pdfVolume 2 Issue 3 CONTENTS

Klaus-Jürgen Hermanik

Arts and Artists as Intermediaries in Identity Management and Ethnomanagement: Examples from the German Minority in Hungary and the Hungarian and German Minorities in Transylvania

 

My research on arts and artists in connection with minority issues centers around the fact that both serve as crucial instruments in the creation of the collective identity of a particular ethnic group. Moreover, my results should demonstrate that arts and artists passively are used and actively act as intermediaries in the identity management and ethnomanagement of minorities.

Further issues of this broad heading will be: the visible effects, if an artist belongs to a minority, if an artist feels he or she belongs to a minority, and the influence of this on his or her work. What are the reasons for an organizational commitment to the identity management and ethnomanagement of his/her ‘own ethnic group’ and vice versa?

Answers to these questions are based on research on the German minority in Hungary (Ungarndeutsche) and the Hungarians (erdélyi magyarok) and Germans (Siebenbürger Sachsen, Banater Schwaben) in Transylvania. The examples will be divided on the basis of the different genres of literature and the fine arts: concerning minority literature the focus will be on the interaction of literature and the intentional use of the minority language as an ethnic marker. Furthermore, the reciprocity of minority literature and ethno-political careers will be reflected in some biographical examples. Fine arts have the advantage, unlike literature, that they are a priori a universally understandable medium, and the paper will elaborate on the following topics: the question of which artistic works (e.g. statues, emblems on buildings, monuments) are directly linked to the culture of remembrance of the abovementioned ethnic groups and to what extent is fine arts important as a means of representing the German and Hungarian minorities in public space as a form of the “visual materialization” of ethnic identity and ethnic politics?

Keywords: ethnomanagement, arts, ethnic groups, Germans in Hungary, Hungarians and Germans in Transylvania, minority politics, culture of remembrance

A Theoretical Approach to Identity and Ethnomanagement

A short survey of the notions of identity management and ethnomanagement should be introduced into the theoretical aspects of the topic before I present my research on the role of the arts and artists within the wide range of ethnicity and minority policies.1 This creates a framework for comparison of my examples from literature, the fine arts, and the performing arts in connection with the concept of ethnomanagement, which I have developed in my habilitation thesis.2

Although the two terms, “identity management” and “ethnomanagement” are put on equal footing, I prefer the use of the term ethnomanagement in my research, instead of the notion of identity management, because the common state-of-the-art use of the term identity management was monopolized by the IT branch to delineate the administration of personal data. The first part of the compound ethno-management refers to basic terms like ethnos, ethnic group and ethnicity; simultaneously the term is structured like ethnopolitics or ethnopolicies. The second part of the compound ethno-management refers to the action that what will happen to the first part: the semantic weight of the notion of management finds itself between ‘to service, to guide’ and ‘to administrate, to head’ and, it expresses its close affinity to its close affinity to the term identity management.3

Moreover, this ethnomanagement concept draws attention more to the protagonists, who make use of the constructedness of ethnicity to its full capacity. The protagonists, called ethnomanagers, try to gain influence on important ethnic markers,4 which constitute ethnicity in the end. Both identity management and ethnomanagement are per se active and goal oriented terms or quantities. That means, at a semantic level, that these managers must have had clear intentions.

In my field work the main focus was laid on the protagonists of the societies of the German5 and Hungarian ethnic groups, where ethnomanagers clearly perform their activities, and furthermore, on those of various cultural institutions of the minorities. I ascertained that i) in a narrower sense ethnomanagers intentionally work in the field of minority politics; ii) in a broader sense people who teach in minority schools or work in minority media or in minority arts are themselves actors, as these institutions exert implicit control over minority monitoring and they can be considered ethnomanagers in certain cases.

Another invariable in this context is the adherence to the nation state model and its majority versus minority structure, as well as the assertion of the rights of the particular minority the political participation of minorities within the institutional framework of the nation state.6 The best brief example is the double identity of Germans in Hungary—the German term Ungarndeutsche(r) demonstrates it more descriptively—because any solution that demanded a full commitment to belonging to the minority would misrepresent the everyday culture of the Hungarian–German double identity.7 And one should not ignore the fact that each majority population within a nation state tends towards assimilatory cultural practices, and with regard to the Germans in Hungary Küpper predicts that in the near future the members of the German minority in Hungary will not be fully committed to this minority identity, and even the hitherto “half commitment” would fail to appear.8

So, each ethnic group,9 whether it is a majority or minority, develops specific strategies of ethnomanagement in close interdependence with political, legal and socioeconomic conditions. What they all have in common is that the essential parameters of inclusion and exclusion will be presented as “naturally grown,” very much like the essential ethnic markers, heritage and language. Therefore, ethnomanagers refer simply to these key aspects of preserving their own cultural identity to legitimize ethnomanagement activities in the first place. Furthermore, each symbolic representation of an ethnic group is constituted of overlapping political and cultural symbols, and it seems obvious that this subarea brings the political aspects of ethnomanagement together with arts and artists by developing a particular concern to interfere in the cultural life of the particular ethnic group and its representations.

Examples from German and Hungarian Minority Literature

Concerning the literary genre “minority literature” focus will be laid on the interaction of literature and the intentional use of the minority language as an essential part of ethnomanagement. This mirrors the alternatives of language perception as a dialect and minority language in contrast with majority language, not to mention language as an artistic means of expression and ethnic marker. Further topics and questions include the reciprocity of minority literature concerning the selection of literary themes with regard to the recipients, as well as with regard to subvention funds. Is it enough if an author considers himself “deutsch”, or is it advantageous to address issues concerning the culture or the past of the German minority in Hungary or Transylvania—and does this also apply to the Hungarians in Transylvania and the use of the Hungarian language in literature? However, I do not intend to become entangled in a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of fictional versus non-fictional means of expression.

My few examples begin with the work of a Nobel Prize winner. In 2009, when the German author Herta Müller, who was born in the Romanian village Nitzkydorf, won the Nobel Prize, the Germans in Romania had set a process into operation that aims to monopolize her and her literature for their own ethnopolitical purposes. Hence, Paul Philippi, former chairman and since 1998 honorary chairman of the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania (Landesforum or just Forum), satirized this monopolizing strategy in his speech given to delegates of the Landesforum in October 2009:

And yes: ‘We’ did not only get the Nobel Prize, which spans the world, but also the most famous German award for literature, the Büchnerpreis – again won by a compatriot from Hermannstadt, who left us a long time ago: Oskar Pastior, who, much as Herta from Nitzkydorf did later, had berthed in Berlin. […] Highlights for us, certainly not by ourselves, highlights by single persons, who belong to us. We, the Forum, may possibly benefit from it, but in relation we contributed little or nothing to it. (Translated by the author.)10

These words should dampen the demonstrations of self-praise by members of the Forum, which rose after these prizes had been given to the writers, who were for them still Germans from Romania in spite of the fact that they had emigrated to Berlin. And Philippi expresses his conviction that the delegates should focus on their obligation to work harder in their political business of ethnomanagement, instead of resting on other’s laurels.

The quotation also shows the commingling of the literature from (famous) members of a certain ethnic group with the political ethnomanagement of the same group. I do not want to dwell on the well-researched work or life of Nobel Prize winner Herta Müller. Instead I give a few examples from the field of the minority literature of Germans in Hungary and their relationships to the ethnomanagement of the German Minority in Hungary (Ungarndeutsche). The following examples show that there have been close connections between production preconditions of German minority literature in Hungary and the ethnomanagement of the German minority. In 1974, after a pause of three decades after World War II, the literary section of the Democratic Alliance of Germans in Hungary11 published an anthology entitled Tiefe Wurzeln [Deep Roots]. Alfred Coulins stated later that this anthology had the ambition of setting a literary and a political goal.12 At the time of publication, many hopes were pinned on that anthology: above all, that it might give birth to an independent literature of the Hungarian–Germans within German literature, and the Democratic Alliance would have played the role of the midwife. Given this, the acceptance of Tiefe Wurzeln was euphoric in Hungary. It culminated in the principal topic of love of the German mother tongue and, at the same time, the Hungarian home.13

During the second half of the 1970s the Democratic Alliance of Germans in Hungary published two further literary anthologies entitled Die Holzpuppe [Wood Doll] (1977) and Bekenntnisse-Erkenntnisse [Denominations-Knowledge] (1979). The reviewer Heidi Ritter assigned the leading role to the Alliance of the Germans in Hungary, when it was about encouraging creativeness within the German minority in Hungary.14

From the perspective of the present the goal of creating an independent Hungarian–German literature within German literature was unsuccessful on the German literature market. This was primarily because the subjects of the Hungarian–German literature innolved the minority itself. This limited the potential readership. Literary forms of expression flattened out because of low demand. Regarding the Hungarian–German literature of the 1980s, János Szabó contended that the publication of crude texts and the absence of a functional public would have made everything more difficult, an overcautious rather than constructive criticism.15 If that was not bad enough, at that time the Hungarian–German author Georg Wittmann postulated that for writers of the German minority in Hungary it was most important to place the literature in the service of Hungarian Deutschtum.16 That claim suggests, more or less, that writers should not only subordinate their literature to Hungarian–German ethnomanagement, but their literature should obviously be even more one-sidedly part of Hungarian–German ethnomanagement itself. In contrast, the present generation of young Hungarian–German authors is well aware of the debate about their artistic and sociopolitical significance. The Verband ungarndeutscher Autoren und Künstler (VUdAK)17 holds workshops every year for that purpose. Furthermore, the Hungarian–German author Angela Korb, who is also an active member of VUdAK, assumed during an interview with me that of the 20 male and female authors within VUdAK there are only two professional writers.18

The targeted use of the language is arbitrary in the focus of a literature of a language minority. The Germans in Hungary have the following options: i) German (Standard German); ii) German (dialectical versions of German – Danube-Swabian dialects); iii) Hungarian.19 Angela Korb noted that dialect versions of German were used more and more rarely and that they served mainly as regional markers.20

The most famous Hungarian–German author was Valeria Koch. She wrote her poems in both languages, German and Hungarian. In the 1980s an academic discussion on the translatability of poetry began, because Koch provoked translation studies in the sense of which word choice she used in which language.21 But it was not only through this bilingual approach that Valeria Koch created a caesura in the history of Hungarian–German literature: she used a different approach from the working man, home-bound, or dialect-authors, who “produced literature” for their consumers.22 Since Valeria Koch rose to prominence, the whole spectrum has shifted. The German philologist Eszter Propszt identifies this shift: “von der Wir-Dichtung der Alten zu der Ich-Dichtung der Jüngsten”23 [from we-poetry of the old generation to me-poetry of the youngest; translated by the author].

In the 1980s the group of Hungarian–German writers that took this direction included e.g. Nelu Bradean-Ebinger, Martha Fata, Claus Kotz, Valeria Koch and Josef Michelisz. In spite of the (assumed) content-related opening of the Hungarian–German minority literature, the audience remained small, and even Valeria Koch could not succeed on the all-German literature market. It sounds like something of a sour grapes excuse when German philologists in Hungary claim today that Valeria Koch did not aspire to make that breakthrough.24

The situation on the literature market did not change until recent times: in her 2006 dissertation on the history of the development of Hungarian–German literature Rita Pável observed that it was an apodictic minority literature. Furthermore, Pável restrains the efficiency of the literature in relation to the local environment. The literature of the German minority in Hungary only exercised local tasks and responsibilities of literature.25 Nevertheless, Hungarian–German literature from her point of view was a corporate body of language identity, and minority literature was still able to play the role of a cultural bridge.26 This awareness coincides with the work of Eszter Propszt, who published a monograph on Hungarian–German literature 2007. She perceives, however, a considerable caesura between the identity characteristics that are determined by the Hungarian language and those that are determined by the German language: in recent times the identity construction of Germans in Hungary has been much more complexly nuanced by the Hungarian language. If anywhere, texts in German have realized their function as a means of identity creation in Hungary with regard to the collective identity of the Germans of Hungary.27 This is the outcome of the development of literary production on the one side and changing language and reading practices of the Germans in Hungary over the course of recent decades. This observation is—from my point of view—another basic requirement for observing the intermediary function of Hungarian–German literature within the larger framework of Hungarian–German ethnomanagement.

And now, let us expand on the activities of Hungarian–German ethnomanagement and their interplay with “their own” minority literatures: the interrelation between the umbrella organization Landesselbstverwaltung der Ungarndeutschen (LdU) [National Self-government of the Hungarian Germans], Magyarországi Németek Országos Önkormányzata in Hungarian, and the literary production of German writers in Hungary is plainly apparent. The aforementioned anthologies and further essential works were published by the LdU itself, so we can conclude with some assurance that the authors accepted that their texts would be published by a forum that is above all responsible for Hungarian–German minority politics. Generally speaking, these anthologies suggest an “ethnic corporate identity” of Hungarian–German writers. One may assume that this was just what the National Minority Self Government (LdU) had intended, and the willingness of the authors to publish their texts in an anthology under the label “ungarndeutsche Literatur” (Hungarian–German literature) meets these requirements.

The most intensive interrelationship between Hungarian–German ethnomanagement and the minority’s creative minds is given in the aforementioned association VUdAK, which was founded in 1992. One main goal was to bring together authors and artists of German ethnic origin for joint workshops and to establish different publication platforms for authors and artists—from the perspective of the ethnomanagement instigated integration into the structures of the LdU. The paper Signale gives an overview of the various activities of VudAK. It is released annually in December as a supplement of the Hungarian–German weekly Neue Zeitung.28 In the case of poetry, VUdAK assigns itself the role of canonicalization of Hungarian–German literature.29 This approach seems to be in accordance with ethnomanagement, because the literary canon is ethnically motivated: boundaries are limited by Germanhood in a Hungarian–German sense.

Signale 2009 lists 12 volumes altogether in the literary book series of VUdAK, Reihe Literatur [Literature Series].30 This series provides an opportunity for publication for authors writing in German because, since the time of the political transformation, the Hungarian government has withdrawn a lot of government support programs for publication houses and the distribution of literature, as well as for authors themselves. A minimum of support comes from German speaking countries, and this might be one more reason for the formation of such a closed production-reception circuit (of which Hungarian–German literature is an example).31

With regard to “competitiveness” Angela Korb stated that members of the youngest generation of writers are too anxious to encourage one another.32 Generally speaking, philologists do not expect a high degree of competitiveness in the literature of minorities: e.g. the Transylvanian scholar of German literature Michael Markel explains this lack of competitiveness in the small number of active writers, and he mentions that a good working climate depends on the number of active writers, because it would advance competitiveness at least.33

Korb also stated that there was strong social control in the literature of minorities, and Hungary itself was easy to overlook.34 Therefore, the National Minority Self Government (LdU) was able to influence Hungarian–German literature easily via subventions and valuation. Even recently both elements, social control and the exercise of influence from LdU, are essential to the choice of subjects in literature. This leads to a strong interrelationship between the identity constructions of the Hungarian–German minority and Hungarian–German literature. Eszter Propszt analyzed the praxis of that interdiscourse and observed the use of German in contrast to the use of Hungarian in Hungarian–German literature:

Identity construction in the (Hungarian) German language goes far beyond simplistic problem reduction with regard to the suspension of fundamental practices […] identity construction in the (Hungarian) German language does not require such a complex socialization of the readers as in the Hungarian language.35

Her conclusion contains considerable significance regarding the reciprocity between Hungarian–German literature and its readers. It also mirrors the present situation, in which the younger generation of Germans in Hungary speaks Hungarian better than German. Therefore, it is not surprising that the German language stands symbolically for simplifying social practices, and this goes hand in hand with the demands of many of the recipients, who still claim that Hungarian–German subjects should be written about in understandable German, and not as part of the German of literary arts.

Another example related to Hungarian–German ethnomanagement affects the search for and recruitment of talented aspiring writers. The primary responsibility in that case is with—not surprisingly—the National Minority Self Government. The LdU tries to create loyalty to their “own” institution as early as possible, and tries to bind pupils and teenagers who write in German to its causes. This takes place primarily in the Nationalitätenschulen (minority schools under the rule of the Hungarian–German minority). Another instrument with which to find young writers is the annual Valeria Koch-Preis [Valeria Koch Award], an essay and diploma thesis competition in German that is open exclusively to adolescents of Hungarian–German origin. The 2011 Valeria Koch Award, for instance, was titled: “Was bedeutet mir, Ungarndeutsche/r zu sein?”36 [What does it mean to me to be Hungarian–German?] This remarkable title is obviously self-referential, because it urges adolescents of the Hungarian–German minority to reflect on their Hungarian–German identity construction. Another aspect linking the Valeria Koch Award closely to Hungarian–German ethnomanagement is institutionally based: the nomination process for this award is highly bureaucratic, e.g. the school nominates the relevant pupils, and academics can be nominated by their department chairs or by a local minority’s self-government or Hungarian–German society.

As stated above, the ethnomanagement of the Germans in Hungary and Romania tried more or less to emphasize a self-contained local originality within the field of German literature and, in contrast with the ethnomanagement of the Hungarians in Transylvania (erdélyi magyarok), tried to affiliate the Hungarian minority literature with the overall literary production in Hungarian. Ádám Bodor puts the position of Hungarian literary studies in a nutshell when he suggests that people have attempted to “smuggle” (visszacsempészni in orig.) the oeuvre of Hungarian authors who lived or live outside of Hungary “back” to the Hungarian literary canon.37 This demand corresponds well with the fact that the Erdélyi Magyar Írók Ligája38 [Transylvanian Hungarian Writers’ League] (E-MIL), which represents the interests of the Hungarian authors in Transylvania, works together with the Magyar Írószövetség [Hungarian Writers’ Union] in Budapest. Moreover, the E-MIL is financed by the Communitas foundation, which is under the roof of the Romániai Magyar Demokrata Szövetség [Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania] (RMDSZ), the political representation of the Hungarian minority in Romania and, of course, in Transylvania.

The most significant difference between German authors in Hungary or Romania and Hungarian authors in Transylvania is illustrated by the fact that the last two chairmen of the above named RMDSZ are poets.

Firstly, I want to name the lyricist, literary critic and translator Béla Markó who entered the executive board of the RMDSZ in 1992 and in 1996 was given the Hungarian József Attila Award for literature. Béla Markó was chairman of the Union from 1993 to 2011, and during his long political career he held the office of a Minister of State in the Tăriceanu cabinet (2004–2007) and Deputy Premier in the Boc government (2009–2012). He wrote his first poetry in 1967 and his first volume of poems, entitled A szavak városában [In the City of Words], was published in 1974. The long list of publications includes the anthology Szétszedett világ. Egybegyűjtött versek, 1967–1995 [Torn World. Collected Poems, 1967–1995], published in 2000, and his recent volumes of poetry, entitled Visszabontás [Reinstate] 2011, Hasra esett a Maros (Gyermekversek) [The Marosch Fallen on the Belly, Poems for Children] 2012, and from same year the volume with Haiku poems entitled Boldog Sziszyphos [Lucky Sisyphos].39 Furthermore, an anthology entitled A feledékeny Európa [A Forgetful Europe], which contains Béla Markó’s speeches, lectures and interviews from 1990 to 1999, was published in 2000.

Secondly, Hunor Kelemen who succeeded him as the chairman of the RMDSZ is a lyricist and poet, too. Kelemen has been a member of the Romanian chamber of deputies since 2000, and he held the office of Minister of Culture during the Boc and Ungureanu governments (2009–2012). In 1995 Hunor Kelemen published his first volume of poetry, entitled Mínuszévek [Minusyears], and he was awarded with the debut prize from the Writers’ Union of Romania (Uniunea Scriitorilor din România) in 1996. A second volume of poetry followed in 2001, entitled A Szigetlakó [The Islander]. Between these two volumes of poetry, in 1999, Kelemen published a novel entitled A madárijesztők halála [The Scarecrows’ Death].40

Another character of Hungarian ethnomanagement in Transylvania is the lyricist and comedy writer György Csávosi who simultaneously fills the position of chairman of the Romániai Magyar Gazdák Egyesülete [Society of Hungarian Farmers in Romania]. He also participates in meetings of the Erdélyi Magyar Egyeztető Tanács [Consensus Forming Council of the Hungarians in Transylvania], which are of strategic relevance to the Hungarian minority in Transylvania. Hungarian lyricists and poets who are directly involved in minority politics include the following individual: from 1992 to 1996 the lyricist Lajos Magyari held the position of senator for the comitate (county) of Kovászna in the Romanian Parliament; István Ferenc, who has published eight volumes of poetry, holds a position on the board of the RMDSZ in the comitate of Csík in the heart of the Szeklerland (Székelyföld). The graphic artist, poet and journalist Éva Emese Gál is a collaborator of the RMDSZ in the Szeklerland as well, and she is also a member of the Hungarian Writers’ Union. The lyricist and dramatist Géza Szőcs has published more than ten volumes of poetry since 1975. In 1990 and 1991 he was General Secretary (főtitkár) of the RMDSZ, and until 1992 he also held a seat as a Senator in the Romanian Parliament. From 1993 to 2010 Géza Szőcs edited the periodical A Dunánál [At the Danube] in Hungary. In May 2010 Géza Szőcs was appointed to the position of State Secretary for Culture at the Ministry of National Resources, and in June 2012 he resigned. His example indicates that the combination of being a Hungarian writer, i.e. writing in Hungarian, together with experiences in Hungarian minority politics in Romania may form an adequate basis to be lifted on the shield in a Hungarian Ministry.

Contrary to an increasing Hungarian national ideology apostrophizing the Hungarian poets as “defenders” of the Hungarian language and culture in Hungary, the bilingual situation in Transylvania generally affects the recent Hungarian literature scene more and more, because the corporate feeling of the Hungarian minority, which was strengthened during the period of political oppression in Socialist Romania, loses its significance and as a consequence the production of literature is shifting towards individuality. The Transylvanian Hungarian Writers’ League (E-MIL) nowadays looks to a greater extent at the quality of the Hungarian literature than the commitment of the author the Hungarian (minority) identity. Nevertheless, one should not forget that E-MIL stands close to the Hungarian Writers’ Union, as mentioned above, and this of course “has a political background,” as noted by the Transylvanian poet Noémi László, who grew up in Kolozsvár/Cluj Napoca, in an interview.41

A different group of writers comes from the elder generation and it ties into the more traditional local cultural backgrounds called “Transylvanism.” It is connected with poets like Árpád Farkas, Aladár Lászlóffi and with the Székelyföld [Szeklerland], where Transylvanian Hungarianness is related to the notion of a “preserved Hungarian language,” “pure soul” and “true Hungarianness.” As a reaction to this Transylvanism, a workshop of young poets under the leadership of the publishing house Előretolt Helyőrség [Avantgarde] goes in the opposite popular, frivolous and sometimes radical direction, and they introduce primarily erotic topics. Until recent times this workshop and publishing house has served as a springboard for young authors in Transylvania.

In recent times one also notes an opening and liberalization towards the Romanian audience, in literature as well as in works for the theater. Regarding this, I continue with a comment of Transylvanian author Imre József Balázs:

If we invite authors to our Literature Academy whose books are also available in Romanian, such as Ádám Bodor, György Dragomán or Attila Bartis, we of course organize a reading in a book store of Kolozsvár/Cluj Napoca for a Romanian audience as well. There are always 30-40 enthusiasts of literature.42

János Dénes Orbán, a Brassó/Braşov born poet, former leader of E-MIL and present owner of the coffee shop “Bulgakov” in Kolozsvár/Cluj Napoca, stated that under communism the majority of the literature written in Transylvania was translated into both languages. In an interview conducted by Judit Schoblocher in November 2011 Orbán noted that in present-day Romanian literature was also translated, and “Romanians are not that active, but they also do some translating.”43

Examples from the Fine Arts of the German and Hungarian Minorities

In contrast to literature, the fine arts have the advantage that they are a priori a universally ‘understandable’ medium,44 and the reciprocity between minority artist and minority audience therefore appears different. The perceived value of the ethnic marker language—which is more or less hyperbolically represented in relation with language minorities—levels off, and there is no further need to deliberate over the question of local dialect versus standard language as another marker. The following examples should not lead to the use of categorizations like ‘folk art’ versus fine arts, and neither do I wish address the question of whether typical ungarndeutsche, rumäniendeutsche or erdélyi magyar (folk) art exists at all.

The relationship between ethnomanagement and the arts is primarily established by the ethnic origins of the artists. Furthermore, the examples illustrate the relationship between the self-localization of the artist within the minority and the thematic motifs of his/her art. The acceptance of a public contract often goes hand in hand with the choice of the motif, and it is therefore frequently rooted somewhere in the culture of remembrance of the minority. Another form of acceptance is given by any system of subventions coming from the public sector, with its contemporary political and sometimes ideological and ethnically motivated guidelines prescribing which types of arts and which artists are eligible for subsidies (and which are not). So far, this is another obvious aspect of ethnomanagement.

In 1992 VUdAK was constituted as an association of the former Ungarndeutscher Schriftstellerverband [Hungarian–German writers association founded in 1990], together with Hungarian–German artists. As is the case for Hungarian–German authors, for some of them VUdAK is the closest tie to the LdU. As was mentioned above, the umbrella organization LdU subsidizes VUdAK activities. Concerning the literature series, VUdAK set up the publication series Kunst [Arts].45 The Hungarian–German Neue Zeitung reports weekly on current and ongoing exhibitions. The abovementioned annual revue Signale gives a broader overview.

The following two examples will show certain interlinkages between ethnomanagement and the fine arts, embedded within the framework of the culture of remembrance of the German minority in Hungary:

Hermanik 1 - Kopie opt

Figure 1. Ferenc Trischler, bronze sculpture in the courtyard of the Lenau house in Pécs/Fünfkirchen, erected in 1995. Photo courtesy of the author

The statue cast in bronze refers to the expulsion (kitelepítés in Hungarian) of the Germans from Hungary, which took place from the end of World War II to June 1946.46 The sculptor, Ferenc Trischler, is of Hungarian–German origin and the statue itself was commissioned for the Hungarian–German cultural center Lenau house in Pécs/Fünfkirchen.

Trischler was born in 1945 in Németbóly/Deutsch-Bohl (today Bóly/Bohl). He first served his apprenticeship as a house painter. Then, after his friend, the sculptor János Meszlényi, had persuaded him to pursue a career as an artist, he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, where he got his degree in 1975. The human “form” is at the center of his work, and his sculptures express symbolic and allegorical concepts. In most cases Trischler uses bronze. He created many works for public spaces and his bronze sculptures can be found all over Hungary, but primarily in the southwestern part of the country, named Dél-Dunántúl [Southern Transdanubia]. The bronze sculptures are commissioned for communities or public institutions. Ferenc Trischler calls up symbolic and allegorical concepts of Hungarian history by depicting important personalities, such as Szent István király [King St. Stephen] (Heves and Döbrönte, both 2001), István Széchenyi (Pécs 2010), József Rippl-Rónai (Kaposvár 2009), Turul and the Trianon monument (Lajosmizse 2001), and Mátyás király [King Matthew] (Lajosmizse 2003).47

The second example concerns the memorial in Elek,48 a small town in southeastern Hungary close to the Romanian border. The bronze sculptures were inaugurated on August 18, 2001 and commemorate the 5,000 Hungarian–Germans who had to leave Elek in 1946 forevermore. The sculptor, Sándor Kligl, is also of Hungarian–German origin.

After the inauguration ceremony the issue of the Neue Zeitung wrote the following on the memorial: “[…] the stylized street front of a farm house, where the avenging angel stands proudly triumphant in front of the home of a Danube-Svabian family at the very last moment before they were displaced.” (Translated by the author)49

Sándor Kligl calls himself Kliegl, too. The second form is the German spelling of his name and in this way he may symbolically switch between his Hungarian and his German identities.50 Kligl completed his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest in 1975. Like Ferenc Trischler, Kligl has also created many bronze sculptures for the public spaces of Hungarian communities. Furthermore, in connection with the culture of remembrance, Kligl is a specialist in bronze memorial plaques (emléktáblák in Hungarian),51 which have been installed in public spaces of Hungarian communities, too. The motifs of the sculptures and memorial plaques were commissioned for the officials and are interwoven with motifs of Hungarian history. Sándor Kligl has created, for example, the following bronze sculptures: Kovács Béla (Budapest, Kossuth Square, 2002); József Attila (in a center of a group with altogether five sculptures, Hódmezővásárhely, 2005) as well as King Stephen and his wife Gizella (Szeged, 1996).52

Returning to the close connection between works of art—here within the framework of the culture of remembrance—of Hungarian–German artists and Hungarian–German ethnomanagement I would like to give another citation from the inauguration ceremony of the memorial in Elek:

The local German minority self-government and the German society for the Cultivation of Traditions were glad that the chairman of LdU Otto Heinek and Agnes Szauer, senior councilor in the Department for National and Ethnic Minorities, were among them. (Translated by the author.)53

Both examples of sculptors demonstrate the connecting line between the history of the German minority in Hungary—in both cases the traumatic displacement of the Germans after World War II—and the commission of the artists, as well as the Hungarian and the Hungarian–German public, and, last but not least, Hungarian–German ethnomanagement.

At the Hungarian Day of Painting in 2011 in Újbuda art historian Zoltán Vécsi Nagy stated that during the Ceauşescu era the Hungarian artists in Romania were caught between a rock and a hard place because the nationalist education policy at the time eclipsed the minority arts on the one side of the border and the art historians in Hungary were not interested in Hungarian art outside of the borders of the state.54 After the breakdown of communism and during the transformation period one observes a ‘rediscovery’ of the historical past and national affiliation in contemporary Hungarian minority art, if as a supplementary aspect. The main focus—also in the identity formation of minority arts—still refers to the relationship between belonging to a minority and being an artist. Moreover, everything together has to be considered with the role and capabilities of the arts within a certain society and its political and cultural institutions.

The outstanding institution supporting Hungarian fine arts in Transylvania is the Barabás Miklós Céh [Miklós Barabás Guild] (BMC) in Kolozsvár/Cluj Napoca. It serves officially as the Erdélyi Magyar Képzőművészeti Egyesület [Transylvanian Hungarian Art Society], founded after the Treaty of Trianon in 1920 by Károly Kós and Sándor Szonay. The foundation of this BMC was necessary because of basic disparities between Hungarian and Romanian art history. It was simply a question of ethnic boundaries between the two different ethnic groups. It was the history of the arts in general, because the Hungarian art school orientated itself around the Munich school, in contrast with the Romanian art school, which was more tied to Paris. Hungarian art always tended to constructiveness with even more temperament than the German role model, and later on Hungarian art took over elements from the Novacentist school in Rome. So Miklós Jakobovits, the chairman of the BMC, which was reinstalled in 1994 after a long mandatory break, argues that the present value system of the BMC is still founded on this historical basis, but nowadays a Hungarian heritage is not required to become a member of the guild, and it is not required to have graduated from an art academy. Today, the Jury of the BMC is more or less responsible for the recruitment of new members, and they tend to focus on Transylvanian traditions, although they remain aware, of course, that art is international, and Transylvanian artists sometimes became famous in foreign countries.55

The BMC is a member of the Hungarian umbrella society Magyar Képzőművészek és Iparművészek Szövetsége [Association of Hungarian Fine and Applied Artists] (MKISZ) in Budapest,56 but in Transylvania it maintains close relationships with Romanian art associations. The art historian, Júlia Németh, vice chairperson of the BMC, argues that Transylvanian Hungarian artists had to fight against stereotypes like “conservative,” “traditional” or “hermetical” for a long time. At the moment the attribute “Transylvanian,” together with the noun art, may “rather positively imply a crossover of cultures boding something good.” In this context “Transylvanian Hungarian fine arts” (in the Hungarian sense of erdélyi magyar) is at present more a “cultural historical notion, and the formerly stressed attribute Hungarian is shifting towards Transylvanian.”57

From the Romanian point of view art critics nowadays do not only “accept” Hungarian arts from Transylvania, they subsume it easily under the notion of “Romanian art.” Moreover, Hungarian Transylvanian artists can get a lifetime achievement award from Romanian institutions, and they can represent Romania abroad at exhibitions. Under these conditions and preconditions, even the local connections to the abovementioned “Transylvanism” recede within the younger generation of Transylvanian Hungarian artists and open up to the question as to whether nationality will work as a group regulative in a globalizing European society. As an example of an artist collective, one might mention the Bázis csoport [Basis Group] in Kolozsvár/Cluj Napoca, where the absence of official funding led to the formation of this self-organized group. In the beginning, in 2008, the artists Zsolt Berszán, István Betuker, István Duka Kudor and Szabolcs Veres rented the buildings of a bankrupt factory from the (at the time) new owners. The buildings serve as galleries and offer space for dance and theater performances. Furthermore, the Basis Group publishes the bilingual Bázis magazine in Hungarian and Romanian, concentrating on critics and art reviews as well as on their international network. The quick high profile of the Basis Group resulted in the submission of many applications for exhibitions (submissions continue to arrive). Nevertheless, the Basis Group is self-organized, and the main part of the costs could only be covered by the sale on the international market of their own artworks.

Performing Arts

Another example of an essential link between arts and Hungarian–German ethnomanagement is the Deutsche Bühne Ungarn/Magyarorzági Német Színház [German Theater in Hungary] (DBU) in the small town of Szekszárd in the Dél-Dunántúl area. German performing arts started there in 1982 on the bilingual (German/Hungarian) stage Schaubühne [Playhouse] placed in the Mihály Babits Kulturhaus [Mihály Babits Arts Centre]. The name has been transformed into DBU in 1989 and the DBU has moved in the current location in 1994.58


Hermanik 2 - Kopie opt

Figure 2. Main entrance of the DBU in Szekszárd, which is based in the building of the former Világ Mozgó [World Cinema]. Photo courtesy of the author

The theater celebrated its 25th anniversary in June 2009. So, Otto Heinek, the chairman of the LdU, underlined the important role of the theater in his commemorative speech, and he mentioned that it was not only “an integral part of our Hungarian–German cultural landscape but also an important column of our cultural autonomy”59 (translated by the author).

The DBU is the only professional German speaking minority theater. Furthermore, it is integrated into the theatrical landscape in Hungary. When I visited the Deutsche Bühne in 2008 it employed 35 people of Hungarian, Hungarian–German, German, or Romanian–German ethnic origin. The theater management wants to give a vital example to preserve the German language. Every year the ensemble tours Hungary, holding about 40 performances. The language of the performances is strictly Hoch-Deutsch [Standard German], and interpreting equipment with written captions in Hungarian guarantees that everyone in Hungary can understand the plays.

The theater manager Ildikó Frank (an actress from 2001–2004 and manager since 2004) characterizes the principal role of the DBU: “If we do our job well, we’ll win supporters for the German language, identity and culture.”60 A very close connection to Hungarian–German ethnomanagement is based on the fact that Ildikó Frank is the daughter of Gábor Frank, who was the director of the Valeria Koch Schulzentrum [V. K. School Centre] in Pécs before he became director of the Ungarndeutsches Pädagogisches Institut (UdPI) [Hungarian–German Pedagogical Institute] in Pécs; above all he is vice chairman of the LdU for education and he was for many years chairman of the Komitatsselbstverwaltung [self-government of the county] of the Hungarian–Germans in the county of Baranya/Branau in Pécs. Ildikó Frank stated in the interview that she had learned a lot from her father in connection with German with regard to the Hungarian–German identity, and that his experience had had a positive influence on her work.61 This father-daughter constellation shows symbolically the tight-knit inner structure of Hungarian–German ethnomanagement.

The Hungarian theater in Kolozsvár/Cluj Napoca has a long lasting tradition since it was founded in 1792. The house hosts the theater and the opera together, and the opera has been a separate institution since 1948. After the transition, the Kolozsvári Állami Magyar Színház [Hungarian National Theatre in Kolozsvár] tried to tread a new path, breaking with the tradition and becoming predominantly an instrument for national education seeking to evolve into a theater that interacts with the audience. Therefore, three to four times a year the theater management invites local or even foreign directors, who have a talk with the audience after the performance. The language in the theater is Hungarian, but the performances are subtitled in Romanian or if necessary in foreign languages, like English, French or German.62 These dynamics resulted in a move away from local Transylvanian or Hungarian nationalist attitudes, and this was praised in the Romanian press and also won the theater fully booked performances. The writer, art director and advisor of the Hungarian national theater in Kolozsvár, András Visky, stresses that “it has been good to identify with being a city theater and not necessarily a minority theater, because it has been good for the minority to communicate to others and to prevail against each form of closedness.”63 The financial needs of the Hungarian national theater are covered mainly by the Romanian Ministry of Culture, as well as the RMDSZ, the Hungarian political party in Romania.

Another quite different Hungarian theater in Transylvania is the Váróterem Projekt [Waiting Room Project], which calls itself Alternatív színházi törekvések Erdély szívében [Alternative Theatrical Ambitions in the Heart of Transylvania].64 The Váróterem Projekt was founded in 2009 in Kolozsvár/Cluj-Napoca by Zsolt Csepeli, András Visky and Levente Imecs, three friends who met at the Acting school of the University. Since 2010 the Váróterem Projekt has been an official society, and the collaborators are members of this society. At the end of 2011 the staff included seven actors and eight other staff members, such as the dramaturge and the costume designer. In accordance with the financial resources, two new performances per year are within a realistic framework. All performances are in Hungarian, subtitled in Romanian. There is no direct cooperation with the abovementioned Hungarian Theater in Kolozsvár, although András Visky, one of the founders of the Váróterem Projekt, is the son of the homonymous art director of the Hungarian Theater. Levente Imecs put the artistic potential of the Váróterem Projekt in a nutshell:

I am sure that we are able to create performances to our tastes. Classical theater will be performed perfectly by the Hungarian Theater in Kolozsvár. We are not able and we do not want to reach that level, and therefore it is evident that our path is marked by ”direct indirectness”.65

Moreover, the Váróterem Projekt tours with its performances in Transylvania and Hungary, and they participate in festivals too, but when they are asked to perform traditional or popular plays, they refuse.

Conclusions

Each of the three categories—literature, the fine arts and the performing arts—exemplifies a different approach to the ethnomanagement of the German minority in Hungary and the Hungarians and Germans in Transylvania. The poets are strongly obligated to the minority language, and this is likely the key to the question as to why in many cases they have readily assumed the role of sustainers in the sense of “a minority can only survive as long as the minority language is used.” German and Hungarian ethnomanagement takes advantage of the writers’ language dependence and ennobles the poets in this role. But writers do not lodge any (independent culture) protest against this ennoblement. One of the main reasons for this might be that many of them are in certain ways dependent on subsidies granted directly by ethnomanagement societies like the LdU and the Forum to the Germans and the RMDSZ to the Hungarians.

The institutions of the performing arts, namely the Deutsche Bühne Ungarn and the Hungarian Theater in Kolozsvár, are placed in the role of cultural sustainer too, and in comparison to semi-professional writers or artists they are even more dependent on subsidies. Therefore, one observes a much closer conjunction of the German and Hungarian minority theaters to ethnomanagement on a monetary basis. The Váróterem Projekt works in a manner that is more or less out of the ordinary, although it is also a means of embodying and transmitting the Hungarian language in Transylvania via the performing arts.

This leads us to the fine arts, which have no particular obligation to the German or Hungarian language. The ethnic marker heritage with regard to the belonging to the German or Hungarian minority is the key to ethnomanagement. My two Hungarian–German examples, however, show that the abovementioned sculptors created their bronze memorials in the majority of cases for the culture of remembrance of Hungary—I intentionally listed many other bronze memorials of the sculptors in this paper—and only in very special cases for the culture of remembrance of the German minority in Hungary.

An examination of the work of Transylvanian Hungarian artists shows the differences in the sequence of generations of artists. The elder and midlife generation sticks to Hungarian ethnic affiliations and to local “Transylvanism”. The younger generation mirrors much more a social community that has been formed by Transylvanian cultural diversity, where ethnicity stands for one element within the increasingly individualized forms of artistic expression.

As a last note, I wish to underline that poets, artists and performers resemble one another predominantly in their economic relationships to “their” minorities’ ethnomanagement, and furthermore, this dependent relationship is in most cases stronger than any subordination under the terms and conditions of ethnicity.

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Ucsnay, Julia. “Das mitschlagende Herz – Valeria Koch und die ungarndeutsche Literatur. Interview with Rita Pável.” Neue Zeitung, June 3, 2005. Accessed July 11, 2013. http://www.neue-zeitung.hu/54-6866.php.

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1 This article is based on research done during the Austrian FWF-funded project P 20 060; I also wish to thank Judit Schoblocher, MA for assisting me with interviews.

2 Klaus-Jürgen Hermanik, “Ethnomanagement: Deutsche und Ungarn im südöstlichen Europa (im ausgehenden 20. und 21. Jahrhundert)” (Habilitation, University of Graz, 2012).

3 The German version Identitätsmanagement was introduced into the scholarly community in 1981 by Ina Maria Greverus and Christian Giordano. Ina-Maria Greverus, “Ethnizität und Identitätsmanagement,” Schweizer Zeitschrift für Soziologie 7 (1981): 223–32; and Christian Giordano, “Ethnizität: Soziale Bewegung oder Identitätsmanagement?,” Schweizer Zeitschrift für Soziologie 7 (1981): 179–98.

4 Richard McElreath, Robert Boyd, and Peter J. Richerson, “Shared Norms and the Evolution of Ethnic Markers,” Current Anthropology 44 (2003): 122–29.

5 The translated version Hungarian–German or Hungarian–Germans should be closely related to the German original Ungarn–Deutsch or Ungarn–Deutsche(r).

6 On Minority Rights and Minority Rights Practice related to Hungary and Romania see: Sergiu Constantin, “Romania,” in European Integration and its Effects on Minority Protection in South Eastern Europe, ed. Emma Lantschner et al. (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2008), 139–66; Ferenc Eiler and Nóra Kovács, “Minority Governments in Hungary,” in Minority Governance in Europe, ed. Kinga Gél (Budapest: ECMI, 2002), 171–97; Herbert Küpper, Das neue Minderheitenrecht in Ungarn (Munich: Oldenburg, 1998); József Petrétei, “Die verfassungsrechtliche und einfachrechtliche Ausgestaltung des Minderheitenschutzes in Ungarn,” in Minderheitenschutz in Mittel- und Osteuropa, ed. Gerrit Manssen, and Boguslaw Banaszak (Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 2001) 167–89.

7 Cf. Györgyi Bindorffer, Kettős identitás. Etnikai és nemzeti azonosságtudat Dunabogdányban (Budapest: Új Mandátum, 2001).

8 Cf. Küpper, Minderheitenrecht, 259.

9 While Rogers Brubaker demands ethnicity without groups, we have to consider that—especially during/after the times of transformation—in Southeast Europe and Southeast Central Europe ethno-nationalism grew stronger and politics are made first and foremost by ethnic groups. Cf. Rogers Brubaker: Ethnicity Without Groups (Cambridge, Mass.–London: Harvard University Press, 2004).

