of the issue. According to Taylor’s thesis, the emergence of the free art market and the late-nineteenth-century proliferation of exhibition opportunities gave rise to an artist proletariat, steadily increasing in numbers as the nineteenth century drew to a close; out of that mass, only a narrow elite (which Taylor terms “the labor aristocracy of established artists”) was able to make a living off the arts as a profession.

In Chapter 4, Taylor traces the evolution of private galleries in Hungary, following the process of specialization from the mixed profiles of early dealers to the specialized art galleries of the early twentieth century. Taylor introduces the five par excellence modern art galleries that operated in Budapest in the early 1900s, and he introduces the reader to their business models. By presenting a number of their exhibitions, Taylor shows the importance of the roles played by new galleries in shaping the new canon; analyzing their activities, Taylor also identifies various new types of exhibitions, such as “solo-type shows” or traveling exhibitions accompanied locally by social events, emphasizing, very aptly, the marketing strategies at work behind the staging of the shows.

Taylor’s main question in the book is what one should identify in Hungary as the equivalent of European Secessions; which institution or splinter group bears the closest resemblance to the well-known European models of the era.

Taylor’s preoccupation with capturing the Hungarian Secession, however, may have diverted his attention away from other equally important achievements of his own work. Is the main issue really which group or institution we should call secession? The story Taylor tells is actually more exciting: he interprets the relatively well-known history of turn-of-the-century Hungarian art from an unconventional and highly original point of view. Taylor’s close examination of various interest groups and their behind-the-scene struggles provides the reader with hitherto undiscovered perspectives, offering a richer understanding of the special logic of art as an economic field.

Power struggles within the art world are interpreted in Taylor’s book not as competing aesthetics and credos of “schools,” but as acts of competition for better sales opportunities. Taylor’s highly ingenious interpretations throw the milestone exhibitions of the period, steadily fixed in the hagiographies of Hungarian artists and described hundreds of times by the creators of the modern canon, into an entirely new light. The reader will understand that the rise of certain groups, such as the Nagybánya painters, depended at least as much on their successful strategies of protest and marketing as on their artistic novelty, especially compared to unsuccessful group formations in the same period.

Having acknowledged the unquestionable merits of the book, I would make a few critical observations as well. One of the major shortcomings of the book is already apparent in the introductory chapter, and it runs through the entire volume. One assumes, and the reviewers quoted on the back cover of the book also assume, that Taylor’s potential audience will consist of readers from all around the world, ranging from non-Hungarian art historians to art collectors, people who are not experts in fin-de-siècle Hungarian art but wish to acquaint themselves better with it. The critical observer, however, cannot avoid the impression that Taylor in fact did not really clarify to himself who his book’s target audience would be. The issue here is not one of content but one of communication. Taylor seems implicitly to suppose that his readers will be familiar with the artistic movements and institutions he discusses in the book; even the introduction is written in this spirit. Taylor makes insider references to movements, groups, and institutions without sufficiently introducing them to his readers. Hungarian names of groups and venues, as a rule, are only translated into English at their first occurrence, but then are used in their original Hungarian forms throughout the book. Hungarian is an esoteric language to most foreign readers, and one cannot presuppose any degree of familiarity with the meanings of Hungarian words (unlike in the case of French, Italian, Spanish, or German texts). To most native English readers, Nemzeti Szalon (National Salon) and (a more striking example) Magyar Képzőművészeti Társulat (Hungarian Society of Fine Arts) will appear undecipherable at best and intimidating at worst. The frequent use of such Hungarian names, although of course understandable from the point of view of accuracy, makes reading comprehension difficult for non-Hungarian readers and unnecessarily burdens Taylor’s otherwise excellent and very readable style. It may have been more prudent to use the English versions of the names of the various art groups and venues throughout the book, with the Hungarian originals given at the first occurrence.

The second problem is that Taylor does not sufficiently introduce the milieu about which he intends to write. Again, the implicit assumption seems to be that the reader will know all the basics about the Hungarian art world of the fin de siècle and he or she will not need any orientation. That assumption is most probably wrong, unless the author’s intention was to address his book to the professional circle of Hungarian art historians; otherwise, a thorough introduction to the circumstances of the art world in Hungary, including its structures, groups, and institutions, would have been not only beneficial but a must at the beginning of the book.

Maybe as a consequence of the book’s general strategy, the broader context (e. g. society and politics) is not discussed at all. One would of course not expect the author to paint a broad canvas of turn-of-the-century Hungary, but Taylor should have included at least some examination of the interactions between art, society, and the political sphere. An understanding of societal forces is strikingly absent from Taylor’s main arguments. “The expanding stream of young men and women throwing themselves into the profession of artist” (p.xi), and, hence, producing the artist proletariat, according to Taylor’s thesis, is a phenomenon that requires much more complex explanation that is not limited to market mechanisms and exhibition facilities: much of the explanation should deal with conditions that lie outside the world of art, e. g. with the growing social prestige of art as a profession at the end of the nineteenth century.

Other factors may be directly related to art but external to Hungary. Near Munich, one of the undisputed art centers of the region until the end of the nineteenth century and a city with its own academy of fine arts, was an art market far superior to Budapest because of the presence of foreign customers; Munich offered very attractive sales opportunities and probably motivated several talented young Hungarians to embark on a career as an artist in the last decades of the nineteenth century.

As far as the embeddedness of the art market is concerned, contextualization is not among the virtues of In Search of the Budapest Secession. New Cultural History and New Art History do not seem to have influenced Taylor’s approach very much, although his highly ingenious, market-oriented focus clearly sets him apart from conventional art histories as well. In general, he scarcely deals with the other side of the art market, namely customers and the public at large, unless in the abstract as part of the demand side of the art trade. Neither are the contemporary habits of exhibition attendance (as an element of emerging bourgeois lifestyles) discussed in depth, nor is the social prestige of membership in partially lay art societies analyzed.

Apart from these shortcomings, however, the book offers a refreshingly new reading of the Hungarian fin-de-siècle. I can heartily identify with Taylor’s pragmatic approach, and I fully appreciate Taylor’s insights as well as his erudition. The body of primary sources on which he draws is truly impressive, as is his synthesis of the secondary literature. In Search for the Budapest Secession will be indispensable reading for anyone interested in the birth of modern art in Hungary and a good introduction to the evolution of market models in nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Western art.

Erika Szívós

 

Anti-modernism: Radical Revisions of Collective Identity. Edited by Diana Mishkova, Marius Turda, and Balázs Trencsényi. (Discourses of collective identity in Central and Southeast Europe (1770–1945): Texts and Commentaries, 4.) Budapest–New York: Central European University Press, 2014. 452 pp.

Although nationalism and collective identities remain highly debated topics throughout Central and Eastern Europe, collective endeavors focused on generating complex working tools for research on these two subjects are surprisingly rare. Thus, the current volume, edited by historians Diana Mishkova, Marius Turda and Balázs Trencsényi and consisting of contributions from more than a dozen scholars, is a significant addition, which provides a wide range of primary sources never before presented on this scale to an English-reading audience.

This is the fourth and final installment of a praiseworthy scholarly undertaking that lasted more than a decade and published its first volume in 2006, which focused on the late Enlightenment and the emergence of the modern “national idea.” It is a treasure trove of primary sources, which are meant to enhance readers’ understandings of the period between 1880 and 1945, an age of regenerative projects and rebellious explorations of alternative paths to modernity, which has been appropriately labeled an “age of anxiety.”

The volume is divided into five thematically designed chapters dealing with salient issues, such as integral nationalism, the crisis of the European conscience, the search for a national ontology, conservative redefinitions of tradition and modernity, and the anti-modernist revolution. Each chapter contains relevant primary sources pertaining to the aforementioned topics, with excerpts from the works of influential intellectuals, politicians and other public figures. The chapters also include useful biographical and contextual information. This format does a great deal to foster and facilitate a nuanced understanding of the issues at stake.

The texts were carefully selected and include some of the main public voices from the anti-modernist camp that were relevant in Central and Southeast Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. Even if the national(ist) landscape of this region was fragmented by claims of authenticity and uniqueness, by reading these texts side by side one can discern certain common traits concerning the preference for a collectivist-organicist national model, as well as a critical attitude towards fin-de-siécle liberalism, which was regarded by many as the source of all evils.

The introductory chapter by Sorin Antohi and Balázs Trencsényi convincingly explains the structure of the volume and the relevance of the chosen themes, while also highlighting the theoretical approach to the hitherto less-explored issue of anti-Modernism. Defining anti-modernism as “(a) the negative double of modernism and (b) the critique of modernism within modernism, not outside of or separated from it,” the authors emphasize that it differs from its double because it displays a string of characteristics such as negativism, authoritarianism, the cult of violence, cultural pessimism and biopolitical exclusion (p.3). The way in which anti-modernism is defined is useful because it helps the reader grasp it from the inside out, thus ensuring a higher explanatory power with respect to the success it garnered in various social quarters in the first half of the twentieth century.

For most of the protagonists of this collection of texts, the Great War was the end of all illusions. New alternatives were to be explored in order to arrive at solutions to the perceived existential crisis of modernity and its politics. The first chapter acquaints the reader with some of the early anti-modernist and nationalist discourses that emerged in various conservative circles across the region. Some of the relevant figures presented in this chapter include Georg von Schönerer and his Pan-Germanism and Josef Tiso, the leader of the Slovak People’s Party and a voice for the Slovak autonomist movement, which was authoritarian in its political goals. Among these early anti-Modernist discourses one also encounters the writings of Dezső Szabó. Szabó, a Hungarian nationalist writer, emphasized ethnocentric politics and the abandonment of Hungarian ambitions in the region in favor of a mission to organize the nations of Eastern Europe and the Balkans into a union and to proclaim “to these young nations the message of the new democracy and a new culture revived through their peasants” (p.114). In his case, the influence of Charles Maurras was significant, given that the ideas of the French ideologue were also present in other countries from the region, such as Romania.

The post-World War I pursuit for alternatives to the perceived crisis of European conscience is illustrated in the second chapter by texts such as Spiritual Itinerary, written by Romanian intellectual Mircea Eliade. This was Eliade’s intellectual program for the young interwar Romanian generation, which he regarded as “the most blessed generation, the most promising of all that have existed in this country.” Eliade argues in support of the primacy of the spirit (p.131). He saw the present as an unprecedented window of opportunity for his generation, with no immediate national goals to fulfill, free to experiment and determined to create products of universal value in the cultural realm. However, one cannot help noticing that Eliade’s itinerary, which seemed apolitical at the time, gathered around it a generation that in the 1930s would be partially seduced by the growing appeal of the extreme right. Hungarian writer Mihály Babits reaffirmed the universalist tenets of nationalism and pleaded against the racialized, totalitarian way of thinking that gained traction in the 1930s: “My calling is to safeguard my people’s purest moral traditions and not to allow the spirit of justice to become obsolete. To keep awake the smarting anxiety of the conscience amidst notions of humanity, the honor of the spirit and freedom. These are the real sacraments of the nation” (p.155).

There were also public figures in the region who offered diverse solutions in order to bypass the state of crisis by promoting the reshaping of the “national being” of their respective nations. Ion Dragoumis showcased the vision of a new civilization for Greece, the Hellenic Civilization, a synthesis of what the East and the West have to offer and also a construction different from the past Macedonian and Byzantine models. Nikolaj Velimirović promised the Serbs a more privileged place in Heaven, a Great Celestial Serbia that would come about as a result of the people’s sufferings and faith (p.225).

The fourth chapter provides several examples of how conservative discourses were adapted throughout the region in the troubled interwar context. Gyula Szekfű espoused an anti-liberal conservative critique. He lamented the failure of the process that was meant to assure that the Hungarians would be able to preserve and extend their supremacy through the peaceful means of their higher spiritual and material culture” (p.254). Karel Kramář developed a neo-Slavic discourse from a conservative perspective, with a declared non-aggressive stance and justified as a means to protect the Czech nation against the perceived threats of Germanism and Magyarism (p.286).

A revolution with an anti-Modernist ideological core fascinated politicians and thinkers throughout the region, and examples of this kind of thinking can be found in the final chapter of the volume. One of the most relevant examples is that of Ioannis Metaxas who, under fascist influence, promoted ideas such as national regeneration, organic nationalism, the nation as a homogenous organism, and the rejection of foreign influence, all while emphasizing the importance of the Hellenic tradition. The text selected for the current volume eloquently illustrates the characteristics of the regime he imposed in August 1936: “A people now unified, not divided into parties and factions, a people constituting a whole, a solid body and a single will, having at its head the King, as the carrier of the national will [...] a Leader who belongs to the whole of the Nation and who deals with its needs as a unified whole, a Leader who is supported by the undivided and absolute trust of the people” (p.353). This new regime was labeled “the Third Hellenic civilization” in an attempt to match Metaxas’ ambitions.

Anti-modernism: Radical Revisions of Collective Identity, as well as the entire four-volume enterprise, is an invaluable tool for those who want to do comparative work on the region but do not know where to start. The relevant and diverse selection of primary sources leaves the reader craving for longer excerpts (which in all likelihood were kept short simply because of space constraints). The book certainly paves the way for future, similar projects by setting such a high standard. The potential audience for this volume goes beyond the academic realm. It would be ideal for undergraduate and graduate classes on comparative modern European history. It can be read to great avail by anyone interested in the evolution of Central and Eastern Europe between the 1880s and 1945 and the shaping of collective identities in this region, which involved processes that continue to have historical consequences to the present day.

Valentin Săndulescu

 

Holy Legionary Youth: Fascist Activism in Interwar Romania. By Roland Clark. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015. 288 pp.

Holy Legionary Youth by Roland Clark is an outstanding piece of scholarship on the Romanian fascist movement known as the Iron Guard. Following in the footsteps of reputed researchers such as Armin Heinen, Bela Vago, and Radu Ioanid, Clark joins the younger generation’s chorus of new voices in the study of Romanian Fascism led by Constantin Iordachi, Oliver Jens Schmitt, and Valentin Săndulescu. Distancing himself from the “palingenetic” twist introduced by Roger Griffin or George L. Mosse’s cultural turn, Clark’s book boldly concentrates on the social underpinnings of the Romanian fascist movement and the collective dynamics of different professional groups (painters, priests, writers, intellectuals) listed in the Iron Guard’s rank-and-file. Working from the perspective of the history of the everyday life (Alltagsgeschichte), Clark seeks to show “fascism as an everyday practice” and to consider “how legionaries performed fascism and how being fascist marked legionaries socially” (p.6). In his depiction of the “illiberal subjectivities,” Clark also investigates “the emotional energy they [the legionaries] invested in political activism and the extent to which they allowed legionary discipline to shape daily routines” (p.6) in order to clarify the social extent of legionary activism and the sheer obsession of legionaries with almost ascetical discipline. Bridging gaps in conflicting historiographical approaches and relying on a sophisticated theoretical underpinning ranging from the historiography of Fascism to systematic and liturgical Orthodox theology, Clark’s book offers the reader a subtle yet comprehensive narrative account of what it meant to be a member of the Iron Guard in interwar Romania.

One of the strong points of the book is the overwhelming and indeed unmatched amount of archival research undertaken by the author in Romanian archives, both central (Arhivele Nationale Istorice Centrale, Arhiva Consiliului National pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securitatii) and regional, as well as in the generous archival funds held by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Archives in Washington D.C. Together with these valuable archival documents, the large collection of interwar publications (newspapers, books, propaganda leaflets, etc.), oral history accounts, and a large array of memoirs penned by former legionaries masterfully convey a complex and broad picture of the Iron Guard’s everyday life from bottom to top and the fascist, anti-Semitic developments from the early 1920s up to the early 1950s in Romania.