10 Paul Philippi, “Ohne ‘Wir’ wird es nicht gehen: WIR sind Nobelpreisträger und Fast-premier. Aber was haben WIR dafür getan?,” Allgemeine Deutsche Zeitung für Rumänien, October 27, 2009, accessed October 30, 2009, http://www.adz.ro/m091027.htm#1.

11 The Demokratische Verband der Deutschen in Ungarn/Democratic Alliance of Germans in Hungary was the precursor to the present Landesverband der Deutschen in Ungarn (LdU).

12 Cf. Alfred Coulin, “Neue ungarndeutsche Literatur,” in Ungarndeutsche Literatur der siebziger und achtziger Jahre. Eine Dokumentation, ed. János Szabó and Johann Schuth (Munich–Budapest: Mixtus, 1991), 17.

13 Cf. Helmut Rudolf, “Ungarndeutsche Literatur heute. Ein erster Beitrag zur Positionsbestimmung,” in ibid., 32.

14 Cf. Heidi Ritter, “Schritte im Prozeß literarischer Selbstverständigung. Bemerkungen zu einer ungarndeutschen Anthologie,” in ibid., 52.

15 Cf. János Szabó, “Die ungarndeutsche Gegenwartsliteratur vor historischem Hintergrund,” in ibid., 266.

16 Cf. Georg Wittmann, “In eigener, gemeinsamer literarischer Angelegenheit,” in ibid., 56.

17 Accessed February 17, 2011, http://www.vudak.hu/.

18 Angela Korb in an interview conducted in April 2010.

19 The order corresponds with the frequency of occurrence.

20 Angela Korb in an interview conducted in April 2010.

21 Cf. János Szabó, “Über den Gedichtband von Valeria Koch,” in ibid., 61. The title of Szabó’s paper refers to the bilingual, German–Hungarian volume of poetry titled “Zuversicht – Bizalom” (= Confidence), Valeria Koch’ s first volume published in 1982.

22 Cf. András Balogh, “Deutschsprachige Literatur in Ungarn,” in Deutsche in Ungarn, Ungarn und Deutsche: Interdisziplinäre Zugänge, ed. Frank Almai and Ulrich Fröschle (Budapest: Thelem, 2004), 178–79.

23 Eszter Propszt, “Die ungarndeutsche Gegenwartsliteratur unter literatursoziologischem Aspekt,” TRANS 3 (1998), accessed July 11, 2013, http://www.inst.at/trans/3Nr/propszt.htm, unpaged.

24 Julia Ucsnay, “Das mitschlagende Herz – Valeria Koch und die ungarndeutsche Literatur. Interview with Rita Pável,” Neue Zeitung, June 3, 2005, 4.

25 Cf. Rita Pável, “Entwicklungsgeschichtliche Erwägungen zur ungarndeutschen Literatur. Mit besonderer Rücksicht auf die zweite Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts” (PhD Diss., ELTE University of Budapest, 2006), 257.

26 Cf. ibid., 259.

27 Cf. ibid., 209.

28 Signale volumes 2000–2009 are available online, too: See http://www.vudak.hu/signale.php, accessed August 31, 2013.

29 Cf. Signale, 25, no. 1 (2008): 4.

30 Cf. Signale, 25, no. 1 (2009): 16.

31 Cf. Pável, “Entwicklungsgeschichtliche Erwägungen zur ungarndeutschen Literatur,” 266.

32 Angela Korb in an interview conducted in April 2010.

33 Cf. Michael Markel, “’Ich wohne in Europa/Ecke Nummer vier’: Identitätsprobleme einer Minderheitenliteratur im Spiegel der siebenbürgisch-deutschen Literaturgeschichte,” in Die deutsche Literaturgeschichte Ostmittel- und Südosteuropas von der Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts bis heute. Forschungsschwerpunkte und Defizite, ed. Anton Schwob (Munich: Südostdeutsches Kulturwerk, 1992), 165.

34 Angela Korb in an interview conducted in April 2010.

35 Eszter Propszt, Zur interdiskursiven Konstruktion ungarndeutscher Identität in der ungarndeutschen Gegenwartsliteratur (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2007), 209.

36 See on the web, accessed February 23, 2011, http://www.ldu.hu/de/index_news_01.php.

37 Ádám Bodor, “Előszó,” in A határon túli irodalom kislexikona 1920-tól napjainkig, ed. Erzsébet Erdélyi and Iván Nobel, vol. 6. (Budapest: Fiesta és Saxum 2000). The present lexikon contains eight volumes and keeps a record of about 100 interviews with authors who write in Hungarian and live outside of Hungary.

38 See the following address, accessed August 29, 2013, http://www.irodalom.org/uj/.

39 See the webpage, accessed August 29, 2013, http://markobela.adatbank.transindex.ro/.

40 See the following site, accessed August 29, 2013, http://www.kelemenhunor.ro/magamrol.

41 Noémi László in an interview conducted in November 2011.

42 Imre József Balázs in an interview conducted in November 2011.

43 János Dénes Orbán in an interview conducted in November 2011.

44 Angela Korb in an interview conducted in April 2010.

45 Siehe VUdAK homepage, accessed February 2, 2011, http://www.vudak.hu/literatur.php#kunst.

46 On the displacement of the Germans from Hungary after WWII see Ágnes Tóth, Migrationen in Ungarn 1945–1948: Vertreibungen der Ungarndeutschen, Binnenwanderungen und Slowakisch–Ungarischer Bevölkerungsaustausch (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2001), 125–76.

47 The sculptures are pictured on köztérkép, accessed February 23, 2011, www.kozterkep.hu;

http://www.szoborlap.hu/alkoto/1684_Trischler%20Ferenc?honnan=12.

48 See the memorial on the homepage of Elek, accessed February 25, 2011,

http://elek.hu/index.php?p=tartalom&id=5 and http://elek.hu/index.php?p=tartalom&id=6.

49 Translated from edda, “Würdige und erhabene Gedenkstätte,Neue Zeitung 35 (2001): 5.

50 See the personal homepage of Sándor Kli(e)gl, accessed August 31, 2013,

http://www.kligl.hu/01_de_a.html.

51 See ibid., accessed August 31, 2013, http://www.kligl.hu/05_hu.html.

52 See ibid., accessed August 31, 2013, http://www.kligl.hu/02_hu.html.

53 Edda, “Würdige und erhabene Gedenkstätte,” 5.

54 Endre Penovac, “A festészet napja” [The Day of Painting], Magyar Szó, November 6, 2011, accessed August 31, 2013, http://www.magyarszo.com/hu/2011_11_06/kultura_irodalom/46833/.

55 Miklós Jakobovits in an interview conducted in November 2011. One example of famous Hungarian Transylvanian sculptors is the Homoród-born Viktor Román (1937–1995), who left for Paris, where a couple of his statues had been erected.

56 See the homepage of the Association of Hungarian Fine and Applied Artists (MKISZ), accessed August 31, 2013, http://www.mkisz.hu/.

57 Júlia Németh in an interview in November 2011.

58 Die Geschichte der DBU, accessed October 7, 2013, http://www.dbu.hu/uber_uns/die_geschichte_der_dbu.

59 N.N. (The author’s pseudonym), “‘Ein wichtiger Pfeiler der kulturellen Autonomie’ . Deutsche Bühne Ungarn feierte ihr 25jähriges Bestehen,” Neue Zeitung, June 5, 2009, accessed August 30, 2013, http://www.neue-zeitung.hu/54-19456.php.

60 Ildikó Frank in an interview conducted in February 2008.

61 Ibid.

62 The Hungarian National Theatre in Kolozsvár is member of the Union of Theatres of Europe UTE, which guarantees an exchange of productions.

63 András Visky in an interview conducted in November 2011.

64 See the following page, accessed August 31, 2013, http://varoteremprojekt.wordpress.com/kapcsolat/.

65 Levente Imecs in an interview conducted in November 2011.

 

pdfVolume 2 Issue 3 CONTENTS

Leslie M. Waters

Learning and Unlearning Nationality: Hungarian National Education in Reannexed Felvidék, 1938–1944

 

Educational policy was a fundamental component of the integration of reannexed Felvidék (present-day southern Slovakia) into the Hungarian state between 1938 and 1944. In fact, the army of teachers and administrators deployed in Felvidék played a larger role in the reintegration process than Hungary’s occupying military force. The Hungarian administration’s aims were twofold: on the one hand, to instill loyalty and service to the Hungarian nation and participation in the further success of Hungary’s revisionist project, and on the other hand, to delegitimize the previous regime and encourage students to reject Czechoslovak identity. This process revolved heavily around language, making Hungarian the primary language of instruction in most of the region’s schools, devaluing knowledge of Slovak, and restricting Slovak-language educational institutions. For students in the region, the change in territorial administration resulted in a transformation in their language use. With these linguistic advantages, the Hungarian administration made tangible strides toward reintegrating Felvidék’s Hungarian students into the national body, but struggled to do so with minority students.

Keywords: Hungary, Slovaks, Minority Policy, Identity, Education

Introduction

When Hungary reoccupied southern Felvidék [former Upper Hungary]1 in 1938, educational leaders had two goals for the youth now under their authority: for them to “unlearn” the Czechoslovak nationality allegedly forced upon them during the twenty years of Czechoslovak rule, and in its place to learn to identify as Hungarian citizens. As schools, school districts, and curricula were reconstituted, loyalty and service to the nation became the educational focus throughout the regained territory. But there was more than the hearts and minds of the youth of Felvidék at stake: successful reintegration of the region would help justify Hungary’s further territorial aspirations. If the people of the territory could be effectively and happily brought back into the state, Hungary’s case for border changes in Ruthenia, Transylvania, and Voivodina stood a much better chance in the court of international public opinion. The government believed that Felvidék’s inhabitants would have to be re-taught loyalty to the Hungarian state and how to be properly Hungarian. The Hungarian administration used the region’s school system as the main vehicle for this endeavor.

Both the larger educational history of Felvidék and the pedagogical methods employed by the Hungarian government during the reintegration period indicate that national leaders in East Central Europe strongly believed in employing education in the service of their national agendas. Perhaps they would have agreed with philosopher Ernest Gellner’s assessment that “the monopoly of education is now more important, more central than is the monopoly of legitimate violence.”2 Indeed, an army of teachers and school administrators played a larger role in the reintegration process than Hungary’s limited occupying military force. Education was also a feasible antidote to minority agitation. Nationalism theorist Anthony D. Smith’s theory of “civic education” argues that “if ethnic cleavages are to be eroded in the longer term, [. . .] this can be done only by a pronounced emphasis on inculcating social mores in a spirit of civic equality and fraternity.”3 Hungary strove to use education to impart Hungarian mores and achieve a sense of fraternity, but failed fully to grasp what civic equality for its new minorities would entail. Thus, Hungarian treatment of minorities in the educational realm was riddled with inconsistencies and suspicion. Standing in the way of fraternity on Hungarian terms was a history of territorial back-and-forth that brought frequent and radical changes to the educational system in Felvidék. Each new regime signaled change in the region’s political jurisdiction, privileged ethnicity, and educational policy, and a new blueprint for the upbringing of the next generation.

Transforming education was equally about the calculus of language use. The school system exhibited tremendous success in eroding Slovak language use in the seven years of Hungarian administration. It was largely a battle of attrition, as young Hungarian students entering school received no Slovak language instruction, older Hungarian students no longer perceived benefits of continuing to learn Slovak, and Slovak or nationally indifferent parents chose the dominant Hungarian schooling.4 With these linguistic advantages, revisionists could feel confident that they had turned back the tide of two decades of Czechoslovak schooling and succeeding in reintegrating Felvidék into the Hungarian student and national body.

Nationalist Education in Hungary and Czechoslovakia

Hungarian education policy in Felvidék after the reannexation was formulated against a long backdrop of nationalist competition. From the mid-nineteenth century to the First World War, education was a keystone of the Hungarian government’s Magyarization program, aimed at assimilating the kingdom’s substantial minority populations to the dominant Hungarian culture and language. It was hoped that teaching a distinctly Hungarian curriculum would unify the diverse kingdom within a singular political nation. The assimilationist educational policies had mixed results, but were more successful, at least statistically, in this territory than elsewhere in the Kingdom of Hungary.5 Slovak speakers in Felvidék in particular were targeted for assimilation by Hungarian nationalists such as Béla Grünwald, a historian and outspoken official in Zólyom County, and the members of FEMKE, the Hungarian Educational Association for Felvidék. Grünwald famously boasted in 1878 that “the secondary school is like a huge machine, at one end of which the Slovak youths are thrown in by the hundreds, and at the other end of which they come out as Magyars.”6 Slovak speakers also often assimilated because of the relative underdevelopment of the Slovak national movement, which lagged behind some of the other minority ethnic groups like Serbs and Romanians, who had the advantage of drawing from their ethnic brethren in independent states bordering Hungary. Along with many Slovaks, most Jews in Felvidék adopted the Hungarian language and identified as members of the Hungarian nation, as was the case throughout Hungary.7

In the late nineteenth century, at the height of Hungary’s Magyarization drive, the government closed down the kingdom’s three Slovak secondary schools along with the Matica slovenská, the leading Slovak cultural organization, charging them as agencies of Pan-Slavism.8 Slovak education was further curtailed in 1907 when the Hungarian government passed the so-called Lex Apponyi, a wide-ranging piece of educational reform that mandated that minority students in the Kingdom of Hungary be able to express themselves in written and spoken Hungarian by the end of the fourth year of primary school.9 This and other provisions in the Lex Apponyi meant that by 1918, only one in eight Slovak-speaking schoolchildren attended Slovak primary schools.10

After 1918, the government of the newly established Czechoslovak Republic, which took control of the region after the World War I, moved quickly to reverse the effects of Magyarization on the Slovak population. The state closed down several Hungarian secondary schools and converted the vast majority of the remaining institutions into Czechoslovak schools, sometimes immediately, sometimes phasing out Hungarian instruction one grade level at a time.11 A new teaching staff was brought in, made up of between 300 and 400 teachers from the Czech areas of Bohemia and Moravia, due to a lack of qualified Slovak teachers.12 The result of this transformation was so rapid that by the 1925–26 school year, more students in Slovakia graduated from Czechoslovak secondary schools than Hungarian-language ones.13 In less than ten years, the previously undisputed cultural dominance of Hungarians had been shattered.

The attempts by the Czechoslovak State to alter the status quo in the schools of Slovakia were vehemently protested by both the Hungarian minority in Felvidék and the Hungarian State. A 1920 report on schools to the President of the Czechoslovak Republic accused Hungarians in Košice of sabotaging the newly established Czechoslovak schools. Their rallying cry of “Don’t put your son or daughter in a Czech school” had effectively suppressed enrollment at the city’s Slovak secondary schools, at least temporarily.14 Ultimately, however, such efforts were only marginally effective as the Czechoslovak state took complete control over the system of education. Leaders from Hungary proper urged the Felvidék Hungarians to resist the assimilation attempts made by the Czechoslovak government, but feared the consequences of the new system nonetheless. In an article on the Czechoslovak school system, Adolf Pechány, a Hungarian educator originally from Felvidék, noted that “Czechization is difficult among the Hungarians,” but despite that, even in the purely Hungarian areas “the young generation beg[an] to speak broken Czech” by 1927.15

In order to combat this gradual assimilation, the Hungarian State worked to actively retain contact with and support the Hungarians living in Felvidék. They created organizations such as the Alliance of Felvidék Associations (Felvidéki Egyesületek Szövetsége) to strengthen ties between the Hungarian minority and their homeland state. The Alliance served the dual purpose of publicly organizing cultural activities for the Felvidék Hungarians while secretly agitating for territorial revision.16 There was also some clandestine contact between Hungarian students in Felvidék and schools in Hungary. The Royal Catholic Gymnasium in Miskolc, for example, administered exams to Hungarian students who chose private home schooling over attending the Czechoslovak State Gymnasium in Košice. Once border crossings for students became more difficult, a board of examiners was set up in Košice and upon their recommendation, the gymnasium in Miskolc would issue diplomas.17 Thus, there was a limited amount of cooperation between Hungarian educators in Felvidék and Hungary proper prior to the First Vienna Award in 1938.

The treaties concluded at the end of World War I contained stipulations for the protection of minorities living in the successor states of the Austro–Hungarian Empire, theoretically protecting Hungarian-language teaching in Felvidék. According to the Treaty of Saint Germain, which officially established the Czechoslovak Republic, all minority groups had the right to establish schools and utilize their own language as the language of instruction.18 This obligation was upheld by Czechoslovak law 189/1919, the Minority Schools Act, which provided for minority schools in any district where at least twenty percent of the inhabitants belonged to a particular ethnic group. Policy and practice, however, did not always coincide. Czechoslovak authorities divided areas with many Hungarian inhabitants between several school districts so that a number of Hungarian-majority communities were without a Hungarian-language elementary school.19 In 1928, at the request of the President of Czechoslovakia, British historian R.W. Seton-Watson undertook an independent investigation into minority conditions in Slovakia. He found that Hungarians in Czechoslovakia had critical grievances, especially in the realm of education. In addition to the problem of predominantly Hungarian villages without Hungarian primary schools, there were only seven Hungarian secondary schools in all of Czechoslovakia (down from sixty in 1918) and, most critically, there was no teachers’ college for the 637,000 Hungarians counted on the 1921 census.20

The Kingdom of Hungary, which due to territorial losses was divested of most of its ethnic minorities, also provided minority protection in the field of education through law XXXIII (1921) and Educational Act 110.478 (1923), though not to the same extent as the Czechoslovak Minority Schools Act.

In any commune containing at least forty children who belong to one (ethnic) minority group, also in any commune in which the majority of the population belongs to one (ethnic) minority group, instruction in the mother tongue is to be introduced upon the request of the parents or guardians concerned.21

Whereas in Czechoslovakia the threshold was twenty percent for the introduction of minority education across the board, in Hungary it could be as high as fifty percent. The Hungarian law potentially provided greater rights to small minority populations in urban areas, but was definitely a greater hindrance to rural minority education than the Czechoslovak law. Furthermore, the fact that instruction in a minority language had to be “requested” by a parent or guardian in order to be implemented meant that someone in the locality needed to be familiar with the law and know how to navigate the bureaucracy required to have minority education put in place. Thus, while Czechoslovakia and Hungary offered laws to protect minority education during the interwar period, in both states implementation often failed to meet the minimum standard these laws were meant to provide for. According to the terms of the First Vienna Award (Nov. 2, 1938), southern Felvidék once again became part of Hungary and schools in the reannexed territory transitioned from the Czechoslovak to the Hungarian educational system. In the process, they came under the jurisdiction of a different set of rules for minority education; a different segment of the population, now Slovaks, not Hungarians, would be those subject to minority education.

Educational Reintegration

The transition back to Hungarian rule meant yet another round of denationalization and renationalization for the schoolchildren of reannexed Felvidék. Hungarian educational administrators had no explicit criticism of the academic quality of the Czechoslovak educational system; their concerns lay with questions of nationalization and implied national values. Benedek Áldorfai, a Roman Catholic priest and Hungarian educator in the city of Kassa (Košice in Slovak), claimed that the pedagogical goal of the Czechoslovak state had been “to estrange the Hungarian youth in their souls, language, and spirit from Hungarian life, nationality, and homeland.”22 Alongside this estrangement, Hungarian educators argued, was a sustained effort to convince Hungarian youth in Felvidék to identify as Czech by adopting Czech language and culture so that they could enjoy the benefits of belonging to the titular nation.23 But the criticism went beyond turning Hungarians into Czechs; Ministry officials claimed that Czechoslovak civic education was fundamentally antithetical to Hungarian identity because it “create[d] citizens loyal to the state against the spirit of their family upbringing.”24 Even if a student spoke Hungarian and identified as a member of the Hungarian nation, they were considered corrupted if they accepted Czechoslovak ownership of Felvidék and tried to integrate into the civic life of the new state. In Áldorfai’s estimation, “these Czechoslovakified Hungarian mother-tongued youth were overwhelmingly infected in their souls and spiritually degraded.”25

Reintegrating the schools in the returned territories into the Hungarian national school system thus meant familiarizing students who began their schooling under the Czechoslovak system with a distinctly Hungarian body of knowledge. The Ministry of Education introduced the “nation-related subjects” of Hungarian language, literature, history, and geography to all schools in the reannexed territory immediately following the border change.26 Otherwise, however, institutions followed the Czechoslovak curriculum during the 1938–39 school year in order to provide teachers with enough time to revise the program of studies. The Hungarian-language schools in Felvidék thereafter adopted the same textbooks as those used by schools in Hungary proper; by the beginning of the 1939–40 academic year, the Hungarian State curriculum was fully integrated into Felvidék schools.

Hungarian-language instruction was the cornerstone of the transformation of Felvidék schools. Statistical evidence from the secondary school yearbooks reveals that in terms of language acquisition, the Hungarian regime made significant inroads into strengthening their national language and reversing the progression of the Slovak language among the Hungarian population. At János Hunfalvy Gymnasium in Kassa, 57 percent of Hungarian students reported knowledge of Slovak in the 1939–40 school year (Figure 1). By the end of the 1943–44 academic term, the figure dropped to 24 percent. Conversely, students who reported speaking only Hungarian climbed from 38 to 74 percent over the same five-year period. The entry of younger students into the gymnasium that did not receive any schooling under the Czechoslovak system and thus no Slovak language instruction largely accounts for these dramatic changes. However, it also appears that some students gradually changed their responses to the question over time, disassociating themselves from the Slovak language. For example, in 1941–42, 60 percent of students from the third grade level at Hunfalvy reported knowing Slovak in addition to their mother language of Hungarian, while 40 percent claimed to speak Hungarian only. The following school year, among that same group of students, now in the fourth grade, only 44 percent acknowledged speaking Slovak, and Hungarian-only speakers jumped to 55 percent. Considering that this pattern is relatively consistent throughout grade levels and academic institutions not only in Kassa, but in the secondary schools in the territory in general, such statistics cannot be wholly attributed to changes in the student body.27 Clearly, some students reported differently from one year to the next. With the absence of daily Slovak lessons and the reduced public use of the language, students’ exposure to Slovak significantly diminished, and speaking it was no longer necessary or beneficial for the average Hungarian student. The unlearning of Slovak was a natural component of returning to the Hungarian curriculum.

 

Figure 1. Language Knowledge Among Hungarian Students at János Hunfalvy Gymnasium28

 

 

Hungarian Students

Speak Hungarian
and Slovak

Speak Hungarian Only

Percentage
Bilingual
Students

Percentage Monolingual Students

1939–1940

435

249

167

57

38

1940–1941

450

260

174

58

39

1941–1942

431

233

195

54

45

1942–1943

406

192

215

47

53

1943–1944

425

103

316

24

74

 

In addition to changing the language of instruction and teaching particularly Hungarian subjects, informal activities that revolved around celebrating the nation became commonplace in the weeks and months after Felvidék’s reannexation. In the interest of inculcating patriotism and “releas[ing] youth from the Czechoslovak spirit,” students at the Ferenc Rákóczi Gymnasium participated in the celebration of traditional Hungarian national holidays such as the commemoration of the 1848–49 revolution and went to see nationalist films such as Magyar feltámadás [Hungarian Resurrection] and Észak felé [Northward], which discussed the triumph of Hungarian territorial enlargement. They even gathered to welcome the returning soldiers after the country’s latest expansion in March 1939 when Hungarian troops occupied Ruthenia.29 Another popular technique for aiding Felvidék’s reintegration was to create partnerships between institutions and educators in Felvidék and other parts of Hungary. Education Minister Pál Teleki made frequent trips to the returned territory in the months following the Vienna Award, including a visit to the Ferenc Rákóczi Premontory Gymnasium in Kassa, where he and a delegation of Hungarian scouts ceremonially presented the school’s teachers and pupils with a Hungarian flag.30 Teachers and administrators often enlisted schoolchildren in Trianon Hungary to welcome home their Hungarian brothers in Felvidék; charitable causes ranged from making flags for Felvidék schools to collecting Hungarian-language children’s books to be distributed in classes in the returned territory.31 Such activities and partnerships were meant to encourage Felvidék’s students to envision themselves as part of the Hungarian nation and faithful adherents to the cause of territorial revisionism.

The Irredentist Curriculum

At the same time as the adoption of Hungarian curricula in Felvidék schools, the returned territories were being newly emphasized in schools throughout Hungary and in the country’s textbooks. Hungarian educational materials continued the interwar practice of advocating for the complete restoration of the historic Kingdom of Hungary, but after 1938 slightly revised the message to reflect the revisionist triumph of the First Vienna Award.

The goal of geography lessons at the primary school level was, according to the national curriculum, the “inculcation of a love for the pupil’s native country and nation, and awakening of a national consciousness.”32 The native country that these pupils were taught to love was not the independent Hungary created after Trianon, but the thousand-year-old Kingdom of Hungary with its pre-1918 borders. “In the discussion of Hungary’s economic and political geography we first show historical Hungary,” explained the introduction to one geography textbook. “Only in this way will the student truly understand the huge degree of truncation.”33 Only after students learned about the physical characteristics, ethnic makeup, and economic capacity of historic Hungary did the lessons turn to Hungary’s contemporary situation.

The image of Greater Hungary was constantly reinforced in school activities and materials. Geography exercise books were essentially outlines of Greater Hungary printed over and over, upon which students were asked to draw the location of various geographic elements such as rivers, natural resources, and major cities.34 Many textbooks presented three maps of Hungary: Past, Present, and Future; the Past and Future were represented by Greater Hungary, while the “Present” showed the current political borders of the state. As Hungary’s territory expanded, these images changed to reflect the new boundaries, but the “Future” nevertheless remained the pre-1918 borders.35 The current political boundaries, these visual materials taught, were merely temporary. In 1938, the first Hungarian border change lent credence to the state of temporality that these images were meant to impart.

Hungarian history primers espoused the complete, “integral” restoration of the borders of Hungary throughout the interwar period.36 The First Vienna Award, which used ethnography rather than history as the basis for territorial changes in Felvidék, did nothing to alter the discussion of revisionism in textbooks. School textbooks published after 1938 reveal a continuity in the overt irredentist language seen in earlier editions, despite the new borders and the different justification on which they were obtained. An elementary history textbook from 1941 triumphantly stated that “the enlarged Hungarian homeland waits for a better future with the trusting belief that the thousand-year-old border will be completely restored.”37 A high school geography textbook likewise reminded readers that “the mournful lynching of Trianon was broken in 1938 and is now only a bad memory,” although “our great cultural cities, Pozsony (Bratislava in Slovak), Brassó (Braşov in Romanian), Arad (Oradea), Temesvár (Timişoara), and Fiume (Rijeka in Croatian) are still under occupation.”38 The primer ends with an explicit call for complete territorial revision:

The natural endowments of the territory and the lives of its inhabitants [] show the truth that Truncated Hungary is no country, Greater Hungary is heaven. Once and for all, this assures us that we will all the sooner regain, in its entirety, our thousand-year-old homeland’s historical territory. So let it be!39

The indoctrination of school children thus continued in much the same manner as it had prior to 1938, with unflagging emphasis on total territorial recovery, not just the recovery of ethnically Hungarian areas. These textbooks refute the assumption that the territorial revisions brought about a decrease in Hungarian irredentism because the public was satisfied with partial concessions. Rather, it demonstrates a high level of domestic production and consumption of irredentist materials continued even after territorial revisions stopped in 1941.

Hungarian textbooks presented a number of historical interpretations of the First Vienna Award. Some, like a 1941 secondary school geography primer published by St. István Society, elicited the rhetoric of divine intervention in righting the wrongs of Trianon. “Our enemies believed that the Trianon peace would determine the borders of Hungary and her neighbors for a long time, perhaps centuries” noted the textbooks author, Lajos Bodnár. “With the help of God, however, after two decades the Trianon borders were successfully changed, at least in part.”40 Though Bodnár’s line of reasoning is perhaps to be expected from a Catholic publishing house, it resonated with the broader revisionist campaign’s calls for divine justice and the belief that natural order necessitated a powerful Hungarian state encompassing her historic borders. Other textbooks took a more political approach to Hungary’s territorial revision. A history primer from 1940, when Germany was dominant on the battlefields and the Western powers appeared overmatched, chose to emphasize the changing geopolitical climate and Hungary’s allies as the reason for the country’s enlargement. “The military emancipation of the Hungarian territory of Felvidék,” the textbook claimed, “was the outcome of our cooperation with Germany and Italy.”41 Another history primer, however, written two years later, presented a very different explanation for the First Vienna Award; it put the primary agency not in the hands of God or the Axis Powers, but in the hands of the Hungarian Army.

The year of St. Stephen [1938] changed the fate of our homeland. [. . .] Now the Hungarian army again became the guardians of our internal order and the outer authority of the country. When thereafter the Czech lands came out against the German Empire, then began to disintegrate into parts, our homeland also began to demand its rights in blood. Inasmuch as a peaceful agreement did not come into being, the foreign ministers of Germany and Italy as requested arbiters, awarded us back from the Czech occupied territory 12.000 sq. km, but the heroic fight of the warriors of Munkács had already stamped the seal of this observance.42

Though still recognizing the formal role of Germany and Italy, the “warriors of Munkács” are the real actors in this passage. The city of Munkács was significant due to a border skirmish between the Czech army and Hungarians shortly after the First Vienna Award and because of its historical role as a bastion against Habsburg absolutism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Thus, it was Hungarian struggles for freedom, both in the past and the present, which enabled Hungary’s territorial expansion. The emphasis on the heroic Hungarian army’s role in territorial revision reflects a development in Hungarian education that coincided with Hungary’s formal entry into the Second World War. Schools were now a place where support for the war effort and the Hungarian army needed to be fostered alongside national identity.

The minority question also made its way into Hungarian textbooks in relation to Felvidék and the subsequent territorial expansions. Once again referencing the arguments of the revisionist movement, the textbooks often emphasized that the differences in lifestyles of Hungary’s various peoples in the tradition of the perceived ideals of St. Stephen’s medieval kingdom, were actually complementary and contributed to the overall success of the state. A geography textbook from 1941 enthusiastically claimed, “we have no doubt in the returned minorities, [. . .] that according to the ideas of St. Stephen, peoples of different languages and religions will once again find each other and live happily within the frame of historical Hungary.”43 Reconciliation was first necessary, but could lead to a mutually beneficial partnership.

We must love our national minorities like brothers! However, they also must stick with the Hungarians in good times and bad; they must finally understand that Hungarians don’t want to oppress them. [. . .] Only with mutual understanding [and] cooperation can we support a happier and more beautiful Hungarian future.44

However, despite these types of optimistic statements, the message conveyed by the textbooks on minorities was decidedly mixed. Slovaks were often described in unflattering terms; for instance, one primary school primer from 1942 refers to them as “simple, unambitious people.”45 Just as Hungarian authorities struggled to reintegrate minorities into the educational system, they also had difficulty integrating them into the curriculum.

The place of the First Vienna Award and Felvidék’s reannexation infiltrated the Hungarian curriculum deeply in history and geography and in other disciplines as well. Gyula Bognár, an instructor at the State Teacher Training Institute, encouraged teachers to “commemorate at great length the return of 12,000 square kilometers of territory and the homecoming of a million Hungarians in our geography lessons.”46 Furthermore, he argued, educators should utilize literature related not just to the returned areas but the entire territory of historic Felvidék in order to “awaken a love of Felvidék in the younger generations.”47 The minority experience of Felvidék Hungarians under Czechoslovak rule could also be used to impart patriotic lessons to students. The girls’ textbook for the new subject of Homeland Defense Studies from 1943 featured an account of young Hungarian girls in Kassa remaining faithful Hungarians under a repressive Czechoslovak regime. The girls secretly sang the Hungarian national anthem, dressed in traditional Hungarian folk costume, and endured abuses from the authorities due to their patriotism.48 Adding literature and cultural studies of Felvidék to the proposed course of study, educators like Bognár brought special attention to Felvidék’s contributions to the national cultural canon, making the region an integral part of the curriculum.49

The Minority Question in Hungarian Education

The issue of minority education became an even greater point of controversy after the Hungarian takeover of Felvidék. Slovaks made up 11.6 percent of the 1.2 million inhabitants living in the area reannexed by Hungary, which also contained minority populations of Jews (who often identified themselves as Hungarian, especially in cities), Ruthenians, and Germans.50 The official government line called for tolerance toward minorities in the region and emphasized their right to instruction in their native language. There was an ideological reason to encourage good relations with the minority ethnicities in the educational sector. During the 1920s and ‘30s, the Hungarian revisionist campaigns had emphasized the mistreatment of Hungarians living in the successor states and often pointed to problems in education to prove their point. They also claimed that a reconstituted multi-national Hungary would much more effectively protect minority rights. Now that the roles were reversed, the Hungarian government saw sound minority educational policy as one way to prove their claims were accurate and justify further territorial concessions. The awareness that satisfied minorities were important to the success of reintegration in Felvidék did not always ensure proper treatment of the Slovaks and other ethnic groups. It underlines the point, however, that the government believed that in order to receive more territory, and potentially territories with a much lower percentage of ethnic Hungarians, the illusion of decent relations with the minorities of Felvidék must be fostered.

Due to the expansion of the minority population brought about by the First Vienna Award and the subsequent territorial expansions, the Hungarian government reiterated the rights of minorities to receive an education in their mother tongue guaranteed by the 1921 law.51 The Ministry of Education issued a new order regarding minority educational instruction in 1939 to address the status of the minority language schools that were acquired in the First Vienna Award (1938) and the occupation of Ruthenia (1939). The order stipulated that “in schools with Slovak or Ruthene or German as the teaching-language, instruction shall be in the mother tongue, while the Magyar language of the Hungarian State shall be taught as a compulsory subject.”52

In reality, many of the minority language schools in Felvidék were closed or combined with Hungarian language institutions after the area came under Hungarian jurisdiction. In one example from Kassa, three secondary schoolsthe Czechoslovak State Gymnasium, the Hungarian Language Czechoslovak State Gymnasium, and the Slovak Language Premontory Gymnasiumwere combined into one, the Ferenc Rákóczi Premontory Gymnasium. According to the school’s 1939–40 yearbook, only thirteen teachers were retained from these institutions: ten from the Hungarian language school, three from the Slovak language school, and zero from the Czechoslovak State school.53 Though the yearbook claims that none of the teachers from the Czechoslovak school “requested to serve the Hungarian State,” they would most likely not have been able to remain as teachers had they stayed. The remaining positions at the new combined gymnasium were filled by education ministerial decree by a mix of temporary and permanent teachers, both from Felvidék and Hungary proper.54

Though many of the Slovak or Czechoslovak language schools experienced a similar fate, a number of Slovak-language institutions remained and had to navigate the difficulties of being minority institutions. In general, secondary education in Felvidék was divided along ethnic lines. The student body of Hungarian-language secondary institutions was made up of only around 5 percent Slovak students. Hungarian enrollment in Slovak-language schools was similarly low. 55 Although Hungarian authorities recognized the right of minorities to attend school in their native languages, they were highly suspicious of minority schools and maintained tight surveillance over them. Local authorities continually reported on the activities of the Slovak schools to the central government. In 1941, the police in Bars County reported that the elementary school in the village of Hull (Hul in Slovak) did not fly the Hungarian flag on March 15, a Hungarian national holiday (since 1927). Local members of the Hungarian Levente, a paramilitary youth organization dedicated to physical and military training, searched the school for the flag in order to raise it but only found Slovak flags and nationalist materials. The Prime Minister’s office responded to the report by urging the Ministry of Education to be diligent in calling for the “surrender and destruction” of “materials, pictures, and instructional tools in schools left over from the period of foreign rule.”56 Such incidents were continually reported and often drew the attention of officials from the lowest to the highest levels of government.

The vigorous surveillance that Slovak schools were under by the Hungarian authorities certainly did little to encourage a smooth transition to Hungarian rule or loyalty from the Slovak inhabitants, but local officials and the central government did not always agree on the proper course of action in minority issues in education. In another report, from the city of Nagysurány (Šurany in Slovak), local Hungarian authorities wrote the Interior Ministry to report that, despite an invitation, the principals of the Slovak secondary and primary school in the town did not take part in the celebrations commemorating the anniversary of the First Vienna Award. In this case, the Prime Minister’s office followed up not by reprimanding the principals but by asking the county governor not to hold “patriotic celebrations” in minority areas. Their reasoning was to avoid giving Slovaks “the opportunity for demonstrations of passive resistance against the state.”57 Officials in Budapest thought better of flaunting Hungary’s political dominance in a volatile, heavily minority town. In these matters, the Hungarian government was in a difficult position in multiple ways. Which was more pernicious: leniency toward potentially dangerous minority agitators with the power to influence the younger generation, or the fallout from alienating minority groups who, though perhaps not enthusiastic supporters of the state, were well-behaved citizens capable of in time becoming loyal members of the community? This is the question that Hungarian governmental officials had to weigh while trying to turn Slovak schools in Felvidék into loyal educational institutions but also to protect minorities from the excesses of local Hungarian nationalists.58

In a lengthy report by education ministerial advisor János Puszta, which investigated problems with Slovak students in Kassa, we see the complexity of minority education in Felvidék and further evidence of the cautious approach Hungarian authorities took in dealing with these issues. The investigation was prompted by reports that students from the State Slovak Language Gymnasium of Kassa had rioted during a special screening of Magyar feltámadás [Hungarian Resurrection].59 Employees at the local theater extended an invitation to all of the secondary schools in the area to attend viewings. But the film was a questionable choice to screen for Slovak students. It was aggressively anti-Czechoslovak, portraying Czech soldiers as crass invaders who oppressed the downtrodden Hungarian minority, and it depicted Hungary’s reannexation of Felvidék as a glorious triumph and return to natural order. When interviewed about the incident, the teachers at the Slovak Language Gymnasium admitted they had been concerned that some parts of the film may be inappropriate for the Slovak students or cause them embarrassment, but they feared it would give the impression that school teachers were anti-Hungarian should they decline the invitation, and so decided to take their students to the see the film. Hungarian students from other nearby schools attended the screening as well.60

Problems arose during a scene in the film that dramatized Czech soldiers occupying a Hungarian village in 1918. When the actors started singing the Czechoslovak national anthem, some of the Slovak students stood up and began singing along. This prompted the Hungarian students to start hissing and shouting at the Slovak students. Then, in a later scene that depicted a group of Hungarian students secretly singing the Hungarian national anthem when it had been forbidden, the Hungarian students in the theater demanded that the Slovak students stand up and sing the anthem with them. After the film ended, some of the Slovak and Hungarian students encountered each other on the street outside the theater. A fight broke out, with eventually 30-40 students involved in the street brawl.61 The fighting ended quickly, and the crowd dispersed before authorities could arrive.

In his report, Puszta, the education ministerial advisor who was sent from Budapest to investigate, noted that local news exaggerated the eventit wasn’t so much an anti-Hungarian riot as an “unfortunate incident.” However, the fight at the movie theater was indicative, he believed, of the problems the Hungarian state faced in reintegrating the minority Slovaks of Felvidék. Puszta stated that given their ideological indoctrination under the Czechoslovak system, it should have been obvious that the Slovak students would be offended by Magyar feltámadás. “There are marks left on the Slovak students from the last twenty years,” he noted.

They heard that the Czechs are their true brothers and the Hungarians their eternal enemies. They were taught that Czechoslovakia was Europe’s greatest state and society. In contrast, [they learned that] the Hungarian state and society lives in darkness, oppression, subjugation, and injustice. The Czechs brought freedom after centuries of oppression: the Hungarians can only give the Slovaks the fate of the servant.

Given this educational legacy, Puszta acknowledged that it should come as no surprise “if part of the Slovak youth regards the Vienna Award as a Slovak Trianon.”62

It was not only their previous state indoctrination that induced hostility towards Hungary on the part of Slovak students; Puszta also recognized that local Hungarian attitudes toward Slovaks played a role in furthering their anti-Hungarian dispositions. He noted that Slovak students’ behavior at the movie theater was partially due to provocation by some of the Hungarian students during the screening. The larger issue lay with the general attitude of some Hungariansmost notably many civil servantstoward the Slovak minority. According to Puszta, there were two variants of Hungarian attitudes towards Slovaks: one in line with the government’s official standpoint, which “want[ed] the Slovak question resolved with tolerance and acceptance,” and another that advocated for the “open and quick removal of the Slovaks.”63 The first group consisted of the younger generation of native Kassans and the mayor. The latter was made up of the older generation of Hungarians from Kassa, who had lost the most during the Czechoslovak takeover of the area, and many of the younger officials from Hungary proper who came to Kassa after the First Vienna Award, bringing with them uncritical stereotypes of Slovaks. People of this second group, many of whom were in the state’s employment, were taking it upon themselves to enforce a brand of nationality politics that expressly conflicted with the policies of the state. “In the town center,” Puszta noted, “they impatiently admonish Slovak speakers that the time has come for them to speak Hungarian.”64 More seriously, locals were responding to any anti-Hungarian action in independent Slovakia with demonstrations against the Slovaks of Kassa. Puszta lamented that “these people criticize authorities for their patient attitude towards the Slovaks.” Such dispositions, he believed, were harmful to the country and the government’s larger minority policy.65 In the long run, failure to follow the government line could lead to greater unrest on the part of the minorities and even jeopardize Hungarian prospects for further territorial revisions.

Apart from the issue of minority politics, Puszta mentioned another major cleavage he perceived in Kassa society: the disconnect between those Hungarians born and raised in Kassa and the so-called “parachutist” Hungarians from Trianon Hungary who moved to the area to take civil service posts after the territory was reincorporated in 1938. The newly arrived Hungarians were only integrated with local Kassans slowly and with great difficulty, he explained, a consequence of different worldviews on economics, minorities, and social parity. There was also an element of competition, as native Kassans resented the parachutists for taking jobs they believed they had earned after years of sacrifice and discrimination living as minorities in Czechoslovakia.66 Puszta also made mention of a certain type of official he believed was particularly dangerous to social cohesion: recent transplants from Hungary that took to informing on locals as a way to advance their careers. Although these issues could surface throughout the civil service, they were particularly acute in the field of education, as many of these suspect officials worked as teachers or educational administrators.

Puszta’s observations on Felvidék’s social and political landscape suggest that the variance between the official minority policy of the government and its actual execution in Felvidék was an inhibitor to the region’s successful reintegration. This was by no means a new problem, as obstruction of minority education by local officials had been “the most effective and habitual vehicle of Magyarization” since the late nineteenth century.67 However, the territorial expansion in Felvidék added new urgency to an old problem, as Hungary’s minority population had, after a long period of contraction, drastically expanded literally overnight. Any attempts by the Hungarian government to legislate minority rights would only be as effective as the local officials and populace allowed them to be. This was not, however, a simple variance between state officials advocating for tolerance and locals out for retribution. Puszta’s descriptions reveal that while some civil servants fell in line with government policies, others violated them, and that attitudes toward the Slovak minority among native Kassans were not homogeneous, determined more or less by generational association. We also see that ethnicity was just one of many dividing lines within Felvidék society; Felvidék Hungarian claims to a distinct type of Hungarianness, in contrast to Trianon Hungarians, and the competition between these two groups for civil service jobs created social tensions as well. It also challenged traditional claims of a singular Hungarian nation with a unified history and culture by highlighting distinct regional differences between Hungarians of Felvidék and Hungarians of Trianon Hungary.