The book’s structure is well balanced and the chapters provide both a clear-cut analytical framework and empirical analysis of the archival sources, the contemporary press, and the secondary literature. Among the most original chapters are “Youthful Justice” (pp.28–62), “Elections, Violence and Discipline” (pp.95–121), and “Salvation and Sacrifice” (pp.184–215). The first two discuss the early stages of the ultranationalist young generation’s anti-Semitic build up from early 1920s up to the early 1930s and the social construction of its appeal to the masses. The third focuses on “clerical activism” (pp.190–193) and describes the biographies of a few legionary clergymen and their ties to the movement. Addressing the question of why Orthodox clergymen and theologians got embroiled in the violent, xenophobic turn beginning in the early 1920s, the author emphatically states that, “because of the political leanings of their professors, theology students were at the forefront of anti-Semitic agitations” (p.190). Nevertheless, one question arises concerning the 1930s fascist activism of the Orthodox clergy: apart from the infectious influence of charismatic university and seminary professors, such as Grigore Cristescu (1895–1961), Nichifor Crainic (1889–1972), and Dumitru Iliescu-Palanca (1903–1963), what other explanations are there for the fact that the Orthodox priests and theologians mentioned by Clark publically supported the Iron Guard? Was it for the socio-cultural reasons that appealed to all the Orthodox clergymen, or were there local and individual dynamics? Also, following the argument presented in the theoretical framework envisaged by the author in the introduction, one is prompted to ask what sort of social practices these clergymen engaged in when performing as fascists, in addition to familiar case-studies of public funerals of legionary martyrs, religious commemorations of the dead (parastase), and the blessing of crosses erected by the legionaries. Did they behave as regular fascists or did they act differently from other legionary professional groups because of their constant self-awareness of their clerical vocation?

When writing about the logic of self-sacrifice in the context of the funeral of Ion Moţa and Vasile Marin (Iron Guard leaders killed in the Spanish Civil War in 1937), the author makes a compelling argument concerning the complex relationship between legionary martyrdom and Orthodox rituals: “Legionaries not only stated that church and nation were identical communities that were represented most perfectly by their movement; they enacted these relationships by using Orthodox funerary rituals to commemorate legionaries as national heroes. Legionary nationalism did not replace religious communities with national communities. Through ritual commemorations it reinforced the Orthodox Church as national, and the nation as Orthodox” (p.210). Although these ideas, which involved a symbolic overlap of the nation and the Church, were actually present in the Transylvanian context in the nineteenth century, Clark makes a valuable and original remark related to the symbiotic relationship between legionary and religious nationalism in interwar Romania. As noted by the author, in their search for public legitimization and as a means of augmenting their mass-appeal, the legionaries engaged in rituals that were shared with the Orthodox clergy, even when these public ceremonies were funerals and commemorations for the dead. This bolstered the social relevance of the Orthodox Church for both the members of the Legionary movement and the wider public. The legionaries behaved in this way towards the Orthodox clergymen in order to recall and to reemphasize the importance of so-called organic (what might in other contexts be referred to as native) tradition, the popular religiosity of the Romanian people, and the constant referral to religious rituals and Orthodox symbols in the social memory of the Romanian nation, an initiative favoring the Iron Guard’s utopian dreams of totalitarian political power.

Clark’s assumption that the nineteenth-century Orthodox Church from the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia supported the spread of nationalist movements (p.12) finds little support in the secondary literature on the subject. A more vigorous effort on Clark’s part in his discussion of the alleged precursors of the fascist movement in Romania would perhaps have been necessary in order to present some of his claims more persuasively. Some of his contentions remain unsupported and hypothetical. For the scholar of European Fascism, the absence of a historiographical essay in the introduction is a regrettable shortcoming. Although the author offers insights on the secondary literature on Fascism by shifting his attention towards the works of Roger Griffin, George L. Mosse, Michael Mann, and others, he fails to provide the reader with an analytical assessment of the secondary literature, both foreign and Romanian, on the Iron Guard. He does not make clear how his inquiry builds upon previous research and monographs or how, in its search for originality, the present work relates critically to previous undertakings in the field.

A relevant contribution to the field of fascist studies, Holy Legionary Youth opens new research avenues for students of European Fascism and Eastern European history. Highly interdisciplinary, analytically comprehensive, and informed by a prodigious array of both primary sources and secondary literature, Clark’s book is a much-awaited reading for researchers, university professors, and students alike. It will serve as a useful teaching tool for undergraduate and graduate classes on the interwar history of Eastern Europe, the genesis of interwar anti-Semitism, and everyday life under totalitarian regimes.

Ionuţ Biliuţa

 

Siebenbürger ohne Siebenbürger? Zentralstaatliche Integration und politischer Regionalismus nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg. By Florian Kührer-Wielach. Munich: De Gruyter, 2014. 419 pp.

Writing in 1991 at the end of his career, the Romanian historian David Prodan waded into the resurgent ‘militant history writing’ on Transylvania. In Transylvania and again Transylvania, Prodan dismissed Hungarian national histories of Transylvania as ‘unscientific’ emotional stories. His own study, firmly encamped on the Romanian side, by contrast, purported to tell a dispassionate history of the region. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, Transylvania was a hot topic again. A growing nationalist mood among Hungarians and Romanians culminated in violent clashes in Târgu Mureş in March, which left six dead, hundreds injured, and blinded the poet András Sütő in one eye. Academic disputes, generally ‘so bitter because the stakes are so small’ (as Kissinger famously put it), this time actually mattered.

Florian Kührer-Wielach intervenes in a long-standing debate about Transylvania and Transylvanian identity which has long been dogged by competing nationalist master narratives. In his book Siebenbürgen ohne Siebenbürger? Zentralstaatliche Integration und politischer Regionalismus nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg, Kührer-Wielach examines, often in meticulous detail, the complex web of interwar integration, regionalism, and competing identity politics. His book focuses on Transylvanian Romanians and in so doing tells a different story to those told through the Hungarian or German lens: instead of a narrative of decline, Kührer-Wielach’s book tracks a group in the ascendancy.

Kührer-Wielach opens with an impressive historiographical and methodological section (pp.16–45), situating his work within a cutting edge paradigm of identity studies, Transfergeschichte, regionalism and spatial history. His review of a range of scholarship places his work in a broader framework in an attempt to ‘deprovincialise’ Transylvanian history, though there are some gaps in the bibliography and in practice the focus of the book remains largely regional. He then introduces his readership to a complex history of Romanians in Transylvania, their relationship to the Habsburg Empire/Hungary, their connections to Romanians from Wallachia and Moldova as well as differences to other Romanian minorities, such as in the Banat or Bessarabia. The book explains the historical context, beginning in the late seventeenth century, and builds up to the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire and subsequent inclusion of Transylvania into the Greater Romanian state of the interwar period.

Kührer-Wielach treats us to an institutional and political history of the integration of Transylvania into Greater Romania. It is striking that the main clashes of opinion documented in this study are not between Romanians and Hungarians, but between Romanians themselves. As Kührer-Wielach points out, the integration of Transylvania in the interwar period was perceived by many Transylvanian Romanians as setting back Transylvania to a ‘Wallachian’ level (p.15). Indeed, despite the initial euphoria, Romanians collided on a number of issues. The school system was a particularly divisive issue (pp.139–56). Much of what was enacted from Bucharest in Transylvania had been designed to reverse the Magyarization processes of the previous regime. In that sense, the book details the conventional story of Hungarian-Romanian battles for Transylvanian education. Yet the efforts to centralize and harmonize Greater Romanian schooling also became evident in other ways. Politicians in the Regat were concerned that years of Hungarian control had ‘de-nationalized’ Romanian children (p.140). Combatting such developments demanded lateral solutions. Some politicians even suggested school exchanges between secondary schools in the Old Kingdom and Transylvania, particularly in hotspots such as the Szekler land (p.141). Disagreements also occurred between advocates for the nationalization of schools and the defenders of religious schools. Clerics and religious teachers resisted centralization due to their profound difference on the role of the church in education (p.146). One commentator believed that church schools had been crucial for the ‘racial struggle’ in the Habsburg period, but had lost their raison d’être in unified Romania (p.146). Some educational problems were, however, more mundane: Transylvania faced a shortage of qualified teachers, which central government sought to redress as a matter of urgency (pp.154–56).