Puszta’s recommendations that conclude the report are equally revealing. In line with many of the suspicions state officials held toward minority language institutions, he stated that the “turmoil of the Slovak students ha[d] one nest: the Kassa State Slovak Language Gymnasium.”68 To combat this problem, he suggested removing the principal, Jozsef Trochta, and replacing him with someone who was “definitely dependable from a Hungarian standpoint,” spoke good Slovak, and was acceptable to the Slovak students.69 Puszta also advised the Prime Minister not to blame anyone for the demonstration that broke out during the screening of Magyar feltámadás and that he should personally tell those involved that they would be pardoned, but that similar offenses in the future would not be.70 Perhaps most interesting is Puszta’s recommendation for the teachers; he stated that both the Hungarian and Slovak teachers in Kassa needed to receive further instruction in order to meet the State’s pedagogical and minority policy expectations. Hungarians must be enlightened on inclusive nationality politics and Slovaks should be warned of their obligation to the Hungarian State.71 “In the interest of peace and order,” he suggested, some of the teachers brought into the region but found to be “differing from the government’s minority politics” should be sent back to Hungary proper to serve as an example of the consequences of violating state policy. In the future, all teachers assigned to teach in Kassa should be required to have had experience teaching in a minority area.72

Puszta’s findings highlight some of the complexities the Hungarian government faced in implementing their educational policies in the returned territories. The government had difficulties deciding when and how to reprimand Slovak educators for fear of alienating the Slovak community. The fate of Jozsef Trochta is a prime example of this. In the course of his investigation, Puszta learned that Trochta had participated in anti-Hungarian demonstrations, criticized the Hungarian government to a Czech reporter, and aided individuals in smuggling Slovak propaganda over the new border. Yet despite these indicators of severe disloyalty to the Hungarian State, the government treated Trochta with a great deal of leniency. Though he was removed from his post as principal of the Slovak Language Gymnasium in Kassa per Puszta’s recommendation, he was not dismissed outright; he was moved to the Slovak gymnasium in Ipolyság (Šahy in Slovak), a community further from the border with far fewer Slovaks and thus far fewer minority problems than Kassa. By moving Trochta to Ipolyság, the goal of the Hungarian authorities was most likely to isolate him geographically instead of allowing him to remain in ethnically charged Kassa as an embittered, idle, cast-off. It is also an indicator of the dearth of qualified Slovaks who were willing to serve the Hungarian state as educational administrators. The Hungarian government navigated the fine line between alienating Slovak educators and students by making an example of Trochta but preventing his further jeopardizing of minority integration in Kassa.

Conclusion

Hungarian officials saw the education and reeducation of youth as the best method to undo the perceived damages of Felvidék’s period of separation from the Hungarian state and to assure the territory’s successful reintegration. While alarmist nationalist educators decried the degradation of the “souls, language, and spirit” of the region’s students under the Czechoslovak educational system, they fundamentally believed that, under the Hungarian state’s resumed guidance, they could learn proper Hungarian nationality. The Hungarian educational system largely succeeded in the tasks of reintegrating Felvidék into the national curriculum and offering a Hungarian education to the students of Felvidék, but struggled with formulating and executing an effective program for the education of minority students. Tensions between pluralist and assimilationist minority policies, local and Budapest-based educational and governmental officials, and welcoming and antagonistic attitudes undermined the reintegration of minority students into the Hungarian school system.

Archival Sources

Archív mesta Košice [Košice City Archive]. 1938–1945 Collection.

Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Országos Levéltára (MOL) [Hungarian National Archives].

K28. Miniszterelnökség [Prime Minister’s Office].

Orders 133.200 IX (1939), 24.024 (1940), and 56.600 (1941) by the Hungarian Ministry of Education.

“A m. kir. vallás- és közoktatásügyi miniszter 112.009/1938. IX. sz. rendelete a visszacsatolt területi ifjúság számára ifjúsági könyvek gyüjtése tárgyában” [Order No. 112.009/1938. IX of the Royal Hungarian Religion and Education Minister on the Gathering of Youth Books for the Youth of Returned Felvidék]. Néptanítók lapja és népművelési tájékoztató [Journal of School Teachers and Educational Instruction] 22 (Nov. 15, 1938): 926–27.

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1 The First Vienna Award divided Felvidék into two: “reannexed Felvidék,” which was under Hungarian rule, and the Autonomous Region of Slovakia within the Czechoslovak Republic, after March 1939 the independent Slovak Republic. In contemporary usage, Felvidék is employed colloquially by many Hungarians to refer to Slovakia and/or the parts of southern Slovakia with large Hungarian populations. Though the term is now largely considered neutral by Hungarians, its historical association with Hungarian nationalism and revisionism has given Felvidék a strongly negative connotation for many Slovaks. As a result, some historians from both Hungary and Slovakia have advocated abandoning the designation altogether. But despite Felvidék’s ambiguity as a term and its politically-charged past usage, it remains a valuable and, in my estimation, critical phrase for the historian of Hungarian–Slovak borderlands. First, given the unwieldy official name of the returned territories used by the Hungarian government (the Reannexed Upland [Felvidéki] Territories of the Hungarian Holy Crown), I shorten it to Felvidék for usability’s sake. Also, reannexed Felvidék was governed separately from the rest of the country during its brief period under Hungarian rule, making it necessary to differentiate that area from the territory of Trianon Hungary. Finally, the term Felvidék is important to highlight the strong regional identity of the Hungarians living in that area. Thus, unless otherwise stated, I use the term Felvidék to refer to those areas given to Hungary by the First Vienna Award, recognizing that this is an imperfect solution.

2 Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983), 34.

3 Anthony D. Smith, National Identity (Reno, Nev.: University Nevada Press, 1991), 118–19.

4 For a discussion of the concept of national indifference, see Tara Zahra, Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900–1948 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008).

5 For an analysis of the results of Hungarian assimilationist educational policies, see Gábor I. Kovács, “‘Törzsökös’ és asszimilált’ magyarok: ‘keresztény allogének’ és ‘zsidók’ a dualizmuskori Magyarország középiskoláiban,” Korall 9 (2002): 193–232.

6 Quoted in Iván Berend, History Derailed: Central and Eastern Europe in the Long Nineteenth Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 271. For a description of Grünwald’s most notorious work on Magyarization, A Felvidék, and the response to it by Slovak intellectual Michal Mudroň see László Szarka, “The Origins of the Hungarian–Slovak National Opposition in Hungary,” in A Multiethnic Region and Nation-State in East-Central Europe: Studies in the History of Upper Hungary and Slovakia from the 1600s to the Present (Boulder, Colo.: Social Science Monographs, 2011), 168–75.

7 Numbers are difficult to verify and the categories themselves problematic, but historian Carlile Aylmer Macartney estimated that among the approximately three million inhabitants of Slovakia in 1918, 1.9 million were Slovaks, 700,000 Hungarians, and 140,000 Jews, and that over half of Jews and around 200,000 Slovaks “must have spoken Magyar, and many of these were in a fair way to becoming entirely Magyarized.” Carlile Aylmer Macartney, Hungary and Her Successors: The Treaty of Trianon and its Consequences, 1919–1937 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1937), 79.

8 Alexander Maxwell, Choosing Slovakia: Slavic Hungary, the Czechoslovak Language and Accidental Nationalism (London: Tauris Academic Studies, 2009), 26–27.

9 Joachim von Puttkamer, Schulalltag und nationale Integration in Ungarn: Slowaken, Rumänen und Siebenbürger Sachsen in der Auseinandersetzung mit der ungarischen Staatsidee, 1867–1914 (Munich: R. Oldenbourg Verlag, 2003), 127.

10 Owen Johnson, Slovakia 1918–1938: Education and the Making of a Nation (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), 34.

11 Ibid., 103–4.

12 Ibid., 110.

13 Ibid., 128.

14 Qtd. in ibid., 106.

15 Adolf Pechány, “A Felvidék közoktatásügye,” in Az elszakított magyarság, ed. Gyula Kornis (Budapest: Magyar Pedagógiai Társaság, 1927), 199.

16 Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Országos Levéltára (MOL) [Hungarian National Archives] K28 (Miniszterelnökség), 37/77.

17 Emil Buczkó, “A kassai premontreiek a húszéves cseh megszállás alatt,” in A jászó-premontrei Rákóczi Ferenc Gimnázium évkönyve az 1939–40 iskolai évről (Kassa: Wikó, 1940), 15.

18 Miklós Zeidler, “A comparison of the minority protection articles from the treaties between the Principal Allied and Associated Powers and Czecho-Slovakia (September 10, 1919); Serb-Croat-Slovene State (September 10, 1919); Roumania (December 9, 1919),” in Czech and Hungarian Minority Policy in Central Europe, 1918–1938, ed. Ferenc Eiler and Dagmar Hájková (Prague: Masarykuv ústav a Archiv AV ČR, 2010), 177.

19 Jan Rychlík, “The Situation of the Hungarian Minority in Czechoslovakia 1918–1938,” in Czech and Hungarian Minority Policy in Central Europe, 1918–1938, 36.

20 Robert William Seton-Watson, “The Situation in Slovakia and the Magyar Minority,” Doc. 139 in R. W. Seton-Watson and His Relations with the Czechs and Slovaks: Documents, 1906–1951, vol. 1, ed. Jan Rychlík (Prague: Ústav T. G. Masaryka, 1995), 421–22. There was, however, a parallel Hungarian course of studies at the Slovak Teacher’s College in Bratislava. On the number of Hungarian-language schools, see Charles Wojatsek, From Trianon to the first Vienna Arbitral Award: the Hungarian Minority in the First Czechoslovak Republic, 1918–1938 (Montreal: Institute of Comparative Civilizations, 1981), 39. Census data is taken from Attila Simon, “The Creation of Hungarian Minority Groups, Czechoslovakia: Slovakia,” in Minority Hungarian Communities in the Twentieth Century, ed. Nándor Bárdi, Csilla Fedinec, and László Szarka (Boulder, Colo.: Social Science Monographs, 2011), 60. Demographics were highly contested; upon the return of reannexed Felvidék in 1938, Hungarian officials put the number of Hungarians at 870,000. (MOL K28 215/428).

21 Quoted in Géza Charles Paikert, “Hungary’s National Minority Policies, 1938–1945,” American Slavic and East European Review 12 no. 2 (April 1953): 207.

22 Benedek Áldorfai, “Feltámadtunk!,” in A kassai Magyar kir. állami (premontrei) gimnázium évkönyve az 1938–39. iskolai évről, ed. Emil Buczkó (Kassa: Wikó, 1939), 6.

23 György Szombatfalvy, “A népoktatás a felvidéken,” Néptanítók lapja és népművelési tájékoztató 22 (Nov. 15, 1938): 900.

24 Ibid.

25 Áldorfai, “Feltámadtunk!”, 6.

26 “Irányelvek a felvidéki iskolák munkájának folytatásához,“ Néptanítók lapja és népművelési tájékoztató 22 (Nov. 15, 1938): 896.

27 It is impossible to ascertain how many individuals changed their responses from one year to the next. Circumstances such as students repeating a grade level, leaving the school, or new students enrolling could all possibly contribute to changes in the sample. However, as this pattern is widespread across grade levels and institutions, it is reasonable to conclude that some students altered the way they assessed their language abilities.

28 László Födrős, ed., A kassai m. kir. állami Hunfalvy János Gimnázium évkönyve az 1939–40 iskolai évről (Kosice: Wikó, 1940), 56; Idem, ed., Hunfalvy János Gim. évkönyve 1940–41 (Kosice: Wikó, 1941), 72; Idem, ed., Hunfalvy János Gim. évkönyve 1941–42 (Kassa: Wikó, 1942), 42; Idem, ed., Hunfalvy János Gim. évkönyve 1942–43 (Kosice: Wikó, 1943), 37; Idem, ed., Hunfalvy János Gim. évkönyve 1943–44 (Kosice: Wikó, 1944), 32.

29 Emil Buczkó, ed., A kassai Magyar kir. állami (premontrei) gimnázium évkönyve az 1938–39. iskolai évről (Kassa: Wikó, 1939), 15.

30 Ibid., 10–11.

31 “Magyar nemzeti zászló a visszacsatolt felvidéki iskoláknak,” Néptanítók lapja és népművelési tájékoztató 21 (Nov. 1, 1938): 882. “A m. kir. vallás- és közoktatásügyi miniszter 112.009/1938. IX. sz. rendelete a visszacsatolt területi ifjúság számára ifjúsági könyvek gyüjtése tárgyában,” Néptanítók lapja és népművelési tájékoztató 22 (Nov. 15, 1938): 926.

32 Julius [Gyula] Kornis, Education in Hungary (New York: Teachers College of Columbia University, 1932), 55. For a discussion of the development and utilization of geography during the interwar period, see Zoltán Krasznai, Földrajztudomány, oktatás és propaganda: A nemzeti terület reprezentációja a két világháború közötti Magyarországon (Pécs: Molnár Nyomda, 2012).

33 János Karl and Ferenc Prochaska, Általános földrajz, Magyarország gazdasági és politikai földrajza a polgári fiúiskolák IV. osztálya számára (Budapest: Franklin Társulat, 1939), 3.

34 István Albrecht, Ezeréves hazánk a Magyar medencében. Térkép és munkafüzet a népiskola V. osztálya számára (Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 1942).

35 See Ferenc Marczinkó, János Pálfi, and Erzsébet Várady, A legújabb kor története a francia forradalomtól napjainkig a gimnázium és leánygimnázium VI. osztálya számára (Budapest: Királyi Magyar Egyetemi Nyomda, 1940). For the map of the “Present” this particular textbook shows Hungary’s 1940 borders, including areas awarded by the First and Second Vienna Awards and the Occupation of Ruthenia, though not those areas conquered during the 1941 invasion of Yugoslavia.

36 Eric Weaver, “Revisionism and its Modes: Hungary’s attempts to overturn the Treaty of Trianon, 1931–1938” (PhD diss., University of Oxford, 2007), 215.

37 György Szondy, A Magyar nemzet története osztatlan elemi népiskolák V–VI. osztálya számára (Debrecen: Debrecen sz. Kir. Város és Tiszántúli református egyház kerület könyvnyomda, 1941), 114.

38 János Karl and Győző Temesy, A magyar föld és népe földrajz a gimnázium és a leánygimnázium I. osztály számára, (Budapest: Franklin Társulat, 1939), 109.

39 Ibid., 111.

40 Lajos Bodnár and Gusztáv Kalmár, Magyarország helyzete, népessége és gazdasági élete földrajz a gimnázium és leánygimnázium VII. osztálya számára (Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 1941), 96.

41 Marczinkó, Pálfi, and Várady, A legújabb kor története, 173.

42 Albin Balogh, Magyarország történelem a gimnázium és a leánygimnázium III. osztály számára (Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 1942), 115. Emphasis in the original.

43 János Karl and Győző Temesy, Hazánk részletes földrajza és térképismeret a gimnázium és a leánygimnázium VII. osztálya számára (Budapest: Franklin Társulat, 1941), 116.

44 Marczinkó, Pálfi, and Várady, A legújabb kor története, 172.

45 Gyula Kiss and Ferenc Nagy, Földrajz az osztott elemi népiskolák használatára IV. osztály tananyaga (Budapest: Kókai Lajos Kiadása, 1942), 38.

46 Gyula Bognár, “A Felvidékhez kapcsolódó irodalom szerepe a népiskolai földrajztanításban,” in Néptanítók lapja és népművelési tájékoztató 5 (Feb. 1, 1939): 157.

47 Ibid., 160.

48 Honvédelmi ismeretek a leánygimnáziumok III. osztálya, a polgári leányiskola III. osztálya és a népiskola VII. leányosztálya számára (Budapest: Királyi Magyar Egyetemi Nyomda, 1943), 100–6.

49 Felvidék experienced a resurgence in the broader literary canon beyond schools. The Széchényi National Library supplied the public library in Kassa with 646 volumes in 1939. Included among these works were a number of books by classic Hungarian poets and authors like János Arany and Kálmán Mikszáth to rebuild the library’s literary canon; national histories to reacquaint readers with the seminal events in Hungarian history like the 1848 Revolution and the Battle of Mohács; volumes extolling Hungarian achievement in fine arts, from painting to music; and practical works on industry, economy, and law to help with the reintegration process itself. Finally, books like Béla Imrédy’s National Ideas, Unity of the People, and Social Thought and Ödön Tarján’s Hungarians, Slovaks and Ruthenes in the Danubian Basin touched upon the all-important topics of revisionism and Felvidék’s calling in the wider Hungarian national project. Archív mesta Košice (Košice City Archive), 1938–1945 Collection, Box 20, File 18641.

50 MOL K28 215/428.

51 Orders 133.200 IX (1939), 24.024 (1940), and 56.600 (1941) by the Hungarian Ministry of Education.

52 Paikert, “Hungary’s National Minority Policies,” 208.

53 A kassai premontrei gim. 1938–39 évkönyve, 12.

54 At Ferenc Rákóczi Gymnasium, the principal was a local priest, Emil Buczkó, and the vice principal, Lajos Sipos, was brought in from Budapest. A kassai premontrei gim. 1938–39 évkönyve, 13.

55 In the 1941–42 school year, yearbook statistics from eight Hungarian secondary schools, the Protestant Gymnasium in Rimaszombat, Menyhert Gymnasium in Rozsnyó, the Rozsnyó Commercial School, the Boys’ Commercial School in Érsekújvár, Péter Pázmány Gymnasium in Érsekújvár, János Hunfalvy Gymnasium in Kassa, the Kassa Commercial School, and the Premontory Ferenc Rákóczi Gymnasium in Kassa give a total of 3,125 students, 155 of whom were Slovak, making up 4.9 percent of the student body of these institutions. At the Slovak-Language Instruction Gymnasium in Kassa, 6.1 percent of the student body in 1941–42 was Hungarian.

56 MOL K28 24/62.

57 Ibid.

58 Historian Gábor Egry has theorized a tripartite division for Hungarian nationality politics with a conceptual state-building level, a governmental policy level, and a local implementation level, which were often in competition with one another. The clash between these different levels of nationality politics account for much of the disagreement between local and state officials regarding minority education in Felvidék. For Egry’s discussion of nationality politics in Northern Transylvania, see “Tükörpolitika: Magyarok, románok és nemzetiségpolitika Észak-Erdélyben, 1940–1944,” Limes 2 (2010): 97–111.

59 Magyar feltámadás (1939), directed by Jenő Csepreghy and Ferenc Kiss.

60 MOL K28 23/62 file E 15623, 9.

61 Ibid., 9–12.

62 Ibid., 1415.

63 Ibid., 24.

64 Ibid., 25.

65 Ibid., 26.

66 Ibid., 27.

67 Paikert, “Hungary’s National Minority Policies,” 212.

68 MOL K28 23/62 file E 15623, 16.

69 Ibid., 33.

70 Ibid., 35.

71 Ibid., 36.

72 Ibid., 37.

pdfVolume 2 Issue 3 CONTENTS

Péter Apor

The Lost Deportations and the Lost People of Kunmadaras: A Pogrom in Hungary, 1946

 

The subject of this article is one of the scandals of postwar Hungarian politics and society: the anti-Semitic pogrom that took place on May 21, 1946 in the village of Kunmadaras. The Kunmadaras riot was part of a series of anti-Jewish atrocities that broke out in the summer of 1946 in the Hungarian countryside. These events, however, were comparable with similar violence against surviving and returning Jewish communities in East Central Europe, particularly in Poland and Slovakia. The scholarly literature so far has typically understood these events as the outcome of social discontent raised by economic hardships and mismanaged or openly abused and even generated by political ideologies, particularly Nazism and Communism. These descriptions rarely problematize the Jews as an obvious ethnic category and seldom ask questions concerning the ways peasant or local communities actually distanced their neighbors as “Jews” to be beaten. This article focuses on the everyday interaction through which ethnicity and ethnic identities were constructed in a village that, as the outcome of the events, was split between “Hungarians” and “Jews” in the summer of 1946. While taking the political implications into consideration, I argue that the pogrom was a consequence of the frames of traditional peasant culture, which were mobilized under the particular postwar social and political circumstances, and particularly of the culture of collective violence that was also present in the village of Kunmadaras. The second section of the article, however, concentrates on how politics abused the events during a subsequent trial and constructed a particular Hungarian version of the anti-Fascist myth without the Jewish victims themselves. As was the case all over Soviet-dominated East Central Europe, this myth built a certain level of legitimacy for Communist parties.

Keywords: Anti-Semitism, collective violence, Communism, popular culture, memory of World War II

Introduction

On May 21, 1946 a riot against the Jews of the Hungarian village of Kunmadaras broke out. Several people were beaten and eventually three of them were killed. The Kunmadaras revolt was one in a series of horrific assaults against surviving Jewish communities in postwar East Central Europe, particularly in Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. Attempts by historians to interpret these controversial events regularly generate fierce debates, such as the recent debate concerning the 1946 Kielce pogrom in Poland or a debate in the mid-1990s about the postwar beatings of Jews in the Hungarian countryside. For many historians the pogroms are explained by social and economic circumstances, in particular the general privation and widespread social discontent that accompanied it, which was abused by various malicious political ideologies for their own purposes.1 Apparently, such cases prove the survival of prewar fascist and Nazi racist propaganda and serve as ex post facto evidence for the complicity of local societies in the deportation of Jews initiated and coordinated by German authorities.2 Other historians argue that while the impact of Nazi anti-Semitism was relevant, postwar domestic Communist parties played a more instrumental role in the pogroms, as they manipulated and abused anti-Semitic sentiments to legitimize their own dictatorial attempts.3 A third position, on the contrary, calls into question the notion that the atrocities were motivated by political anti-Semitism and, in fact, rejects anti-Semitism as a motif in general, links the violence instead to ordinary acts of banditry and robbery.4

Strangely, despite their disagreements on other points, both the interpretation based on the impact of political ideologies and framed as a history of political ideas and the alternative one focusing on allegedly non-political social mentalities lead to a rather embarrassing conclusion. The idea that peasants were either manipulated by politically conscious organizations, groups or persons, Fascists or Communists, or were completely inimical to political ideologies sharply detaches the realm of political ideas from lower-class culture or popular mentalities. From this perspective, it seems as if peasants were invulnerable to violent ideologies, as if they had even resisted them, as if they were unable to commit racist atrocities on their own without the help of politics. The notion that ordinary people commit ordinary violence motivated by material reasons implies this reasoning, whereas racist ideological violence is the character of extraordinary, extremist evil political movements, the “Fascists” or “Communists”, who are cast as alien to “normal” society.

A careful reading of the evidence concerning the Kunmadaras pogrom, however, suggests a radically different reading. This essay examines this alternative explanation. The atrocities in Kunmadaras, where the villagers systematically beat almost all of their Jewish neighbors, were indeed anti-Semitic. Yet, peasants had no need of political organization or the guidance of parties: the pogrom was the outcome of an extreme combination of the peasant understanding of the postwar situation in the context of traditional popular culture. The beatings of Jews were not an inevitable outcome of the survival of fascism: the distancing of neighbors as an ethnically distinct other and their exclusion from the village community was a gradual process that was firmly located in the postwar context and happened through the activization of traditional means of popular culture.5 Peasants, having a sophisticated culture, were indeed able to launch pogroms by themselves.

Nonetheless, this culture was not separate from political or elite cultures. Contemporary politics did have a good deal of responsibility in the atrocities, particularly since villagers read the postwar campaign against the black-marketeers as actually justifying their actions. However, what established an even more striking relationship among various layers of popular and elite cultures was the memory of the deportations and the Holocaust, or more precisely, the absence of this memory. In postwar Hungary, as was the case in most European societies, the memory of World War II was dominated by the will to forget, and especially to forget the embarrassing memory of the massive horrors committed against Jews. In this context the war appeared as a general tragedy that hit everyone similarly, and the suffering of Jews was not a distinctive historical event: Jews were not special victims of Nazism. The context of the deliberately forgotten deportations made returning Jewish communities so vulnerable to violence, and the atrocities themselves so vulnerable to subsequent political manipulation. It was the virtual absence of Jewish victims from the Communist versions of the anti-Fascist myths that made these myths so attractive to Jews and anti-Semites alike.

The Trial of the Village Teacher

The Screening Committee, which was responsible for ousting out war criminals and fascist persons from public offices and decided whether or not someone would be put on trial, questioned the political reliability of the school teacher in the village. The Committee argued that the teacher was supporting the political measures that were forced on Hungarian society by German fascists.

János Nagy, a local school teacher, as the chief-trainer of the military youth corporation, infected the Hungarian youth for years with the controlled ideas of the pro-German, fascist politics. He himself, although he has never been in the army, had the gall to express the delight, in front of a large public, that he took in the German occupation, which had to be shared by the whole Hungarian people on the celebration of Heroes Day in spring, 1944. In his blindness he made the Jewry the cause of every problem.6

Following this report of the Committee, Nagy was brought to justice. He was accused of being a war criminal and was sentenced.

This ruling, however, was not exactly unanimous. Many young people who had been taught by Nagy marched into the room where the trial was held and demanded that he be released. Several of them gave confessions in front of the court, where, in general, they expressed their doubts that Nagy had been an anti-Semite and instead made a case for the general popularity of the teacher in the village.7 The only point of the indictment, which no one disproved, was that he had given a chauvinistic and militaristic address on May 28, 1944, in which he had encouraged the audience to continue fighting on the side of the Germans. The speech sufficed not only to prove to the court that Nagy had pro-German sentiments, but also that he should be regarded as a war criminal: “With their propaganda, the defendant and others who shared his way of thinking influenced the Hungarian people not to take in sides with the Allies, and this had the consequence that the country was razed to the ground.”8 The conclusion that Nagy had been part of an interwar establishment that had run the propaganda was proven not by actual concrete evidence, but by an element of his biography: he was a teacher in the village and as such, in 1929, he became a “levente”-trainer, a position in the official youth organization, which specialized in patriotic and militaristic education. His accommodation to the interwar official infrastructure, however, made him automatically a fascist in the postwar context. The support Nagy had from his former students was interpreted by the court merely as an indication that “young people who had been educated by the accused in the spirit of fascism” were unashamed to show this attitude in public.

Qualifying him as a fascist justified further points of the indictment, although the number of the confessions that supported either the prosecution or the defense was approximately the same. The judge accepted that Nagy had disliked the Soviet Union, too. In his speech, Nagy had called his audience’s attention to “a horde that had been approaching the borders of Hungary, and Hungary had been obliged to resist.” The court considered the allegations regarding Nagy’s anti-Socialist sympathies as well-founded, although there was only one witness who supported them. He told the court that the defendant had threatened him, saying that “his socialist thinking would come to a bad end.” The conclusion that he was an anti-Semite was also logical for the court, although it was proven in a very convoluted way. The confession that Nagy forbidden his disciples to sing anti-Semitic songs became evidence against him according to the logic of the ruling. The judge argued that the fact that he had had occasion to ban the songs was indicative of the educational atmosphere, which had been in his control, meaning that he himself had once taught the anti-Semitic songs, which later he had forbidden students to sing. The court was not able to submit in evidence any concrete fascist act committed by the teacherparticipation in the deportation of the Jews or in fascist movements, the evidence for his conviction was taken from part of his biography. The ruling was not based on falsified confessions, but the confessions used by the court gained their authenticity from the story told about the ”levente”-trainer. One part of his past provided the frame which made it possible for the People’s Tribunal to interpret other events of his life. The peculiar event conceived as the starting point of his story offered causal explanation for his further acts as well. The narrative made the fascist real: the life-story of the teacher was presented as the story of a fascist.9

The ruling of the court of first instance divided the population of the village. For a lot of them it was not acceptable: Nagy was a respected person of the community and they did not regard him as a fascist. Thus, when his second trial began on May 20, a significant crowd of approximately 300 persons on 15-20 carts accompanied Nagy on his way towards the neighboring settlement, Karcag, where the trial was to be held.10 The tension increased when the villagers arrived at the border of Karcag, where they were informed of the regulation that only five persons per party could enter the courtroom. The people of Kunmadaras were dissatisfied with this proposal and decided not to go. Furthermore, they did not let Nagy participate in his trial, in spite of the fact that he asked his followers to let him go. According to several statements the crowd got angry when they tried to enter Karcag, in spite of the police forces standing on the road. The police shot into the air, which further inflamed them. This event persuaded the people to return to their village, but they were very disappointed due to the failure of their acts. Remembering the tense situation, several witnesses recollected that they had heard Zsigmond Tóth, the first defendant of the post-pogrom trial who was accused of organizing it, inciting people against the Jews. He claimed that the Jews had to be struck dead by any means, since thanks to them the people allegedly could not enter the courtroom.11

Campaign against the Black-Marketeers

From the autumn of 1945 until August 1946, the introduction of the new currency, the forint and the issue of the black-marketeers and speculators often appeared in newspapers. The fly-pitchers were considered enemies of the economic recovery and their activity were regarded as the main cause of the shortages that endangered the rebuilding of the country. Mátyás Rákosi, secretary general of the Hungarian Communist Party, laid great emphasis on this in his New Year’s article in 1946. He claimed that the available goods had to be distributed first and foremost to the industrial workers, as they were the most needed in the rebuilding. This important principle was threatened by the black-marketeers who made their fortunes primarily through depreciation. The existence of great concentrations of capital revolted the workers, who “undertake the most serious sacrifices and privations quietly, if they see that the common bearing of the burdens is a reality and no one can obtain property and lead a life of luxury off their misery and privation.”12 Not rarely the articles called for the people to take steps against the black-marketeers, for example the article of József Révai, the main ideologue of the Communist Party, who stated that democracy was based on the consciousness of the people, but the people asked why democracy did not clamp down on the black-marketeers.13 Another article argued that the workers not only trust in the authorities, but assist to them in order to effect improvements to public supply. It stated that only regulations that could be secured by the masses would actually be realized.14 These articles emphasized that the measures were on behalf of the workers themselves, as they served the purpose of enabling them to get food from the pantries of the wealthy.

An important element in the “campaigns to defend the forint” was the boom of posters and caricatures that depicted the black-marketeers with easily recognizable stereotypically Jewish features, for instance before the lynching of two Jewish merchants in Miskolc in July, 1946.15 At the end of the nineteenth century Jews were usually depicted with “a thick crooked nose, thick lips, big ears, wooly hair, two shabby locks in front of the ears, a short fat body, short, bandy legs, rough hands and most characteristic of all, a devilish grin conveying greed and the desire for possessions.”16 These last features were attributed to them by a leaflet that appeared on a communist noticeboard: “However, if there will be persons among them [implying Jews – author’s note] who see the black market as a better chance, who want to gamble [...] or enter one of the parties in order to [...] satisfy their greed [...],” the left would protest against this immediately, as it had promised.17

The Historical Anthropology of Memory

The Jew-baiting began in the morning at the market square with the beating of a Jewish man who had arrived from a neighboring village, Tiszaszentimre. Then the crowd chased a Jewish merchant and his family through the streets, while at the market the others attacked a person from Budapest. After finishing at the market the people broke into the shop of a Jew who lived nearby. Members of the Jewish population who were not at the market tried to hide or lock themselves up. The crowd went to their houses and assaulted them. Several people were beaten and three of them were killed. One of the people who was murdered originally tried to escape from the village, but the persecutors caught up with him near the military airport.18

Villagers were called to account at the end of May, 1946 at the People’s Tribunal. They told their stories about the pogrom under rather special circumstances: the place where these accounts were given was a court room and the witnesses were speaking during a trial. The reports had a specific purpose: to defend the people giving them against various charges. They took the form of confessions, which is an act of memory that seeks to neutralize itself: it aims at purification. At first sight, the narratives tried to legitimize at the People’s Tribunal the behavior of their authors, but they provide no explanation for the outbreak of deadly violence. The historian finds no reasons in the defendants’ stories as to why they assaulted people, nor can one shed light on the motives underlying the violence or how the perpetrators gave reasons for the riot. The narratives that can be found among the documents of a trial inform the reader merely how the defendants or the villagers tried to tell stories that would sound authentic. Consequently, they did not want to legitimize their acts, but rather the memory of an ambiguous occurrence: they wanted to be able to continue living live with their memories. Thus the historian can speak about the form of memory that the narratives produced, he or she can describe the context in which the particular elements of stories gained meaning and constructed a coherent recollection of the event. Still, the manner in which the villagers told stories about the pogrom that sounded authentic sheds light on their ideas regarding a “legitimate” riot. Through the micro-historical analysis of the peasant way of thinking an answer can be found to the question of how the commission of acts of violence was meaningful for the villagers.19

What seems to be a remarkably striking feature of the trial even at first sight is that a large number of the statements claimed that mostly women had taken part in the violent acts. The first question that arises is whether there was a distinct female interpretation of the events? Did the women see the pogrom differently from the men? Was there a female narrative, a women’s story in Kunmadaras, like the story captured by Natalie Davis in her analysis of pardon tales told by women in Early Modern France?20 Can the researcher sort out peculiar elements that feature only the “women’s voice”?

There is a place in the memory of the women that occupies a central position. That place is the market. Very few women started their stories with the events of the previous day. For most of them the morning of the day at the market was the point when the pogrom had begun. A woman was selling turkey when she noticed that the merchant was beaten. A third one was going to the market when a group caught her eye, and she learned that Klein had been assaulted. Most of the witnesses remembered that women were the ones who participated in the pogrom: “all of them were women and girls, the men were not beating anyone, but rather incited the women to hit.”21 What do these statements prove? First of all that usually women went to the market. The market is the place of shopping in a village and shopping is considered women’s work. Therefore the market was full of women and not men. In Kunmadaras they participated in face-to-face marketing and consequently they were more sensitive to prices, as well. The women remembered the acts they had committed on the day of the violent outbreak in the context of their ordinary activity.

However, was this only a female narrative? The “memory of women” refers not only to what women remember, but also to how they are remembered by others. Many of the male witnesses remembered that the movement had been led by a woman named Eszter Kabai Tóth. She was the person who incited the people to beat the Jews by shouting, “The Jews have to be hit!” Then she personally attacked one of the first victims, Klein, after having slapped a Jew named Weisz a couple of times in the face.22 Numerous witnesses remembered that the victims had been assaulted mainly by women or at least that women had initiated the violence. The crowd was led by a couple of women towards the victims, who lived farther from the market square. The witnesses noticed the women on every side of the atrocities: by the house of Neuländer or Kohn.23 The narrative described above was not told only by woman, but also about them. Obviously, numerous men also had taken part in the pogrom, as one of the policeman observed: “The whole crowd consisted of a very mixed group, men, women, adults, children, Hungarians, Gypsies, people with various occupations...”24 However, the presence of the women was so striking that most of the witnesses felt that they had to talk about it. However, emphasizing women’s participation and representing the pogrom as if it had been mainly a women’s issue could lead to further consequences.

For several witnesses the affair at the market was a usual clash between sellers and buyers: “On 21 May, on the market day, a quarrel broke out between Eszter Kabai and Klein, the egg-merchant who was called Csoli. I do not know what it was about exactly, but because of it Klein was beaten.”25 Some of them were seeing to their everyday tasks at the market. There was a person who wanted to buy a pig when he noticed that the crowd was attacking someone. Another person went to the square with his fiancée and was talking with his friend, who was a member of the police, when he saw the people badgering two merchants.26 For another person, the Jew-baiting was a simple village brawl. He had been drinking wine together with his friends in the morning and after having finished three liters he considered visiting another friend. He happened to walk down the same street as the riotous crowd and he began to shout because he was drunk. Some defendants told the story as if it had been one of the events of the day, one of many, for instance one of them said that after the Jew-baiting incident he had went home to have lunch, while the other gave reasons for having left the pogrom earlier: “According to my master’s instructions I had to go to Karcag, so I went home, had lunch, and at about one o’clock I went to Karcag by bicycle.”27

However, some of the villagers remembered more. Many women gave an account of a quarrel between the women who had arrived to sell or buy in the market and the Jewish merchant, Klein. One of them went to get some information about the price of eggs when she heard Klein saying that he was willing to buy eggs for 100 million pengős instead of the normal 30 million. The women protested and suddenly started to hit the merchant.28 His offer was understandable for them, since they knew that if he were to buy all the eggs, they would not be able to get any, as one of them shouted: “Then we cannot live!” Another woman told the story as if all the Jewish merchants had declared that the price of the eggs had been 100 million. The conflict at the market was presented as a struggle between the rich Jewish merchants and the village. According to one of the witnesses, the merchant had claimed that he wanted to devastate all Hungarians. The women considered themselves keepers of the household, and this perception was strengthened by the men. In their eyes, the individual clash between Klein and “one of them” represented the social dissatisfaction due to the bad living conditions, inflation and the shortage of food. A woman said that after the Weinbergers were beaten, the sausages and meat that had been found in their house had been carried to the police station, since the crowd had demanded that this food be taken away because the Jewish family even had a pig. (According to the medical report one of the three murdered victims was strikingly well-fed.) One of the women gave an account of her participation as follows: she had gone to find her husband and when she had recognized him in the crowd she was told that the people were beating Klein. She immediately pulled her husband from the crowd and sent him home. She presented herself as the defender of the family and the caretaker of her man. Women referred to the security of the household, thus retelling the story primarily as an issue that affected women meant that it would represent the welfare of the family. The Jewish merchants became economic criminals and beating them was transformed into justified revenge. For these defendants, the pogrom was not about fascism and anti-Semitism: their accounts evoked the image of stalwart defense of the family and acting to facilitate the proper distribution of food. They had beaten Jews in the name of their “moral economy,” which shaped ideas about the just share of economic goods and work in a community. The participants in the market riot could understand the posters that appeared on walls all over the country saying, for instance, “Women! Against black market, starvation, and shortage of fuel you cannot fight alone. The Hungarian Communist Party fights with you, for you.” These posters could be interpreted to imply that in the eyes of the state the claims of the rioters had some legitimacy.29

The quick wealth of the Jewish population as it was perceived by the villagers was absolutely incomprehensible for them. The Jews “returned from the deportations, and though they assert that nothing remained for them and they have nothing, within a couple of months they had the best things, their shops were full, they lived well, seemingly without any work.”30 For the villagers, the rational explanation for this phenomenon was that the Jews surely earned their money through the black market. The villagers were clear on the existence of the black-market. However, an abstract social category was not recognizable for the villagers: the concrete category of the Jews filled it with meaning. In their perception, by raising prices the Jews behaved on the market square exactly how black marketeers were depicted as behaving. Every feature that was attributed to the speculators found embodiment in the Jews in the perceptions of the villagers, and the consequence of this was not only were the Jewish merchants considered black-marketeers, but their features started to be considered characteristic of all Jews. This understanding was confirmed by popular wisdom about Jews and business, Jews and money, as the following common sayings collected in Kunmadaras illustrate: “Nor the Jew gives on credit,” meaning only for cash, or “Counts like a Jew in an empty shop,” meaning he or she has no income.31

The defendants remembered their personal disappointment that led to their violent behavior:

I returned from Russian captivity in October, 1945 and I have been employed as a day-laborer, but I cannot afford even to buy a suit. In Kunmadaras a lot of people talked about, I do not remember who they were, how the Jews, sure enough, were well off, hardly arriving back from the deportations how well they lived by buying and selling on the black market and on the side, they did no work, yet they ate white bread, had suits made, while we, prisoners of war, had nothing. Thus, a certain antipathy evolved against the Jews, although personally I had no troubles with any of them, but the things I heard produced bad feelings in me too.32

For them, the most significant reason for the outbreak of the pogrom was this perceived social tension. Issues of basic sustenance and food supply were extremely pressing in 1946 in the Hungarian countryside, since the inadequate supplies, a consequence primarily of the war acquisitions mostly by the Red Army in 1945, had substantially decreased agrarian production. The gap in the living standard was recognized through the comparison of the living conditions of the former war prisoners and the deported Jews. The difference in the living standard that was formulated in this manner meant a real threat for the villagers: “they eat white bread, whereas I can hardly provide a little corn pone to my family, which consists of five small children.”33

For some of the accused persons, this threat was connected with the fear of an imagined Jewish revenge. One of them remembered that Klein had given reasons for increasing the price of the eggs by asserting that he would ruin all the retailers since he had been deported because of the Hungarians and only as many Hungarians should have remained would be needed to carry the chamber pots for the Jews. He also claimed that the Hungarians did not know what suffering was, as they had been at home and were eating and drinking, and only the Jews knew what suffering was. These statements referred to a certain sense of guilt, nevertheless only a few defendants had been motivated by personal thirst for revenge. They remembered when the Jews had returned from the deportations and demanded back their lost property: “Mrs. Weinberger, when she came back from the deportations and began to collect belongings that had been taken, falsely accused me, saying my eiderdown was hers, but it was mine.”34

Recollecting the reasons of why they had begun to beat the Jews, the people of Kunmadaras connected the pogrom with the memory of the World War at the People’s Court, but in a very peculiar way. They did not remember the events of the war, for example deportations or joining the army. On the contrary they recalled only the end of the fighting, namely the return home, speaking about soldiers as well as Jews. The Jewish population of Kunmadaras, which amounted to 273 persons at first, was transported to the ghetto of a neighboring small town, Karcag, that was formed on April 24, 1944. Roughly 1,300 Jews lived there until they were taken to the sugar factory of the county town, Szolnok, on June 18. A few days later they were put on trains and transported to the Third Reich. However, in accordance with an agreement between Edmund Veesenmayer (1904–1977, the Nazi deputy in Hungary) and the Hungarian authorities most of them were taken to an Austrian village, Laa an der Thaya near Strasshof, for forced labor, and not to concentration camps. Some of them, nevertheless, died in Auschwitz. A significant proportion of the deported persons returned home, somewhere between 70 and 120 Jews, of whom many had survived in Austrian labor camps, in the summer and autumn of 1945.35 Consequently, most of the Jews who came home had no personal experiences and memories of death camps, and they could not give account of such events to the villagers. On the other hand, those who could have spoken about the horrors of camps had died in them. Thus the inhabitants of Kunmadaras did not remember the deportations in the context of a genocide that might have been perceived as exceptional, but rather connected them with the other type of returning home: the return of the soldiers from captivity.

Approximately 20–25 percent of the war prisoners returned from Soviet and Allied captivity by the summer of 1946, but most of the war prisoners came back after July, 1946, and definitely in 1947 for the sake of the elections. The people of Kunmadaras therefore experienced their arrival mostly after the pogrom, in contrast with the deported Jews, who had been already returned by that time. Also, 112 soldiers from Kunmadaras died during the war,36 which means that the catastrophe of the Jews did not seem exceptional. Thus, the memory of the former war prisoners took the form of a sort of a comparative memory, in the sense that the villagers who fought on the Eastern front as soldiers of the Hungarian army always compared their living conditions to the living conditions of the Jews:

[…] when the Hungarian war prisoners came home from the captivity, they had nothing, they had nothing to eat, the Jews returned from the deportations and started to buy and sell at once on the black market and lived well without doing any work, ate white bread, while we were digging in the ground [...]37

This phenomenon could shed light on how they remembered the war. The villagers never mentioned events of the war in connection with the Jew-baiting, nevertheless a special linkage to the interpretation of the war can be deciphered. The memory of the villagers blurred the difference between the deportation of the Jews (when each member of the community, including children, elderly and women as well were carried away without any reason) and service in the army, which concerned only the men. For them the war was a real disaster that was followed by starvation and privation. During the war the men were carried away either as soldiers or as deported Jews. When they returned home, they found poverty and had to begin life again, using every effort, which for them meant mainly hard physical work. Regarding this, it is obvious that for the villagers the way of life of the Jewish merchants who claimed that they were victims of the war was incomprehensible and merely confirmed the view that the Jewish population did not belong to the community that was suffering the consequences of the war.

This supposition is confirmed by the text of the decision that was accepted after the pogrom by an inter-party meeting of the local parties. The main point of this document was the immediate expulsion of the Jews, however later it was modified so that the Jews who could adapt themselves to the social change and the Hungarian community would be allowed to stay. Another witness explained this statement more subtly, namely that the people who had held the meeting expected the Jews to become used to democracy, that is to say, throw in their lot with the community. What did this common fate mean for the villagers? The witnesses claimed that the decision had been made against the Jews, who allegedly had not worked and had felt unwell in the village and had been requested to leave. The villagers considered hard work as the common duty in the postwar situation, and those who seemed to fall short of their expectations could be excluded from the community.38

The Jewish merchants were represented as people who were not bound to the village society, consequently sacrificing them meant no danger for the community. They could be sacrificed in order to preserve social peace.39 The way they were introduced implied that black-marketeers had no place in a working community: they placed themselves outside of the society. In front of the People’s Tribunal a particular social tension arose, a tension that was also understood by the defendants. However, the fact that a certain layer of the society lives better than others does not provide justification for violent actions against them. The conflict has to be represented and comprehended in a symbolic way that makes it inevitable that the hated group is an enemy who endangers other categories of the society.

One of the defendants who had participated in the beating of Rosinger at the military airport gave reasons why he had joined in: people coming from the village had told him that the Jews had collected the Christian children:

My five little children, the eldest of which is nine years old, on that day, namely May 21, at the same time that I heard the abovementioned news, was at home absolutely alone. I totally lost my mind when I heard this rumor, as I immediately thought that my children might have been in the clutches of the Jews since then.40

Another defendant said that at first he had not believed this rumor, but later, influenced by the atmosphere among the crowd, he had changed his mind. His sister stated that his children had been collected by certain Jews, and this drove the man—who certainly had joined the people beating the Jews—crazy.41

This kind of accusation created a moral distance between the Jews and the other groups of the community of Kunmadaras. The Jewish merchants were transformed into cruel child-murderers who endangered the community. The charge of killing children is a very powerful one. It contrasts the principle of innocence, which is embodied by the image of the children, with the other side of the moral dichotomy that is thus created, evil. On the other hand, this technique is a very basic mode of distancing. Very similar accusations were made against the early Christians in the Roman Empire, against the Jews and heretics in the Middle Ages in Western Europe and later against witches. The historian can explore these charges in nineteenth-century East Central Europe, where for instance the Jews were accused of committing ritual child murders or Gypsies were accused of killing babies, or different religious sects of depraving children. However, the last two forms of accusations characteristically belonged to the twentieth century. Charges of inhumanity made against a group that is excluded from a given community because it questions the basic norms of that community may sound authentic, thus the emotional distance can be easily reproduced. What is more, this sort of accusation is very powerful since if the guilty person or group offends basic norms of the community, then normally there is no intention of “improving” him or her. In such cases the pattern of the revenge is strengthened: the intention is to cast out the culprit.42

According to the defendants, why did the Jews collect and kill Christian children? One of the witnesses remembered when Eszter Kabai had shouted to the women at the market square that the Jews had killed the children and then boiled and eaten them. A defendant offered the following explanation for why he had joined the crowd: when he had worked on the fields he had been told that the Jews had carried away the Christian children. Four were found by one of the Jews, while two others were found by another Jew. They were made into sausages and salami. Considering that the difference between the living standard of certain Jewish merchants and the poorer peasants was the main cause of the conflict according to the villagers, the tale of the Jewish merchants who were turning Hungarian children into sausages and salami was a perfect metaphor for their emotions. In a community in which there were serious shortages of food and a meat dish was considered almost a luxury, the abundance of goods possessed by those merchants was absolutely incomprehensible and intolerable. Food is a very powerful form of expression in societies that have to live in want: this was the situation in every traditional agricultural community, as peasant tales clearly show. Therefore the symbolic expression of such welfare obviously could be sausages made from the meat of Christian children. This narrative provided an explanation for the prosperity of the merchants. Only a few people could believe the charge of Jewish ritual murders in middle-of-the-century Hungary, however the tale of cannibalism expressed demonstratively the attitude of the peasants towards black-marketeers. This group endangered the survival of poorer families and meant social injustice for them. The black-marketeers, who were perceived on the basis of differences in living standards, were given physical form with the help of traditional Jewish images, and the charge of being child-murderers symbolized social discontent because of the privation and sense of threat. As one of the defendants put it, “The Jews have to be exterminated, let them perish, the bloody Jews since they live on Christian and Hungarian flesh, they collect the Christian children and turn them into sausages, they want to hang the Hungarians.”43

The particularly deformed blood libel was not the cause of the outbreak of the pogrom, but it served as a means of legitimizing it. The altered charge of ritual murder certainly evoked aspects of popular anti-Semitism, but in spite of this popular anti-Semitism cannot be regarded as the reason for the outbreak. Jews had often been accused of killing children, and older people in the village could remember blood libels of the nineteenth century. The charge of ritual murder appeared in modern Hungary from 1882 (Tiszaeszlár) up until 1901 (Németújvár). In Tiszaeszlár on April 1 a fourteen-year-old girl disappeared, and two days later in the village it was widely claimed that she had been killed by the Jews. It was the time of the Jewish Easter and the election of a new kosher butcher, so a great number of Jews had come to the village. These events produced a tense atmosphere and the villagers connected the loss of the girl to the Jews, evoking the traditional charge of ritual murder. The Jews were accused of taking the blood of the Christian virgin in order to consecrate their temple or matzoh. This is the traditional language of blood libels. Consequently, the tale of the Jewish child-murderers did not sound absolutely surprising to the inhabitants of Kunmadaras. People were familiar with stories of Jewish child murderers. Perhaps some of them believed these stories, but nonetheless, a statement made by one of the defendants is more plausible: “Do you believe that the Jews kill the children?” “Yes and no.”44

However the accusation in this case differed from the traditional blood libel in that it excluded any interpretation of the reemergence of the charge of ritual murder. This case was rather a symbolically proper form of popular accusations against profiteers. This conclusion is confirmed by the fact that they assaulted only the merchant Jews. As Ede Kempfnek, who was a veterinary surgeon, noted 45 years later, “When they got there somebody started saying that this man should not be hurt since he helped a lot when we were in trouble with the animals. And the people went away.”45 The participants in the riot distanced their neighbors by casting them in the role of the Jewish black-marketeer during concrete experiences and contact.46 The memory of the villagers preserved the violence as a reaction to the offenses that were taking place in the community, such as the arrest of János Nagy, the illegal wealth of the Jews, or the inflationary profiteering, whereas their belief was confirmed by the campaign against the fly-pitchers and the popular aversion to Jews.

The Penetration of History: The Trial

The case of Kunmadaras was tried by the Special Council of Five of the People’s Tribunal, which was formed by Act No. VII/1946 in order to pass sentence on persons who were accused of committing crimes against democracy and the Republican system. The trial took place in Budapest in late June, 1946. All the major defendants were convicted of leading a movement to overthrow the Republic and democracy. At first sight, it may seem surprising to characterize violent acts against Jewish merchants as conspiracy against the system of the state, nevertheless the ruling stated clearly that, “the fall of the state order would be bound to happen, if similar demonstrations were to become frequent for any reason.”47 How was it possible to interpret the pogrom in Kunmadaras in this way?

The trial was exceptionally important for the communists, so the party intervened in the process immediately. Originally, the communist Attorney General, József Domokos considered condemning the defendants as swiftly as possible, so he assigned the Summary Court of the County of Szolnok as the court of competent jurisdiction. Accordingly, the social democrat Minister of Justice, István Ries, also sent the public prosecutor of Budapest, György Auer, to Szolnok.48 Nevertheless, the Summary Court did not press charges against the people who were regarded as the main instigators, which disgusted the communist press. It wrote that the people, the community of Kunmadaras, saw with indignation that only eight dirty, stupefied people in rags were sitting in the prisoner’s box, while the real instigators were missing. They were looking for János Nagy among the defendants.49 The attacks against the Summary Court also produced doubts regarding the competency of the Summary Court, so the Attorney General passed the issue to the People’s Tribunal of Budapest. However this measure had to include a modification of the charge, since the Summary Court had the right to sentence only common criminals, while the People’s Tribunal tried political cases. The indictments of the important cases of the People’s Tribunals normally were prepared in the Ministry of Justice, even when these were not led by communist judges, and also every issue where the defendants were accused of acting against democracy had to be passed on to the Ministry in order to be controlled. Under these circumstances, when the Attorney General found the indictment incorrect from the political point of view, he could modify it.50 Although the People’s Tribunals were influenced by the left, they cannot be regarded communist institutions in 1946.51 The courts consisted of five members: each of them was delegated by a party of the Hungarian National Front for Independence (MNFF; the Hungarian People’s Front).52 The two workers’ parties hoped for the nomination of a judge who in their view could be trusted to represent justice.

What was this justice? Regarding the number of defendants, there were 59, and the judging by the echo of the case in the international press, it was a gigantic trial. The greatest emphasis was placed on the first three defendants. The first defendant was Zsigmond Tóth, who had been born in Pozsony (Bratislava) in 1920. At the time of the riot he was a Czechoslovak citizen, and together with his family he had been expelled from the country according to the Czechoslovak policy of declaring people of Hungarian nationality collectively war criminals. Tóth had been living in Kunmadaras for several months when the pogrom was broke out. The second defendant was Gergely Takács, the secretary of the local organization of the Smallholders Party. He had been born in 1899 in Balmazújváros. Takács had lived in the village for a long time and he was one of the most significant members of the community. He occupied various posts in the local administration in the interwar period. The third one was János Nagy, who had been born in Kunmadaras in 1903 and practically never left the village. He was embedded strongly in the life of the community since he gained the post of the local reformed teacher in 1927, became a “levente”-trainer in 1929, and then in 1932 a chief trainer. In addition, he knew Gergely Takács from prewar times. The others were common people of the village and actually it was these people who had assaulted the Jews.53

The judge had already known János Nagy, who by that time had been condemned of being a fascist. So the People’s Tribunal of Budapest generated certain assumptions about the identity of the teacher according to which his past acts were judged. The court interpreted his initiative to gather in the building of the Trade Corporation and prepare a petition to be submitted to the Minister of Justice as an attempt to create a sympathetic crowd in support of his case. As a consequence, he was seen responsible for the establishment of an aggressive mass of people, which already created an anti-Semitic atmosphere. Finally, Nagy’s activity was considered the definite cause of further violent actions. The fact that he had stayed at home passively as the Jews in Kunmadaras were being beaten and killed was transformed into a crime: the court believed that he had consciously failed to prevent the villagers and especially his former disciples from beating the Jews, in spite of the fact that as a teacher he had had considerable authority.54

As the teacher was considered the most influential person of the movement, the other actors and the event itself were cast in light of his alleged identity as a fascist. The facts gained meaning in the narrative of the People’s Tribunal according to the prescribed narrative identity of Nagy. The trial functioned as a closed institution, which tried, as far as it is possible to maintain, the validity of the identities that it had previously produced.55 The narrative in the ruling began early on May 21, 1946. Two would-be participants in the pogrom visited Zsigmond Tóth in his apartment. Tóth first buckled on his dagger and then all of them went to the market square, which was already full of stallholders and buyers from the village, as well as from other parts of the region. According to the ruling, the pogrom started with Tóth’s exclamation, “Well, now it’s time to start the dance!” He allegedly had made this statement when he became convinced that the atmosphere and the size of the crowd were both appropriate. According to the People’s Tribunal, the villagers had realized that Tóth had called on them to beat, hit, and kill the Jews.56

Listing the events of the morning, the judge stated that, “At about eleven o’clock in the morning the organized crowd reached József Kohn’s house, in which he also has his shop.”57 Another victim tried to hide in a wagon at the railway station, but after a little while he was discovered and ordered to come out. According to the ruling, the only way in which the crowd could have found him was that he had been observed when in flight by certain people who later had called the others to the station. It concluded that this scene was evidence that the pogrom in Kunmadaras “occurred in an organized way, systematically and it was known and carried out by a large part of the people.”58 Their command, “Come down, bloody Jew, none of you’ll escape!”, verified the statement of the People’s Tribunal. “After having beaten Bertalan Weisz, the crowd, which was systematically advancing and operating,” proceeded towards the house of another Jew.

If the pogrom was an organized action of the villagers, then consequently somebody had had to organize it ahead of time. According to the ruling, the first direct organizer of the movement was Zsigmond Tóth, the first defendant:

It could not be revealed how long had he been waiting for this propitious occasion, but he had been well prepared, as is shown by the fact that he had systematically engaged in this activity with all his might and competence and he had not rested until he had heated the passions of the crowd to the degree that had become proper for the outbreak of the subsequent events of the day.59

According to the ruling, János Nagy and Gergely Takács had been responsible for the violent acts, too. They knew that the mood among the people had become anti-Semitic, yet in spite of this they did not do anything against it. Moreover they assisted in planning the pogrom. They acted consciously, according to the ruling, and given their intelligence they could have predicted the subsequent events, namely that pogrom-like actions would be taken by fascists. They were clear that assaulting and killing innocent Jews were fascist acts, thus they knew that they would commit fascist crimes.60 The court was sure that anti-Semitism and fascism could be equated.

The position of the left was reflected in a speech given by one of their representatives in the parliament: “Is the government aware that the concomitant phenomenon of fascism, anti-Semitism, has appeared again in certain places in the country? [...] What is the government ready to do in order to nip reaction, disguised in this way, in the bud?”61 Anti-Semitism was the litmus test of fascism: where it was discovered, one had to look for fascists immediately. After the pogroms, the Central Board (Központi Vezetőség) of the Communist Party arranged a conference where the problems of the anti-Semitic events were included. Moreover, the party considered the issue so important that Mátyás Rákosi, the secretary-general himself, also delivered a speech. He listed all the pogroms of which he was aware, beginning with the Ózd case. As Rákosi noted, the communist secretary had been knocked down and then the anti-Semitic disturbances had broken out. “We have inquired into things there,” he concluded, “and obviously we have found fascist threads...”62 Rákosi interpreted the Miskolc case as a pogrom that had taken place after an anti-Semitic provocation during a political meeting. He contended that “many fascist people from Miskolc and the neighborhood had joined” the participants in the gathering. He was convinced that it had to be a well prepared provocation since it had paralyzed the economic life of the region (no one had gone to work during the pogrom), had presented the Communist Party as an anti-Semitic party, and had dealt the police a heavy blow. He closed his speech with a supposition, namely that “a central fascist organization is taking part here.”63

One of the court’s main pieces of evidence for that allegation that the villagers organized a pogrom was the fact that a meeting had taken place after the unsuccessful excursion to Nagy’s trial. The ruling interpreted the events as follows: when the villagers found themselves unable to enter the court, they returned home and decided to gather in the building of the Trade Corporation (Ipartestület) of Kunmadaras to write a petition on Nagy‘s behalf to the Minister of Justice. The fact that the crowd returned home after they were not allowed to enter the courtroom convinced the chairman that their basic purpose had been to repeat their previous “terror action.” According to him, the people of Kunmadaras had gone back because they had realized that there was no chance of achieving their goal to liberate the teacher by coercing the court. The fact that every witness confessed that they had signed the form also spoke against them. The atmosphere of the meeting had been characterized by the hatred against the People‘s Tribunal, the police and the Jews, stated the judge. That was the point where the results of the activity of the three major defendants were merged into each other, since each of them was present in the building that evening. Gergely Takács then actively incited against the Jews. He learned from a participant that someone had rung the police in Karcag to prevent the crowd from entering. He immediately claimed that this had surely been done by the Jews. The People‘s Tribunal argued that the defendants had consciously exploited the people’s anger, which had been inflamed partly by them against the People’s Tribunal and the police, and had contributed to the creation of an anti-Semitic atmosphere by making inflammatory statements.64

They knew that the villagers were angry with the witnesses for the prosecution, consequently Takács suggested forcing them to withdraw their testimony. Thus the crowd waited for Ferenc Takács, one of the witnesses for the prosecution, near the cemetery, where they started to pelt the witness, who was returning home on a cart, with stones. By that time they had been persuaded, however, that the Jews had obstructed the trial, which was shown clearly by the curses they uttered at Ferenc Takács and his wife: “Wait till we catch you, bloody democrats, henchmen of the Jew People’s Tribunal, Jewish henchmen, there will be no trial now!”65A few villagers started to identify the witnesses for the prosecution with the Jews and to imagine a Jewish conspiracy behind the events. They had decided, according to the ruling, that in spite of any alleged plans of the Jews, they would defend the teacher. Another group of villagers went to the house of the second witness for the prosecution, Ferenc Wurczel, and forced him to go with them to the building of the Trade Corporation. However, in the street he was attacked by the crowd and badly beaten. According to the ruling, he was assaulted primarily because of his Jewish origins.66

What thoroughly convinced the People’s Tribunal that the case had been an anti-Semitic conspiracy was that Zsigmond Tóth had stated that he had learned that the Jews would try to carry off János Nagy from his house at night, so he had decided to watch. He also called on people to harass the Jews the next day.67 The ruling interpreted the antecedents of the pogrom as part of an organized conspiracy that had been prepared by three anti-Semitic people to achieve, firstly, the release of one of them from police custody together with the humiliation of the People’s Tribunal, secondly, the organization of a pogrom. The ruling considered Tóth’s anti-Semitic activity and Nagy and Takács’s movement against the People’s Tribunal as connected. When Zsigmond Tóth incited the people against the Jews, Gergely Takács joined in the activity, claiming that “it’s time to get rid of those who sponge off the Hungarian people.”68The ruling managed to find an anti-Semitic conspiracy that finally had resulted in a pogrom.

Nevertheless, according to the People’s Tribunal the main purpose of the conspiracy was not to plan violence against the Jews. Parallel to the organization of the anti-Semitic pogrom another movement took place in Kunmadaras at approximately the same time. The teacher in the village, János Nagy, was sentenced as a war criminal in 1945. However, due to the legal incompetence of the first court, a second trial was planned to be held in Karcag on May 20, 1946. In order to be acquitted he started a movement among his former disciples in the “levente”-organization, as the People’s Tribunal argued.69 The ruling interpreted the incident when the police prevented the villagers from entering the location of Nagy’s trial as an attack against the authority and honor of the police and the People’s Tribunal, since it had happened publicly. The judge concluded that Nagy and his friend Takács had acted consciously and maliciously against the People’s Tribunal in order to prevent Nagy’s conviction. They also had involved Nagy’s wife in the movement by persuading her to go to the Hungarian Democratic Women’s Association (MNDSZ), where she “asked them, in tears, to save her husband from the clutches of the People’s Tribunal.”70

The sentence claimed that Nagy and Takács had led a movement against the democratic system when they had prevented the police and the People’s Tribunal from fulfilling their obligations. They created a mass action, the judge argued, that prevented the police from leading the defendant into the courtroom, and this had paralyzed the power of the police. Furthermore, they had compelled the People’s Tribunal, with the help of the crowd that had been mobilized by them, not to pass sentence on a criminal (Nagy). That it became known among a couple of thousand people that the force of the masses was capable of obstructing the work of constitutional institutions and even paralyzing the functioning of the democratic system was the antidemocratic factor in the aforementioned defendants’ action.71 The sentence stressed that the security of the democracy had been seriously threatened.

What or who threatened democracy? In its understanding of the events the People’s Tribunal described the incident when the villagers had returned home together with their teacher, characterizing them all as fascists who were enemies of the democratic order and who had obstructed the People’s Tribunal and the police, preventing them from fulfilling their obligations. The ruling offered the following evidence: they had also known that the fascists had been enemies of the contemporary system and had been aspiring to overthrow it. Therefore, concluded the People’s Tribunal, when they had obstructed the police and the People’s Tribunal, they had committed fascist crimes. In the following part the ruling proved that everyone had known that acting against the law meant attacking the state. After the pogrom the representatives of the local parties gathered and issued a declaration that said that the Jews of the village and Ferenc Takács, the most important witness for the prosecution, would have to leave the village. The People’s Tribunal comprehended this scene as a real fascist act against democracy, since it had alloyed anti-Semitic elements with an attack against a person “who is really faithful to the ideas of the people’s democracy.”72

This manner of reasoning endowed anti-Semitism with a new function. It ceased to refer to the crime of which the defendants had been accused. Instead it became an indicator of fascism. Accordingly, the chairman interpreted the decision of the inter-party meeting about the fact that the Jews and Ferenc Takács had had to leave the village as a typical manifestation of fascist terror. The concomitant phenomenon of every fascist action inevitably was anti-Semitism, as implied by the following statement:

As a natural, obvious outcome, and necessary accessories of the fascist, anti-state character of the whole movement, an act that was originally directed solely against the power of the state, the People’s Tribunal, the state institutions that had ordered the arrest, turned against the Jews through the guidance of Zsigmond Tóth and Gergely Takács.73

According to this logic, fascists always organize anti-Semitic pogroms and anti-Semitic pogroms are always committed by fascists. The People’s Tribunal equated fascism with anti-Semitism and vice versa. This argumentation meant doubtlessly that any anti-Jewish act was directed against the democratic system. According to this understanding, the Chairman of the Court argued that the events of Kunmadaras were not a Jewish issue, but rather an issue pertaining to the whole Hungarian state order.74 These statements disconnected anti-Semitism from the Jews. Although beating and killing Jews (or any other group) is obviously at the least an anti-democratic act, the sentence referred to this act only to prove the appearance of fascism. In a strange way, the events were recaptured without the presence of the Jews. The People’s Tribunal managed to produce a narrative of an anti-Semitic pogrom without involving the Jewish victims.

What was very characteristic of the case is that even the Jewish victims contributed to this reconstruction. While they recollected memories of their sufferings they connected these events with another atrocity that had taken place in the village. For them, this provided a logical explanation of the pogrom, not least of all because they could find people responsible for it. The victims who had experienced deportations, official anti-Semitic discourse and Nazi and Arrow Cross cruelty against Jews interpreted the harassment of Jews in Kunmadaras in the same framework. For them it had been an anti-Semitic pogrom that had been organized by fascist war criminals and carried out by a cruel crowd. A victim said that he knew János Nagy as a “levente”-trainer with a Sam Browne belt who taught his disciples to sing anti-Semitic songs. Another one recognized one of the defendants as a chief “levente” whom she knew as a great fascist. One of the victims claimed that people who had hit them had also served in the Hungarian SS armored division.75

The occurrences evoked memories of the deportations in the witnesses. One of them recollected that one of the defendants had accompanied them to the village with the following words: ”Well, Jews I have come for you, go to the others who are already lying in a heap.” This was represented also symbolically. According to some of them, the villagers had been led by a person dressed in black or brown with a little moustache. Furthermore, for them the tale of infanticides was remembered in the form of a charge of ritual murder. A few of them recollected that the villagers had been asserting that the Jews had collected the Christian children, as they had needed blood to consecrate temples.76

While the Jewish victims were looking for the people responsible for the violence and the reasons underlying their acts, the explanation of the People’s Tribunal was plausible for them. The statement that the pogrom was not only a Jewish issue but rather an issue pertaining to the new democracy meant for them that anti-Semitism was considered a crime against the state that called for serious punishment. It seemed that the authorities took the issue of Jew-baiting seriously, and this created a feeling of security. In addition the deportations were not an exceptionally important element in Jewish memory in this trial. The memory of the deportations was not formulated exclusively in the Jewish context. The victims remembered it in connection with other events, but the memory served symbolically to represent suffering. Their suffering, however, was not given greater significance than the sufferings of anyone else. As the chief rabbi of Kecskemét argued, there was no need to mourn for the Jews who had been killed innocently, but rather for human civilization, which had fallen, and the classes that had been responsible for this had persecuted not only the Jewry but the exploited poor as well.77 If anti-Semitism was considered an act against the democratic state, then it was possible to be an anti-Fascist without being a Jew. Jewishness could be solved within the identity of a person who was on the side of democracy and the oppressed.

Rulings in a trial are, however, not simple statements. They are not simply one among many publicly manifested opinions that can be freely contested. If rulings are brought in formally adequate conditions, they have legally binding consequences. A legally correct ruling is a performative speech act that impacts social reality in very concrete ways. It makes (and often compels) individuals, institutions and authorities act and speak in certain ways, obliges them to commit certain actions and to address issues in a particular manner.78 The manner in which the People’s Tribunal equated Fascism and anti-Semitism had important consequences on how institutions and public figures started to think and speak about the state and the concept of democracy. In a situation in which the notion of democracy required an absolutely new form of public discourse that was based primarily on the sense of being threatened, fascism was produced as the enemy of the democracy, which made it possible to identify democracy with the struggle against fascism. Fascism and democracy were presented together, and fascist movements were needed in order to constitute the endangered democracy. In the thirteenth century the Eucharist started to occupy a central position in Christian ceremonies. The Eucharist was represented as potent and capable of working miracles. The Eucharist was considered a sacrament that was able to defend itself from its enemies. The Jews, who were obviously not Christians (and official Church discourse often referred to them as murderers of Christ), were involved in that process. A new narrative emerged about Jewish abuse and desecration of the holy host that usually ended with a miracle ensuring the safety of the Eucharist. However, these accusations were not merely intended to “point out” that the Jews were enemies of Christianity, but rather to provide evidence of the threats to the host and, consequently, its miraculous power. The Jews played a crucial rhetorical role in producing the qualities and existence of the Eucharist, and furthermore their existence as a (fabricated) threat was a fundamental requirement of the foundation of that entity.79

Something very similar happened in the case of the notion of democracy in Hungary after World War II. The National Assembly accepted in March, 1946 Act VII, which was about the protection of the democratic system and the republic and contained definitions of several political crimes. In a situation in which the democracy in Hungary defined itself as young and therefore defenseless and fascism had proven a danger to democracy during the war, the representatives of the Assembly considered penal protection as an effective and necessary measure against opponents of this system. As the act explained it,

The penal defense of the state order is an obligation of the first order for every country, a system based on democratic principles cannot lack an effective penal state defense. But least of all a state like Hungary, which is rising again after World War II and the Arrow Cross–German devastation. Our democratic system can look back on only one year of development, while the republican form of state has been realized only recently. Regarding these conditions, the attacks against the democratic Hungarian system and form of state are of even greater account, since they endanger substantially the existence of the state, the development of the life of the society and, together with them, the place of the Hungarian people among the democratic nations.80

Therefore the Act considered every attack aiming at the overthrow of the democratic system and the republican form of the state to merit serious punishment. The explanation indicated the purpose of the act as the prevention of any recurrence of fascist-like anti-state aspirations. The trial of the pogrom in Kunmadaras was the first case that was tried on the basis of this Act.

Fascism is definitely inimical to democracy. The People’s Tribunal also shared this view. Fascist acts were obviously capable of overthrowing any kind of democratic system, as the ruling emphasized. It argued essentially that inherent characteristics showed the real nature of particular acts. Accordingly, the conclusion was drawn that fascist deeds and movements naturally opposed the notion of democracy. They were incapable of living together and fascism could prevail only after the death of democracy. Consequently it aspired to destroy democratic order.81 Fascism and democracy were old enemies, so protecting fascist activity endangered the Hungarian republic, as had happened in Germany, when the Weimar Republic had been overthrown by Hitler’s fascists (so argued the chairman of the Court). It was therefore seen as logical for the People’s Tribunal to interpret the events in Kunmadaras as simply signs of a reemergence of fascism. The ruling stated that Gergely Takács had been the election agent of an Arrow Cross member of the parliament, and later had been named sergeant by Ferenc Szálasi, the leader of the fascist Arrow Cross Party, during the last days of the war in Germany. János Nagy had allegedly mobilized his disciples, who had been educated in the spirit of fascism by him. Not only had old fascists reappeared, but the whole village had gone back to the age of fascism, to 1944. According to the chairman of the Court, the case of Rosinger, who had been killed, clearly proved the total victory of the prevailing ideas of 1944. The chairman evoked another scene: “Ernő Weinberger’s family is lying bloody in the ditch and the crowd is carrying off the lard, bacon, and goods in stock. The atmosphere of 1944 is complete.”82 He characterized the decision of the inter-party meeting as a fascist act by claiming that the fall of order in Kunmadaras had become absolute. Only the wagons necessary in order to deport the persecuted had been missing. According to these statements, in Kunmadaras fascists had reenacted their role by attacking Hungarian democracy.

A historical trial makes history internal, in other words it personalizes it. The goal is to transform the historical narrative into personal experiences. The trial is a drama in which social reality is constituted, reproduced and reenacted.83 In the first trial of Nagy the sentence evoked history: the defendant was connected to the fascists of World War II. A similar technique can be detected in the trial of the pogrom in Kunmadaras.

A freak smile could show on the face of the organizers and leaders of the movement, what they had wanted was realized: the village of Kunmadaras had gone back on the cart of time to the fascist and Arrow Cross era of the year 1944, some of its inhabitants acted as the fascist and Arrow Cross scoundrels of that time had acted.84

The process established historical continuity between Nazism and the anti-Jewish riot of Kunmadaras in order to show the continuity of fascism. However, through this representation, the enemies of postwar fascism could present themselves as the heirs to an anti-Fascist past or speak about their past as the anti-Fascist past. As fascism is against democratic systems, the adversaries of fascism could present themselves as perpetual defenders of democracy. Thus the emergence of the new democratic state of Hungary could be explained not as the consequence of the collapse of the prewar regime, but as part of a constant anti-Fascist struggle. Consequently, only people who could prove their anti-Fascist pasts could present themselves as propagators of the new democracy, and at the same time this became sufficient evidence that someone had a democratic mentality.

The dissent of the chairman stated that after the crowd had returned home, Kunmadaras had experienced a fascist-like terror and the state authority basically had fallen due to this terror.85 This interpretation added a new aspect to the concept of democracy, which started to mean the institutions and the structure of the state. From this time on, the security of democracy meant defending the authority of the state. From the point of view of the birth of the Hungarian people’s democracy, the aspiration of the post-World War II system to find fascist conspirators, who allegedly represented the greatest threat to it, can be considered crucial. During this endeavor the regime itself produced the fascists. The People’s Tribunal defined the anti-Jewish riot in Kunmadaras as a fascist conspiracy. This statement identified fascism with anti-Semitism and provided a tool with which the authorities could find their enemies: from this time on the appearance of anti-Semitism made fascist conspiracies immediately recognizable. This logical connection made it possible for the system, which defined itself as a young democracy threatened by fascism, to demonstrate a historical continuity of fascism, and this presented the regime as the authentic heir to the anti-Fascist struggle. Finally, the state authority, which was taking measures against fascism, was able to conceive of itself as democracy.

Conclusions

Various Communist versions of the anti-Fascist myth played an immense role in the shaping of the Stalinist dictatorships in postwar East Central Europe. In this narrative, fascism was simplified as the brutal attempt of reactionary capitalist classes to maintain their rule over the working masses and to suppress the democratic aspirations of the people. Communists claimed themselves the representatives of the people, thus, initiating and leading the resistance against Fascism. The protection of democracy, thus, equaled Communism, whereas any attack or criticism of this (Communist) “democracy” was understood as Fascism. In this particular narrative, the fascist assault against democracy necessarily targeted Communists, and Communists were the only people who really resisted Fascism. The victims of Fascism suffered for political reasons. The Jews were at best marginal components of the story or were rather completely ignored. Despite the blatant simplifications and manipulations in this narrative, this strange post-Fascist anti-Fascism could link itself to tangible experiences of political resistance, as in Germany, or nationwide anti-German armed resistance, as in Yugoslavia or Poland.86 In Hungary, which remained unfortunately Hitler’s last, if only reluctant, ally, on the contrary, there had been only sporadic domestic resistance. The Hungarian version of the anti-Fascist myth, it seems, instead of the wartime semi-fiction of Communist anti-Fascist resistance was based on the postwar fiction of anti-Communist Fascism.

As they abused the Jewish victims only to establish a clearly and immediately recognizable characteristic of “Fascism”, these strange anti-Fascist ideologies took for granted the existence of “Jews” as an ethnic category. As a consequence, such ideologies were never interested in the actual social and cultural circumstances that helped to sustain the particularism and exclusion of Jewish citizens and the ethnicization of such mechanisms. In Kunmadaras, however, cultural stereotypes were mobilized and political messages were appropriated and finally were translated into ethnic categories during actual social intercourse in the marketplace on May 21, 1946.87 Peasant or local communities actually distanced their neighbors as “Jews” to be beaten through their everyday interactions, which helped to construct ethnicity and ethnic identities in a village that, as an outcome, was split between “Hungarians” and “Jews” in the Summer of 1946.

Archival Sources

Budapest Főváros Levéltára (BFL) [Budapest City Archives]. Budapesti Népbíróság, büntetőperes iratok, Tóth Zsigmond és társai ellen köztársasági államrendet veszélyeztető cselekmény ügyében [Budapest People’s Tribunal, Criminal Records, Zsigmond Tóth and company charged with activity against the order of the republic]. HU BFL – XXV.1.a – 1946 – 2351. Vizsgálati dosszié [Records of Investigation, vol. 1] V 56032.

Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok Megyei Levéltár. Néphatalmi és különleges feladatokra létrejött bizottságok, A Kunhegyesi járás Kunmadaras Igazoló Bizottsága iratai [The County Archives of Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok. Committees created for people’s control and special duties, files of the Kunmadaras Screening Committee of Kunhegyes district]. XVII/418.

Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Országos Levéltára (MOL). A jogszolgáltatás felsőbb szervei, Népbíróságok Országos Tanácsa, Általános Iratok [National Archives of Hungary. Supreme organs of jurisdiction, National Council of People’s Tribunals, General Records]. XX-4-b-348/1945.

Politikatörténeti és Szakszervezeti Levéltár [Archives for Political History and Trade Unions] (PIL). Szociáldemokrata Párt, Főtitkárság, A Főtitkárság levelezése zsidó szervezetekkel [Social-democratic Party, General Secretariat, Correspondence of the General Secretariat with Jewish Organisations]. 283. f. 10/212.

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1 Bożena Szaynok, Pogrom Żydów w Kielcach. 4. VII 1946 r. (Warsaw: Bellona, 1992); Łukasz Kamiński and Jan Żaryn, eds., Reflections on the Kielce Pogrom (Warsaw: IPN, 2006); Éva Standeisky, “Antiszemita megmozdulások Magyarországon a koalíciós időszakban,” Századok 126 (1992): 284–308; Éva Vörös, “Kunmadaras. Újabb adatok a pogrom történetéhez,” Múlt és Jövő 5, no. 4 (1994): 69–80; Mária Palasik, A jogállam megteremtésének kísérlete és kudarca Magyarországon 19441949 (Budapest: Napvilág, 2000). (These statements can be recognized in the basic study on the postwar situation of the Hungarian Jews: Viktor Karády, “Szociológiai kísérlet a magyar zsidóság 1945 és 1956 közötti helyzetének elemzésére,” in Zsidóság az 1945 utáni Magyarországon, ed. Viktor Karády et al. (Paris: Magyar Füzetek, 1984), 37180; László Ötvös, “A madarasi antiszemita megmozdulás,” Jászkunság 36 (February 1990): 8193. Interpretations based on socio-economic reasons were regular in studies on anti-Semitism by social historians of the 1970s. See for instance: Philippe Wolff, “The 1391 Pogrom in Spain. Social Crisis or not?,” Past & Present 50 (February 1971): 418; Angus MacKay, “Popular Movements and Pogroms in Fifteenth-Century Castile,” Past & Present 55 (May 1972): 3367.

2 Jan Tomasz Gross, Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz (New York: Random House, 2006); Ján Stanislav, “The Anti-Jewish Reprisals in Slovakia from September 1944 to April 1945,” in The Tragedy of Slovak Jews, ed. Desider Tóth (Banská Bystrica: Datei, for the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic, 1992), 205–46.

3 János Pelle, Az utolsó vérvádak (Budapest: Pelikán, 1995), 15168; Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, After the Holocaust: Polish-Jewish Conflict in the Wake of World War II (Boulder, Col: East European Monographs, 2003).

4 Marek Edelman in Gazeta Wyborcza quoted in Ryan Lucas, “Book on Polish Anti-Semitism Sparks Fury,” USA Today, Jan 24, 2008, accessed June 25, 2013, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-01-24-3040464218_x.htm.

5 Carlo Ginzburg, “Killing a Chinese Mandarin: The Moral Implications of Distance,” Critical Inquiry 21 (Autumn 1994): 4660.

6 Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok Megyei Levéltár [The County Archives of Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok], Szolnok XVII/418 document 70.

7 Budapest Főváros Levéltára (BFL) [Budapest City Archives], Budapesti Népbíróság, büntetőperes iratok, Tóth Zsigmond és társai ellen köztársasági államrendet veszélyeztető cselekmény ügyében, HU BFL – XXV.1.a – 1946 – 2351, July 4, 1946. President of the court: Károly Nagy, Prosecutors: Kálmán Szintay, Ervin Zaboreczky. Vizsgálati dosszié [Records of Investigation], vol. 1, V 56032/1 (Hereafter: BFL V 56032), 115–17, 133–36, 241–43, 254, 259–62, 298–300.

8 Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Országos Levéltára (MOL) [National Archives of Hungary]
XX-4-b-348/1945.

9 Jerome Bruner, “The Narrative Construction of Reality,” Critical Inquiry 18 (Autumn 1991): 1–21. According to Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish (New York: Vintage Books, 1979) modern jurisdiction considers crime as part of the personality and the outcome of its past. On biography as evidence cf. István Rév, “In Mendacio Veritas,” Representations 35 (Summer 1991): 1–20.

10 BFL V 56032/1, 248, Balázs Berczi, May 23, 1946.

11 Ibid., Ferenc Fodor, May 24, 1946, Elek Kürti, May 25, 1946, Gergely Takács, May 31, 1946, Henrik Retzer, May 28, 1946, Ferenc Fodor, June 11, 1946, János Nagy, July 14, 1946, 39, 122–29, 165–68, 215–18, 254–59, 266, 303–09.

12 Szabad Nép (hereafter: SZN), June 1, 1946: 1.

13 József Révai, “Pogrom és népmozgalom,” SZN, June 16, 1946: 1–2.

14 SZN, January 1, 1946.

15 Pelle, Az utolsó, 203. Éva Standeisky, “A kommunista polgárellenesség,” Budapesti Negyed 8 (Summer 1995): 209–22; Róbert Szabó, A kommunista párt és a zsidóság (Budapest: Windsor, 1995), 71–152.

16 Péter Hanák, “The Image of the Germans and the Jews in Nineteenth-Century Hungary,” in Pride and Prejudice, ed. László Kontler (Budapest: CEU History Department, 1995), 67–87.

17 Politikatörténeti és Szakszervezeti Levéltár [Archives for Political History and Trade Unions] (hereafter PIL), Szociáldemokrata Párt, Főtitkárság, A Főtitkárság levelezése zsidó szervezetekkel, 283. f. 10/212. 70.

18 The most detailed reconstruction is Vörös, “Kunmadaras.”

19 On how narratives were formed in order to win clemency for their authors see: Natalie Zemon Davis, Fiction in the Archives (Cambridge: Polity, 1987). On the confession as a form of memory: Richard Terdiman, “The Mnemonics of Musset’s Confession,” Representations 26 (Spring 1989): 26–48. On the idea that crowd violence did not lack a legitimizing notion see esp.: Edward P. Thompson, “The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century,” Past and Present 50 (February 1971): 76–136; Natalie Zemon Davis, “The Reasons of Misrule,” in idem, Society and Culture in Early Modern France (Cambridge: Polity, 1987), 97–123, “The Rites of Violence,” 152–87, “Strikes and Salvation at Lyon,” 1–16. Their works recently became classic references in historical literature, see Suzanne Desan, “Crowds, Community, and Ritual in the Work of E. P. Thompson and Natalie Davis,” in The New Cultural History, ed. Lynn Hunt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), 47–71. On how interpreting the interpretation of a violent act can serve as a good methodology to decipher cultural systems see: Robert Darnton, “Workers Revolt: The Great Cat Massacre of the Rue Saint-Séverin,” in idem, The Great Cat Massacre (New York: Vintage Books, 1985), 75–104. Later the author added nuance to his analysis: “History and Anthropology,” in The Kiss of Lamourette (New York–London: Norton, 1990), 329–53. Further insights into the micro-historical analysis of collective violence in Edward Muir and Guido Ruggiero, eds., Microhistory and the Lost Peoples of Europe (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991). Anthropological studies have turned towards explaining the commission of acts of extreme violence by examining cultural patterns and notions. See for example: Alexander Laban Hilton, “Why Did You Kill? The Cambodian Genocide and the Dark Side of Face and Honor,” The Journal of Asian Studies 57 (February 1998): 93–122. The aspirations to understand the motivations of ordinary people were extended to violence committed as part of the European Holocaust at the end of the 1990s. Christoper R. Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (New York: HarperCollins, 1992); Jan T. Gross, Neighbours: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001).

20 Davis, Fiction in the Archives, 77–110.

21 BFL V 56032/1, Julianna Andrásy, May 23, 1946.

22 Ibid., 139, 169.

23 Ibid., 240–41; Ferenc Gyarmati, May 23, 1946.

24 BFL V 56032/4, Imre Katona, May 31, 1946.

25 BFL V 56032/1, Imre Csatári, May 29, 1946.

26 BFL V 56032/4, Balázs Berczi, May 23, 1946.

27 BFL V 56032/1, Balázs Berczi, May 23, 1946.

28 Ibid., 246–47.

29 BFL V 56032/1, 92–94, Ferenc Fodorné Erzsébet Barta, May 27, 1946, Julianna Andrásy, May 23, 1946. Clinical evidence of Ferenc Kuti, June 23, 1946, V 56032/4, Ferenc Csatári, May 23, 1946; Thompson, “The Moral Economy of the English Crowd.” According to Victoria De Grazia, How Fascism Ruled Women. Italy, 1922–1945 (Berkeley–Los Angeles–Oxford: University of California Press, 1992) the same pattern of behavior can be noticed in the last months of Italian fascism when women started the resistance simply by activating traditional family obligations, such as providing food for their children. Women defendants were over-represented in postwar trials concerning anti-Semitic acts (38 percent), in contrast to their overall 18 percent share as defendants in all postwar processes of People’s Tribunals. Ildikó Barna and Andrea Pető, A politikai igazságszolgáltatás a II. világháború utáni Budapesten (Budapest: Gondolat Kiadó, 2012), 61.