Religion played a crucial role in the battle for Transylvania in the interwar period. Romanians who were not Orthodox bore the brunt of central government’s attempts to create a unitary nation-state. Talked up as being the ‘most important institution of Romanians in Transylvania’ (p.160), the Orthodox church assumed a role that was at odds with other established religious institutions in the region: the Greek Catholics, the Catholics, and of course the reformed churches. The Greek Catholic confession was a particular thorn in the side of the more assertive centralizers due to this religion’s secondary allegiance towards Rome (pp.163–70). The interwar period witnessed a full-blown ‘confessional war’ in which politics and religion mingled to create a toxic mix. Likewise, Transylvania also faced a messy ‘war of monuments’ after unification with Romania (pp.180–87). As Maria Bucur’s 2009 study of memory in interwar Romania highlighted in great detail, this was not always a straightforward affair. Instead, local grievances often dictated memory battles, and Kührer-Wielach backs this up in his brief section on monuments and memory.

All these battles conducted in different arenas pointed to one central issue, which Kührer-Wielach addresses in the book’s second substantial section: the identity of Transylvania in a post-imperial setting. Romanian politicians in Transylvania still retained a transnational character formed during their studies and stays in Vienna, Budapest, and elsewhere in the Habsburg Empire (pp.265–67). Even after unification, Romanian Transylvanian thinkers and politicians insisted on their Transylvanian difference. They were more ‘western’, they insisted, and tended to ‘orientalize’ their Wallachian and Moldovan counterparts (p.275). The Old Kingdom was viewed as ‘oriental’ and ‘Venetian’ (p.278). This stance, Kührer-Wielach demonstrates, contributed towards a strengthening of a regional Transylvanian identity, which in turn provoked Romanians from the Regat to paint a disrespectful picture of Transylvanians: they were ‘less smart’, ‘lazy’, and ‘ill-tempted’ (p.276). This was far removed from a picture of Greater Romanian unity. To counter this factionalism, a new wave of Romanian scholarship sought to place Transylvania at the heart of the Romanian master narrative. Transylvania formed the final nexus of symmetry for Romania (p.286). Historical and ethnographic arguments were deployed more aggressively to prove continuity to the Daco-Roman period (p.287). Burebista’s Dacian Empire in the first century BC corresponded, helpfully, with the borders of the Greater Romania. Yet as Kührer-Wielach asserts in the rest of the book, these efforts to integrate Transylvania continued to sit at odds with the strong remnants of regional forces. Transylvania retained its position as a contested borderland, torn between federalism, regionalism, and nationalism.

It is interesting to place this book in a broader historiography on Translyvania which is still largely divided. On the one hand, since the large scale emigration of Romanian Germans from Romania (mainly from Transylvania and the Banat), German scholarship on Transylvania especially among these émigrés, has burgeoned. A once insular and self-referential group of Romanian German émigrés writing in a Cold War anti-communist milieu has since turned into an active and inclusive environment with numerous groups, conferences, and publications. From Studium Transylvanicum – an academic network aimed at younger audience of scholars and members of the general public – to institutes such as the Institute of German Culture and History of Southeast Europe in Munich (where Kührer-Wielach is based), there has been an impressive amount of activity around the issue of Transylvania. At the same time, there has been a distinct Hungarian and Romanian vein of scholarly interest in Transylvania. Romanian publications on Romania and Transylvania in particular have been in dialogue with the aforementioned German interest in all things Transylvanian. This is, in part, due to a movement within Romanian scholarship away from the polemics of the late Cold War. Scholars such as Lucian Boia, Sorin Mitu and others have introduced a far more critical edge to Romanian scholarship by unpacking the very discourses that confine national historiography as a tool of politics. In so doing, there has been a vibrant interchange between Romanian and German language writing on Transylvania in the last two decades.

Yet there is a further field of a lively and growing scholarship on Transylvania in the ‘Anglo-American’ sphere. Transylvania has featured in a recent spate of publications on post-Habsburg regional contests and developments. Holly Case’s Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during World War II (Stanford, 2009) is a major highlight of the new Anglo-American historiography on Transylvania. The work of Maria Bucur, Roland Clark, Tahra Zara and others has all dealt in some form with questions of identity and politics in the Habsburg Lands in the first half of the twentieth century, and Transylvania and Romania have either featured as a central component (Bucur, Clark) or as a comparative element within that body of scholarship. Yet these two scholarly worlds – the ‘German’ and the ‘Anglo-American’ – have rarely been brought into fruitful dialogue. Despite excellent and thoughtful publications on both sides, the lack of interaction is striking, and despite its many merits and obvious value the book under review has also missed the opportunity to bridge the gap.

James Koranyi

 

Mapping Jewish Loyalties in Interwar Slovakia. By Rebekah Klein-Pejšová. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015. 194 pp.

Rebekah Klein-Pejšová offers readers perhaps the first attempt at a comprehensive view of the development of Jewish identities in connection with declarations of political allegiance to the interwar Czechoslovak Republic in 1918–1938. Although the title of the book suggests that the author focuses primarily on the region of Slovakia, in fact the book deals with a broad spectrum of socio-political, historical, and demographic factors which influenced the Jewish communities not only in the interwar period, but also during the last decades before the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

The book consists of five chapters. In the introduction, the author provides the necessary historical, demographic, and other kinds of statistics related to the history of the region and the status of the Jewish population within the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. This information provides an understanding of the initial state of the community and its future prospects in the newly formed state of Czechoslovakia. The author focuses on the concept of the Jewish nationality as a category created by the state in an effort to resolve national issues, issues which involved not only Jewish citizens but also large German-speaking and Hungarian-speaking minorities. This hypothesis is analyzed in detail and further supported in the following chapters.

The chapter “From Hungary to Czechoslovakia” contains more or less familiar historical facts. Particularly interesting are the different approaches of the Austrian and Hungarian parts of the monarchy to the Jewish war refugees from neighboring countries who were seeking protection first in these two lands and later within the borders of Czechoslovakia. This chapter in the history of East European Jewry influenced the formation of Jewish identities in the successor states. In each chapter the author examines the fate of the Jews in Slovakia by introducing partial stories of individuals.

The chapter entitled “Nationality is an Internal Conviction” examines the period in which the Jewish community was integrated into the Czechoslovak state and a search was underway for the “right path” regarding the territory of Slovakia and its majority population, which took place alongside similar efforts to shape Jewish and Czechoslovak identities. The author has mapped opinion movements and expert discussions led by prominent people, including sociologists, statisticians, and demographers, about the definition of nationality for the census in 1919 and 1921. She demonstrates how important the question of nationality was (not only) in the Jewish population in Czechoslovakia from the perspective of the international negotiations at the Paris Conference. She explains the international position of Czechoslovakia, the insecurity among the citizenry of the new country which was due in large part to the dramatic political changes, and the instability of the political border with Hungary. Under many pressures, including pressures from Hungary, not only Jews had to decide on their ethnicity and nationality, questions that were of vital importance to their civil and political futures in the new state. Klein-Pejšová analyzes the elections in 1920 and the formation of Jewish political parties and public spaces in which Jews could pursue national politics. She supports her findings with an in-depth analysis and interpretation of statistics, accompanied by clear tables.