30 BFL V 56032/1, József Vona, May 29, 1946.

31 István Birkás, Kunmadarasi jegyzetek (Dunaújváros: TACT Bt, 1995), 102; 110.

32 BFL V 56032/1, Imre Kóta, May 29, 1946.

33 Ibid., Sándor Vincze, May 29, 1946.

34 Ibid., 94.

35 1941. évi népszámlálás (Budapest: Központi Statisztikai Hivatal, 1947), 548–9; Randolph L. Braham, The Politics of Genocide: The Hungarian Holocaust, vol. 2 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981), 641, 649; Pelle, Az utolsó, 152, wrote about 73 Jews who had returned, but did not refer to the source of this detail, on the other hand the weekly Képes Figyelő (hereafter KF), May 25, 1946: 5. referred to about 100-120 persons. The data of the journal is probably incorrect, as a recently published survey on the human losses of Kunmadaras speaks about 75 survivors. László Ötvös, Emlékezzünk régiekre, áldozatokra! (Kunmadaras: Önkormányzat, 1992), 20. In this regard there is no basic research that concerns the social and demographic consequences of the Hungarian genocide, extending it to local communities as well, although recently a demographic survey has been published: Tamás Stark, Zsidóság a vészkorszakban és a felszabadulás után (19391955) (Budapest: MTA Történettudományi Intézete, 1995).

36 Tamás Stark, Hungary’s Human Losses in World War II (Uppsala: Uppsala University, 1995); Péter Gosztonyi, A magyar honvédség a második világháborúban (Budapest: Európa, 1992), 283–85. (First edition: Rome: Katolikus Szemle, 1986). Ötvös, Emlékezzünk régiekre, 7–11.

37 BFL V 56032/1, Imre Szarka, May 29, 1946.

38 Ibid., 6–8, 35, 211–13, János Lippai, May 23, 1946.

39 René Girard, Violence and the Sacred (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977), esp. 1–38.

40 BFL V 56032/4, Sándor Vincze, May 25, 1946.

41 BFL V 56032/1, 96–98.

42 Norman Cohn, Europe’s Inner Demons (New York: Basic Books, 1975); Gábor Klaniczay, “Az orgiavádak nyomában,” in idem, A civilizáció peremén (Budapest: Magvető, 1990) 194–208; Tamás Kende, Vérvád (Budapest: Osiris, 1995). His argument in English: Tamás Kende, “The Language of Blood Libel in Central and East European History,” in Pride and Prejudice, ed. László Kontler (Budapest: CEU History Department, 1995), 91–104.

43 All statements in BFL V 56032/1, 28, 31, 58–65, 65–67, 94–96, 168–69, 225–27, 264–65. On the symbolism of peasant tales see: Robert Darnton, “Peasants Tell Tales: The Meaning of Mother Goose,” in The Great Cat Massacre, 9–72. The perception of governments’ inability to supply the population with the culturally understood minimum of proper food was crucial in starting the revolutions of early twentieth-century Europe, see Belinda J. Davis, Home Fires Burning: Food, Politics, and Everyday Life in World War I Berlin (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000); Lars T. Lih, Bread and Authority in Russia, 1914–1921 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990); Barbara Alpern Engel, “Not By Bread Alone: Subsistence Riots in Russia during World War I,” Journal of Modern History 69 (December 1997): 696–721.

44 Pelle, Az utolsó, 164. The description of the blood libels are from Kende, Vérvád, 99–123. See also: Andrew Handler, Blood Libel at Tiszaeszlár (New York: Boulder, 1980); György Kövér, A tiszeszlári dráma: társadalomtörténeti látószögek (Budapest: Osiris, 2011).

45 Ötvös, “A madarasi,” 86.

46 Distancing was one the key factors that turned “ordinary men” into cold-blooded killers in July 1942 in Józefow, Poland. Browning, Ordinary Men, 162. On how difference is constituted during interaction see: Thomas Hylland Eriksen, “The Cultural Contexts of Ethnic Differences,” Man 26 (March 1991): 127–144. The concept of culture as a system of appropriation was developed by Roger Chartier, “Culture As Appropriation: Popular Cultural Uses in Early Modern France,” in Understanding Popular Culture: Europe from the Middle Ages to the Nineteenth Century, ed. Steven L. Kaplan (Berlin: Mouton, 1984), 229–53.

47 BFL V 56032/2, the sentence, 58.

48 Ákos Major, Népbíráskodás – forradalmi törvényesség (Budapest: Minerva, 1988), 279–92.

49 Tiszavidék (hereafter TV), June 6, 1946.

50 PIL 274/11 – 64. The report of the Attorney General, József Domokos to Mihály Farkas, June 26, 1946.

51 Cf. László Karsai, “The People’s Courts and Revolutionary Justice in Hungary,” in The Politics of Retribution in Europe: World War II and Its Aftermath, 1939–1948, ed. István Deák, Jan Gross, and Tony Judt (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 233–51.

52 On the organization of the Hungarian People’s Courts see Lukács Tibor, A magyar népbírósági jog és a népbíróságok (19451950) (Budapest: Zrínyi, 1979).

53 BFL V 56032/1, 3.

54 BFL V 56032/2, the sentence, 60.

55 Erving Goffman, Asylums (London: Penguin Books, 1968), 159–86. On the narrative see also: Róbert Braun, Holocaust, elbeszélés, történelem (Budapest: Osiris, 1995). A summary in English: Robert Braun, “The Holocaust and Problems of Historical Representation,” History & Theory 33 (May 1994): 172–94.

56 BFL V-56032/2, on page 45–46 of the sentence.

57 Ibid., 50.

58 Ibid., 52.

59 Ibid., 40–41.

60 V 56032/2, sentence, 59–60.

61 Vörös, “Kunmadaras,” 77.

62 Éva Standeisky, “A miskolci pogrom – ahogyan Rákosiék látták,” source publication with a preface, Társadalmi Szemle 45 (November 1990): 78–86.

63 Ibid.

64 BFL V 56032/2, sentence, 42.

65 Ibid., 43.

66 Ibid., 44; 59.

67 Ibid., 44–45.

68 Ibid., 41.

69 Ibid., 40.

70 Ibid., 37.

71 Ibid., 58.

72 Ibid., 56.

73 BFL V 56032/1, the dissent of the chairman of the Court.

74 Ibid.

75 BFL V 56032/1. 277–80, 301–03, 333.

76 BFL V 56032/1, 4.

77 TV, July 3, 1947: 2.

78 John L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words? (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962).

79 Miri Rubin, “The Making of the Host Desecration Accusation: Persuasive Narratives, Persistent Doubts,” in Proof and Persuasion. Essays on Authority, Objectivity, and Evidence, ed. Suzanne Marchand and Elizabeth Lunbeck (Turnhout: Brepols, 2001), 100–23.

80 1946. évi törvénycikkek (Budapest: Franklin Társulat, 1946), 19–20.

81 BFL V 56032/2, sentence, 59–60.

82 BFL V 56032/1, the dissent of the chairman of the court.

83 Robert Hariman, ed., Popular Trials (London–Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1990), 1–16; James E. Young, The Texture of Memory (New Haven–London: Yale University Press, 1993), 11–15; Steven Knapp, “Collective Memory and the Actual Past,” Representations 26 (Spring 1989): 123–49.

84 BFL V 56032/2, sentence, 46.

85 BFL V 56032/1, the dissent of the chairman of the court.

86 Alan L. Nothnagle, Building the East German Myth: Historical Mythology and Youth Propaganda in the German Democratic Republic, 1945–1989 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999), 93–131; Ingo Loose, “The Anti-Fascist Myth of the German Democratic Republic and Its Decline after 1989,” in Past in the Making: Historical Revisionism in Central Europe after 1989, ed. Michal Kopeček (Budapest: CEU Press, 2008), 59–63; Annamaria Orla-Bukowska, “New Threads on an Old Loom: National Memory and Social Identity in Postwar and Post-Communist Poland,” in The Politics of Memory in Postwar Europe, ed. Richard Ned Lebow, Wulf Kansteiner, and Claudio Fogu (Durham–London: Duke University Press, 2006), 178–96.

87 Ethnicity seems a transactional category: it is the outcome of the dynamic relationships and encounters among various socio-cultural groups. Richard Jenkins, “Rethinking Ethnicity: Identity, Categorization and Power,” Ethnic and Racial Studies 17 (April 1994): 197–223.

pdfVolume 2 Issue 3 CONTENTS

Ferenc Laczó

“I could hardly wait to get out of this camp, even though I knew it would only get worse until liberation came”1

On Hungarian Jewish Accounts of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp from 1945–46

 

Contrary to influential assertions on the early postwar silence surrounding the extermination of European Jewry, in Hungary, as in a number of other countries, extensive documentation of the Holocaust had already begun in the 1940s. In addition to postwar trials, published memoirs and early historical works, thousands of Hungarian Jewish survivors articulated their experiences in the offices of the National Relief Committee for Deportees (DEGOB) in 1945–46. However, these sources have not yet been systematically analyzed and early witness accounts in particular remain heavily underrepresented in historiography. This study is an effort to begin to redress this imbalance by examining 349 DEGOB accounts that discuss Buchenwald, a major Nazi concentration camp and a contested lieu de mémoire. It reveals that returnees defined, represented and assessed Buchenwald in varying ways, their perspectives depending not only on factors such as when and where they stayed in the camp and what they had to endure while there, but also on which other camp they arrived from and the conditions under which they traveled. My analysis of early Hungarian Jewish accounts of Buchenwald also reveals that while a number of interviewees understood their escape from the group of Jewish prisoners within the camp as the key to their eventual survival, others tended to use ethnic labels to identify the perpetrators of violence against them. Moreover, two major narratives were circulating regarding the liberation of the camp: the accidental Nazi failure to complete their program of extermination and another involving a successful uprising of the inmates against their tormentors. Last but not least, the paper argues that some of those who survived Buchenwald and subsequently entered the DEGOB offices showed clear awareness of the Nazi extermination program, but they preferred to discuss it in indirect ways.

 

Keywords: Hungarian history, Nazi concentration camps, Jewish witness accounts, Holocaust reception, discourses of violence

Witness Testimonies prior to the Era of the Witness

This study is a contribution to the recuperation of early Hungarian Jewish perspectives and voices on the Holocaust.2 Studies of the Holocaust are an important and influential field of contemporary history, together with accounts of witnesses that have become part of psychological and sociological investigations and also entered broader cultural debates. Nonetheless, the incorporation into mainstream historiography of the plethora of witness accounts produced by Holocaust survivors immediately after the World War II has only begun.3

The disinterest and even ignorance of such early voices is linked to how historiographies of the Holocaust have typically framed their subject. On the one hand, the systematic extermination of European Jewry during World War II seemed so complex and generally incomprehensible that any profound understanding seemed to require a slow and gradual process and substantial time. On the other hand, it has also been recurrently emphasized that, due to the psychological consequences of their persecution, survivors were not able to articulate their experiences immediately either.4 Until now the Holocaust has been broadly understood as an event that acquired wider political and cultural significance only several decades after the war for two main reasons: the generally belated recognition of the scope and coherence of the Nazi program of extermination and the silence of traumatized survivors.

Such narratives are currently facing a serious challenge: a substantial body of scholarship has already been published offering a plethora of evidence to discredit notions of early postwar silence and repression.5 Without questioning the increased importance of Holocaust remembrance that has been observable in more recent decades,6 this new wave of scholarship aims to show in particular that Jewish survivors were anything but mute during the early postwar period. David Cesarani, editor of one of the most important collections demonstrating this point, insisted that Jewish survivors, “if anything, succeeded too well, too soon” in commemorating the Holocaust avant la lettre, and it would therefore be much more appropriate to inquire into the early postwar “deafness” of the surrounding world than to continue discussions of supposed Jewish silence.7

This article draws on all of the 349 testimonies in the collection of the National Relief Committee for Deportees in Hungary (Deportáltakat Gondozó Országos Bizottság, DEGOB) that make references to the Buchenwald concentration camp.8 My choice of Buchenwald as a case study was determined, apart from the crucial circumstance of the availability of rich and diverse accounts from 1945–46, by the fact that Buchenwald was one of the largest and oldest camps in a Nazi German environment9 and has remained a contested lieu de mémoire ever since.10 Not only is Buchenwald very near Weimar, one of the symbolic centers of Germany,11 but it was also heavily instrumentalized under the East German Communist regime.12 There were fierce debates about Buchenwald after 1989, too, especially concerning the Soviet camp that was in operation there after 1945.13 Therefore, it appears all the more intriguing and relevant to inquire how its survivors discussed this major Nazi camp before canonical interpretations emerged and stereotypical images took form.

The largest part of this paper offers a qualitative analysis of early Hungarian Jewish accounts of Buchenwald based on close reading. On the general level, I am interested in how survivors articulated their experiences soon after their release from the campdespite the immense difficulties of verbalizing their sufferings and in the absence of widely agreed discursive frames.14 More specifically, I address the following questions: how did Hungarian Jewish survivors define, represent and assess Buchenwald in 1945–46? How did they retrospectively describe the condition they were in while there? How did they discuss their experiences of violence? Did they employ ethnic labels in their accounts and, if so, when and how? How did they narrate the liberation of Buchenwald? Finally, how did they perceive the Nazi program of extermination in the immediate aftermath of the war? Before going into these details, however, I address in the following sections the historiographical context and offer a quantitative description of the backgrounds of the interviewees.

On the Historiographical Context

Drawing on evidence in a wide variety of languages and covering a host of European countries (such as Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Poland), the 2012 monograph by Laura Jockusch entitled Collect and Record! has shown that from the late nineteenth century onwards the Jews of Eastern Europe developed new techniques of documentation in reaction to anti-Jewish violence. More concretely, they came to understand the collection of witness accounts as an essential part of their scholarly-commemorative response to human-made catastrophes. Jewish survivors of the Holocaust would subsequently apply these techniques to the unprecedented crimes committed during World War II.

The collection of witness accounts was thus an eminent part of the agenda of the historical commissions and documentation centers that were launched as soon as the Nazi genocide was over.15 In some cases, such as occupied Poland or France, Jews in fact initiated the documentation of their destruction at the hands of the Nazis while it was still taking place.16 As a consequence, manifold Jewish sources on the Nazi Endlösung were created and a broad array of publications was completed before the end of 1940sonly to be largely neglected and almost fully forgotten afterwards and remain underexplored to this day.17

Collect and Record! also highlights the seminal contributions made by Jews originating from Eastern Europe to these early postwar endeavors. Jockusch explains that Polish Jewish survivors were the crucial actors, not only in Poland but also in Francethe other major center of documentation discussed in her book. On the other hand, Jockusch unfortunately makes no reference to early postwar developments in Hungary. This is all the more regrettable since not only was approximately every third victim of Auschwitz a Hungarian Jew but Hungary was one of the countries with the largest group of Holocaust survivors in this periodand has remained so since.

Due, above all, to this large and active group of Jewish survivors, Hungary made an impressive start in producing detailed knowledge about various facets of the Nazi program of extermination, with a clear focus on “the fate” of Hungarian Jewry. In spite of severe problems related to social reintegration, material restitution and the local culture of commemoration, early Hungarian efforts to document the Holocaust were manifested in several major ways.18 Publications by the controversial Hungarian Jewish journalist-turned-historian Jenő Lévai provided substantial overviews of the Hungarian Holocaust in the second half of the 1940s.19 Lévai’s works belong among the earliest empirically based presentations of the Holocaust in any country, even if they were also responsible for the invention of several historical myths.20 Second, crimes committed against Jews during the war years played highly prominent roles in the early Hungarian postwar trials.21 Third, Hungarian Jewish witness testimonies took various forms immediately after the war. In spite of being omitted in a recent guide to the field of Holocaust literature, Jewish survivors published dozens of memoirs in Hungarian before the onset of Stalinism in the late 1940s.22

Moreover, the altogether twenty-nine interviewers working for the National Relief Committee for Deportees (Deportáltakat Gondozó Országos Bizottság, DEGOB) project alone created over 3,500 interview-based files in 1944–46, making it the largest pool of such sources apart from the Polish one.23 The three main tasks of the National Relief Committee for Deportees were to help the repatriation of survivors to Hungary, provide social aid, and pursue projects of documentation. By September 1946, in addition to the interviews, DEGOB also created altogether 30,000 files on Hungarian Jewish survivors and 120,000 on people who perished during the Holocaust.24 Members of DEGOB’s Information Bureau were also present at major postwar trials to record parts of Jewish concern. Last but not least, they established a collection of Hungarian Jewish-related press materials featuring over 10,000 articles.

DEGOB recorded over 3,500 interviews in a mere year and a half. The first one in the collection was conducted in December 1944 and the last in April 1946. The Organization of the Jews of Hungary from Outside Budapest (Magyarországi Zsidók Szervezete Vidéki Osztálya) conducted numerous interviews in the spring of 1945 that were later incorporated into the DEGOB collection. The central establishment of DEGOB in Budapest began to add its own by early summer of the same year. The length of the records produced varies from just a few paragraphs to dozens of pages. On average, however, they are mostly concise and descriptive pieces of one to four pages that only occasionally address more complex interpretative questions and largely avoid strongly emotionally charged matters.25

To help the work of the interviewer and standardize the contents, a questionnaire with twelve major themes was gradually developed. This defined the major subjects of the interviews as follows: personal data; the situation of Jews at their places of residence; ghettoization and its prehistory; deportation; arrival; the destination of the first deportation, its organization and life in the camp; labor camps, their organization and life in them; evacuation; stages following evacuation; liberation; life in the camp upon liberation; the way home. Ultimately, the thousands of early post-Holocaust Hungarian witness accounts were the result of semi-structured interviews, and they could well be considered co-products of interviewer and interviewee.26

The fact that the impressive early postwar Hungarian Jewish efforts remain heavily underrepresented in contemporary English-language scholarship (Jockusch’s monograph being only one, though a key example here) is arguably part of an even larger problem, namely the rather peripheral position of Hungarian scholarship on the Holocaust.27 Several current priorities of Holocaust research, including the incorporation and analysis of survivor testimonies, remain only marginally present in Hungarian historiography. It is indicative of this larger trend that some of the most important recent contributions to the prehistory and implementation of the Hungarian Holocaust devote exclusive attention to the perpetrator side and the mechanisms of destruction, without studying the reactions and behavior of the victims.28 My paper aims to redress this imbalance by examining 349 DEGOB accounts that discuss Buchenwald, a major Nazi concentration camp and a contested lieu de mémoire.

Interviewees, Ghettos and Deportations

Hungarian Jewish deportees experienced and narrated their time in Buchenwald in different ways depending on where they came from, how they arrived there, when and how long they had to stay and, last but certainly not least, what happened to them while they were there.29 Since some of the 349 protocols that make reference to Buchenwald contain contributions from more than one person, they include the accounts of altogether 393 interviewees.30 The files contain basic information on the background of most of these individuals. With the exception of two people who were born in Germany, all of the 393 interviewees came from the enlarged wartime territory of Hungary.31 Even though the collection cannot make claims to representativeness, not even regarding the group of returnees, comparing the characteristics of this Buchenwald sample with the whole group of DEGOB interviewees still promises to yield important insights. Prior to my textual analysis, I will therefore describe the sample of interviewees with particular attention to their gender, age, locations of ghettoization, and routes of deportation.

Due to the gendered manner of deportation and especially the almost exclusively male camp society of Buchenwald, there is a great gender imbalance in my sample. Only thirty of the 393 individuals are female, i.e. less than one in thirteen.32 This sharply differs from the overall proportion of men and women in the DEGOB collection as a whole, where men constitute a very slight majority of 51 percent. The contrast is all the more striking since significantly more women than men were interviewed in the case of certain regions that include Kárpátalja (Subcarpathia), from where most of the Buchenwald interviewees came.33

In the overwhelming majority of cases (386 out of 393), the year of birth of the interviewees is also indicated in the files. All of them were born between 1887 and 1933. Thus, when they returned to Hungary and entered the offices of DEGOB in 1945–46, the oldest among them was 58 while the youngest merely 12. Their average age was 27.85, with a significant majority below 30. This closely resembles the overall sample of interviewees, in which the average age was 27.3.34 It is conspicuous that nearly half (172 out of 386) of the interviewees were born between 1924 and 1929, i.e. were past 16 but not yet 22 in 1945.35

Regarding the location of ghettoization, the information is less systematic and the entries are not entirely consistent.36 Nevertheless, the 243 cases give a reasonably reliable estimate of the regional origins of the interviewees. The results prove both unequivocal and striking. The most commonly appearing ghetto names are those of Munkács (Мукачеве in Ukrainian) with 39, Ungvár (Ужгород) with 35, Beregszász (Берегове) with 25 and Szeklence (Сокирниця) with 21, all of which are in Kárpátalja (Subcarpathia).37 Mátészalka in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County is mentioned 16 times as the location of ghettoization and is therefore fifth on the list and first within the territory of postwar Hungary. Mátészalka is followed by Huszt (Хуст), Iza (Іза), Aknaszlatina (Солотвино), Felsővisó (Vişeu de Sus), Nagyszőllős (Виноградів) and Técső (Тячів). With the sole exception of Felsővisó from Máramaros (Maramureş in Romanian) County, each of these places is in Kárpátalja as well.38 If we added Budapest with its multiple locations of “concentration,” there are twelve cities in the sample in which at least five of the interviewees were ghettoized, and nine of these twelve are in Kárpátalja.39 These nine cities account for nearly two-thirds (157 out of 243) of all known cases—surpassing even the disproportionately high percent (48.6) of interviewees from this region in the DEGOB collection as a whole.40

In the case of 362 individuals, the various camps to which they were deported are listed at the beginning of their files. These entries can be divided into three large groups: 198 were taken to Auschwitz, while 123 were not.41 Third, there are 41 cases in which Buchenwald is not included in the list of camps to which they were taken, but the name is referred to in the text in one way or another. Of the 198 who had been to Buchenwald and had to go through Auschwitz too, 121 were taken from Auschwitz directly to Buchenwald and 70 arrived there through various alternative locations in between.42 The most common patterns in this group of 198 individuals are the following: 38 of them were taken to four different camps and arrived at Buchenwald directly from Auschwitz. 20 of them were taken to Auschwitz and then to another camp before they arrived in Buchenwald where they were eventually liberated. 18 were taken to three camps but had to travel directly from Auschwitz to Buchenwald.43

Regarding the second group, the 123 Hungarian Jewish individuals who were taken to Buchenwald but not Auschwitz typically were deported from Hungary directly to Buchenwald. According to the list of camps at the beginning of the files, 38 of them were in two camps, 17 in three and 14 in four after first being deported to Buchenwald. Another common pattern was to have been at two camps, but to have been taken to Buchenwald twice: there are altogether eleven such returnees among the interviewees.44 There is another significant cohort of nine interviewees who were not taken to Auschwitz, but rather were taken to three different camps, arriving in Buchenwald as the last of these three.45

Perspectives on Buchenwald: Bare Life in a Multiethnic Setting

The DEGOB accounts of Buchenwald practically unanimously describe the conditions of their train journey to Buchenwald, a topic most famously depicted by Jorge Semprún in his Le Grand Voyage, as hardly bearable.46 The arrival in Buchenwald tends to be described in nearly identical ways too. Numerous accounts explain that it involved the loss of the last items of personal property, a mass shower and being given inmate clothing. Several reports explicitly refer to the experience of being reduced to a mere number within the camp.47 Many files contain observations concerning the camp as a whole, such as references to its enormous size and the density of its population.48

On the other hand, as I will aim to show, later experiences and the interpretations of these experiences upon liberation, and, consequently, the overall assessments of Buchenwald, strongly diverge. There is no clear consensus in the files regarding the kind of establishment Buchenwald was either. Several Hungarian Jewish witnesses testifying in 1945–46 spent only a few days or weeks there and understood Buchenwald to be a distribution center (gyűjtőhely or gyűjtőtábor in Hungarian).49 Many other witnesses referred to it as a concentration camp, whereas some thought it was a death camp or even an extermination camp.50

Hardly any of the accounts relating personal experiences in Buchenwald map the camp, suggesting that Jewish inmates were not at all in a position to gain any detailed knowledge of it. There is only one account that at least aims to list the main parts of the camp, and does so in the following manner: “there were three camps here: the small Lager, the Zeltlager and the great Lager.”51 Beyond this, there is the occasional reflection on the faulty nature of memory, such as “my memories of it [of Buchenwald] were blurred by later horrors.”52 Such statements could also lead to explicit admissions of having no real knowledge of the camp. For instance, one of the reports states that, “my memories of Buchenwald were erased by later horrors.”53 Other inmates reflected on their forcefully restricted perspective: “this was a gigantic Lager and we could not see much of it,”54 or referred to the lack of time they had to get acquainted with it: “I only stayed in Buchenwald for a very short time, six or eight days, and so I could not get any real insight into what was going on in the camp.”55

Discussions of Buchenwald camp society recurrently highlight its multinational56 or multireligious, i.e. Christian and Jewish, character.57 One Hungarian Jewish witness remarked that Buchenwald was not established specifically for Jews.58 Another witness listed various kinds of inmates: “those captured belonged to different categories: there were political Jews, homosexuals, criminals, so called action Jews, such as those from the June action.”59 On the other hand, several reports underlined that in this multiethnic camp Jews were either segregated, specially discriminated, or both.60 Some survivors offered estimates of the number and proportion of Jews. One of them stated that 10,000 inmates were Jewish out of altogether 60,000.61 Another maintained that there were 80,000 inmates and only three blocks of Jews in the whole camp,62 while a third asserted that there were around 30,000 Jews in Buchenwald at the beginning of April 1945 (i.e. shortly before liberation).63

In his book Homo Sacer, Giorgio Agamben maintained that power confronted bare life in the camps without mediation.64 His statement finds much support in the accounts of Hungarian Jewish Buchenwald survivors. These reports refer not only to “indescribable” forms of suffering,65 terrible humiliations,66 purposeless brutality and sadism,67 and occasionally even to one’s own dehumanization (more on this question below),68 but also extensively dwell on basic circumstances and elements of life, such as the possibilities to sleep and eat, occasionally including the amount of weight lost,69 as well as the extreme cold that was described as being especially severe during the long hours of senseless waiting at Appell (roll call) outside.70

In the following two excerpts, one finds concise lists of many of these negative experiences:

We were undressed and our few remaining belongings were taken away. We were brought into a small room where three to four people slept in every bed. We were given pasta soup and bread but were so weak that we could hardly eat. We were given very poor trousers, our coats were even worse, and we got a blanket each. The roll calls were very long and we suffered a great deal due to the cold. Our treatment was the worst imaginable. The SS men were walking around with their huge dogs and shot those who tried to escape.71

In Buchenwald, 1,500 people were put into a single block. We slept on wood in our clothes and shoes. We suffered a lot. My weight went down to 32 kilograms. The Capo of the SS would beat us for no reason. Roll calls lasted two to three hours per day. We had to get up at 5:00 am, got black coffee, one loaf of bread for six people and three-quarters of a liter of soup. We had no blankets and felt very cold. Many died of exhaustion. Life there was unbearable.72

In short, the Hungarian Jewish accounts of Buchenwald are replete with descriptions of experiences of freezing, severe hunger, the lack of space, and brutal violence (from above but occasionally also among inmates, to which I will return below). Nonetheless, as already noted, the overall assessment of the camp was far from uniform.

Several Hungarian Jewish survivors evaluated their time in the camp in extremely dark colors, “the days I had to spend in Buchenwald were the most horrible of my life.”73

We were subjected to the cruelest treatment there, we had to step on dead bodies, people were constantly in pain, whining and shouting due to the lack of space, but no one cared. The provision of food was also the weakest imaginable. I had to put up with awful suffering caused by hunger too.74

Such thoroughly negative assessments of Buchenwald are accompanied by somewhat more positive memories. In the DEGOB collection, one finds statements on how Buchenwald had “good” or at least “better” food,75 that the treatment here was “relatively mild,”76 even “quite decent,”77 the inmates were “relatively free,”78 there was all in all “less suffering”79 and the camp was “quite bearable.”80 Another survivor called it his “luck” to have been taken to Buchenwald.81 “I stayed ten days in Buchenwald, where I was put into the Zeltlager [tent camp] and this place felt like a holiday compared to Auschwitz.”82 Other survivors highlighted that they had nothing to do in Buchenwald and all they could do was lie around.83 According to some witnesses, life could be “monotonous,” even “boring” there.84 Ironically, still others experienced Buchenwald not as a place of suffering and dying but of sickness and recovery: these witnesses got sick elsewhere and essentially gathered their experiences of Buchenwald in its hospital where they were eventually liberated.85

Living and Dying in Buchenwald

The most crucial question to emerge from the witness accounts concerning Buchenwald appears to be how inmates struggled to survive and how they died there. Numerous survivors described the condition they were in as between life and death. According to one of the reports, the food that was provided “was too little to survive on but too much to die.”86 Similarly, another explained that the food was minimal, “too little to live but a little too much to starve.”87 A third stated that “we were half dead already at the train station,” i.e. even before they would have arrived in Buchenwald.88

Four of the DEGOB files discussing Buchenwald even refer to the concept of Muselmann (in three cases the expression is used in Hungarian, i.e. as muzulmán), a term in the vocabulary of the camps that was used derogatively to refer to those who were exhausted, starved and lethargic to the point of being resigned to their death.89

Dead bodies were lying in front of the blocks. When the camp was being emptied, I felt that I could not join them and decided to lie down among the dead. I stayed there for 36 hours until the whole camp was gone. Then I stood up with great difficulty. At that point, I was rather dead than alive since I could barely move.90

In addition to discussing the human condition between life and death, many accounts refer to one or several causes of death. The various forms of dying mentioned include freezing to death,91 starvation,92 being shot,93 even being bombed by the Allies,94 death through the brutal treatment of SS men,95 or dying in the shower “simply” under the weight of falling water.96 Some reports list numerous causes: “People died from diarrhea, typhus or exhaustion. The sick were supposedly murdered with injections. The crematorium was in constant operation.”97

Some of the 349 reports also include data on the number of survivors. There is little disagreement in the DEGOB files on the number of survivors who were in Buchenwald at the time of liberation. All the numbers given fall between 20,000 and 24,000.98 There is greater variance on how many inmates were there previously. The numbers given climb from 70,000 to 80,000 and 90,000. Only one of the reports adds the temporal dimension to explain that the number increased from 40,000 to 100,000 once camps farther east were dissolved and the Nazis moved their inmates further west.99 Understandably, it was much more difficult for survivors to estimate the number of the dead than the number of the liberated. In fact, there is only one report that provides concrete figures regarding how many people had been murdered: “51,000 people were executed while I was there.”100

Numerous Hungarian Jewish interviewees were liberated in Buchenwald, and several of them told relatively detailed stories of their liberation (more on this below). Far fewer seem to have survived the death marches to make it subsequently to the DEGOB offices.101 While many accounts refer to camp inmates being taken away just prior to liberation, there was hardly any knowledge of how many people were actually taken or what was done to them.102 Some exceptional evidence is provided by a witness who arrived in Buchenwald just before its liberation and on the way there had observed the dead bodies of those forcibly removed only to be murdered.103 In this regard, only two files provide concrete figures. One of them states that three-quarters of the 35,000 people who had to leave Buchenwald at the last moment were subsequently murdered.104 According to the other, 60,000 were murdered in the last minute. Most of them had been taken to Buchenwald “from neighboring camps” shortly before.105

Violence and Ethnicity

Not only do the reports identify multiple causes of death, they also tackle the question of violence in alternative ways. On the following pages, my aim will be to identify patterns of how violence was discussed at the DEGOB offices. First of all, Hungarian Jewish survivors often connected their discussion of violence to that of ethnicity. Perpetrators were repeatedly ethnically labeled, even in texts that otherwise largely refrained from employing such labels. Second, survivors rarely affirmed their Jewishness. In all likelihood, this had to do both with the “Jewish” context of the interview situation, making more explicit statements unnecessary, as well as the fact that the perpetrators used Jewishness as a negative, even diabolical marker during the extermination process and so it was most dangerous to be assigned to this category until liberation.106 Furthermore, the refusal to respond to orders directed at Jews was a key element of numerous accounts, as were successful attempts to acquire a different ethnic marker. Third, the processes of dehumanization under the terrible conditions of the camp and, more concretely, the level and forms of violence between inmates are among the most controversial aspects of the Holocaust.107 Some of the early survivor accounts are distinguished precisely by the fact that they address these morally highly controversial issues more openly than many later, more pietistic and sanitized representations of the Holocaust.

The ethnicization of violence is manifested in relatively simple discursive forms, such as in the following excerpts: “I simply could not continue my work any longer. The Polish Capo, who was supposed to supervise us, saw this. He beat me badly with his gun and kicked me too.”108 “Our supervisors were Christian Poles who treated us in the cruelest manner.”109 “We had to bear a lot from the Poles, who would beat us with decks and dongs.”110 “We spent four weeks there and had no work to do, but the Polish Capos responsible for us did us considerable harm.”111 “The SS orders were carried out by Ukrainian youth who would constantly beat us.”112 These statements confirm that there was a complex hierarchy of ethnic groups in Buchenwald and Hungarian Jews tended to suffer everyday abuses not at the hands of German Nazis, but rather at those of Eastern European collaborators whom the Germans recruited through various means.

The most frequently reported case of avoiding the potentially lethal Jewish label was when, shortly prior to the evacuation of Buchenwald, Jews were called to the Appellplatz. The stories told by several survivors were almost identical in this regard. “When the Jews were called, I did not go, and so when the Americans liberated the camp I was still alive, even if sick.”113 “The next evening all the Jews were gathered on Appellplatz. I sensed the danger and with a few others, I decided to return to the small Lager. The next day the order ‘Appell Juden antreten’ was repeated, but I did not show up then either.”114

Stories of escape that center on the refusal to be identified as Jewish by the Nazis were accompanied by those focusing on the successful change of the ethnic marker. “I cannot tell what happened to this fellow of mine. I got hold of a Yugoslav badge, which I put on my coat, and I qualified as an Aryan from that moment onwards,” explained one of the survivors.115 “The next morning an Appell of the whole camp was called. Three SS men selected Jews to be taken to work in a factory. I managed to go over to the Russians. The next day, I was transported to Theresienstadt alongside them,” another recalled.116

In addition to such changes of ethnic belonging in the camp, some survivors indicated that they managed to qualify as Christians. “I stayed at a carpenter shop and was again registered as a Christian. When I heard the megaphones shout ‘Sämtliche Juden antreten’, I thought that this could only get me into trouble and went over to the Christians instead.”117 “In the children’s block, the Blockältester [barrack leader] was Czech. After much effort, he managed to arrange to have the bureau of the Lager register us as Christians.”118

Not all Hungarian Jewish survivors of Buchenwald had such good fortune in their attempts to escape the genocidal anti-Semitism of the Nazis, and many of them had much darker episodes to narrate. Accounts of scenes of humiliation were unavoidably accompanied by the sense of having been dehumanized and were thus the most painful to recall. Nonetheless, such memories were not fully repressed in 1945–46.119 Some survivors would explicitly state that they were dehumanized in Buchenwald: “I cannot tell the day or the date, we were no longer humans at this point, we lived like the most misfortunate animals.”120 Others would describe awful scenes of humiliation in some detail:

Putting the food of the hungry masses into the middle of the Appellplatz was one of the amusements of the Lagercommandant [SS officer, commander of the camp]. Given the signal, the masses of people ran for the hot food in the cauldrons and trampled each other. The cauldron was turned around and the food was lost. The SS official was very amused at this.121

Another survivor discussed how the deported related to the psychological problems of others in the context of their own dehumanization by providing the following example: “Many became hysterical. Nothing describes better how rough we became than the fact that we hit these crazy ones, not least to acquire more space.”122

This quotation touches on the controversial question of violence by and among the inmates. A less radical reference to this issue runs as follows: “we were taken to shower and made to wait there for hours. We felt great hunger. People started fighting like animals just to get a little water.”123 In the course of a more radical discussion of this problem the claim is made that the almost starved inmates of Buchenwald killed each other.124 Last but not least, three former workers of the Buchenwald crematorium offered an account at the DEGOB office that is in many ways exceptional, not least of all because it narrates their own violent acts, including how they mistreated Germans after liberation (more on this report below).125

Without meaning to assess the level and types of violence among the inmates of Buchenwald on the basis of these scattered references, I would conclude by noting that one of the major causes of violence seems to be its previous experience.126 The DEGOB records indicate that Hungarian Jewish survivors of the Holocaust may often have constituted exceptions to this more general patterneven if not all of them proved exceptional in this respect. Sustained attempts at dehumanization can prove effective. Such acts are evil in themselves, but also in their consequences, and need to be condemned accordingly.127

Stories of Liberation and Resistance

Stories of having remained sick or of having contracted illnesses after liberation are much more typical of the sample as a whole than the aforementioned singular case of violent revenge. The arrival of the Americans thus did not constitute a complete break in the life of every witness. The treatment they were given may have been a dramatic improvement, but many of them first stayed in the same hospital building.128 Notwithstanding recurrent references to continued poor health, apart from the day of arrival, no day was more often discussed than that of liberation.129 Its date was usually specified too, though survivors gave a number of different ones. April 11, 1945 was most commonly given.130

In the DEGOB offices, two major stories were told regarding the liberation of Buchenwald. One referred to the Nazis and their last minute plan of extermination, a story of the narrowest and most dramatic escape from looming Armageddon, though often narrated in a rather dry manner. The other was a leftist narrative of resistance and successful uprising that contributed to the later canonization of the heroic story of Buchenwald under the Communist regimes. Both of them were told in alternative ways and are therefore worth exploring in some detail.

In the case of the former plot, the following three examples may illustrate the contrast between style and content: “During the last week they tried to exterminate the whole of the Jewry. I was sick and was hospitalized.”131

There were altogether 80,000 people in the camp. 56,000 were taken away at the beginning of April. They wanted to murder the 24,000 weakened and sick ones, including me, who stayed in Buchenwald. They did not manage to do this since the Americans arrived just an hour in advance and hindered the execution of their plan.132

I only found out later that we were in mortal danger. The SS Commandant of Weimar had ordered the execution of the whole Lager but they did not have enough time. The Americans were already very close and the Lagercommandant of Buchenwald decided to flee. We were thus saved from certain death.133

Another witness tells the same story from a particular angle: he explains that he heard about the plan of extermination from an SS man who towards the very end of the war attempted to strike a deal with the surviving Jews.

Suddenly they wanted to take us to Buchenwald. An SS man, who was among our custodians and who was an ethnic German from Poland, told us that the SS had been given orders to take us to Buchenwald and murder us all there. He treated us well and expected us to justify his behavior once we fell into the hands of the Americans.134

In another report, one finds a more controversial way of narrating the plans and practices of the SS. In this report, a Hungarian Jewish survivor largely reproduces the rather apologetic story he came to hear from a friendly German soldier:

The SS were told in the spring [of 1945] that those who would want to exterminate the Jews should apply. A German soldier who treated me very well told me this. Grenades were handed out and 600 Jews were supposed to be killed, but very few men applied and nothing came of the plan.135

In addition to the narrative conveying the sense of impending doom that accompanied the experience of liberation, another one was in relatively wide circulation regarding the last moments of the Nazi camp that concerned the uprising of the inmates and their defeat of the SS. One Hungarian Jewish witness even claimed to have participated in it:

We took rifles from the external factories into the camp earlier and now we finally rose up against the SS. There were 200 of us and many of us died. The SS consisted of around 400 men. We took many of their rifles and so we managed to acquire more weapons and were ultimately victorious.136

According to another survivor, some French inmates but especially the Russian prisoners of war were the key actors in the successful uprising: “Another Frenchmen managed to cut the wires by sacrificing his life. Electricity was gone. Russian prisoners of war got hold of rifles in the nearby ammunition factory and defeated the SS in six hours.”137

Another version of the self-liberation story held that cooperation between the inmates and the American liberators led to the successful operation: “With hidden weapons and American help, the Häftlings [Inmates] captured 90 percent of the SS men.”138 An alternative narrative focused on the Spanish inmates of Buchenwald while also assigning a significant role to the Americans:

By this time the white flag flew over the entrance of the camp. In the meantime we found out that the Spanish inmates had managed to cut the high-voltage cables and attacked the SS from behind, getting hold of their weapons. They captured some 200 of them. In subsequent days, the Americans captured the rest.139

Not only did these heroic stories of liberation have strong political connotations in early postwar Hungary but several accounts included explicit statements regarding the benevolent role of Communists in the camp.140 According to one such story,

 

German, French and Russian comrades hindered the evacuation of the camp, which would have meant certain death. They provided us with packages from the French Red Cross even though they were not supposed to be given to Jews. It is thanks to Hungarian Communists that the majority of Hungarian Jews managed to return home from Buchenwald.141

Other accounts emphasized how well-organized and powerful the Communists were among the inmates of Buchenwald. One account argued that the Communist organization was in control of the situation in the Lager,142 while another explained that “there was a very strong Communist organization in Buchenwald, they even managed to provide the last transport with 200 rifles,”143 whereas a third maintained that “the leaders and the Blockaltersters were German Communists and Social Democratic Party members, Frenchmen and Dutch. The camp had its autonomous leadership, which would distribute the little they had received from the Germans in a just manner.”144

Survivors Approaching the Program of Extermination in 1945–46

Hungarian Jewish survivors of Buchenwald might not have possessed all the evidence on the extent and coherence of the Nazi Judeocide in 1945–46 but several DEGOB accounts strongly suggest that they grasped the basic features of the unprecedented program of extermination and were also well aware of the means that were used to murder the large majority of Hungarian Jews (i.e. the use of gas).145 Various accounts make references to the crematorium of Buchenwaldone of them being the account of Hungarian Jews who had to work there. Other survivors addressed one of the basic tensions at the heart of the German war economy: the program of economic exploitation and that of extermination were only reconcilable within limits beyond which Nazi Germany had to determine its priorities. Some persecuted Jews not only discovered this tension (which was way too often “resolved” in favor of extermination), but often argued that, when it came to their specific cases, the recognition of the value of their labor overruled the politics of genocide.

At the same time, even those Hungarian Jewish survivors who seemed fully able to grasp as early as 1945–46 the basic features of the catastrophe that befell Jewry were struggling to find ways to describe it. As part of this, they employed conventional phrases that could only prove misleading in the case of the Holocaust. For instance, one of the witnesses used gendered discourse, as if only adult men had been murdered, while others had survived: “The cold was unbearable, every single day seven or eight people passed away in each wagon. They were simply thrown out and onto the roads. Many of these men are still expected to return home by their mothers, wives and children.”146

Other survivors addressed the program of extermination but had problems doing so in direct speech. In the two locations of the Buchenwald sample where the extermination of European Jewry was most explicitly referenced, the form chosen was that of the dialogue: “The Blockältester remarked to us ‘Dirty miserable Jews, you believe that even if the Germans were to lose the war, we would not have the power to kill you all? Either way, you will not leave this place alive!’”147 A second report offers an even more explicit but similarly dialogical instance: “When I slowly entered the gate of Buchenwald, an SS man hit me. I asked him why he had done this and he answered me, ‘You are a dirty Jew and we sentenced all of you to death.’”148 The choice of the particular form, i.e. making a German Nazi speak, is all the more conspicuous, since otherwise it was hardly ever employed in these records.

The method of gassing appears in two notable places. One witness referred to his fear of being gassed in the following manner: “I looked around and saw that the place was used for showering. I immediately thought that we would be gassed, that this must be the reason why so many people had been herded into such a place.”149 Another witness maintained that gas was actually in use in Buchenwald to murder those whose labor was not needed:

When a larger group needed to be burned, they were taken to Buchenwald, where four crematoria were in operation day and night. They told people that they would have to take a shower, they were given soap and towel and then they arrived in a room with showers. When all of them were inside, they closed the door and let gas enter through the showers. The Germans had one single goal: to murder everyone who was no longer useful for them, who could not work for them, was sick, too old or just a small child.150

As already noted, there were discrepancies between different agencies of Nazi Germany during the program of extermination on the question whether the priority was extermination of the Jews or the exploitation of Jewish labor. Several DEGOB reports refer to this tension. According to one, for instance,

An SS man, supposedly a Hungarian doctor, arrived from Buchenwald in January 1945. His opinion was that people should not be murdered but given time to rest, so they could be made to work again. I heard that he was the one to initiate the transport of some 1,200 Häftlings, including me, to Buchenwald.151

There are two further brief discussions on how working as a prisoner for the German war economy could prove lifesaving in the context of the immoral rationality of certain perpetrators: “Since they were satisfied with our work, they sent back a message stating that the factory owner needed us. This is how we escaped death.”152 Second, “they were satisfied with our work and needed it too. It would have made no sense to employ superfluous cruelty and thereby make us unfit for work. They would have thereby robbed themselves of their work force.”153

The crematorium of Buchenwald was usually briefly discussed, for instance, “I got the worst impressions upon arrival. The crematorium was the first thing I saw. I do not need to emphasize how uncomfortable I felt.”154 Or to cite another example, “There was a crematorium in Buchenwald too. On average, there were 5,000 deaths per day.”155 By far the most detailed evidence was offered in the report in which inmates who had to work there discussed their experiences:

We worked at the crematorium of Buchenwald for some three weeks. Our job was to move the coal from the wagons to the basement. There was a five meters deep pit in the courtyard of the crematorium. Due to the narrowness of the space, the misfortunate ones selected for extermination had to push each other. They pushed each other into that pit, whether they intended to or not. The murderers of the SS helped this process from behind while their cronies stood below. The latter pushed iron hooks through the maxilla of the poor victims and they hanged them up on the wall there in the basement like cattle hangs in the meat shop. They started hitting them with rubber that had some wires in it too. We heard terrible shouting and crying. We would have been executed too, had the Americans not arrived. They only let the employees of the crematorium live for three months.156

Conclusion

Contrary to influential assertions on the early postwar silence surrounding the extermination of European Jewry, in Hungary, as in a number of other countries, extensive documentation of the Holocaust had already begun in the mid-1940s. Long before the era of the witness, in addition to the postwar trials, published memoirs and early historical works, thousands of Hungarian Jewish survivors articulated their experiences in the offices of the National Relief Committee for Deportees (DEGOB). The above analysis of 349 Hungarian Jewish accounts of Buchenwald concentration camp recorded in 1945–46 describes this select group of DEGOB interviewees in terms their gender, age, locations of their ghettoization and routes of deportation. Beyond quantitative issues, the paper has in turn focused on definitions, descriptions and assessments of Buchenwald, on discussions of the prevailing conditions, various manners of dying and states in-between life and death, on how the experience of violence and ethnic identifications were discursively related, on stories of liberation, resistance and chance escape, as well as on the scattered references to the overall Nazi program of extermination.

The study of these early accounts reveals that whereas a number of witnesses understood their escape from the Jewish camp group as the key to their eventual survival, many tended to employ ethnic labels to identify the perpetrators of violence against them, and this frequently meant references to Eastern European collaborators. It also becomes clear that previous camp experiences, such as experiences in Auschwitz and horrible train journeys, often provided bases for comparison that made Buchenwald appear in a less unfavorable lightin spite of the brutal violence, severe hunger, terrible cold, insufficient space, poor hygiene, harsh working conditions and, ultimately, mass death. At the same time, some of those who survived Buchenwald and were interviewed at the DEGOB offices shortly afterwards were clearly aware of the general characteristics of the Nazi program of annihilation, though they preferred to discuss it in indirect ways in the immediate aftermath of its horrors.

 

Archival Sources

Records of the Deportáltakat Gondozó Országos Bizottság Number 9, 13, 15, 22, 24, 28, 30, 32, 33, 37, 45, 48, 60, 66, 80, 83, 87, 90, 97, 120, 159, 161, 162, 174, 177, 189, 190, 192, 196, 226, 237, 244, 258, 289, 323, 324, 326, 327, 330, 335, 346, 347, 363, 370, 373, 387, 388, 391, 392, 395, 416, 470, 477, 478, 483, 487, 489, 498, 522, 538, 540, 551, 552, 554, 565, 574, 601, 608, 611, 619, 623, 534, 636, 645, 651, 653, 664, 669, 675, 692, 696, 716, 728, 730, 731, 738, 739, 752, 754, 756, 757, 810, 818, 823, 841, 848, 855, 857, 864, 874, 885, 905, 906, 908, 911, 913, 940, 952, 968, 973, 994, 998, 1030, 1036, 1039, 1041, 1055, 1080, 1109, 1133, 1163, 1177, 1178, 1183, 1195, 1205, 1219, 1228, 1232, 1239, 1273, 1280, 1295, 1297, 1309, 1313, 1318, 1328, 1333, 1348, 1349, 1358, 1364, 1368, 1417, 1430, 1436, 1455, 1457, 1500, 1538, 1582, 1584, 1590, 1597, 1616, 1633, 1638, 1639, 1669, 1670, 1671, 1673, 1675, 1676, 1677, 1683, 1686, 1687, 1692, 1694, 1727, 1729, 1744, 1750, 1757, 1761, 1762, 1771, 1788, 1803, 1808, 1811, 1830, 1851, 1852, 1855, 1884, 1890, 1902, 1925, 1939, 1946, 1959, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1972, 1994, 1995, 2012, 2014, 2019, 2024, 2032, 2046, 2049, 2052, 2066, 2072, 2073, 2077, 2096, 2100, 2102, 2127, 2132, 2133, 2134, 2137, 2158, 2160, 2162, 2176, 2195, 2203, 2227, 2234, 2235, 2241, 2245, 2264, 2272, 2278, 2319, 2321, 2327, 2341, 2365, 2374, 2377, 2378, 2386, 2387, 2418, 2432, 2463, 2475, 2492, 2504, 2519, 2524, 2541, 2566, 2569, 2570, 2576, 2580, 2586, 2590, 2601, 2618, 2623, 2657, 2687, 2692, 2705, 2706, 2720, 2724, 2760, 2785, 2786, 2789, 2794, 2798, 2804, 2826, 2839, 2847, 2862, 2865, 2900, 2905, 2910, 2920, 2926, 2943, 2945, 2947, 2968, 2973, 2988, 3006, 3023, 3029, 3033, 3048, 3050, 3066, 3068, 3074, 3091, 3095, 3099, 3103, 3104, 3119, 3128, 3158, 3172, 3213, 3232, 3237, 3251, 3253, 3261, 3260, 3289, 3290, 3291, 3314, 3348, 3356, 3373, 3388, 3399, 3402, 3407, 3412, 3416, 3440, 3465, 3471, 3474, 3480, 3490, 3491, 3497, 3499, 3510, 3514, 3515, 3520, 3553, 3554, 3574, 3587, 3588.

 

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1 Quoted from DEGOB Record Number 3587. All translations from both Hungarian and German are mine. (I left German terms in my English translations if they were used in the Hungarian original.)

2 I would like to thank Vera Scepanovic and Anna Lujza Szász for their comments on an earlier version of this paper.

3 These accounts were thus produced long before what Annette Wieviorka called “the era of the witness” (which, according to her, only begun after the Eichmann trial). See Annette Wieviorka, The Era of the Witness (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2006).

4 On the political aspects of trauma discourses, see José Brunner, Die Politik des Traumas. Gewalt, Gesellschaft und psychisches Leiden (Berlin: Suhrkamp, forthcoming). For a critique of many contemporary references to cultural trauma, see Wulf Kansteiner, “Genealogy of a Category Mistake: A Critical Intellectual History of the Cultural Trauma Metaphor,” Rethinking History 8 (2004): 193–221.

5 This happens simultaneously with silence becoming an important research object in its own right. See, among others, Efrat Ben-Zeev, Ruth Ginio, and Jay Winter, eds., Shadows of War. A Social History of Silence in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

6 For an interpretation of Holocaust remembrance in the age of globalization, see Daniel Levy and Natan Sznaider, Erinnerung im globalen Zeitalter: Der Holocaust (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2001).

7 David Cesarani, “Challenging the ‘Myth of Silence’. Postwar Responses to the Destruction of European Jewry,” in After the Holocaust. Challenging the Myth of Silence, ed. David Cesarani and Eric J. Sundquist (London: Routledge, 2012), 32. For the United States, see Hasia Diner, We Remember with Reverence and Love. American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945–1962 (New York: NYU Press, 2009). In a rather similar manner, rather than asking whether substantial evidence about the persecution and murder of the Jews of Europe was already around earlier (it was), Mary Fulbrook believes it is more essential to inquire when, how and why later generations started to emphatically connect with these experiences. See the ongoing research project led by Mary Fulbrook titled Reverberations of War: Communities of Experience and Identification in Germany and Europe since 1945 (funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council).

8 Whereas most of these records are in Hungarian, nearly 20 percent (altogether 69 of them) are in German. Two reports repeat parts of previous reports: 757 is partly identical to 756 and 1675 to 1673. With the exception of record 738, all witnesses seem to have been Jewish.

9 On the history of Buchenwald as presented by the contemporary Gedenkstätte, see Gedenkstätte Buchenwald, ed., Buchenwald Concentration Camp 1937–1945. A Guide to the Permament Historical Exhibition (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2010). On Buchenwald in the context of the camp universe, see Ulrich Herbert, Karin Orth, and Christoph Dieckmann, eds., Die nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager: Entwicklung und Struktur, vols. 1–2 (Göttingen: Wallstein, 1998) as well as Wolfgang Benz and Barbara Distel, eds., Der Ort des Terrors. Geschichte der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager, vols. 1–9 (Munich: C.H.Beck, 2005–2009). On concentration camps, see Wolfgang Sofsky, Die Ordnung des Terrors. Das Konzentrationslager (Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1992).

10 For the first major study, see Eugen Kogon, Der SS-Staat – Das System der deutschen Konzentrationslager (Munich: Karl Alber, 1946). For accounts recorded immediately upon the liberation of the camp, see David A. Hackett, The Buchenwald Report (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1995).

11 Jens Schley, Nachbar Buchenwald: Die Stadt Weimar und ihr Konzentrationslager 1937–1945 (Cologne: Böhlau, 1999).

12 See Volkhard Knigge and Thomas A. Seidel, eds., Versteinertes Gedenken. Das Buchenwalder Mahnmal von 1958, vols. 1–2 (Spröda: Pietsch 1997). Lutz Niethammer, ed., Der “gesäuberte“ Antifaschismus. Die SED und die roten Kapos von Buchenwald (Berlin: Akademie, 1994).

13 On the Soviet special camp that triggered fierce polemics after 1989, see Volkhard Knigge and Bodo Ritscher, Totenbuch. Speziallager Buchenwald 1945–1950 (Weimar: Stiftung Gedenkstätten Buchenwald und Mittelbau Dora, 2003).

14 On the difficult relationship between pain and language, among other fascinating issues, see Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain. The Making and Unmaking of the World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987).

15 Laura Jockusch, Collect and Record! Jewish Holocaust Documentation in Early Postwar Europe (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2012).

16 On the history of the Ringelblum archive of Warsaw, see Samuel D. Kassow, Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum and the Oyneg Shabes Archive (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007).

17 Jockusch explicitly aims to retrieve these “remarkable efforts from oblivion and establish their rightful place as the foundation stone for later historical writing on the Holocaust.” Jockusch, Collect and Record!, 17.

18 On these problems, see Regina Fritz, Nach Krieg und Judenmord. Ungarns Geschichtspolitik seit 1944 [After War and the Murder of the Jews. Hungarian History Politics since 1944] (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2012).

19 In English, see Jenő Lévai, Black Book on the Martyrdom of Hungarian Jewry (Vienna: Central European Times Publishing Company, 1948). On Lévai and the early Hungarian historiography of the Holocaust, see my “Jenő Lévai, the First Hungarian Historian of the Holocaust” (forthcoming).

20 Earliest Holocaust historians who are comparable to Lévai include Szymon Datner, Filip Friedman, Matatias Carp, Léon Poliakov, and Joseph Wulf. On Wulf, see Klaus Kempter, Joseph Wulf. Ein Historikerschicksal in Deutschland (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012).

21 See Andrea Pető and Ildikó Barna, A politikai igazságszolgáltatás a II. világháború utáni Budapesten (Budapest: Gondolat, 2012).

22 See the Bibliography compiled on the website of Zachor Alapítvány, accessed July 27, 2013, http://www.emlekezem.hu/bibliografia/bibliografia1.html. For their omission, see, for instance, David Roskies and Naomi Diamant, Holocaust Literature: A History and Guide (Walthan, Mass.: Brandeis UP, 2013). I would like to thank Ilse Lazaroms for discussions on this point.

23 In the summer of 1945, the ever expanding collection came into the possession of the Documentation Office of the Jewish Agency for Palestine. It was in turn taken over by the World Jewish Congress on June 15, 1945. For further details, see the overview of Rita Horváth, “‘A Jewish Historical Commission in Budapest’. The Place of the National Relief Committee for Deportees in Hungary [DEGOB] Among the Other Large-Scale Historical-Memorial Projects of She’erit Hapletah After the Holocaust (1945–1948)” in David Bankier and Dan Michman, eds., Holocaust Historiography in Context. Emergence, Challenges, Polemics and Achievements (London: Berghahn, 2009).

24 The two major aims of this activity were to produce a statistical overview of Hungarian Jewry after the catastrophe and be able to provide information on relatives.

25 In my assessment, some of the most complex and valuable testimonies in the Buchenwald sample are DEGOB Records Number 177, 1902, 2569, 2789, 3237 and 3497.

26 The records show signs of post-interview editing as well, some going as far as to employ the phrase “the usual” to describe some of the drastic experiences many had to endure. See DEGOB Records Number 2920, 3128, 2514, among others.

27 For a nearly complete bibliography of publications on the Hungarian Holocaust, see Randolph L. Braham, A magyarországi holokauszt bibliográfiája, vols. 1–2 (Budapest: Park Kiadó, 2010). For a critique of Hungarian Holocaust historiography, see Gábor Gyáni, “Helyünk a holokauszt történetírásában,” Kommentár 3, no. 3 (2008): 13–23. For an elaborate reaction to this critique, see László Karsai, “A magyar holokauszt-történetírásról. Válasz Ablonczy Balázsnak, Csíki Tamásnak, Gyáni Gábornak és Novák Attilának,” Kommentár 3, no. 6 (2008): 91–104. While several leading historians of the Hungarian Holocaust, including Judit Molnár, Gábor Kádár, and Zoltán Vági, have drawn on evidence from the DEGOB collection, huge parts of this large corpus remain practically unexplored. On oral history collections and their (limited) use by historians, see Éva Kovács, András Lénárt, and Anna Lujza Szász, “A magyar holokauszt személyes történetének digitális gyűjteményei,” Buksz 23, no. 4 (2011): 336–51.

28 Krisztián Ungváry, A Horthy-rendszer mérlege. Diszkrimináció, antiszemitizmus és szociálpolitika Magyarországon (Pécs: Jelenkor, 2012). Gábor Kádár and Zoltán Vági, A végső döntés. Berlin, Budapest, Birkenau 1944 (Budapest: Jaffa, 2013).

29 While the first interviews in the collections are from late 1944, no Buchenwald-related interview could be conducted prior to the end of the war.

30 While some of the names of the interviewers are missing or proved illegible, I could identify them in 332 out of 349 cases. The 332 interviews that deal with Buchenwald were conducted by 21 interviewers. Margit Obláth conducted 35 of them, György Lázár 30, Lili Reiner 28, Franziska Pollák 27, Otto Rauch 25, Klára Vincze 24, Margit Weiss 23, Lilly Blau 17, Márta Bíró 16, Teréz Alexander 13, Márta Gutmann, Klára Kandel and Miksa Weisz 12, Ilona Haas 10. The remaining seven interviewers conducted less than ten interviews each. It ought to be noted that, with the exception of three males, all of the 21 interviewers were female.

31 The territory of Hungary was enlarged four times between 1938 and 1941 to incorporate regions that the country had ceded to Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia (officially the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes until 1929) at the end of the First World War.

32 The separation of men and women and, more generally, the gender question is addressed in a number of reports such as the following: DEGOB Records Number 730, 2570, 3128, 3158, 3213, 3290 and 3348.

33 69.2 percent of all interviewees from this particular region are women, notwithstanding the heavily male-dominated group that has been to Buchenwald. “A DEGOB-jegyzőkönyvek túlélőinek nemek szerinti megoszlása,” [Gender Distribution of Survivors in DEGOB Records], accessed August 2, 2013, http://www.degob.hu/index.php?showarticle=51.

34 In the Buchenwald sample, 119 were still in their teens and 117 were in their twenties in 1945, while 65 were in their thirties, 59 in their forties and merely 26 in their fifties. “A DEGOB-jegyzőkönyvek mintájának életkor szerinti elemzése,” [transl.], accessed August 2, 2013, http://www.degob.hu/index.php?showarticle=52.

35 The two most common years of birth are 1927 with forty and 1924 with thirty-four individuals. If the 30 individuals between 22 and 25 were added, the percentage of those between 16 and 25 would amount to 52.33 percent. Those aged between 16 and 25 also constitute a majority of 53.7 percent in the whole group of interviewees. Thus, the Buchenwald sample does not strongly differ from the whole in this respect either. “A DEGOB-jegyzőkönyvek mintájának életkor szerinti elemzése,” [transl.], accessed August 2, 2013, http://www.degob.hu/index.php?showarticle=52.

36 Not only do some entries refer to concentration (koncentráció in the original) but in twenty-five cases the entry refers to labor battalions. (It does so through the employment of various terms, most frequently muszos, the colloquial short form to refer to the person who had to perform it.) Some places in Budapest were concretely named, such as KISOK-pálya, Teleki tér, Bethlen tér or even “csillagos ház” (literary “house with a star,” in which Jews were forced to live in Budapest between June and late November or early December of 1944). Buchenwald is also mentioned twice as the place of ghettoization.

37 On the Jewish history of this region, now see Viktória Bányai, Csilla Fedinec, and Szonja Ráhel Komoróczy, eds., Zsidók Kárpátalján. Történelem és örökség (Budapest: Aposztróf, 2013).

38 Ignác Romsics, Az 1947-es párizsi békeszerződés [The Paris Peace Treaty of 1947] (Budapest: Osiris, 2006).

39 Twenty-four locations are mentioned three or fewer times. There are several important Jewish centers among them such as Debrecen, Kassa (Košice), Kolozsvár (Cluj), Nagyvárad (Oradea) or Máramarossziget (Sighetu Marmaţiei).

40 “A DEGOB-jegyzőkönyvek túlélői a régiók szerinti megoszlás tükrében,” [transl.], accessed August 2, 2013, http://www.degob.hu/index.php?showarticle=54.

41 Auschwitz is alternatively listed as Birkenau or as Auschwitz-Birkenau. Those who have not been to Auschwitz were typically deported already under Arrow Cross rule. The largest group here consists of those who claim to have traveled exactly 18 days to arrive in Buchenwald in December 1944. See DEGOB Records Number 392, 552, 1309, 1762, 2032, 2127, 2245, 2319, 2327, 2601, 2724, 2785, 2786, 2839, 2847, 2862, 2988, 3213, 3289, 3471, 3480, 3520 and 3553.

42 This path is depicted in Fatelessness, a semi-autobiographical novel by Hungarian Nobel prize winning author Imre Kertész. Upon his return from Buchenwald, the main character of the novel, György Köves visits what appears to be the DEGOB offices (without the name of DEGOB being mentioned in the book). See Imre Kertész, Fatelessness (London: Vintage, 2004). I ought to note that there is an individual in the sample who has been to both but was deported to Buchenwald before Auschwitz (that is why the two numbers combined do not amount to 198).

43 Slightly smaller numbers of Hungarian Jews were forced to travel in alternative ways: 18 were taken to five camps with no major one between Auschwitz and Buchenwald. 17 interviewees were similarly taken to five but did not travel directly from the former to the latter. 16 were taken to four camps and traveled on an indirect route from Auschwitz to Buchenwald. 13 were “only” taken to these two camps. 10 were taken to six camps, but traveled directly between the two, and 11 were taken to six, while traveling indirectly, and so on.

44 These four groups combined thus add up to nearly two-thirds of all cases (80 out of 123).

45 In addition to these common routes, there is also a great diversity of more peculiar ones. For instance, one individual was taken to four different camps and twice to Buchenwald, but while the first time around he arrived from Auschwitz to Buchenwald, he was later returned from elsewhere. The strange fate of another Hungarian Jew led him to experience conditions in six different camps. He was taken to Auschwitz, then later taken back to Buchenwald, but did not travel directly from the former to the latter. There were many such atypical examples.

46 Jorge Semprún, The Cattle Truck (London: Serif, 2005).

47 On this see, for instance, DEGOB Records Number 87, 952, 1750, 2618, 2623, 2789, 3091 and 3587.

48 On the size of the camp, see DEGOB Records Number 608, 669, 730, 1228, 1687, 2176, 2601 and 3402. On the population density among the prisoners, see DEGOB Records Number 1109, 1333, 1348, 1570, 1727, 2019, 2052, 2319, 2601, 3074 and 3440. A number of people were taken to Buchenwald but not interned there because the camp was already too full. For such stories, see DEGOB Records Number 90, 161, 1328, 1364, 1757, 1884 and 2798.

49 These notions or their semantic equivalents are found in DEGOB Records Number 83, 363, 911, 1178, 1348, 2386, 2706, 3071 and 3158. To quote from DEGOB Record Number 3587, “In Buchenwald everybody was assigned to an Arbeitstransport.”

50 For concentration camp, see DEGOB Records Number 651, 1318, 3290, 3291 and 3515. For death camp, see DEGOB Record Number 716. Buchenwald is called “Germany’s greatest extermination camp” in DEGOB Record Number 3103, while the German expression Vernichtungslager is used in DEGOB Record Number 177. Another inmate perceived Buchenwald as so deadly that he was convinced he needed to leave at all costs. DEGOB Record Number 696. Another survivor also associated Buchenwald with certain death. See DEGOB Record Number 3261.

51 DEGOB Record Number 3290.

52 DEGOB Record Number 952.

53 DEGOB Record Number 2319. Other witnesses complained about their complete loss of memory. See DEGOB Records Number 2052, and 2319.

54 DEGOB Record Number 2176.

55 DEGOB Record Number 611.

56 DEGOB Records Number 177, 1313, 1348, 3095, 3402 and 3497. On the relations between experiences in this multiethnic camp and the postwar propagation of the European idea in France, see Ronald Hirte, Hannah Röttele and Fritz von Klinggräff, Von Buchenwald (,) nach Europa: Gespräche über Europa mit ehemaligen Buchenwald-Häftlingen in Frankreich (Weimar: Weimarer Verlagsgesellschaft, 2011).

57 DEGOB Record Number 489.

58 DEGOB Record Number 2235. On Jews being mixed with Russian prisoners of war, see DEGOB Record Number 2968. A rather surprising aspect of the accounts is that relatives hardly appear and references to friends in the camps are practically absent too. (It is indeed exceptional that the death of a friend is mentioned in DEGOB Record Number 1692.)

59 DEGOB Record Number 2377.

60 On the question of segregation, see DEGOB Records Number 1729, 2865 and 3290. Forms of anti-Jewish discrimination in Buchenwald are discussed in DEGOB Records Number 1183, and 1436.

61 DEGOB Record Number 1178.

62 DEGOB Record Number 489.

63 DEGOB Record Number 2623.

64 Agamben argued that insofar as camp inhabitants “were stripped of every political status and wholly reduced to bare life, the camp was also the most absolute biopolitical space ever to have been realized.” Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, transl. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), 97.

65 The term indescribable appears in several records, including DEGOB Records Number 2096, 2706, 2786 and 3029. Somewhat curiously, the word “indescribable” could appear alongside “the usual,” attesting to the early difficulties of finding a language to describe the process of extermination. See DEGOB Record Number 857.

66 DEGOB Record Number 1616.

67 DEGOB Record Number 2789.

68 DEGOB Records Number 1178, 1348, 2132, 2789, 3068 and 3587.

69 DEGOB Records Number 664 and 3587. DEGOB Record Number 2865 provides reflection on the food question: “I speak so much about food because at that time nothing else interested us. Food meant life.” In another report, one reads about the delusional mistaking of dead bodies for food. See DEGOB Record Number 3103.

70 DEGOB Records Number 395 and 3291. As I noted above, the time of arrival could matter a great deal in terms of how Buchenwald was experienced and described later. Those who were deported in December 1944 arrived in the winter and the experience of freezing was among their most frequently discussed memories. The experience of waiting is highlighted, for instance, in the following reports: DEGOB Records Number 1676, 2374, 2475 and 3237.

71 DEGOB Record Number 653.

72 DEGOB Record Number 1430.

73 DEGOB Record Number 3314.

74 DEGOB Record Number 3471.

75 DEGOB Records Number 60, 83, 1852 and 3033.

76 DEGOB Record Number 1994.

77 DEGOB Record Number 2657.

78 DEGOB Record Number 416.

79 DEGOB Record Number 1039.

80 DEGOB Record Number 1177.

81 DEGOB Record Number 327.

82 DEGOB Record Number 1966.

83 For the former, see DEGOB Record Number 1939. For the latter, DEGOB Record Number 1972.

84 For the former, see DEGOB Record Number 3253, the latter is found in DEGOB Record Number 1830.

85 For such stories, see, among others, DEGOB Records Number 189, 192, 551, 1309, 1808 and 3091.

86 DEGOB Record Number 66.

87 DEGOB Record Number 857.

88 DEGOB Record Number 237. In his recollection of an encounter with men who had been in Buchenwald, a Hungarian Jewish witness who had not been in the camp said of them, “these men were like the living dead.” DEGOB Record Number 885.

89 DEGOB Records Number 731, 1966, 1995 and 2865. The quotes are the following: “teljesen legyengültem, és ‘muzulmán’ lettem” (DEGOB Record Number 731). “Az 1400 emberből 1083-at, mint muzulmánt elvittek Auschwitzba” (DEGOB Record Number 1966), “Épp akkor állítottak össze egy muzulmán transzportot Buchenwaldba és onnan Auschwitzba. Ebbe a transzportba kerültem én is.” (DEGOB Record Number 1995), “Die Menschen waren alle Muselmannen” (DEGOB Record Number 2865). Three out of these four refer to the previous condition of the speaker. Another witness discusses his complete resignation to his fate, though without using this expression. See DEGOB Record Number 848.

90 DEGOB Record Number 669.

91 DEGOB Record Number 2623.

92 DEGOB Record Number 2096.

93 DEGOB Record Number 226.

94 DEGOB Record Number 1228.

95 DEGOB Record Number 1851.

96 DEGOB Record Number 1788.

97 DEGOB Record Number 1333.

98 The numbers are the following: 20,000 (DEGOB Record Number 32), 21,000 (DEGOB Records Number 327, 370, 1430 and 1788), 22,000 (DEGOB Records Number 33 and 3373), 24,000 (DEGOB Record Number 1582).

99 For 70,000, see DEGOB Record Number 32. For 80,000, see DEGOB Record Number 1430. For 90,000, see DEGOB Record Number 33. For the story of increase from 40,000 to 100,000, see DEGOB Record Number 1902. Some other accounts also refer to the arrival of further inmates from the East. See DEGOB Records Number 1995 and 3499. Otherwise the passage of time between arrival and liberation or departure is often barely apparent, confirming how difficult it must have been to mark the passing of time under the conditions in the camp. At the same time, the decline of living standards in Buchenwald is a recurrent theme of the reports, see DEGOB Records Number 327, 1313 and 1902. On the death marches out of Buchenwald, see Katrin Greiser, Die Todesmärsche von Buchenwald. Räumung, Befreiung und Spuren der Erinnerung (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2008). On the death marches in general, see Daniel Blatman, The Death Marches. The Final Phase of Nazi Genocide (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2010).

100 DEGOB Record Number 226. This witness also describes the method of murder (shooting through a hole in the wall) in detail.

101 For such rather exceptional cases of survivors of the death marches, see DEGOB Records Number 1584 and 1811.

102 The reverse was also the case: a witness who was forced out of Buchenwald right before liberation could not tell whether those who had remained survived. See DEGOB Record Number 2463. (This also shows that evidence already gathered through the DEGOB interviews was not necessarily shared with the interviewees at the time of their interview.)

103 DEGOB Record Number 552. The expression death march appears in report 3029. Some others were returned just as evacuations began (DEGOB Records Number 2052 and 2096) or arrived essentially at the time of the liberation of the camp (DEGOB Records Number 477 and 552).

104 DEGOB Record Number 565.

105 DEGOB Record Number 756. While exact numbers prove impossible to ascertain, current estimates put the number of victims of the death marches out of Buchenwald at around 13000.

106 Exceptions include DEGOB Record Number 2046 and DEGOB Record Number 2203. According to the first, Jewish practices were performed upon liberation: “There was a Jewish rabbi among the Americans. We held a mass after which we sang the Hebrew anthem and he gave a mezuzah to all of us.” According to the second, the loss life among members of the Jewry was lamented in the following manner: “Hundreds of people passed away, doctors, lawyers, talented people, the best of Jewry.”

107 Since Jews were obviously completely innocent in terms of the Nazi accusations made against them, it is a non-negotiable cultural standard to have them depicted as innocent victims of the Holocaust. This is fully understandable and even morally laudable. The debate on the choices Jews made during the Holocaust and, more generally, their forced involvement in the process of their own destruction has led to bitter controversies and has often focused on the role of the Jewish councils. An insightful early examination of the topic is Isaiah Trunk, Judenrat. The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe under Nazi Occupation (New York: Stein & Day, 1977).

108 DEGOB Record Number 177.

109 DEGOB Record Number 487.

110 DEGOB Record Number 906.

111 DEGOB Record Number 940.

112 DEGOB Record Number 3520.

113 DEGOB Record Number 323.

114 DEGOB Record Number 2657.

115 DEGOB Record Number 289.

116 DEGOB Record Number 1163.

117 DEGOB Record Number 2100.

118 DEGOB Record Number 2524.

119 Perhaps the chief symbol of depersonalization remains the aforementioned reduction of individuals to numbers upon arrival. DEGOB Record Number 2132 succinctly formulates this link: “I was given my prisoner’s clothes and a number. I ceased to be a human being.”

120 DEGOB Record Number 1178.

121 DEGOB Record Number 2789.

122 DEGOB Record Number 3587.

123 DEGOB Record Number 2365.

124 DEGOB Record Number 1500.

125 DEGOB Record Number 1232.

126 Harald Welzer writes of autotelische Gewalt or self-serving violence, most recently in Sönke Neitzel and Harald Welzer, Soldaten. Protokolle von Kämpfen, Töten und Sterben (Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 2011).

127 The point is made in relation to torture by Leszek Kołakowski, “My Correct Views on Everything” in idem, Is God Happy? Selected Essays (London: Penguin, 2012).

128 Such stories are in fact so frequent that it appears those who had been declared sick had a better chance of surviving the last moments in the camp than the nominally healthy, because they were left behind, while the latter were forced into death marches.

129 The liberation of Mauthausen has recently been analyzed in Anna Lujza Szász and Júlia Vajda, “Mindig van éhség.” Pillanatképek Mauthausen felszabadulásáról (Budapest: ELTE Eötvös Kiadó Kft., 2012).

130 It can be found in DEGOB Records Number 538, 664, 756, 810, 818, 841, 855, 905, 906, 1349, 1582, 1590, 1687, 1692, 1946, 2052, 2203, 2227, 2492, 2706, 2760, 2789 and 2973. Other accounts mentioned April 12 (DEGOB Record Number 565), 13 (DEGOB Record Number 226), 14 (See DEGOB Records Number 540, 669, 675, 2720, and 3373, making April 14 the second most common reference.), 15 (DEGOB Record Number 2519), and April 25 (DEGOB Record Number 645) May 6 (DEGOB Record Number 498) or simply “the beginning of May” (DEGOB Record Number 258). There is a case where the camp discussed appears to have been falsely identified as Buchenwald: DEGOB Record Number 2576 claims that Buchenwald was liberated by the Russians on May 15.

131 DEGOB Record Number 1219.

132 DEGOB Record Number 1582.

133 DEGOB Record Number 1994.

134 DEGOB Record Number 2160.

135 DEGOB Record Number 1228. On the voluntary participation of ordinary men in the Nazi genocide, see Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men. Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (New York: Harper Perennial, 1998).

136 DEGOB Record Number 3497.

137 DEGOB Record Number 1232. The idea that the inmates managed to communicate with their subsequent liberators is also found in DEGOB Records Number 1349 and 2789.

138 DEGOB Record Number 327.

139 DEGOB Record Number 2789.

140 See DEGOB Records Number 162, 1228 and 2132.

141 DEGOB Record Number 324.

142 DEGOB Record Number 1687.

143 DEGOB Record Number 1694.

144 DEGOB Record Number 3048.

145 The expression Vernichtungslager appears in 144 DEGOB files (in nine instances it is incorrectly spelled). Notably, more than two-thirds of these 144 documents are otherwise in Hungarian. Various Hungarian translations of Vernichtungslager, such as megsemmisítő tábor, megsemmisítő láger and megsemmisítő lager, were used as well but each less than ten times. Gaskammer, the German expression for gas chamber, can be found in 60 of the files, its Hungarian equivalent gázkamra in 163.

146 See DEGOB Record Number 2134. DEGOB Record Number 2706 discusses how people were burned alive. The interviewee added that he did not know whether this happened on purpose or by accident.

147 DEGOB Record Number 3587.

148 DEGOB Record Number 1808.

149 DEGOB Record Number 3587.

150 DEGOB Record Number 2789.

151 DEGOB Record Number 857.

152 DEGOB Record Number 2046.

153 DEGOB Record Number 3033.

154 DEGOB Record Number 3261.

155 DEGOB Record Number 33.

156 DEGOB Record Number 1232.

pdfVolume 2 Issue 2 CONTENTS

Veronika Csikós

The Bishop and His Chapel: The Hédervári Chapel in Győr and the Episcopal Chapels of Central Europe around 1400

Among the spectacular life stories of the prelates of Central Europe, that of János Hédervári, bishop of Győr (northern Hungary), is remarkable from several perspectives. He was one of the bishops who played an active political role in the history of his country and, as a figure of the church who founded a private chapel, also a representative of an important tradition of Central European episcopal patronage. The first part of my paper deals with János’s life, which has not yet been made the subject of detailed study. More precisely, I will emphasize János’s role as a confidant of Queen Elisabeth and someone who assisted as such in her endeavor to hinder the future king, Sigismund of Luxemburg, from seizing the Hungarian crown. János managed to become bishop just a few months before Sigismund ascended to the throne, but he was to spend the first two decades of his episcopal rule in the shadow of political neglect. During these two decades, however, János nurtured a remarkable artistic culture in his episcopal town. Between 1386 and 1403 the Gothic building of the Győr Cathedral was built, as was the delicate structure of the Holy Trinity Chapel, the chapel he himself founded. Through an architectural analysis of the chapel in the second part of the paper, I aim to demonstrate that a structurally complex and prestigious building was constructed under his auspices – and in spite of the fact that the diocese of Győr was by no means the richest among the bishoprics of the country. Furthermore, I will argue that the Holy Trinity Chapel not only integrates the latest architectural features of its era, but also mingles them with a unique structure and adaptations from non-episcopal architectural models, which lends it an individual character and makes the chapel an interesting Hungarian case of episcopal patronage in the late fourteenth century.

Keywords: Héderváry Family, episcopal partonage, church architecture

Introduction

The fresh air of the spring of 1386 brought memorable events in the tranquil life of the town of Győr, seat of the bishopric of the same name in western Hungary. Many decades after its castrum had been chosen to stage the marriage negotiations between the Hungarian and the Czech rulers in 1318,1 in 1386 it became a place of similarly illustrious, though much less friendly political discussions.2 The rivals for the Hungarian throne, contested since September 1382, chose this place to make peace and thereby also the first step towards creating a new basis for central power.

At the same time, a new prelate was appointed to the episcopal seat in the person of János Hédervári (lived 1340–1415, bishop from 1386).3 Although earlier historical research did pay attention to his noble origins and several of his political posts, János’s life has basically remained unresearched in local historical scholarship. So has the history of the Holy Trinity Chapel, his foundation at the Győr cathedral: despite the fact that it was praised as the only surviving building of its kind in Hungary within the entire fourteenth century, it has not been devoted a detailed art historical investigation.

Broadly speaking, this paper intends to fill in both of these lacunae. In the first part of the study, I aim to reconstruct János Hédervári’s biography based on the investigation of primary evidence. I will argue that he, who has been known before mostly for his connections to the military orders, played an influential role in both political upheavals (1382–1387 and 1402–1403) in the early years of King Sigismund’s Hungarian reign. Secondly, I will analyze the architectural features of János’s private chapel by comparing it to other episcopal chapels, the founding of which gained popularity in Central Europe in the fourteenth century.4 Through that, I will demonstrate that contrary to general practice, the building of the Holy Trinity Chapel has a remarkably complex structure and its architectural characteristics are rooted not only in courtly art but also in alternative sources.

Furthermore, through its choice of topic and methodology this study also aims to contribute to current scholarly discourse on art in the Late Middle Ages. Recently, there has been a growing interest in the question of medieval patronage; in particular, much attention has been devoted to the artistic agency of prelates in the works of such excellent scholars as Paul Crossley, Zoë Opacic and Charlotte Stanford.5 Connecting myself primarily to their research, in the present investigation I have tried to treat the bishop and his chapel in terms of founder and foundation as much as possible. That is, I have sought typical (or atypical) characteristics in Hédervári’s biography that were most likely to influence his patronage agency and, with regard to his chapel, I made efforts to put it into the context of similar contemporaneous foundations rather than into that of stylistic analogues.

The Bishop

János Hédervári came from a distinguished noble lineage in the medieval Hungarian kingdom.6 First arriving in the country around 1150, the earliest Hédervári ancestors had acquired a great piece of land along the upper course of the Danube and were appointed to posts of local governance. Although their estates did not extend considerably, during the ensuing decades their descendants were very successful in further increasing the family’s influence. Their success is reflected in the fact that around the middle of the thirteenth century no less than three family members held offices of importance in the kingdom, a sure sign of their influence in the court.7 In the political difficulties occurring after the ancient ruling dynasty had died out (1301) and foreign dynasties raised their claims to the Hungarian throne, the Héderváris maneuvered well in their supporting the Angevin candidate. As a result, under the rule of the Angevin kings (1310–1382) the Héderváris not only maintained the political status their ancestors had reached before, but also further extended their authority. Over the fourteenth century, the Héderváris successfully occupied more courtly dignities—in the queen’s retinue in particular—and also succeeded in augmenting their estates.

Thus, around 1340–45, when János (II) Hédervári was born, the family was clearly in the ascendant.8 As a child, János certainly lived at the center of the family estates, Hédervár, which was located along the Mosoni Danube and, not insignificantly, in the neighborhood of the bishopric of Győr, his future site of activity. These lands around Hédervár offered a rising noble family an ideal place for hunting enterprises because of the rich wildlife there, but they were also important commercially, as the trading route connecting the royally privileged Pressburg (today Bratislava, Slovakia) and Komárom passed through the region. Although no large-scale building activity unfolded during the Middle Ages in Hédervár itself, significant artistic centers such as the aforementioned Győr (episcopal palace and cathedral) or the famous Mons Sancti Martini (Pannonhalma, Benedictine monastery) flourished in its vicinity.9

In his early years, János could look to two of his family members as ideals for leading a virtuous and nevertheless successful life. His great-grandfather, Dezső (1285–1330) must have been known to him from family stories, for he had died a heroic death on the battlefield saving the life of King Charles I of Anjou (1308–1342) by exchanging garments with the ruler.10 Whereas his great-grandfather could have been taken as an icon of valor and loyalty to the ruler, János’s other great ancestor, his uncle Miklós III served him as a model for succeeding in his own space and time. Instead of his early deceased father, the rights of John and his brothers were protected by Miklós, who, besides keeping an eye on family affairs and augmenting the Héderváris’ landed property, made a shining career in the royal court, too.11 In particular, as his dignities show, Miklós was bound particularly to the entourage of Queen Elisabeth, a fact that would later prove decisive for János’s future destiny.12

It was thanks to Miklós’s achievement in particular that the entire generation of János, his brothers and nephews served King Louis I (1342–1382) and/or acquired influential secular dignities. János’s closest relatives, his two brothers György and Mihály, took part in the king’s military campaign against Bosnia as early as 1363;13 György was later also mentioned as ispán of Nógrád County in northern Hungary.14 Unlike his brothers, János is not known to have held any secular posts, though he definitely acquired smaller ecclesiastical dignities, which may suggest that he was preparing for a career in the church. Although we have but a handful of sources on young János’s career, the prebends he held in the early 1370s suggest that he built up a firm position at Buda in the king’s service.15 His later success in becoming a bishop testifies—as opposed, for instance, to his nephew, who also held similar offices—János’s sensitive approach to, and talent in, political matters.16

His excellent skills soon earned him royal recognition, for by 1377 at the latest, he had been entrusted with a confidential position as governor17 of a praeceptorium of a special Hungarian military-religious order, the so-called Stefanites.18 According to recent historical investigations, a governing post of this kind was an invention of late fourteenth-century royal government and aimed to temper the decrease in royal property by extending its control over the wealth of the military-religious orders in the kingdom.19 Understandably, royal trustees usually occupied these positions, which clearly means that János Hédervári belonged to the king’s closest retinue already in the 1370s. Moreover, the particular house he governed was the second largest among those of the Stefanites, also underlining the ruler’s appreciation towards the young János.