The chapter “Contested Loyalty” solves a specific problem faced by the Neolog community in Slovakia, which was from a historical point of view close to the Hungarian Neolog movement and Hungarian culture. The author cites several examples to demonstrate the process of drawing attention and sentiment away from the Budapest Neolog center and the gradual reorientation to the geopolitical changes in Europe, which contributed to the creation of a new collective self-understanding among members of the Jewish community as “Slovak Jews.” Klein-Pejšová addresses several aspects of the issue, including the pressure exerted by the Czechoslovak state and politicians not to use the Hungarian language, various manifestations of loyalty (including the enforcement of loyalty), and the arguments of representatives of civil and political life from within the community to its members about their civil orientation in Czechoslovakia. Klein-Pejšová also includes into her analyses the pressures that were put by Hungarian irredentist policies on the Neologs in Slovakia, which, according to her, ultimately proved counterproductive.

In the chapter “Between the Nationalities” Klein-Pejšová focuses on the pressures that were put on Jews who had already found “the right path” to Czechoslovakia by Hungary and Germany in the 1930s. She draws attention to the important fact that the existence of a political construct of “Jewish nationality” at the same time limited the linguistic and cultural rights of the Hungarian and German minorities, which were tied to the proportion of a given minority (at least 20 percent) in an electoral district. This problem is also reflected in the 1930 census, in which Jewish nationality was again used as a category regardless of mother tongue. The chapter focuses on discussions throughout the political and national spectrum and also abroad, concluding with an analysis of the Slovak autonomy policies against Jews. Klein-Pejšová analyzes the reasons why these policies were rejected by the majority society, beginning with the exclusive pro-Christian policy of the Slovak autonomist movement. At the same time, the book explains why Jews were important from the perspective of the territorial integrity of Czechoslovakia and also why Slovak autonomists failed to win widespread support within Jewish communities.

Klein-Pejšová refutes the frequently mentioned stereotype according to which Jews were Hungarians (or people who had been “Magyarized”), which is often found in the Slovak literature. She presents the ways in and means with which the Jewish communities of Slovakia negotiated their identities and their relationships to the Czechoslovak Republic in the interwar period, as well as the differing opinions and attitudes with respect to these identities and the consequences of “belonging” and not “belonging.” Klein-Pejšová argues persuasively in support of the conclusion that the Jewish communities living in Slovakia were loyal to the Czechoslovak Republic.

Klein-Pejšová has worked with an array of archival and statistical material and secondary sources, which she analyzes and interprets with precision. She has made substantial contributions to Judaic studies in Slovakia. In particular, I appreciate her efforts to put the topics in the broad international context of the interwar period, which is unfortunately a rare undertaking in Slovak historiography. At the same time, the work could have offered deeper insight into the situation of the Slovak Jewry. For instance, the sometimes tense relationships between the Orthodox, the Neolog and the “status quo ante” communities could have been discussed in more details. The reader gets the impression that the Neolog community was predominant in Slovakia, whereas in fact, the Orthodox were superior in number. The work also lacks the context of works by other scholars, e.g. Peter Salner, who has studied Jewish identity and community transformations in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Robert Büchler, one of the editors of the four-volume Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Slovakia (2009–2014), and Hugo Gold, one of the editors of a compilation of the archival materials on Bratislava’s Jewish community from the 1930s. Had she taken such precautions, Klein-Pejšová would have avoided including some inaccurate and incomplete data.

In conclusion, Rebekah Klein-Pejšová’s monograph is a significant contribution to our understanding of the history of the Jews in Slovakia during the interwar period, a history that has only barely begun to be told. It provides an essential starting point for more detailed analyses of Jewish identities, loyalties, and life strategies on the regional and local level. I believe that in a short time a Slovak translation will be available, and it will perhaps contribute to the gradual elimination of deep-rooted stereotypes regarding this community.

Ivica Bumová

 

Priest, Politician, Collaborator: Jozef Tiso and the Making of Fascist Slovakia. By James Malice Ward. Ithaca: Cornell University Press 2013. 362 pp.

The life and work of Jozef Tiso, the leading politician of the Hlinkova slovenská ľudová strana (Hlinka’s Slovak People’s Party, HSĽS) during the First Czechoslovak Republic and the president of the Slovak Republic between 1939 and 1945, have not previously been made the subject of systematic inquiry. Apart from books with an “apologetic” intention (Milan S. Ďurica, Jozef Tiso, 1887 – 1947: Životopisný profil [2006]), until now only conference proceedings from 1992 (Valerián Bystrický, ed., Pokus o politický a osobný profil Jozefa Tisu) and the biographical essay of the Slovak historian Ivan Kamenec (Tragédia politika, kňaza a človeka: Dr. Jozef Tiso, 1887 – 1947 [1998 and 2013]) were available. In light of this, James Malice Ward’s dissertation from 2008 at Stanford University marked a real breakthrough in the research on the life and personality of Jozef Tiso, especially with respect to its broad focus and inclusion of new sources.

Ward’s book on Tiso is shorter than his doctoral dissertation, but the structure, basic thesis, and conclusions remain unchanged. The volume is divided into eight chronological chapters, which deal with Tiso’s activity during the Hungarian era before 1918, his entry into politics and his successful career in the First Czechoslovak Republic, his controversial rise to the position as head of the wartime Slovak state, and his fall, political trial, and execution for treason after World War II. The closing remarks are devoted to the emergence and continuance of Tiso’s cult and attempts that have been made to offer critical interpretations of this cult.

James Ward reconstructs the formation of Tiso’s Weltanschauung in the context of Political Catholicism or, more precisely, the Christian socialism with which he became familiar during his studies at the prestigious Pazmáneum College in Vienna. Ward examines the beginnings of Tiso’s pastoral activity and the important moment of the Great War, which Tiso experienced as military chaplain on the Eastern Front in Galicia. As it did for so many others, for Tiso this experience foreshadowed the brutalization of politics in interwar Europe.

The chapters on Tiso’s role during the “revolutionary” events of 1918 and 1919 are essential with regard to Ward’s thesis. Ward investigates Tiso’s metamorphosis from a rather apolitical loyal Hungarian citizen to a Slovak nationalist who made an important contribution in a local context to the establishment of the new Czechoslovak state. Still, the downside of this development was political radicalization and the search for an “enemy”: it was the first time that Tiso used aggressive anti-Semitism to rally against “Jewish Magyarones” and “Judeobolshevists.”

In view of such a political inauguration, it is confusing to note that Tiso became the most important figure of the moderate HSĽS faction in the 1920s. Ward explores Tiso’s strategy according to his Catholic philosophy as a desire for compromise between spiritual and secular power. This offers some explanation as to why Tiso remained a moderate as long as the political circumstances required moderation, whereas during “revolutionary” times the very same desire led him to adopt more radical positions. According to Ward, it was the same Catholic dilemma that prompted Tiso to refrain from exploiting anti-Semitism in the 1930s. Tiso’s reputation was tarnished immediately after the so-called Munich Agreement in 1938, when the European powers legalized Hitler’s annexations at the expense of Czechoslovak integrity. As a consequence, the autonomy of Slovakia was proclaimed, and Tiso became the chairman of the Slovak autonomous government, which was dominated by the HSĽS. Tiso’s radicalization was again accompanied by anti-Semitism. He bore responsibility for the deportation of thousands of “unwelcomed Jews” to the new Slovak-Hungarian borderland in revenge for alleged Jewish support for the First Vienna Award, which made southern Slovak territories with largely Magyar-speaking inhabitants part of Hungary.

In March 1939 Czechoslovakia was finally destroyed and a new Slovak State was established. Tiso was elected Head of State later that year. His presidency, especially his responsibility for the so-called “solution of the Jewish question,” remains a matter of controversy. The HSĽS regime deprived tens of thousands of Jewish citizens of their basic rights, expropriated them, and in 1942 deported a large majority of them to German-occupied Poland, where almost all of them were murdered.