King Louis I of Hungary died in September 1382, and, for reasons which cannot be discussed here, the rule over the country was taken over by his daughter Mary (crowned at the age of twelve in 1382) and her mother, Queen Elisabeth.20 The rule of the queens (approximately September 1382 – April 1386), during which a total of three candidates were invited to occupy the Hungarian throne, led to a severe inner crisis that reached its peak only a few months prior to János’s episcopal appointment. After the brutal murder of the freshly crowned candidate, Charles of Anjou, in February 1386, Sigismund of Luxemburg hurried to Hungary backed by a considerable military force in order to make good his claim to the throne. In the spring of 1386 his troops reached Győr, where, facing the resistance of Queen Elisabeth, Sigismund entered into negotiations with her—which was almost exactly the time and venue when János acceded to the episcopal seat of the bishopric of Győr.

The apparently close correspondence in circumstances between the negotiations (Győr, April 1386) and János’s appointment to the local bishopric (before June 1386) implies that his becoming bishop was closely connected to, if not a byproduct of, the political events. A closer look at the sources reporting on the previous year reveals János to have been a highly influential figure in Queen Elisabeth’s political strategy. This is implied by the terminology of the relevant charters,21 his increased presence at the queen’s court,22 and finally, by his appointment (before April 1385) as prior of Aurana (Vrana, Croatia), in the heart of the southern territories, which had provided a refuge for the queen’s greatest opponents.23 We also know that the former bishop of Győr, who had closely cooperated with the queens previously, was put aside suddenly and under mysterious circumstances.24 All these point towards János having acquired the episcopal title thanks to his loyalty to Elisabeth.

János’s episcopal appointment around the late spring of 1386 occurred in the very last moment before political events, thus far favorable for him, took a dramatic turn. Only a few months after he had become bishop, the queens were captured and his greatest supporter, Queen Elisabeth, was murdered by the rebels. The Hungarian throne was finally seized by Sigismund of Luxemburg. János’s high profile in Queen Elisabeth’s retinue, not to mention that his nephew István actively supported the rebels against the ruler, must have discredited him in the eyes of the new king; István was captured in 1388 and sentenced to death (1393).25

These circumstances obviously prompted János to act soon in order to secure his former political positions under the new king and to gain a foothold at the newly forming royal court. A quite tangible sign of his efforts to win Sigismund’s benevolence is reflected by the iconography of János’s episcopal seal, on which the ruler’s highly venerated Árpádian royal saint, Saint Ladislaus, appears at the bottom left corner.26 Furthermore, the new bishop of Győr was willing to confirm his loyalty towards the king by being present at the royal court. Even if János could not hold a dignity in Sigismund’s retinue, he sought and found a means to stay at Buda until as late as 1389.27 Over this period, his name appears in connection with the leading noblemen of the early Sigismund era, for example, the brother of János Kanizsai, who later, as archbishop of Esztergom, founded a chapel (1396) as his burial place at Esztergom Cathedral. These new connections are likely to have influenced the bishop’s foundation, which took place just around this time.

Surviving charters suggest that from 1390 on János lived in Győr, which fits well with the actual dating of his chapel before 1404 (when its rector is mentioned)28 or even before 1402, the outbreak of the rebellion against King Sigismund, in which Bishop János also took part.29 Although evidence about the exact time of the foundation is lacking, the beginning of the campaign is probably marked by affairs about the bishop’s unwarranted tax collection and pledging of property in 1393–94.30

Bishop János and Patronage Agency

As reflected by written evidence, extensive patronage activity could hardly have been characteristic of János. This is also suggested by the fact that there is only one building which can be associated with him.31 Architectural commission was, in any case, an expensive enterprise that not everyone could afford. His general lack of interest in his episcopal duties, which traditionally included donational activity, is another sign of his passivity with regard to artistic patronage.

János’s lack of interest in donations may have been rooted primarily in family issues, since widespread patronage activity was not characteristic of the Héderváris either. In the fourteenth century, family motives of the kind were focused upon one major enterprise, the campaign of the Church of Our Lady at Hédervár, which was connected to burial demands probably already at this time.32 Its dating to the first half of the fifteenth century, however, suggests that this church postdates the Hédervári Chapel, thereby raising the possibility that it was the construction of the church as an intended burial place that was influenced by János’s chapel foundation and not the other way around.

Against this background, the noble fabric of the Holy Trinity Chapel at Győr, János’s only known foundation, emerges in sharp contrast. Very probably, János’s architectural incentive was nourished in the first place by his personal connections in the royal court, where he could get in touch with such prominent patrons of art as, for example, Demeter (archbishop of Esztergom, 1378–1387), founder of the Corpus Christi Chapel at the Esztergom cathedral just around this time.33 The dazzling architectural achievements of his time, particularly in neighboring Prague, which he visited at least once, in 1383, could also have served as a source of inspiration.34 It is easy to imagine that the freshly carved magnificent gisant of Jan Očko of Vlašim (archbishop of Prague, 1365–1380), who was buried in one of the radiating chapels of St. Vitus cathedral, impressed the young bishop, too.35

The Holy Trinity Chapel of the Cathedral of Győr

Sources

About the Hédervári Chapel (Fig. 1). the most important source is undoubtedly a papal bull dated to 1404, which mentions János, bishop of Győr, as founder of the Holy Trinity Chapel at Győr Cathedral.36 Together with a bosse in the chapel’s choir bearing the coat of arms of the Hédervári family, this bull identifies the building adjoining the southwestern corner of Győr Cathedral (recently, Chapel of St. Ladislaus) as the former Holy Trinity Chapel.

The same papal bull also refers to the fact that, at least in the beginning, János tried to avoid directly subordinating the chapel’s benefice to the Győr cathedral chapter and keep it under his personal auspices.37 About the amount of this benefice we are informed from charters from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which were collected and systematically analyzed by Vince Bedy in 1936.38

Description

The chapel is adjoined to the southern aisle of Győr Cathedral, which was built contemporaneously. It has preserved much of its original form. The chief alterations have been in its western part, where the last bay with the probably original western gallery was demolished during the baroque rebuilding campaign, which was also responsible for diminishing the interior’s architectural decoration. Slight modifications to this baroque state were applied in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the latest restoration of the chapel was carried out between 1967 and 1972.39

Today, the chapel can be accessed from the southern aisle through a portal of Gothic origin. On the east, the chapel choir terminates in five sides of the octagon and is covered by a ribbed vault with a bosse decorated by the Hédervári coat-of-arms. The choir wall is separated into two horizontal registers, with three windows above and three round-arched sedilia beneath. On the northern wall, a large opening with a rich profile opens to the cathedral space.

The choir and nave are slightly isolated from each other by a richly profiled triumphal arch. The chapel’s nave is five-bay long (the westernmost bay is a seventeenth-century addition) and is covered by a jumping vault. Similar to the choir, the northern wall in the nave features a large opening the same size as the one in the chancel. A pointed-arch sedile fills the wall surface to the east, whereas the Gothic portal stands on its other side. The elevation of the opposite, southern wall follows the pattern in the choir: above, three relatively large ogive windows illuminate the space (their original tracery, if ever executed at all, is now lost), below which five sedilia of different shapes and sizes run along the wall. To the west, under the former western gallery two double-arched niches decorate the wall on both sides.

On its exterior, the wall of the chapel is articulated into multiple horizontal layers of different depths as well as vertical sections (Fig. 2). The thin windows are bound into the rhythm of buttresses and delicate pairs of three-quarter columns, from the top of which wimpergs originally spanned over the windows. At the bottom of the horizontal layers, cylindrical drums support the buttresses, the easternmost of which is somewhat wider than the rest in order to close the row visually.

Dating

Since the chapel’s rector is already mentioned in 1404, the construction must have been completed around this time; questions arise, however, about the process of its erection. Based on observable architectural irregularities, Károly Kozák and Ferenc Levárdy opined that the chapel was erected in two separate periods, first between 1350 and 1360 and then, after a pause, between about 1385 and 1395. To support this theory, they also suggested that the passage “de novo canonice fundavit” contained in the 1404 charter may be understood as referring to a re-foundation of the chapel, implying that János Hédervári only completed a building that was already under construction beforehand.40

In contrast to Kozák and Levárdy’s opinion, Szilárd Papp in 2006 pointed out that, on the one hand, the quoted Latin passage does not necessarily presume two separate building campaigns and, on the other, the chapel building seems to be architecturally homogenous.41

Architectural Features: Burial Function and Liturgy

Given that private chapels were typically built in order to commemorate their founders through regular prayer and also to shelter their tombs, we should assume that Bishop János would have been buried in the Hédervári Chapel. According to general medieval practice, founders were buried in medio ecclesiae, which in the case of this chapel would mean the spot in the nave closest to the choir. Because a crypt was built in the seventeenth century exactly beneath this spot,42 archeologically it can no longer be confirmed whether an episcopal tomb was indeed located there; yet, there is a peculiar architectural element in the chapel, which underlines a possible burial incentive at this spot (Fig. 3). Looking exactly there, one can observe a large opening in the north wall, which, together with its twin in the choir, must have been executed in order to reveal and highlight an outstanding object in the chapel—for example, a prominent burial—to any visitor in the cathedral.

Surprisingly, chapels that are connected to the main cathedral space through similarly large arches are rare in the architecture of the Late Middle Ages. With a dating close to that of the Győr chapel, the St. Catherine Chapel in Strasbourg Cathedral (1340–1350) provides a good example in the Rhineland.43 Another analogue might be the former Gundekarkapelle (today St. John Chapel) in the Cathedral of Eichstätt (Bavaria), a result of a fourteenth-century rebuilding of a structure from the eleventh century.44 In the latter case, the arcades were part of the Romanesque structure and were, especially interestingly from our viewpoint, incorporated into the Gothic building. Given that both chapels open onto the cathedral space through three or four large arcades and also the fact that a bishop was buried in both of them, one can argue that the arcades were instrumental in enhancing the visibility of the burials from the cathedral interior and providing access to them. There is also a third analogue, interestingly again from medieval Hungary, the Chapel of St. John the Evangelist in the Franciscan Church of Pressburg (Bratislava, Slovakia).45 In this chapel, besides the original western entrance, there are two arcades—one large and one small—on the wall common with the church building (both of them are now walled up). Based on the parallels in Strasbourg and Eichstätt, it is likely that the arcades in the Pressburg chapel were connected to the tomb of the founder—a high-ranking citizen of medieval Pressburg.

These analogues also draw one’s attention to an important difference between the Győr chapel and these other examples, namely, that its opening is neither an arcade nor an arch, but a large window. That is, thanks to its low-lying cornice, it is intended not to give access, but rather only a view of the burial/relic possible and exhibits thereby a structure. To my knowledge, such a feature is unprecedented in the chapel architecture of fourteenth-century Central Europe.

There is also a medieval source that reports on the functional aspect of a chapel with an arch. In his brief account about the former St. Nicholas Chapel in the Wawel cathedral, the Polish chronicler Jan Długosz (1412–1480) mentions that its arch was customarily used for putting a prominent relic on display: “...altare sanctorum Innocentium habet capellam propriam versus aquilonem in modum arcus seu fornicis dudum sub loco in quo caput S. Stanislai ostendi solitum est sitam et muratam.” 46 This clearly means that the arch or arcade of the Krakow chapel was meant to elaborate upon a saint’s liturgy—and not insignificantly, that of the most prominent saint in the bishopric of Krakow—which takes us back for a moment to our former examples of Strasbourg and Eichstätt. At both these places, the aforementioned episcopal burials were also distinguished by a saintly cult: in Strasbourg, we know that the bishop’s tomb was transformed into a Holy Grave,47 whereas in the Bavarian cathedral Bishop Gundekar II himself was considered to be saint.48

It is likely then that in the Hédervári Chapel, too, a saintly cult was extant, even if this assumption cannot be buttressed by written or architectural evidence.49 The medieval herm or head-reliquary of St. Ladislaus, which is now displayed on the chapel’s modern main altar, was first transported to Győr from the Cathedral of Várad (Oradea, Romania) in the seventeenth century and later placed in the chapel in the nineteenth century.50 Apart from Győr, one other remarkable example of matching relics and episcopal burial in a fourteenth-century Hungarian episcopal chapel can be found and that is the so-called Gilded Chapel of Our Lady at Pécs in southwestern Hungary. According to a reliable account from the sixteenth century (Miklós Oláh, Archbishop of Esztergom), above the tomb of Bishop Miklós (1346–1360) hung his penitential belt, probably as an indication that he was treated as beatus.51

Besides its peculiar large openings, there is yet another architectural structure in the Hédervári Chapel that may be connected with a (founder’s) burial: the former western gallery. An analogue for the architectural connection of a western gallery and the founder’s burial from medieval Hungary is the thirteenth-century parish church of Felsőörs. This building, in size not much exceeding the dimensions of the Hédervári Chapel, furnishes a good example of a founder being buried under the gallery, where—as the remains of a mensa indicate—mass and prayers served to preserve his memory.52

Architectural Features: Representation of Social Standing and Power

Besides the already mentioned liturgical and burial functions, another important aspect of any private chapel is the representation of the power and social ranking of its founder.

From this viewpoint, too, the Hédervári Chapel exhibits remarkable architectural solutions, first of all, its vaulting. It features a triangular-type of vault, the so-called jumping vault. Broadly speaking, the jumping vault was employed in spaces where opposite supports could not stand exactly opposite to each other. Taking a closer look at its interior, one will recognize that this condition was fulfilled at the Hédervári Chapel: its already analyzed large opening occupied the place of a corbel required for a cross vault, which consequently made the employment of the jumping vault a suitable solution. Besides the architectural necessity, there were other factors at play in employing the jumping vault, which is suggested by the fact that this is the only chapel from Hungary to feature this vaulting type.

In the second half of the fourteenth century, the idea of the jumping vault was no longer new; it had first occurred a century earlier (e.g. Cologne, St. Cunibert Church, cloister).53 It is true, however, that by the second half of the fourteenth century this type of vaulting had come into fashion in certain parts of Central Europe. One of these regions was Silesia, where the first jumping vaults date from 1370-80 and occur mostly in long, narrow spaces: typically in ambulatories or aisles (Wrocław, the churches of the Virgin Mary on the Sand and the Holy Cross; the churches of Namysłów and Góra Śląnska).54 The other region where this type of vaulting appeared was Bohemia, where differing traditions of its use evolved. While it was applied in its classical form in porches (southern porch of St. Vitus Cathedral, before 1368, the western porch of the Church of Our Lady before Týn, 1370–1380),55 it was also popular in a “duplicated” form,56 a solution that is associated with Peter Parler’s genius and one of the best known examples of which is the tower of the Charles Bridge (after 1380).57 Interestingly, none of these solutions appear in chapels in the major artistic centers associated with the Parler family.

It is less known however, that parallel to the Parlerian development there was another tradition unfolding in Bohemia. From 1370 on, we encounter the earliest examples of the employment of the jumping vault in chapels, and in remarkable numbers as well. There is no topographical focus of these chapels’ location, but they were spread generally across Bohemia: such vaulting we found in the sacristy of the All Saint’s Church in Plzeň,58 the northern chapel of the Holy Trinity Church in Sezemice,59 the sacristy of the Saint Nicholas Church in Znojmo,60 and, on the border of Bohemia and Silesia, in the southern chapel of the Church of Our Lady and in the north chapel of the Church of Saint John the Baptist, both in Opava.61

I would argue that employing the jumping vault in Győr was probably inspired by these chapels. The prime mover in the chapel construction, János Hédervári, indeed travelled to Bohemia (Prague) in 1383 and thus could have been acquainted with this fashion.62 The significance of the jumping vault’s employment at Győr cannot be underestimated: with a date of construction around 1395-1400, the Hédervári Chapel belongs among the earliest examples that adopted this modern idea of Bohemian private chapels into the canon of episcopal chapels and thereby introduced it to the courts of Central Europe. With that, the patron of the campaign, Bishop János, put a finger on developments just then unfolding in the architecture of Central Europe.

Apart from its vaulting, another feature of the chapel, its series of sedilia, also reflects Bishop János’s artistic motives (Fig. 4). The sedilia appear on both the nave and choir walls of the chapel, a feature which seems to have permeated the architectural vocabulary of other episcopal foundations in East-Central Europe (meaning especially those in Bavaria, Bohemia, Poland and the Hungarian Kingdom) to a lesser degree; the only, yet not survived example is interestingly in Hungary again, the Corpus Christi Chapel at the former medieval Cathedral of Esztergom (founded by Archbishop Demeter in 1384).63 The similarity between the two Hungarian chapels, which are also chronologically and topographically very close to each other, cannot be by chance, but might derive from the founders’ personal acquaintance in Sigismund’s court.

This seems to indicate that the idea of employing more sedilia in a chapel space is related to the art of the court, a hypothesis that is buttressed by further analogues. Namely, there is a group of private chapels in Austria, roughly contemporary with the Hédervári Chapel, which reveal the same feature. The chapels in Enns (parish church, the so-called Wallseerkapelle), Imbach (Saint Catherine Chapel of the Dominican church) and Raabs an der Thaya (parish church, northern side chapel) are well known monuments of Austrian art historical research due to their remarkable quality.64 Their circle is to be completed by a fourth chapel, the already mentioned Chapel of St. John the Evangelist in the Franciscan Church in Pressburg, the stylistic position of which equals the Austrian examples and was founded by a high-ranking citizen.65

Even if the financial resources he had at hand could not allow him to erect a chapel that could compete with the lavish embellishment of its Austrian counterparts, the remains and imprints of its original decoration still rank the Hédervári Chapel as one of the most richly furnished episcopal chapels of its time. The remains of the wall clearly demonstrate that on the southern wall pinnacles adorned the meeting points of sedilia arches, above every second of which columns rose high up to the corbels, which also bore baldachins.66 Through the assembly of these elements, originally completed by the architecturally certainly highlighted western gallery, a rich and exquisite appearance was lent to the chapel to express the high social ranking of its founder.

Finally, let us take a glance at the chapel fabric as a whole. Its most characteristic feature is its differentiated structure: its space is clearly separated into a choir, a nave and a western gallery. To (visually) separate and connect these spaces, the decoration system of the chapel, in particular the sedilia, were put into work. Differing in size and form, the sedilia in the choir, nave and at the original western gallery emphasize the isolation of these spaces, though their presence (re)binds these parts again. This definitely not unique, yet certainly delicate solution undoubtedly praises the master mason’s refined sense in creating small but complex architectural structures. This is modestly underpinned by two further effects: first, the illumination of the chapel through its proportionally large windows and, in particular, the large openings on its southern choir and nave wall. These latter, both of an identical size, offer a unified view from the cathedral to the chapel space.

Another feature characteristic of the entire chapel space is its embellishment with a handful of delicate and not immediately visible architectural details. A good example of this is the jumping vault’s formeret, which is slightly emphasized by a decorative architectural framework. Another feature of this kind is the way the vaulting ribs run together and turn on the arch of the large opening in the nave. (By comparison, a similar architectural situation was handled in a less elegant way in the already mentioned chapel in Pressburg.) The vivid and fragile contours of the vaulting serve as a compact expression of this highly decorative attitude of the builders.

Through its transparency, illumination and discreet decoration the chapel interior conveys a sense of clarity and modest elegance, which is counterbalanced through the experimental tone of the external wall elevation. In contrast to the interior, here the volume of the wall comes to the foreground through its almost sculptural articulation. The thickness of the wall alternates between moldings and columns, and at the meeting points of horizontal and vertical architectural elements unusual transitional, cylindrical forms emerge that diverge from traditional medieval solutions.

Conclusion

The Holy Trinity Chapel provided an impressive setting for holy masses and diverse liturgical events because of its capacity to accommodate a larger number of priests, its distinctive structure, and its modest, thoroughly planned system of adornments. A study of the chapel reveals János Hédervári to have been a donor who was well acquainted with the most important architectural achievements of his time (e.g., the fourteenth-century use of the jumping vault). Interestingly, he did not rely on episcopal foundations as models for his chapel, but was inspired rather by the architecture of buildings made for the secular nobility (Austrian chapels). Also, his models were not exclusively from the largest artistic centers of Central Europe and their courtly art. This constitutes a major difference between the buildings constructed under his auspices and buildings founded by the royal court, and at the same time means that episcopal patrons – especially those of middle-sized episcopal centers – also looked for models in the artistic traditions of the surrounding areas. Thus the bishops served as a bridge between the achievements of the high culture of the court and the artistic traditions of local and smaller urban settlements.

 

Archival Sources

Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Országos Levéltára (Hungarian National Archives – MNL OL), Diplomatikai Levéltár (Medieval Charters – DL).

 

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List of Illustrations

 

Figure 1. Győr, Holy Trinity Chapel, ground plan

Figure 2. Győr, Holy Trinity Chapel, exterior

Figure 3. Győr, Holy Trinity Chapel, north wall with the two large openings

Figure 4. Győr, Holy Trinity Chapel, interior

1 The marriage of King Charles I (1308–1342) and Beatrix, daughter of John of Luxemburg, King of Bohemia (1310–1346) was arranged in Győr in the spring of 1318. See: Gyula Szávay, Győr. Monográfia a város jelenkoráról a történelmi idők érintésével [Győr. Monograph on the Present State of the Town with Reference to its Past] (Győr: Győr. Szab. Kir. Város Törvényhatósága, 1896), 31.

2 Antal Pór, “Az Anjouk kora” [The Age of the Angevins], in A Magyar Nemzet Története, ed. Sándor Szilágyi (Budapest: Athenaeum, 1895), vol. 3, 381–82.

3 The papal confirmation bull is dated 12 June 1386. Conradus Eubel, Hierarchia Catholica Medii Aevi (Monasterii: Sumptibus et Typis Librariae Regensbergianae, 1913), vol. 1, 282.

4 In average, one should count with one or two chapels pro cathedral. Episcopal chapels in the largest bishoprics of Central Europe are: Prague: St. Vitus cathedral, burial chapel of Archbishop Jan Očko of Vlašim; Gniezno: Our Lady and St. Adalbert cathedral, Our Lady and St. Stanislaw Chapel (Bishop Jarosław of Bogoria and Skotnik); Litomyšl/Leitomischl: former Augustine church, St. Josef Chapel (Bishop Jan of Neumarkt); Wrocław: St. John the Baptist cathedral, Our Lady Chapel (Bishop Preczlaw of Pogorell); Krakow: Wawel cathedral, St. Margaret Chapel (Bishop Nanker); Our Lady Chapel (allegedly Bishop Jan Radlica); St. John the Evangelist Chapel (Bishop Jan Grot); Chapel of the Immaculate Conception (Bishop Jan Bodzanta). From medieval Hungary, the following chapels are known to have existed: Esztergom: former St. Adalbert cathedral, Corpus Christi Chapel (Archbishop Demeter), Our Lady Chapel (Archbishop János Kanizsai), Pécs: Gilded Chapel of Our Lady (Bishop Miklós Neszmélyi) besides the Holy Trinity Chapel in Győr, analyzed in this paper.

5 To cite only their most recent works on the topic, see: Paul Crossley and Zoë Opacic, “Prague as a New Capital,” in Prague, the Crown of Bohemia, ed. Barbara Drake Boehm et al. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005), 59–74; Charlotte Stanford, “From Bishop’s Grave to Holy Grave: The Construction of Strasbourg Cathedral’s St. Catherine Chapel,” Gesta 46 (2007): 59–80.

6 For the most important literature on the Hédervári family, see: Iván Nagy, Magyarország családai czímerekkel és nemzedékrendi táblákkal [The Noble Families of Hungary with Coats-of-arms and Genealogical Tables], (Pest: Friebeisz István, 1857–1868), vol. V, 73–78; János Karácsonyi, A magyar nemzetségek a XIV. század közepéig [The Hungarian Kindreds up to the Mid-fourteenth Century] (Budapest: MTA, 1901), vol. 2, 157–64; Levente Závodszky, A Héderváry-család oklevéltára [The Charter Collection of the Héderváry Family] 2 vols. (Hereafter: Héderváry oklevéltár) (Budapest: MTA, 1909–1922), vol. II, I–LXXXIII; Pál Engel, Magyarország világi archontológiája 1301–1457 [The Secular Archontology of Hungary 1301–1457] 2 vols. (Budapest: História – MTA Történettudományi Intézete, 1996), vol. 2, 96–97.

7 They are: Héder vol. II, ispán of Győr (1223), Héderváry oklevéltár, vol. II; Herrand, ispán of Trencsén and Master of the Horse (1262, 1265–1267), ispán of Moson and master of the horse (1268–1269), tavernicorum regalium magister of the Queen and ispán of Sempte and Bars (1274), judge of the Queen and ispán of Zala (1275), ispán of Vas (1275-1276) ibid. vol. II, IV–V; Héder III, ispán of Hont (1269) ibid., vol. II, VI.

8 His name first appears in a charter dated September 5, 1348; Imre Nagy et al eds., Hazai Okmánytár [Domestic Charters] vol. I/8, (Győr: n.p., 1865–1891), 205, no. 134.

9 Concerning the edifices mentioned, see Géza Entz, “Főpapi építkezések” [Architectural Patronage of the Prelates], in Magyarországi művészet 1300–1470 körül [Art in Hungary, 1300 to c. 1470], ed. Ernő Marosi (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1987), 412–13; Csaba László, “A győri püspökvár építéstörténetének vázlata” [Outline of the Construction History of the Episcopal Castle in Győr], Arrabona 38 (2000): 97–130 (with German summary); Imre Takács, “Die Erneuerung der Abteikirche von Pannonhalma im 13. Jahrhundert,”Acta Historiae Artium 38 (1996): 31–65.

10 Karácsonyi, Magyar Nemzetségek, 161; Dezső Dercsényi, ed., The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (Budapest: Corvina, 1969), facsimile edition, 143 and 146.

11 Miklós Hédervári was ispán of Fejér and Tolna counties (1364), ispán of Csongrád County and castellan of Szeged (1365), and ispán of Moson County (1368, 1371); Héderváry oklevéltár, vol. II, X–XI. Miklós’s ties to his ruler are well exhibited by a royal charter from March 27, 1366, in which he is mentioned as “nobilis et magnificus vir (…) fidelis noster et dilectus;” ibid., vol. I, 61, no. 64.

12 He held the titles of the master of the doorkeepers (1361–1374) and count of the court (comes curiae, of the queen 1364); Engel, Archontológia, vol. II, 97.

13 Héderváry oklevéltár, vol. I, 59, no. 62 (March 3, 1363).

14 Engel, Archontológia, vol. II, 96.

15 Archdeacon of Locsmánd (1373) (Héderváry oklevéltár, vol. II, 335, no. 317 (October 13, 1373), canon of Győr. Engel, Archontológia, vol. II, 97.

16 His remarkable talent in the political sphere is well exhibited by the fact that his cousin Dénes appears to have similarly held ecclesiastical prebends, but could not get that as far as did János. This is especially interesting since all these dignities, among others a prebend in the cathedral chapter, tied Dénes to the Győr bishopric, where later not he, but János became bishop. On Dénes’s dignities see Vince Bedy, A győri székeskáptalan története [The History of the Cathedral Chapter of Győr] (Győr: Győregyházmegyei Alap, 1938), 314–15; Pál Engel, Középkori magyar genealógia [Medieval Hungarian Genealogy], CD-ROM (Budapest: Arcanum, 2001), Héder nem, 2. Tábla.

17 Hodie... Johanni Stephani canonico Jauriensi de magistratu ecclesiarum sancte trinitatis de calidis aquis in Buda Wesprimiensis diocesis et Sancti Stephani prope Strigonium, invicem canonice unitarium, ordinis cruciferorum.... mandavimus provideri...;” Vilmos Fraknói and József Lukcsics, eds., A veszprémi püspökség római oklevéltára [The Roman Charter Collection of the Bishopric of Veszprém] 4 vols. (Budapest: Franklin, 1896–1907), vol. II, 248.

18 The Stefanite order was discovered by Karl-Georg Boroviczény, a German hematologist of Hungarian origin. Károly György Boroviczény, “Cruciferi Sancti Regis Stephani. Tanulmányok a stefaniták, egy középkori magyar ispotályos rend történetéből” [Studies from the History of a Medieval Hungarian Hospitaller Order: the Stephanites], Orvostörténeti Közlemények. Communicationes de Historiae Artis Medicinae 23–24 (1991–1992): 133–140, 7–48.

19 This tendency of royal authority in Hungary to control the property of the military-religious orders was proven in the case of the Hospitaller order by Zsolt Hunyadi, The Hospitallers in the Medieval Kingdom of Hungary, c.1150–1387 (Budapest: CEU Press, 2010). I am especially thankful to Professor Hunyadi for his help and advice concerning the Stefanites.

20 Elemér Mályusz, Zsigmond király uralma Magyarországon [The Rule of King Sigismund in Hungary] (Budapest: Gondolat, 1984), 11–12.

21 Fidelis and devotus: Héderváry oklevéltár, vol. I, 97, no. 90 (April 21, 1385); honestus: Imre Nagy et al., eds., Zala vármegye története. Oklevéltár [The History of Zala County. Charter Collection] 2 vols. (Budapest: Zala vármegye közönsége, 1886–1890), vol. II, 208. (May 18, 1385). Of course, the extent to which the rather routine wording of the charters can be interpreted in this way is open to doubt.

22 In 1385 he is mentioned twice as relator of the queen’s charters. Szilárd Süttő, “Adalékok a 14–15. századi magyar világi archontológiához, különösen az 1384–87-évekhez” [Contributions to the Hungarian Secular Archontology of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, with Particular Regard to the Years 1384–1387], Levéltári Szemle 52 (2002): 28–39; unpublished and undated charter of Queen Mary from 1385, Hungarian National Archives [MNL OL], Medieval Charters (DL) 28932.

23 Zala vármegye története, vol. II, 208 (May 18, 1385).

24 Engel, Archontológia, vol. I, 71; József Bánk, “A győri püspökök sora” [The Bishops of Győr], in Győregyházmegyei almanach, ed. Győri Egyházmegyei Hatóság (Győr: Győri Egyházmegyei Hatóság, 1968), 37.

25 Héderváry oklevéltár, vol. II, XV.

26 Imre Bodor et al., eds., A középkori Magyarország főpapi pecsétei [Episcopal Seals of Medieval Hungary] (Budapest: MTA, 1984), 53–54.

27 This is suggested by the fact that his auxiliary bishop is mentioned in 1387 and also that no activity of János in Győr is recorded before October 1389; Elemér Mályusz et al., eds., Zsigmond-kori oklevéltár [Charters from the Age of Sigismund] 12 vols. (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1951–2013), vol. I, no. 342 (December 16, 1387); Veszprémi püspökség római oklevéltára, vol. II, 256, no. CCCVI (November 14, 1389).

28 IX. Bonifácz pápa bullái 1396–1404. [The Bulls of Pope Boniface IX]. Vatikáni magyar okirattár. Monumenta Vaticana historiam regni Hungariae illustrantia, vol. I/4 (Budapest: Franklin, 1886), 603 (July 8, 1404).

29 Mályusz, Zsigmond király, 52–53.

30 Zsigmond-kori Oklevéltár, vol. I, no. 2857 (March 2, 1393).

31 Earlier research attempted to attribute to him the leadership of the building campaign on the Stefanite churches in Esztergom and Budafelhévíz, too; Károly Kozák, János Sedlmayr and Ferenc Levárdy, “A győri székesegyház Szentháromság- (Héderváry-)kápolnája,” [The Holy Trinity (Héderváry) Chapel of Győr Cathedral], Arrabona 14 (1972): 103. The theory was convincingly refuted by Béla Zsolt Szakács, “A lovagrendek művészete a középkori Magyarországon” [The Art of the Religious-Military Orders in Medieval Hungary], in József Laszlovszky et al., eds., Magyarország és a keresztes háborúk [Hungary and the Crusades], (Máriabesnyő–Gödöllő: Attraktor, 2006), 195–208, 424.

32 Csaba László and Andrea Jámbor, “A hédervári Boldogasszony templom kutatása és helyreállítása” [Research on and Restoration of the Church of Our Lady at Hédervár], Műemlékvédelem (1995): 31–36.

33 Iván Bertényi, “Demeter,” in Esztergomi érsekek 1001–2003 [Archbishops of Esztergom], ed. Margit Beke (Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 2003), 192.

34 Héderváry oklevéltár, vol. II, 337, no. 321 (June 27, 1383). Allegedly, the aim of the journey was pilgrimage, but it could have been more diplomatic in nature, since choosing Prague as a target of pilgrimage was not characteristic of the peregrinating Hungarian aristocracy. See Enikő Csukovits, Középkori magyar zarándokok [Medieval Hungarian Pilgrims] (Budapest: História – MTA Történettudományi Intézete, 2003), 6576.

35 Jiří Kuthan and Jan Royt, eds., Katedrála Sv. Víta, Václava a Vojtěcha, svatyně českých patronů a králů [The Cathedral of St. Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert, the Czech Patron Saints and Kings] (Prague: Lidové Noviny, 2011), 13–21.

36 “...Johannes, Episcopus Jauriensis, capellam sancte Trinitatis, sitam prope ecclesiam Jauriensem, de novo canonice fundavit...” Vatikáni magyar okirattár, vol. I/4, 603.

37 The chapel’s first priest appointed by John came from the Budafelhévíz praeceptoria, and he very likely did not have a prebend at the Győr chapter, which the papal bull of July 8, 1404 (see note 26) should have otherwise mentioned. The chapel’s income became the property of the chapter in 1538 at the latest. Vince Bedy, A győri székesegyház története [The History of Győr Cathedral] (Győr: Győregyházmegyei Alap, 1936), 78–79.

38 Bedy, Győri székesegyház, 76–78.

39 For the published results of the restoration and archeological excavation made at the site of the chapel, see Kozák, Héderváry kápolna. The detailed documentation is available: research diaries Nos. 11951/1970, 11952–11954, 12822, Forster Gyula Nemzeti Örökséggazdálkodási és Szolgáltatási Központ, Budapest. This restoration was preceded by two other renovations: 1861 (leader: József Lippert) and 1912–1914 (Sándor Aigner); Kozák, Héderváry kápolna, 137.

40 Kozák, Héderváry kápolna, 132–36.

41 Szilárd Papp, “Győr, Kathedrale, Dreifaltigkeits (Hédervári-) Kapelle,” in Sigismundus rex et imperator. Kunst und Kultur zur Zeit Sigismundus von Luxemburg 1387–1437, ed. Imre Takács (Budapest–Luxemburg: Philipp von Zabern, 2006), 649–50.

42 Bedy, Győri székesegyház, 46.

43 Stanford, Bishop’s Grave, 65.

44 Jürgen Fabian, Der Dom zu Eichstätt (Worms: Wernersche Verlagsgesellschaft, 1989), 76–78.

45 Szilárd Papp, “Pressburg, Franziskanerkirche, Johanneskapelle,” in Sigismundus rex et imperator, 118–21.

46 Paul Crossley, Gothic Architecture in the Reign of Kasimir the Great (Krakow: Ministerstwo Kultury i Sztuki, 1985), 24.

47 Stanford, Bishop’s Grave, 69–75.

48 Julius Sax, Die Bischöfe und Reichsfürsten von Eichstätt (Landshut: Krüll, 1884), 157–75.

49 Papp, Dreifaltigkeitskapelle, 649.

50 Gyula László, “Szent László győri ereklyetartó mellszobráról” [The Reliquary Bust of Saint Ladislaus in Győr], Arrabona 7 (1966): 164.

51 Nicolaus Olahus, Hungaria-Athila, ed. Kálmán Eperjessy and László Juhász (Budapest: Egyetemi Nyomda, 1938), 15.

52 Sándor Tóth, “Felsőörs késő román templomtornya” [The Late Romanesque Tower of the Church of Felsőörs], Művészet 21 (1980): 22–26.

53 Ernst Gall, “Dreistahlgewölbe,” in Reallexikon zur Deutschen Kunstgeschichte, eds. Otto Schmitt et al. (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1958), vol. IV, 547–48.; Mateusz Kapustka et al., eds., Silesia. A pearl in the Bohemian crown (Prague: National Gallery, 2007), 165–71; Norbert Nussbaum, Deutsche Kirchenbaukunst der Gotik (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1994), 188–89, 217.

54 Teresa Mroczko and Marian Arszyński, Architektura gotycka w Polsce [Gothic Architecture in Poland] (Warsaw: Instytut Sztuki PAN, 1995), vol. 2, 162, fig. 275 (Namisłów), 89–90, fig. 128 (Góra Śląnska).

55 Václav Mencl, Česká architektura doby Lucemburské [Czech Architecture of the Luxemburg Era] (Prague: Sfinx, 1948), 95, no. 42; 96–97, no. 44.

56 The term was used by Nussbaum, Kirchenbaukunst, 188.

57 Mencl, Czech Architecture, 121–22, no. 74.

58 Jiří Fajt, ed., Gotika v západních Čechách (1230–1530) [The Gothic in Western Bohemia] (Prague: Národní Galeria v Praze, 1995), 338–39.

59 Mencl, Czech Architecture, 127, no. 77.

60 Kaliopi Chamonikola, ed., Od gotiky k renesanci. Výtvarná kultura Moravy a Slezska 1400–1550 [From the Gothic to the Renaissance. Fine art of Moravia and Silesia] (Brno: Moravská galerie v Brně, 1999) vol. II 131–35.

61 Dobroslav Líbal, Katalog gotické architektury v České republice do husitských válek [The Catalogue of the Architecture of the Czech Republic until the Hussite Wars] (Prague: Unicornis, 2001), 298–99; Chamonikola, Od gotiky, vol. IV, 43–45, 46–48.

62 See note 34, also quoted by Papp, “Dreifaltigkeitskapelle,” 650.

63 Gergely, Buzás, “Az esztergomi vár románkori és gótikus épületei” [The Romanesque and Gothic Buildings of the Esztergom Castle], in Az Esztergomi Vármúzeum kőtárának katalógusa, ed. Gergely Tolnai et al. (Az Esztergomi Vármúzeum Füzetei 2), (Esztergom: Esztergomi Vármúzeum, 2004), 21.

64 Günter Brucher, “Imbach (Austria), ehemalige Katharinenkapelle, heute Josefkapelle, an der ehemaligen Dominikanerinnenkirche,” in Geschichte der Bildenden Kunst in Österreich, Gotik, ed. Günter Brucher (Munich–London–New York: Prestel, 2000), 259.; Günter Brucher, “Raabs an der Thaya (Austria), Pfarrkirche zu Maria Himmelfahrt am Berge,” in ibid., 279–81; Günter Brucher, “Enns (Austria), Wallseerkapelle (Kapelle Hl. Johannes der Täufer), Pfarrkirche Maria Schnee, ehemalige Minoritenkirche,” in ibid., 260–61.

65 Recently dated to ca. 1361 by Papp, “Johanneskapelle”.

66 Papp, “Dreifaltigkeitskapelle,” 649.

Csikos_01.JPG

Figure 1. Győr, Holy Trinity Chapel, ground plan

Csikos_02.jpg

Figure 2. Győr, Holy Trinity Chapel, exterior

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Figure 3. Győr, Holy Trinity Chapel, north wall with the two large openings

Csikos_04.jpg

Figure 4. Győr, Holy Trinity Chapel, interior

pdfVolume 2 Issue 2 CONTENTS

Vinni Lucherini

The Journey of Charles I, King of Hungary, from Visegrád to Naples (1333): Its Political Implications and Artistic Consequences

The aim of this article is to reconstruct the journey of Charles I, King of Hungary (1310–1342), from Visegrád to Naples in the year 1333. Through an analysis of documents written in the Angevin Chancellery in Naples from 1331 to 1333 (all physically lost, but accessible through transcripts published during the 1800s both in Naples and in Budapest), papal letters of the same period, and some major medieval and modern narrative sources, I try to understand the reasons that brought Charles I to Naples and to clarify the strong political implications, even long-term ones, that the journey had for the history not only of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and Sicily but of the Kingdom of Hungary as well. Looking closely at an Angevin document from 1333, never contextualized in the historical moment it was issued, I will formulate new hypotheses concerning the artistic consequences the journey had on the funerary politics of Robert of Anjou, King of Sicily (1309–1343), and on the commissioning of monumental tombs intended to solemnly guard the remains of prominent members of the Angevin dynasty in the cathedral of Naples.1

Keywords: Angevin succession, royal journey, funeral monuments

The Premise of the Journey: An Unexpected Claim of “Forgotten” Rights of Succession to the Throne of Naples

Before getting to the heart of the debate, we need to recreate a quick historical premise. Charles I had been crowned king of Hungary on August 27, 1310 in the Church of the Virgin at Székesfehérvár (Albareale/Stuhlweissenburg), in a ceremony during which he was invested with the so called “Holy Crown,” a diadem believed to have belonged to Saint Stephen and held as the highest guarantee of legitimacy of the Hungarian monarchy.

Son of Charles Martel, firstborn of Charles II of Anjou, king of the Realm of Jerusalem and Sicily, Charles I had obtained the Hungarian throne through a complex dynastic affair. In 1290, upon the death of King Ladislaus, the last male descendant of the Árpád dynasty, Charles II and his wife Mary, sister of Ladislaus, had claimed the Hungarian crown. In 1291 Charles II had asked the Hungarian barons to consider Mary as the only heir to the throne of Hungary. In 1292 Mary had given the Kingdom of Hungary to her son Charles Martel, already designated heir to the Kingdom of Sicily. But in 1295 Charles Martel had died suddenly in Naples, and his death had introduced serious problems of succession. According to the Salic law then in force, the firstborn son of Charles Martel, the future Charles I of Hungary, then a child of seven, should have one day become king of both Sicily and Hungary; however, by the will of King Charles II and with the support of Pope Boniface VIII, the young Charles was sent to Hungary to reconquer the kingdom that was considered to belong to him as paternal inheritance. Charles Martel’s younger brother, Robert, was given the throne of Sicily and consecrated king in Avignon in 1309.2

In the following decades, the two kingdoms, united by the presence of an Angevin king in both, had virtually no relationship: Charles I was too busy trying to reinforce his power in Hungary,3 and Robert too preoccupied with Italian and imperial issues. In the following decades, there was no claim made by Charles I to obtain what his uncle Robert had taken from him, and the two kingdoms seemed destined to remain divided. But after 1328 an unexpected event, the death of the young Charles, duke of Calabria and only surviving son of Robert, produced an inconvenient change in the status quo.