After 1938, Tiso increasingly turned away from the principles of so-called natural law and moderate nationalism. As Head of State, he subordinated Slovak and Christian socialist interests to German and National Socialist interests. He would eventually silence his radical opponents within the HSĽS by taking over their arguments. Especially concerning the “Jewish question,” he was sometimes the driving force behind their activities. This was true last but not least regarding the Hlinka Guard, the paramilitary group within the HSĽS. Tiso and his office submitted proposals for “solutions to the Jewish question,” and Tiso sometimes made concessions to members of the Hlinka Guard.

No less controversial were Tiso’s actions after the so-called Salzburg negotiations in the summer of 1940, which strengthened the radical faction within the HSĽS, led by Prime Minister Vojtech Tuka and Interior Minister Alexander Mach. Tiso never distanced himself from the building of so-called Slovak National Socialism, and he used it for his own benefit or at least made efforts to reconcile it with his own ideology of Christian socialism. Contrary to the nostalgic clichés of the “prosperous Slovak State,” neither a large-scale housing and electrification project nor land reform measures were implemented. In this case too, the social question was overshadowed by the “Jewish question.” In particular, Tiso defended and even promoted “Aryanization,” in accordance with his old argument about the necessity of building a “Slovak middle class,” in effect succumbing to the temptation of rampant corruption.

Beginning in the autumn of 1941, Tiso became more and more radical. Despite criticism from the Vatican, he was unable or not even willing to distance himself from the racist principles of the so-called “Jewish Code,” which summarized the Slovak anti-Jewish acts. On the contrary, after the return from the Eastern front in October 1941, he rediscovered the slogan of “Judeobolshevism.” In January of 1942, Tiso called for the adoption of more “effective measures” against the already completely disenfranchised and deprived Slovak Jews, several weeks after the conclusion of the agreement with the Nazi Germany regarding the deportation of Slovak Jews. Tiso thus agreed with the deportations, even before he (ex post) confirmed them by signing the constitutional law of May 1942. It makes no difference that Tiso simultaneously sanctioned exemptions from the Jewish Code, which applied mostly to converts, Christians by birth, and economically “irreplaceable” and “assimilated” Jews. It was no coincidence that Tiso shortly afterwards declared himself Vodca (Leader), who was “always right.”

Nevertheless, as of mid-1944 Tiso began losing control over his state, and after the outbreak of the Slovak National Uprising he completely subordinated himself to his Nazi protector. The end of Nazi rule in Europe thus also marked the end of Tiso’s career and life. The new Czechoslovak rulers sentenced him to death and executed him, and in doing so contributed to the inauguration of his cult as a “national martyr.” In the last chapter of his book, Ward describes how after 1989 Slovak emigrants tried to revive Tiso’s cult in Slovakia.

In his biography, Ward charts new territories both in Slovak history and in the historiography of Slovakia. He pays particular attention to the intellectual influences which fueled Tiso’s ideology. He does not content himself with vague and controversial categories such as “authoritarian conservatism” or “clero-fascism.” However, terms such as “modernization” and “revolution,” which Ward uses to describe Tiso’s radicalization in 1918–1919 and 1938, respectively, are no less problematic. One would expect a more precise conceptualization of these key terms. References to a distinguished scholar of Fascism, Roger Griffin, suggest that Ward inclines towards Griffin’s interpretation of Fascism as a variant of “Modernism.” However, this should be more closely linked to the understanding of historical figures in the “age of Fascism” (cf. Roger Griffin, “Political Modernism and the Cultural Production of ‘Personalities of the Right’ in Inter-War Europe,” in The Shadow of Hitler: Personalities of the Right in Central and Eastern Europe, ed. by Rebecca Haynes [2011]).

Notwithstanding these objections, James Malice Ward has written a book for which both the Slovak public and historians have been waiting for decades. Hopefully it will soon be published in Slovak translation.

Miloslav Szabó

 

Jewish Resistance to “Romanianization”, 1940–44. By Stefan Cristian Ionescu. Palgrave Studies in the History of Genocide. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 267 pp.

Although he is treading on well-worn paths in Holocaust and genocide studies, in his book Stefan Cristian Ionescu offers several new insights into a topic which might be regarded as having already been made the subject of exhaustive study. Not only does the work provide a coherent and comprehensive overview of the manner in which the Romanianization process unfolded during the years of World War II, which is in itself a new enterprise (so far, no other expert has attempted to provide such a thorough overview of the facts), it also offers the reader a clear picture of the historical (political, social, and economic) background from which these development emerged.

Divided into eight chapters and a conclusion, Ionescu’s book reveals the author’s thorough familiarity with both older and more recent specialized literature. His readings are impressive and cover a variety of perspectives and sources from several countries. For instance, the chapter focused on the fate of Bucharest’s Jews in 1940–44, which opens the volume (“Introduction: World War II Bucharest and its Jews”), gives the reader a balanced overview of the main historical events of the time and interpretations of these events by the most important scholars in the field (Jean Ancel, Dennis Deletant, Armin Heinen, Carol Iancu, Mihai Chioveanu, Radu Ioanid, etc.). It also provides an interesting comparison with previous nationalization policies of the Romanian state, which constitutes a new and welcome contribution to the subject. The introduction additionally bases its interrogation of the process of Romanianization on local theoretical grounds, showing that this process had deep and strong Romanian intellectual roots and was not an import or imitation of another model (which does not mean, however, that the Romanianization process was not well part of larger trends at the time, as Ionescu rightly mentions). Ionescu clearly underlines the goals and targets of this process, and he does not neglect mention of the Roma as one of the targets. Furthermore, the use of carefully selected and verified interviews, letters, diaries, memoirs, and court rulings as research sources alongside the usual statistics, archival documents, and materials from the press is an original and innovative approach in tackling the wartime condition of the Jews of Bucharest, especially since their situation was quite different from that of their coreligionists in the rest of the country, with its three component parts (the former Principalities of Wallachia, Moldova, and Transylvania), as Ionescu indeed reveals by adopting a comparative perspective.

Ionescu’s thorough effort to trace the roots and evolution of the Romanian anti-Jewish legislation and analyze this legislation in relation to similar laws passed in the neighboring and allied countries, in particular Germany (Chapter 2, “Romanianization Legislation: Concepts, (Mis)interpretations and Conflicts”), constitutes another contribution to the field, especially in regard to “the burden and ambiguity of ethnicity during the Antonescu regime: the problematic concepts of ethnic Romanian, Jew and German” and the “state institutions’ complaints against the formalities of Romanianization legislation and the misinterpretations of these laws by courts and public agencies.” Neither of these topics has been given much attention by other experts in the recent past. Similarly useful and welcome is Ionescu’s original review of two particular cases of exemptions from Romanianization and their respective outcomes: that of the foreign Jews (with all the implications and subsequent, sometimes beneficial complications that the notion entailed) and that of the Jews who converted to (various types of) Christianity.

Ionescu analyzes another rather neglected aspect of the process in the third chapter, “The Romanianization Bureaucracy.” This gives him an opportunity not only to describe the structure and roles of the bureaucracy, but also to document what is considered “common knowledge” but has not really been addressed in detail, i.e. the fact that the enterprise, the Romanianization of the bureaucracy, was doomed to fail from its inception due to the ways in which Romanians sabotaged it from the inside through nepotism, intentional and unintentional poor management, and bribery, to which the author adds as his own contribution a new and persuasive argument: the lack of consistent state policy.

In its turn, in addition to giving a thorough review of the various categories of people and organizations that benefited, directly or indirectly, from the process, whether in cash (bribery) or in kind (real estate), and as a result of more or less determined (at times even aggressive) competitive pursuit, the chapter on “The Beneficiaries of Romanianization” allows Ionescu to originally ponder a number of intellectuals’ sometimes shocking lack of understanding of the psychological implications of their participation in theft, such as Camil Petrescu, who built his literary career on a (Jewish) Hillel scholarship (1914–19), or Alice Voinescu, who was otherwise very sympathetic to Jewish plight.

Another interesting contribution to the field is Ionescu’s insight into “Romanianization versus Germanization” (chapter 5), which brings to the forefront the subject—which has been largely overlooked—of local and foreign German competition for Romanian Jewish properties and the negative reactions it prompted both among the state officials and the general public. Ionescu thus analyzes the reactions of the Germans to the different treatments to which they were subjected by the Romanian authorities: the properties of the Germans who left Romania to join the Waffen SS were Romanianized, while Germans who remained in Romania were allowed to preserve their assets, to the dissatisfaction of the majority; however, no German, whether local or foreign, was permitted to obtain any benefit from the properties confiscated from the Jews, much to their dissatisfaction.

In regard to “Deportation and Robbery: The Roma Targets of Romanianization” (chapter 6), relying on published and unpublished documentation made available by Romanian and foreign experts, Ionescu draws some interesting conclusions of his own, not without merit. He sketches a series of new social and racial nuances in the interpretation of the reasons behind the deportation process, and he rightly underlines the differences between Jewish and Roma victimhood, both in the eyes of the authorities and in the eyes of the majority population.

By and large, “Jewish Legal Resistance to Romanianization” (chapter 7) is a valuable account of the struggle to fight the state with its own means. Drawing heavily on recently discovered archival documents and the existing secondary literature, Ionescu manages to come up with a clear picture of the chaos ruling the wartime Romanian legal system, which complicated the Romanianization process and allowed a number of Jews to outwit it, thus giving a new dimension to the analysis, which so far has dealt more with the Jewish initiatives and acts and less with their results.

Finally, based almost exclusively on recently discovered archival material and diaries, “Sabotaging the Process of Romanianization” (chapter 8) proposes an entirely new approach to the subject from a rare perspective. This chapter constitutes Ionescu’s main personal academic contribution to the historiography of World War II Romania. This is undoubtedly the book’s strongest point.

All in all, the variety of sources, innovative approaches, and original insights make the volume a significant contribution to the historiography of the Romanian Holocaust. Its only downside is that while it is called Jewish Resistance to Romanianization, 1940–44, only two of its eight chapters deal with Jewish resistance. The rest are devoted to the various aspects of the Romanianization process itself. This is not to say that the six chapters dealing with the process were not necessary or should have been shorter. On the contrary, the book should perhaps have been longer and also should have included more discussion of other forms of resistance among Jews (educational, cultural, spiritual, etc.), which Ionescu mentions but does not dwell upon. However, this does not make the book any less important as a very useful tool for both researchers and students in the field of Holocaust studies.

Felicia Waldman

 

Magyar megszálló csapatok a Szovjetunióban, 1941–1944: Esemény – elbeszélés – utóélet [Hungarian occupation forces in the Soviet Union, 1941–1944: Event, narrative, afterlife]. By Krisztián Ungváry. Budapest: Osiris, 2015. 468 pp.

In most accounts of the Second World War, the role attributed to the Hungarian Army is often reduced to that of cannon fodder for the Wehrmacht, due above all to the military disaster at the Don River in early 1943. It is much less widely known that Hungarian units were also deployed as occupying forces in the Soviet Union, where they were charged with the task of controlling territories about twice the size of their home country. In Hungary itself, in the 70 years that passed since the war, there has been no scholarly discourse and very little awareness of the role of these units. So what were their tasks, how did they adapt to the situation, and to what extent were they responsible for war crimes or even genocide? In his well-researched book, Krisztián Ungváry addresses these questions.

Ungváry’s book begins with a description of the Germans’ occupation policies after their attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941. Despite some general—and extremely drastic—ideas laid down in the Generalplan Ost, the Germans were far from prepared for a prolonged war on the territory of the Soviet Union. As a consequence, they were constantly improvising, and hardly ever gained full control of the territories they occupied. Often villages would not be visited by a single representative of the occupiers for months. Moreover, there were constant internal conflicts concerning how to deal with the local population: while the political leadership in Berlin, above all Himmler’s Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), was issuing orders to suppress the local population by all means and was pushing for the murder of Jews, Roma, prisoners of war, and hospital patients, some senior officers of the Wehrmacht were trying to maintain viable relations with the local population, if only out of self-interest.

The second chapter is dedicated to the origins and the structure of the partisan war in the USSR. Ungváry’s description closely follows recent German studies, notably those of Christian Gerlach and Bogdan Musial, who have shown how the Soviet partisan movement, while largely ineffective from a military point of view, was a constant menace to the local population, fueling the spiral of terror wherever they were active.

It is in this context that Hungarian forces, about 40,000 troops in total, were deployed as auxiliary forces of the Germans. They were subordinate to the Wehrmacht’s command, but communication between the two armies was not always smooth. In some instances, Hungarians pursued different policies towards the locals, for example by protecting ethnic Poles from Ukrainian nationalists. Often, the relationships with the inhabitants varied according to the ethnicity of the soldiers in Hungarian uniform: in many cases, the army deployed large numbers soldiers belonging to ethnic minorities who hardly spoke the language of their superiors but were able to communicate with the locals.

There were two main zones of Hungarian deployment, and they were fundamentally different from each other: the western zone in western and central Ukraine remained largely quiet throughout the war, while the eastern zone in eastern Ukraine, reaching into Belarus and Russia, was right at the center of the partisan war.

Large segments of the book are dedicated to detailed accounts of military operations against supposed partisans. They are based mainly on the reports of the Hungarian units, sometimes juxtaposed with the German data. Ungváry urges the reader to be cautious with the numbers: while data about losses on the side of the organ providing the data tend to be credible, data concerning losses allegedly inflicted on the enemy are not only often inaccurate, in many cases the term “enemy losses” is simply a euphemism for the murder of civilians during an operation.

Another long and persuasively documented section is dedicated to the complicity of Hungarian troops in the Holocaust. Beginning with the end of the summer of 1941, the Einsatzgruppen and several other specialized units systematically murdered the Jewish population in the Soviet Union. As Ungváry shows, Hungarian troops were very often involved in the process, particularly in the western zone. The evidence suggests that in most cases their task was to drive the victims to the shooting pits or to stand guard during the murders. Occasionally, Hungarians were also among the gunmen. Quoting private correspondence from the lowest to the highest ranks, Ungváry proves that as early as 1941, there was general knowledge of the murder of the Jews not only in the army ranks, but also in the political leadership, up to Horthy himself. More shockingly, the mass murder of Jews seems to have been regarded as normal by most of the men involved. During the last year of the war, news was spreading in the opposite direction too. In other words, Hungarian soldiers were well aware of the deportation of Hungarian Jews in 1944. Asked about their motivation to carry on, many soldiers expressed their hope that they would receive chunks of confiscated Jewish property upon returning home.

In conclusion, Ungváry states that the conduct of the Hungarian occupying forces varied greatly according to the situation on the ground, especially with regards to the intensity of partisan warfare. He maintains that—except for their obvious involvement in the murder of the Jews, which took place predominantly in the western zone—there can be no talk of a genocide against the local population committed by the Hungarian occupying forces. Still, the overall behavior of the troops was appalling, especially in the eastern zone. Ungváry argues that while there was plenty of room for individual decision-making, the overall record of the Hungarian army often tends to be even worse than that of the Wehrmacht: “Poor equipment, insufficient training, minority complexes leading to overcompensation, and the irresponsibility resulting from the ‘guest role’ all had a radicalizing effect on the behavior of the Hungarian officers and soldiers” (p.436).

The last chapter of the book deals with the judicial afterlife. That the authorities in the post-war era were neither able to uncover nor interested in uncovering the truth in a systematic manner is not unexpected. However, the fact that after 1990 Hungarian courts in several cases rehabilitated officers who had been convicted of war crimes without even bothering to cite the evidence is somewhat depressing.

Unfortunately, the book does have its weaknesses. For instance, there is no map showing the entire theater of operations. Photographs are often placed in an inexplicable context. This is particularly true of the rather misleading cover picture of a Ukrainian woman greeting friendly Hungarian officers with flowers. Ungváry also tends to overemphasize the importance of discipline inside the Wehrmacht, while not devoting enough attention to other German and auxiliary units which spread unprecedented terror on the ground. These preconceptions concerning supposed German perfectionism are especially irritating when it comes to the detailed descriptions of mass shootings. The same authors that Ungváry quotes do not fail to point out that this type of mass murder was brutal, bloody and chaotic, but Ungváry chooses to ignore that.

Still, this is an important and indeed groundbreaking book. The lively public debates and the unusually large number of copies sold show that there is a genuine need in Hungarian society to come to terms with these widely unknown chapters of its past. Ungváry’s book is a major step forward and will hopefully inspire other researchers to uncover more on the everyday reality of life and death behind the front lines.

Ádám Kerpel-Fronius

 

A jelenkori magyar társadalom [Contemporary Hungarian society]. By Tibor Valuch. Budapest: Osiris, 2015. 300 pp.

The “change of regime” and “post-socialism”1 have been catchwords which have produced a voluminous literature since the collapse of “actually existing” socialism both internationally and nationally in the Eastern and Central European regions. The capitalist modernization project received ideological support from transition theory, which dominated the discourse on transformation in the first few years after 1989–1991. Since the adoption of Western institutions ranked high on the political agenda in the East-Central European countries, the main focus of the literature was political science and other “timely” issues, such as privatization and economic restructuring. Social history lagged behind, in spite of the fact that, as the events of the 1990s showed, the prognosis of transitology—according to which the newly established democracies would soon catch up with the consumption levels of the advanced Western countries—was not accurate.

In Hungary, this consensus changed in the second half of the first decade of the new millennium, when well-known sociologists published a number of studies in which they contended that the new societies had taken forms that differed from the prognoses (or illusions) of the dissident intellectuals who actively participated in the change of regime. These differences became manifest in the field of social policy as analyzed by Zsuzsa Ferge, the appearance of a new Hungarian underclass as shown by János Ladányi, and the whole work of the left-wing sociologist Erzsébet Szalai, who envisaged a society closer to the Latin American type, characterized by large social and economic inequalities, than to the often idealized Western model.

One important merit of Tibor Valuch’s book is that it is the first synthesis which provides a remarkably balanced picture of contemporary Hungarian society both for academics and the wider audience. Valuch has consulted an impressive amount of secondary literature. Moreover, he systematizes a very diverse array of materials from two perspectives, that of a sociologist and that of a historian, because he is a leading expert of post-World War II social history of Hungary. Given the fact that the post-socialist era serves as a battlefield for various competing ideologies and paradigms, his discussion of the interpretations of the change of regime and the diverse secondary literature on which he bases his inquiry merits unambiguous praise. In the secondary literature coming out of Hungary, critical theories, especially those which share affinities with Marxism, often fall victim to a conspiracy of silence. Valuch’s book, in contrast, will be enjoyable and revealing reading to anyone who prefers facts to historical myths and political ideologies.

Hungary’s situation was unique in the Eastern Bloc because, as Valuch writes, the late Kádár-regime, in its essence, was a period in which concessions and greater freedoms were granted to all segments of the population in order to preserve political rule. Dissent had no real social basis and the extension and spread of the second economy in itself hindered active participation in the work of the opposition” (p.26). Disappointment with the change of regime and the building of a new, capitalist society reinforced hopes for a distinctive “third way,” neither socialist nor liberal, in Hungary. It was in this social context that the introduction of the so-called autocratic meta-democracy took place in 2010 (p.20), and its consolidation continues today. It is perhaps worth noting that the so-called third way is an important political metaphor in the rhetoric of the far-right wing party Jobbik.

The volume gives a similarly objective and detailed but not exhaustive overview of the physical and mental map of contemporary Hungary from the perspectives of demography, regional economics, the ethnic makeup of the regions, social stratification, political activity, national consciousness, social policy, and various forms of deviance. The structure of the book is logical. The individual chapters provide answers whether we are examining specific, focused questions or are interested in larger trends, which provide daily fodder for the public media. One such issue is low birth rates in contemporary Hungary. The birth rate was decreasing in the socialist period, but it was in 1998 that it first fell below 100,000 births a year, and it has remained below this level ever since. There are many explanations for this decline in the number of births: interrogation of gender roles just as traditional gender roles are largely reinforced by mainstream politicians, an increase in the number of single people, emigration to the West (one should not forget that it is typically young people of childbearing age who leave the country), and the impoverishment of large segments of the population. The unstable job situation (flexible employment, public work, informal work, etc.) can be also a frequent cause of childlessness. It is worth mentioning here that Stefano Bottoni, who investigated the post-1944 history of Eastern Europe, considered the emigration of members of the younger generations as one of the most important challenges that the East Central European societies and governments would have to face and to which they have to find a political answer (Stefano Bottoni, A várva várt Nyugat: Kelet-Európa története 1944-től napjainkig [2014]).

The second, similarly neuralgic point is the large inequality that characterizes Hungarian regions. The underclass is concentrated in small settlements, where the lack of job opportunities leads to other inequalities. These inequalities include the lack of quality educational opportunities, the lack of health care, the lack of public transport, and the failure of the majority society to encourage or allow the populations of these settlements to integrate. Thus, whole regions lag behind and/or lose contact with the Hungary of the twenty-first century. The main characteristic of the underclass is precisely this cumulative deprivation, and as a result, the opportunities for the generations growing up in these settlements have also been cumulatively deteriorating. New poverty does not mean that there is not enough clothing for the needy, but rather that there is no chance for upward social mobility. The children of the poor (and the majority of the Roma population is poor) are effectively segregated in ghettoized settlements, in part due to ineffective social and educational policy, which, indeed, is so ineffective in addressing social inequalities that one is tempted to think that it is meant to preserve rather than challenge the status quo.

The chapters on social stratification and the transformation of the elite are especially illuminating in part because Valuch examines the ways in which Hungarian society differs from the Western ideal. Without going into detail concerning the inequalities that existed under state socialism, one can safely state that the new capitalist society in Hungary has produced much greater inequalities. As Zsuzsa Ferge concludes, post-1989 Hungarian social policy could not counterbalance these negative trends effectively. Furthermore, in certain cases it reinforced existing inequalities because it primarily favored the middle class (Zsuzsa Ferge, Vágányok és vakvágányok a társadalompolitikában [2012]). I have only one critical comment regarding these chapters: the issue of integration into the job market would have merited more emphasis, since membership in the middle class today presupposes a job and job security. It is important to remember that the specific and distinctive aspect of social change in Eastern Europe is precisely the fact that, while in Western Europe we can still speak of a large middle class (in spite of the crisis of 2008), in Eastern Europe neither wages nor employment security developed in a way that would have led to the emergence of a middle class of a similar position and size. We can also add, on the basis of the research of Erzsébet Szalai, that the national elite is divided: the interests of the so-called national middle class often differ from the aspirations of the international elite, which is linked to global capital. The book would have greatly benefitted from a more analytical discussion of the reasons behind the manifest differences between contemporary Hungarian society and the Western model as envisaged by the liberals of the post-socialist era. This critical observations, however, does not influence my general opinion that the book is highly worth reading for anyone who seeks to understand post-socialist Hungarian society based on objective indicators.

In order to understand the post-socialist social milieu, it is essential to have a deep and less ideologically biased knowledge of state socialism, which remains a challenging task both for historians and sociologists. The “conspiracy of silence,” by which I am referring to the aspiration to exclude the socialist era from Hungarian history or present it as a regime which was simply thrust upon the country, is little more than a gross repetition of the academic policy of the Rákosi regime, which sought to equate the whole Horthy era with Fascism. Valuch’s book shows that it is possible to include competing narratives in a book on national history while also fostering real academic debate about the meaning and content of state socialism and the change of regime.

Eszter Bartha

1 To be sure, some authors already speak of post-postsocialism.