In February 1331 Pope John XXII wrote to King Robert, transmitting to him a request that had arrived from the Kingdom of Hungary through letters and an ambassador. Charles I had in fact asked John XXII to intercede with his uncle, Robert of Anjou, so that they would restore to him and to his sons the full rights connected to the hereditary title of “prince of Salerno and lord of the honor of Monte Sant’Angelo” (Salernitanus princeps and honoris Montis Sancti Angeli dominus).4 This was a title belonging to the father of King Charles I, always held by the designated successor to the throne of Naples. In 1764 the Hungarian historian György Pray identified precisely the death of Charles of Calabria as the point of origin of the request presented to the pope by Charles I of Hungary,5 because it was surely the absence of a male heir, who could succeed Robert, that emboldened Charles I to ask the pope to have what had been taken from him many years before returned to him. Moreover, the king of Hungary tried to solicit an agreement with Robert regarding the succession to the throne of Sicily, proposing a marriage between one of his sons and Joanna (1326–82), first of the two surviving daughters of Charles of Calabria who had already been publicly designated heir to the Kingdom of Sicily, together with her younger sister Mary, on November 4, 1330.6

Two letters from John XXII just before the death of Charles of Calabria seem to confirm this indirectly. In 1327 the pope conceded the dispensation of marriage for Ladislaus, second-born of Charles I of Hungary (but first in the order of descendants after the death of his firstborn brother Charles in 1321), and Anna, daughter of John of Bohemia. The marriage would have reinforced the peace between the two kingdoms,7 a clear political sign that in this period Charles I was more worried about strengthening his friendships with the Central European kingdoms bordering Hungary than about claiming his right to the throne of Naples.

A series of papal epistles from July 1332 demonstrate that the king of Hungary, after the start of diplomatic negotiations with Robert, must have foreseen a solution that would have closely linked the Neapolitan legacy with the fate of Hungary: following the intentions of King Charles I, two of his children, Louis, having become heir to the throne after the death of his brothers Charles and Ladislaus,8 and Andrew, the fourth-born, should have married Joanna and her younger sister respectively. In order for the two marriages to be celebrated, a special dispensation was needed, given that the future spouses were relatives.

John XXII, who from the beginning had declared himself in favor of any solution that would satisfy the rights of succession legitimately claimed by Charles I and had offered to mediate between the two parties in question, did not at all oppose this solution and authorized the double wedding, hoping that everything would be concluded within a short time, in consideration of the present and future advantages that would have stemmed from this union. Louis therefore would have married Joanna, while his brother Andrew would have taken Mary for consort; in case, however, Louis had died before reaching adulthood and before consummating the marriage, Andrew would have married Joanna, whereas in the case of Joanna’s premature death, Louis or another of the sons of the king of Hungary would have taken Mary for spouse. But if everything went as planned, nothing should have prevented Louis from marrying Joanna, with the consent of the kings of Sicily and Hungary as well as that of the pope.9

Charles I’s Journey to Naples as Narrated by Angevin Documents:
a Complex Arrangement

John XXII’s letters demonstrate that Charles I’s demand to resolve the hereditary question opened by Robert’s accession to the throne must have been approved once and for all even in Naples, where the proposal of the marriage had been accepted. Something, however, must have led to a change in this decision (at precisely what point in the negotiations this occurred is unknown), and Charles I must have ordered Louis to remain in Hungary, while Andrew was to go with him to Naples, seat of the Angevin court, to marry Joanna. From the documentation of the Neapolitan archives, preserved in synthetic form in the studies of Camillo Minieri Riccio10 and in more detail in the precise transcripts edited by Gusztáv Wenzel,11 documents I will use to reconstruct the events which in those years involved the kings of Sicily and Hungary, it seems that the decisions urged by John XXII led to the organization of a delicate mission which brought both Charles I with his son and a full entourage of Hungarian barons and prelates to the capital of the Sicilian Kingdom.

A few months after the start of diplomatic negotiations, on May 22, 1331, Robert wrote to Vice-Admiral Ademario de Scalea ordering him to immediately equip a galley, which was urgently needed for the journey that Charles I would take to the Kingdom of Sicily shortly thereafter.12 The arrival of the Hungarian king was therefore considered imminent, a sign that both sides wanted to conclude the agreement mediated by the pope as soon as possible. However, a year later the embassies were still running from one side of the Adriatic to the other, bringing letters from one king to the other, and the preparations were still ongoing, evidence that the operation was not proceeding as fast as the pope had hoped.

On November 6 and 7, 1332, Robert ordered the equipping of three more galleys, two with 116 oars and one with 120; they were to join those already prepared by Marino Cossa of Ischia, iustitiarius terræ Bari, so that these ships, all under the orders of Ademario, go to the coast of Slavonia to take aboard the king of Hungary and his entourage (including hundreds of horses) and transport them to the Apulian coast.13 A document dated November 8, 1332 attests to a payment of fifteen ounces to the same vice-admiral, who was on his way to get the king of Hungary. On November 9, Robert ordered payment to Gualterio Siripando, magister hostiarus, so that he could acquire the rations necessary for the people who had to navigate the armed galleys that would escort Charles I to Naples. On December 10, Robert wrote to the port masters of Apulia, giving them long and detailed instructions about the ships to be sent to the Croatian coast to collect the king of Hungary and his son Andrew.14

The reason for this delay must have been an attack of gout that had struck Charles I during the voyage: having reached Székesfehérvár, the king of Hungary had in fact turned back to Visegrád at the advice of his barons, both because of the illness and of the oncoming winter.15 Despite these difficulties, in January 1333 the preparations were taken up again: on January 2 Robert paid artisans (some of whom were defined as drapperii, others armaturari) for woolen cloth of different colors in order to make a tent, which was to display the arms of the Kingdom of Sicily and the Kingdom of Hungary and would be covered with a cendato (a lightweight silk) in vibrant colors. The king also ordered cendati of different colors made for banners and flags, to be decorated with fringes, as well as the gold and silver for one of the banners and a waxed linen canvas to cover the tent.16

On April 27, 1333, Robert wrote again to the port masters in Apulia, summarizing in the narratio the events of the past year. Believing that the king of Hungary would have reached Naples with one of his sons (evidently it was still not known at that time that Charles had decided to bring along Andrew and not Louis), he had given orders to equip the galleys with all the men necessary for navigation; such a crew would have been made up of sailors and rowers coming from Brindisi, Taranto or Bari and would have been paid for an entire month, as was customary. The year before, Charles I’s failure to arrive had suspended these arrangements, but now, with the king of Hungary and his son due to arrive at last, it was necessary to re-equip the ships that would convey them to the Apulian coasts. The document lists in detail the expenses of this operation, which also involved the transfer of hundreds of horses between the two Adriatic coasts.17

On May 25, 1333, Robert ordered his ambassadors to go to Segnia (Senj, Croatia), as arranged, and to make sure that everything took place in a manner befitting his honor (secundum quod exigetur pro nostro honore). On June 14, Robert wrote to the port masters and the prosecutors regarding the lodging where Charles I, his son and his retinue of barons and other people close to him would be hosted. A sufficient quantity of wine was to be bought in the land of Bari and the surrounding area (wherever this could be accomplished in the shortest time possible). Various other things, such as wax for candles, firewood and salted meats, were also needed to host so many people. All these goods were to be bought immediately and stored in secure and clean places, so that they could then be used by the king of Hungary, his son and retinue. A document of similar content from June 17 also refers to wheat, bread and beds to be procured for the guests on arrival.18 The Angevin documents have little to say about what happened during the summer of 1333, once the Hungarian delegation had finally reached Naples.

The Political Implications of Charles I’s Stay in Naples as Related
by Medieval and Modern Chronicles

In years not too far removed from the events we are dealing with, the Florentine Giovanni Villani described the arrival of Charles I in the Kingdom of Sicily, saying that Robert had intended to assign his throne to his nephew Andrew. Villani was not aware of the documentation related to the complex organization of the voyage from Visegrád to Naples, but he knew what had been verified at the moment Charles I disembarked on the Apulian shore. From there he went by horse to Naples, where Robert had received him solemnly at the gates of the city and his arrival was celebrated with great pomp.19

More than a century after those facts, János Thuróczy, in his Chronica Hungarorum, published in Brno and in Augsburg in 1488, narrated the journey of Charles I briefly. According to this text, the king had left Visegrád with his six-year-old son Andrew in July 1333, in accordance with the wishes of the pope and the request of the king of Naples, so that his son would be crowned king of Sicily.20 In turn, the court historian Antonio Bonfini, in his Rerum Hungaricarum decades (the manuscript is believed to have been completed in 1498), also citing older sources, wrote about the voyage, adding some more details about the route of the Hungarian delegation and expressing the opinion that Andrew would soon be crowned king.21

Having reached Campania, the king of Hungary and his retinue must have met Robert in the fields of Naples (according to Bonfini), in the fields of Nola (according to Villani), or in Benevento (according to Pray), and must have been escorted to Castelnuovo, the most important castle of the Neapolitan court, to await for the final preparations for the culminating event of his Neapolitan stay: the marriage contract between Joanna and Andrew. As we know from the documents, this key moment for the Hungarian diplomatic mission was finally celebrated, on September 26, 1333, before the notary Marsilio Rufolo and in the presence of the most respected members of the Angevin court of Naples, the principal members of the aristocracy of the Kingdom of Sicily and ambassadors of other centers of power, such as the Florentines.22

Having finalized the agreement with Robert, Charles I could finally head back to Hungary, where the illness that had stricken him in Naples must have raised quite a few fears.23 Leaving Andrew in Naples with a small Hungarian court intended to take care of the little prince, Charles I then departed for Hungary, unaware that not a kingdom but a noose had been prepared for Andrew (ignarus Andreæ his curis non regnum sed laqueum parari, as Pray wrote). From documents collected by Minieri Riccio we learn that the king of Hungary embarked from Apulia towards Slavonia with 456 horses and 522 Hungarians,24 a number that gives an idea of the impressiveness of the Hungarian diplomatic mission.

The journey to Naples, and indeed the entire undertaking, including the celebrations for the promise of marriage, had cost the coffers of the Angevin rulers significant amounts of money. As a document found by Wenzel in the archives of Naples attests, on October 18 Robert wrote to the seneschal of Provence and Forcalquier, communicating what had happened, explaining the number of exceptional expenses that he had had to incur and asking him to intervene financially with a grant.25 Negotiations between the two kingdoms, initiated by the will of Charles I as early as 1330, seemed at this point to have achieved the intended purpose. This is shown by a letter of John XXII from November 1333, in which the pope rejoiced with the king of Hungary over the results of the voyage to Naples, pointed out yet again the advantages of that promise of marriage, and summarized the conditions of the stipulated marriage contract: if Andrew outlived Joanna, he would marry Mary; if Joanna outlived Andrew, one of Charles I’s other sons (Louis or Stephen) would marry her; and if both died before consummating the marriage, another of Charles I’s sons would marry Mary.26 A few days later, John XXII wrote also to Sancha of Majorca, Robert’s wife, in answer to one of her letters, about the king of Hungary’s voyage to Naples, and of the promise of marriage for which the necessary dispensation would be granted.27

On February 26, 1334, Robert ordered that the galleys that had been assembled for Charles I’s transport to the Croatian coast be disarmed. Meanwhile, to raise the young Andrew properly, Robert assigned to him a comitiva, made up of several experts on lodging, cooking, saddles, reins, and other daily necessities, and of other trusted men, including, among others, Archbishop Guglielmo of Brindisi, as confessor to the child, Lorenzo di Landolfo of Aversa, a doctor, and Giovanni Barrile, Pietro di Cadineto and Bartolomeo Caracciolo (also known as Carafa) as chamberlains, plus a certain number of Hungarian maids and squires.28

But the diplomatic mission, which required so much money from Robert, whom the documents show to have been particularly interested in demonstrating his own honor through the rich preparations staged to welcome Charles I and his retinue, did not achieve the result that Charles I himself had planned. In the following years, Andrew was raised in the court of Naples and, having come of age, was finally made a knight on Easter Sunday, 1343. Four days after that Easter, he was joined in marriage to Joanna;29 none of this, however, meant that the Kingdom of Sicily would be awarded to him, as his father and the pope had hoped. And despite the arrival in Naples of Queen Mother Elisabeth in July 1343,30 who worried that the agreements made in that distant summer of 1333 had not been respected, Andrew, never having become king, was barbarically killed in Aversa on September 18, 1345, in a conspiracy of which his wife Joanna was perhaps not unaware.31

We cannot say whether Robert changed his mind in the course of the ten years between the Hungarian mission to Naples and his death, which happened during the night of January 19 and 20, 1343, or whether his idea from the start had been to exclude that child, so incautiously entrusted to him by Charles I, from the succession. There is no doubt, however, that both the historians writing immediately after those events as well as those working during the age of Humanism really did believe that Robert would have conceded his kingdom to the child of Charles I. This is demonstrated by the author of the Chronici Hungarici compositio sæculi XIV, faithfully taken from the end of the fifteenth century by Thuróczy. According to this author, Charles I had departed from Naples in March together with his retinue, leaving behind a son who was not yet crowned, as he had hoped, but under the protection of King Robert; because of his age Robert himself wanted to give up his kingdom and have Andrew succeed him, but, after changing his mind, decided not to relinquish power while he was still living.

Antonio Bonfini confirms this with even greater clarity, writing that Robert, following the suggestions of some friends, decided to continue to rule, putting off the succession until after his death and adopting both Andrew and Joanna so that both could rule together. But even before that, both Giovanni Villani (“King Robert wanted his nephew, son of the King of Hungary, to succeed him after his death”) and Heinrich von Mügeln (in the chapter of his Chronicon entitled Wie der kunig Karl furte herczogen Andres sun und wolt yn kronen) affirmed exactly the same idea.32 According to this interpretation of the events in Naples in the summer of 1333, the king of Hungary had left Naples without seeing his son crowned king, but certain of having left him in trusted hands. Robert, in fact, at that point decrepit with age, wanted to give up the government and make sure that the young Hungarian prince would take his place. And although he did not want to cede his power while still alive, he had established that the child was to succeed him after his death, as a sort of belated compensation for what had happened at the beginning of the century.

This historiographical tradition, I think, has a figurative counterpart in a miniature from just after that time. I refer to the image that adorns and illustrates Ms. BnF fr. 1049 (containing a Provençal planh, a lament for a death; in this case, Robert’s),33 in which Andrew is being crowned by King Robert, who is lying on his deathbed (Fig. 1).34 The text of the poem says that Robert was tormented by remorse for having usurped the throne of Sicily from the son of Charles Martel, Charles I of Hungary, and that he wanted to crown Andrew king upon his death. But in the concrete reality of political events, things did not turn out this way at all.

In the will that Robert dictated three days before his death, on January 16, 1343 (and about which apparently neither Thuróczy, nor Bonfini, nor the medieval historians had knowledge), Andrew was excluded from the succession to the throne of Sicily, and it was confirmed that the kingdom should go to Joanna alone, and that upon her death it would pass to her sister Mary. If Joanna died childless, only the revenues related to the title of the Principate of Salerno were to be given to Andrew, meaning that Robert no longer placed as much value on succession to that title as his ancestors had done. The gesture made by Robert at his death represented an insult to the Hungarian monarchy and King Charles I, recently deceased, who had waited decades for the papacy to take his legitimate requests of succession to the throne of the Kingdom of Sicily into consideration.35

In fact, after Charles I’s departure from Naples, Robert did not comply with the agreements made during the summer of 1333 in any way. I think traces of this situation remain also in a mural painting that is still preserved in the ancient chapter house of the Friars Minor of the royal monastery of Saint Claire in Naples, completed circa 1336. This is an image showing King Robert (Fig. 2) and Queen Sancha (Fig. 3) kneeling before Christ and four Franciscan saints (including Louis of Toulouse), accompanied by two youths, whose garments also bear the Angevin lilies: a female figure with a crown and a male figure with no crown. Based on the iconographic elements that characterize these figures, I believe that here we can recognize Joanna and her betrothed, Andrew: she, already designated as heir to the throne of Sicily, was allowed to be depicted with her crown, while he was still waiting for that long-desired crown to be placed on his head.36

The Commission of New Royal Monumental Tombs in Honor of King Robert

By analyzing surviving archival documents, I have reached the conclusion that the journey of Charles I inspired a very important funerary artistic commission, the results of which radically transformed the interior of the apse of the Gothic Cathedral of Naples.

From an Angevin document issued on May 13, 1333, as the feverish preparations for Charles I’s arrival had been going on for months, we learn that Robert, hoping to complete the construction of the monastery of Saint Martin on the mountain Saint Erasmus started by his son, Charles of Calabria, had communicated to his wife Sancha his decision to dedicate the income of Lucera and Termoli, and also of the land of Somma, to the building of the said monastery. In the same document Robert also stated that the land of Somma would provide the necessary finances for a second royal commission recently undertaken: the preparation of new tombs in the episcopal complex of Naples for the relatives who were already resting there: his grandfather, King Charles I of Anjou (deceased in 1285), founder of the Neapolitan branch of the French royal dynasty, the father of King Charles II, whose third-born son was Robert; his brother, Charles Martel, who, as we have seen, was the father of Charles I of Hungary; and the wife of Charles Martel, Clemence, daughter of Rudolf of Habsburg, both deceased in 1295.37

The document does not attest to Robert’s request to his wife to carry out new burials for these kings, deceased for many decades, but illustrates the reasons of the granting of a pension for their creation and completion, for which Sancha had already bought the stone materials. This means that Robert intervened in decisions already made by Sancha, justifying that intervention on the basis of explanations that Sancha herself must have put forward, perhaps in writing. The vocabulary of this text includes explicit references to Sancha’s thought on the need for new burials (duceris…, videris…, promittens…, and especially iuxta tuæ dispositionis arbitrium, a formula that in medieval documents generally uses the first person singular or plural, indicating the full authority of the subject to find a solution), but also includes a wide range of expressions, adverbs and adjectives whose semantic roots consistently refer to the intertwined concepts of regal dignity and the propriety of that dignity.38

The reasons for Sancha to believe that King Robert should carry out this operation were twofold: Robert’s love for his grandfather and older brother, of course, but especially the honor of Robert, a surprising and unprecedented point in the context of royal sepulchral commissions, where the purpose should be to honor the deceased and not the patron, but also a point surprisingly coincidental with the concepts that recur in Angevin documents related to the preparations for Charles I’s journey to Naples, which dictate that everything had to be done in a way to best honor the king of Sicily. The emphasis on this specific point makes it clear not only that the existing royal tombs did not give honor to the person of Robert, but also that the manifestation of such honor in monumental form was in that moment an unavoidable objective to aim for. Reversing the terms used by Robert in his letter to indicate what characteristics the tombs ordered by Sancha should have, we can deduce that the old burials must have appeared not decent, not appropriate and not dignified in relation to the royalty of the bodies that were buried there: in other words, those graves did not bring honor to Robert as they were unseemly or no longer in fashion, and especially because, located in that site at the time, they must have seemed inappropriate.

But why so much concern for the honor of the king of Naples at that time, in May 1333? And why did such honor have to come through the execution of new burials, and specifically those of King Charles I of Anjou, Charles Martel and Clemence of Habsburg? And where were the old tombs located when the decision to make new ones was justified? A comparison of the archival documents and the wording of historical sources of the modern age shows that the old tombs were still located in the old Neapolitan cathedral, i.e., the Basilica Salvatoris (also called Stefania), then called Santa Restituta, next to which, around 1294, the construction of a new cathedral had been started, in Gothic form, on the orders of the archbishop of Naples, Filippo Minutolo, and with partial financial support from King Charles II of Anjou.

The commission of new tombs for the father and the mother of the king of Hungary, only a few months before his arrival in Naples, cannot be considered a mere coincidence. To set up the new burials, it must have seemed a necessary and rather urgent undertaking to the sovereigns of Naples, to Sancha and consequently to Robert. This enterprise was aimed at the public celebration in monumental form of the branch of the Angevin dynasty from which the king of Hungary was descended and from whom Robert, thanks to a very well-orchestrated agreement between King Charles II of Anjou and the papacy, had taken the throne of Sicily thirty years earlier.

It is probably for this reason that, in the document of May 13, 1333, Robert refers to the fact that Sancha believed this committee to be indispensable pro honore nostro (where nostro, our, alludes to the individual Robert), as if Sancha had first understood how essential the new burials of King Charles I of Anjou and Charles Martel were to the preparations for Charles I of Hungary’s reception.39 Robert could not show a lack of pietas and respect toward the remains of his firstborn brother whose heir had been sent to far-off lands and who had thus become a stranger in the kingdom that was originally his rightful inheritance.

The Angevin tombs were completely destroyed at the end of the sixteenth century, but their memory remains in modern narrative sources. Medieval documents do not tell us exactly where the new tombs ordered by King Robert in 1333 were placed in the Gothic Cathedral of Naples, but the visual testimony of sixteenth-century Neapolitan scholars is clear about the fact that they were in the central apse. After the study of all the evidence that I have mentioned, we can reasonably suppose that it was precisely there, in the apse, that the royal tombs were installed at the moment of their realization in 1333.

Conclusion

The reasons for and consequences of Charles I’s journey to Naples in 1333 were closely embedded in the games of dynastic politics that linked Naples and Hungary in the fourteenth century and beyond. Moreover, the journey triggered the building of an extraordinary funerary exhibition in the apse of the Cathedral of Naples. A reference to this was probably made, many decades later, in the second half of the fourteenth century and by the will of Queen Joanna, in the scenic composition that can still be seen in the Neapolitan monastic church of Saint Claire.40 This is a superb depiction of death in the form of skillfully worked marble (Fig. 4), with Robert in the center, still seen flanked by his son, Charles of Calabria, and his granddaughter, Mary of Durazzo (the same Mary who was urged to marry a Hungarian prince in 1332 and whose life took another turn). That composition evidently played an extraordinary celebratory function of royal power that Joanna herself owed to her father and grandfather, undermining the legitimate heirs to the throne of Sicily: Charles I of Hungary and his children.

 

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Image Captions:

 

Figure 1. Bibliothèque nationale de France, ms. fr. 1049, Planh for the death of King Robert: Robert crowning Andrew of Hungary.

Figure 2. Naples, Church of Christ and Saint Louis in the royal monastery of Saint Claire (ancient chapter house of the friars), King Robert and Andrew of Hungary kneeling before Christ and four Franciscan saints.

Figure 3. Naples, Church of Christ and Saint Louis in the royal monastery of Saint Claire (ancient chapter house of the friars), Queen Sancha of Majorca and Joanna of Anjou kneeling before Christ and four Franciscan saints.

Figure 4. Naples, Church of Saint Claire, tombs of King Robert (center), Mary of Durazzo (left) and Charles of Calabria (right).

 

1 The topic of this article is connected to a personal project (supported in 2011 by the Central European University’s Institute of Advanced Study in Budapest) on the relationship between Naples and Hungary during the fourteenth century. Various aspects of this research are now in press: Vinni Lucherini, “Il refettorio e il capitolo del monastero maschile di Santa Chiara: l’impianto topografico e le scelte decorative,” in Committenza artistica, vita religiosa e progettualità politica nella Napoli di Roberto d’Angiò e Sancia di Maiorca. La chiesa di Santa Chiara. Proceedings of the International Conference. Naples, April 28–30, 2011 (forthcoming); idem, “Raffigurazione e legittimazione della regalità nel primo Trecento: una pittura murale con l’incoronazione di Carlo Roberto d’Angiò a Spišská Kapitula (Szepeshely),” in Medioevo: natura e figura. Proceedings of the International Conference. Parma, September 20–25, 2011, ed. Arturo Carlo Quintavalle (forthcoming); idem, “Il «testamento» di Maria d’Ungheria a Napoli: un esempio di acculturazione regale,” in Images and Words in Exile, ed. Elisa Brilli, Laura Fenelli and Gerhard Wolf (forthcoming); idem, “L’arte alla corte dei re «napoletani» d’Ungheria nel primo Trecento: un equilibrio tra aspirazioni italiane e condizionamenti locali,” in Arte di Corte in Italia del Nord. Programmi, modelli, artisti (1330–1402 ca.). Proceedings of the International Conference, Lausanne, May 25–26, 2012, ed. Serena Romano and Denise Zaru (forthcoming); idem, “La prima descrizione moderna della corona medievale dei re d’Ungheria: il De sacra corona di Péter Révay (1613),” in Mélanges en hommage à Jean–Pierre Caillet (forthcoming); idem, “Precisazioni documentarie e nuove proposte sulla commissione e l’allestimento delle tombe reali angioine nella Cattedrale di Napoli,” in Studi in onore di Maria Andaloro (forthcoming).

2 Camillo Minieri Riccio, “Genealogia di Carlo II d’Angiò re di Napoli,” Archivio Storico per le Province Napoletane 7 (1882): 15–67; Michelangelo Schipa, “Carlo Martello,” Archivio Storico per le Province Napoletane 14 (1889): 17–33; 204–64, 432–58; 15 (1890): 5–125; Adalgisio de Regibus, “Le contese degli Angioini di Napoli per il trono d’Ungheria (1290–1310),” Rivista storica italiana 5, no. 1 (1934): 38–85 (I), 264–305 (II). On the same historical period: Bálint Hóman, Gli Angioini di Napoli in Ungheria. 1290–1403 (Rome: Reale Accademia d’Italia, 1938); Émile G. Léonard, Les Angevins de Naples (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1954); Giuseppe Galasso, Storia d’Italia, vol. XV, 1. Il Regno di Napoli. Il Mezzogiorno angioino e aragonese. 1255–1494 (Turin: Utet, 1992), 114–50.

3 Pál Engel, The Realm of St Stephen. A History of Medieval Hungary. 895–1526 (London–New York: I. B. Tauris, 2001), 130–37.

4 This document was partially edited by György Pray, Annales regum Hungariæ […]. Pars II complectens res gestas Carolo I. Roberto ad Wadislaum I (Vienna: Typis Joannis Thomæ de Trattner, 1764), 29; István Katona, Historia critica regum Hungariae stirpis mixtae […]. Tomulus I, ordine VIII. Ab anno Christi MCCCI ad annum usque MCCCXXXI (Budae: Typis Catharinæ Landerer, 1788), 646–47.

5 Pray, Annales, 29.

6 Léonard, Les Angevins, 162–63.

7 Vetera monumenta historica Hungariam sacram illustrantia, Tomus primus. 1216–1352, ed. Augustinus Theiner (Romæ: Typis Vaticanis, 1859), 518 (doc. 798: September 8, 1327; 800: December 3, 1327).

8 Minieri Riccio, “Genealogia di Carlo,” 39.

9 Theiner, Vetera monumenta, 589–91 (doc. 872: July 16, 1332; 873: July 16, 1332; 874: July 17, 1332; 875: July 30, 1332).

10 Minieri Riccio, “Genealogia di Carlo,” 42–46.

11 Magyar diplomacziai emlékek az Anjou-korból [Hungarian Diplomatic Records from the Angevin Era], 3 vols., ed. Gusztáv Wenzel (Budapest: Magyar Tudományos Akademia, 1874–1876) (hereafter: MDEA), vol. I, 284–320.

12 MDEA, vol. I, 284 (doc. 296).

13 Minieri Riccio, “Genealogia di Carlo,” 43, note 2.

14 Ibid., 43, note 3; MDEA, vol. I, 290 (doc. 301), 296 (doc. 307), 297 (doc. 308), 298–99 (doc. 310).

15 Ibid., vol. I, 301 (doc. 312).

16 Ibid., vol. I, 302–03 (doc. 313).

17 Ibid., vol. I, 304–08 (doc. 315).

18 Ibid., vol. I, 309–12 (doc. 317, 319, 320).

19 Giovanni Villani, Cronica (Florence: Per il Magheri, 1823), vol. V, 280–81 (Libro Decimo, Cap. CCXXII): “Nel detto anno, l’ultimo dì di luglio, Carlo Umberto re d’Ungheria con Andreasso suo secondo figliuolo con molta baronia arrivarono alla terra di Bastia di Puglia, e loro venuti a Manfredonia, da messer Gianni duca di Durazzo e fratello del re Ruberto con molta baronia furono ricevuti a grande onore, e conviati infino a Napoli; e là vegnendo, il re Ruberto gli si fece incontro infino a’ prati di Nola, basciandosi in bocca con grandi accoglienze, e ordinossi e fecesi fare per lo re una chiesa a onore di nostra Donna per perpetua memoria di loro congiunzione. E poi giunti in Napoli, si cominciò la festa grande, e fu molto onorato il re d’Ungheria dal re Ruberto, il quale era suo nipote, figliuolo che fu di Carlo Martello primogenito del re Carlo Secondo, il quale per molti si dicea ch’a lui succedea il reame di Cicilia e di Puglia; e per questa cagione parendone al re Ruberto avere coscienza, e ancora perch’era morto il duca di Calavra figliuolo del re Ruberto, e non era rimaso di lui altro che due figliuole femmine, né il re Ruberto non aveva altro figliuolo maschio, innanzi che ‘l reame tornasse ad altro lignaggio sì volle il re Ruberto che dopo di lui succedesse il reame al figliuolo del detto re d’Ungheria suo nipote. E per dispensagione e volontà di papa Giovanni e de’ suoi cardinali sì fece sposare al detto Andreasso, ch’era d’età di sette anni, la figliuola maggiore che fu del duca di Calavra, ch’era d’età di cinque anni, e lui fece duca di Calavra a dì 26 di settembre del detto anno con grande festa, alla quale il Comune di Firenze mandò otto ambasciatori de’ maggiori cavalieri e popolani di Firenze, con cinquanta familiari vestiti tutti d’una assisa per fare onore a’ detti re, i quali molto gradiro. E compiuta la detta festa, poco appresso si partì il re d’Ungheria e tornò in suo paese, e lasciò a Napoli il figliuolo colla moglie alla guardia del re Ruberto con ricca compagnia.”

20 János Thuróczy, “Chronica Hungarorum ab origine gentis, inserta simul chronica Iohannis archidiaconi de Kikullew, ad annum usque Christi MCCCCLXIV et ultra perducta […],” in Scriptores rerum Hungaricarum veteres et genuini partim primum ex tenebris eruti, partim antehac quidem editi […], cum amplissima praefatione Mathiae Belli, Pars Prima, ed. Johann Georg Schwandtner, pars prima (Vindobona: impensis Ioannis Pauli Kraus, 1746), 39–278 (for Charles I: 154–70; for the citation: 165): “Anno Domini millesimo trecentesimo tricesimo tertio, egressus est rex de Wyssegrad, cum Andrea filio suo, puero sex annorum, in mense Iulii, et perrexit cum bona comitiva militum, per Zagabriam, ultra mare, ut filium suum, per voluntatem summi pontificis, domini scilicet Iohannis Vicesimi Secundi, et ad instantiam et petitionem inclytissimi Roberti, regis Siciliæ, regni eiusdem coronaret in regem. In cuius regis comitiva profecti sunt Chanadinus, archiepiscopus Strigoniensis; Andreas, episcopus Waradiensis; et Iacobus, Longobardus physicus, episcopus Chanadiensis; et magister Donch, supra nominatus; et alii nobiles plurimi de regno.” The main, if not only, source used by Thuróczy in the description of the journey must certainly have been the Chronici Hungarici compositio sæculi XIV, written in Hungary not long after 1333 (Scriptores rerum Hungaricarum tempore ducum regumque stirpis Arpadianae gestarum I–II, ed. Imre Szentpétery (Budapest: Academia Litteraria Hungarica atque Societate Historica Hungarica, 1937–1938), I, 501–02): “Anno Domini MCCCXXXIII, egressus est rex de Uissegrad cum Andrea filio suo puero sex annorum in mense Iulii et perrexit cum bona comitiva militum per Zagabriam ultra mare, ut filium suum per voluntatem summi pontificis, domini scilicet Iohannis XXII, et ad petitionem regni Sicilie, coronaret in regem. In cuius regis comitiva et societate profecti sunt Chanadinus archiepiscopus Strigoniensis, Andreas episcopus Uaradiensis et Iacobus Lumbardus physicus, episcopus Cithanadiensis (sic) et magister Donch supradictus et alii nobiles plurimi de regno.”

21 Antonio Bonfini, Historia Pannonica sive Hungaricarum rerum decades (Coloniæ Agrippinæ: sumptibus hæredum Ioannis Widenfeldt et Godefridi de Berges, 1690), 230: “Et anno trecentesimo trigesimo tertio, ultra millesimum, pater et Andreas ex Vissegrado proficiscuntur, decimoque die Zagabriam perveniunt. Et quum per Dalmatiam iter faceret statuerint, superatis Lapideis montibus, Segniam descendunt, unde comparata classe, quatuor dierum navigatione, in Apulia trajiciunt. Hac spe nimium ductus est pater ut filium, Roberti regis precibus electum, perbrevi quoque Ioannis Vicesimi Secundi pontificis auctoritate coronatum, in Italia relinqueret et Ungariæ Regnum Lodovico primigenio, ut par erat, addiceret: quare se fortunatissimum patrem futurum esse confidebat. Adventandi Robertus gratulabundus occurrit, nepotem Carolum puerumque Andream amplexatur.”

22 Minieri Riccio, “Genealogia di Carlo,” 44.

23 Some letters of John XXII, addressed both to Robert and to Charles I in September and October of 1333, attest to the fact that, immediately after his arrival, the king of Hungary had been stricken with a high fever. Fortunately, as the pope declared, providence had helped him, and he could be considered out of danger. Having regained his strength, he could then proceed back to his kingdom, because a prolonged absence could be detrimental to the fortunes of the Hungarian Kingdom, bringing serious damage to the defense of Christian lands: Theiner, Vetera monumenta, 592–93 (doc. 879: September 9, 1333; 880: September 9, 1333; 881: October 23, 1333).

24 Minieri Riccio, “Genealogia di Carlo,” 45.

25 MDEA, vol. I, 318–19 (doc. 324): “Scire te volumus quod inter spectabilem Iohannam ducissam Calabriæ, primogenitam benedictæ memoriæ Caroli ducis Calabriæ nostri primogeniti et vicarii generalis, neptem nostram carissimam, et spectabilem iuvenem Andream, natum incliti principis dominis Caroli, illustri regis Hungariæ, cum solemnitatibus debitis sponsalia de novo fore contracta. Propter quæ, tam pro adventu ad partes istas dictorum domini Regis Hungariæ et filii, atque plurium prelatorum et magnatum in eorum accedencium comitiva, quam pro aliis ad præmissa apparatibus oportunis magna expensarum onera noscimus subiisse. Actendentes itaque quod ipsi Iohannæ nepti nostræ per barones et feudatarios ac terrarum universitates, seu syndicus et procuratores ipsorum pro eis, tamquam succedenti nobis in Regno Siciliæ, ac comitatibus supradictis et ereditariis bonis aliis, ubi ex nobis filius masculus non supersit, debitum fidelitatis certo modo est præstitum iuramentum, ac provise pensantes quod per ipsos fideles nostros eorundem comitatuum Provinciæ et Forcalquerii subventio focagii nobis de iure, dictorum sponsaliorum occasione seu causa debetur subventionem eandem in quantitate solita per te in singulis terris, civitatibus et locis dictorum comitatuum imponi decrevimus.”

26 Theiner, Vetera monumenta, 593–94, doc. 883 (November 8, 1333): “que omnia inter te, dilectissime filii, et eundem regem Sicilie matura deliberatione prehabita, ordinata et conventa fuerunt, ac vestris, necnon carissime in Chisto filie nostre Sancie regine Sicilie illustris, et nonnullorum prelatorum, comitum et baronum utriusque regni, Ungarie videlicet et Sicilie, tunc vobiscum presentium propriis iuramentis firmata, fuit nobis pro parte tua et eiusdem regis humiter supplicatum, ut premissa habere rata et grata, nostrumque illis impartiri assensum ac providere super eis de oportune dispensationis suffragio dignaremur. Nos igitur multis utilitatibus, que utrique regno ex predictis provenire, ac variis dispendiis, que vitare poterunt, in consideratione deductis, huiusmodi supplicationibus benignius inclinati, ut predictis impedimentis ex eisdem consanguinitatibus vel affinitatibus, seu publice honestatis iusticia que oriri poterit ex dictis sponsalibus, nequaquam obstantibus, possint dicti nati tui cum ipsis filiabus dicti ducis, ut superius exprimuntur, matrimonialiter copulari, prompto animo auctoritate apostolica tenore presentium dispensamus, prolem exinde suscipiendam legitimam decernentes.”

27 Ibid., 594, doc. 884 (November 19, 1333).

28 MDEA, vol. 1, 327–33 (doc. 333–34); Minieri Riccio, “Genealogia di Carlo,” 45–46.

29 Ibid., 46.

30 For the journey: Thuróczy, “Chronica Hungarorum,” 174–76; for his diplomatic purposes: Marianne Sághy,Dévotions diplomatiques: Le pèlerinage de la reine-mère Élisabeth Piast à Rome,” in La Diplomatie des États Angevins aux XIIIe et XIVe siècle. Proceedings of the International Conference, Szeged, Visegrád, Budapest, September 13–16, 2007, ed. Zoltán Kordé et al. (Rome–Szeged: Academia d’Ungheria in Roma–Szegedi Tudományegyetem 2011), 219–33.

31 Minieri Riccio, “Genealogia di Carlo,” 50.

32 Scriptores rerum Hungaricarum, vol. II, 223: “Nach Cristz gepurt taussent jar, dreyhundert iar in dem drey und dreissigsten iar do rait der kunig Kark von Plindenpurg mit herczog Andres siben sün, der waz dennoch ein kint von siben jaren, und furt mit ym grosz herschaft und furt den sun, herczog Andres, uber mer, daz er yn kronen wolt zu Siczilien und Pullen von pete des volkes und von pete des pabst sant Johannes. Mit dem kunig zohe der erczpischoff von Gran Schanaden genant und Andreas der erczpischoff von Waradein und herre Jacob der pischoff von Czischanaden und der graff Donsch von der Lyptawe und ander edeln vil. Und komen gen Sicilien und kronten den kunig Andres zu dem reich und gaben ym Johannitam, dez kungs Ruprechten tochter zu weybe. Doch wellen etlich daz der kunig Karlein von Vngern sein sun dem kunige Ruprechten enpfahl und liesz yn do ungekront und kom wider mit genad mit den seinen gen Vngern.”

33 Silvio Pellegrini, Il “Pianto” anonimo provenzale per Roberto d’Angiò (Turin: Edizione Chiantore, 1934); Martin Aurell et al., eds., La Provence au Moyen Âge (Aix-en-Provence: Publications de l’Université de Provence, 2005), 209–10, 269.

34 Émile G. Léonard, Histoire de Jeanne Ire reine de Naples, comtesse de Provence. 1343–1382 (Monaco: Imprimerie de Monaco, 1932), vol. I, 219–20, described the image in this way: “Le roi, appuyé sur trois oreillers, mais diadème en tête, est couché sur un lit reposant sur des colonnettes et recouvert d’une fourrure de vair. A sa gauche, la reine Sancia couronné, un personnage à col de fourrure et calotte conique dans lequel nous verrions volontiers un médecin, un autre personnage, barbu et vêtu d’une robe pourpre et d’un manteau rouge en qui il faut peut-être reconnaitre l’évêque de Cavaillon. Au pied du lit, un moine, au froc violet, mais portant la capuche brune. A la droit du malade, André de Hongrie, blond, éperonné, les bras croisés et la front incliné. Et le vieux roi lui impose la couronne.”

35 Johann Christian Lünig, Codex Italiæ diplomaticus […]. Tomus secundus (Francofurti et Lipsiæ: Impensis Haeredum Lanckisianorum, 1726), 1101–10: 1104: “[Robert] instituit sibi hæredem universalem Iohannam ducissam Calabriæ, neptem eius primogenitam, claræ memoriæ inclyti domini Caroli ducis Calabriæ, eiusdem domini regis primogeniti, in Regno Siciliæ ultra citraque Pharum, nec non comitatibus Provinciæ et Forcalquerii et Pedemontis, ac omnibus aliis terris, locis, dominiis, iurisdictionibus, locis et rebus suis stabilibus et mobilibus, ubicumque sistentibus, et quomodolibet competituris. […] Item voluit et mandavit dominus rex, quod in casu, quod absit, quod præfatam dominam Iohannam ducissam decedere contigeret, quandocumque liberis ex suo corpore legitimis non relictis vel illis superstitibus sine legitimis hæredibus descendentibus, succedat sibi præfata domina Maria soror eius vel hæredes sui.”

36 Vinni Lucherini, “Regalità e iconografia francescana nel complesso conventuale di Santa Chiara: il Cristo in trono della sala capitolare,” Ikon 3 (2010): 151–68.

37 Concerning the Angevin tombs, see: Lorenz Enderlein, Die Grablegen des Hauses Anjou in Unteritalien. Totenkult und Monumente 1266–1343 (Worms am Rhein: Werner, 1997); and Tanja Michalsky, Memoria und Repräsentation. Die Grabmäler des Könighaus Anjou in Italien (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2000). Specifically about these tombs and their historiographical tradition, see: Vinni Lucherini, “Tombe di re, vescovi e santi nella Cattedrale di Napoli: memoria liturgica e memoria profana,” in La chiesa e il palazzo. Proceedings of the International Conference, Parma, September 20–24, 2005, ed. Arturo Carlo Quintavalle (Milan: Electa, 2007), 679–90; idem, “La Cappella di San Ludovico nella Cattedrale di Napoli, le sepolture dei sovrani angioini, le due statue dei re e gli errori della tradizione storiografica moderna,” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 70 (2007): 1–22; idem, La Cattedrale di Napoli. Storia, architettura, storiografia di un monumento medievale (Rome: École Française de Rome, 2009), 238–57.

38 For the document’s textual interpretation, see Vinni Lucherini, “Precisazioni documentarie.”

39 About this concept, see W. Eckermann, “Ehre (theologisch–philosophisch),” in Lexicon des Mittelalters, vol. III (Turnhout: Brepols, 1986), cols. 1662–63.

40 Vinni Lucherini, “Le tombe angioine nel presbiterio di Santa Chiara a Napoli e la politica funeraria di Roberto d’Angiò,” in Medioevo: i committenti. Proceedings of the International Conference, Parma, September 21–26, 2010, ed. Arturo Carlo Quintavalle (Milan: Electa, 2011), 477–504.

fig.%201%20Lucherini%20for%20HHR.jpg

Figure 1. Bibliothèque nationale de France, ms. fr. 1049, Planh for the death of King Robert: Robert crowning Andrew of Hungary.

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Figure 2. Naples, Church of Christ and Saint Louis in the royal monastery of Saint Claire (ancient chapter house of the friars), King Robert and Andrew of Hungary kneeling before Christ and four Franciscan saints.

Figure 3. Naples, Church of Christ and Saint Louis in the royal monastery of Saint Claire (ancient chapter house of the friars), Queen Sancha of Majorca and Joanna of Anjou kneeling before Christ and four Franciscan saints.

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fig.%204%20Lucherini%20for%20HHR.JPG

Figure 4. Naples, Church of Saint Claire, tombs of King Robert (center), Mary of Durazzo (left) and Charles of Calabria (right).

pdfVolume 2 Issue 2 CONTENTS

Gábor Klaniczay

Efforts at the Canonization of Margaret of Hungary in the Angevin Period

St Margaret of Hungary, the daughter of King Béla IV offered to the service of God, who lived her life in the Dominican convent at the Rabbits’ Island near Buda, constructed for her, and died in 1270, followed the vocation of her aunt, St Elisabeth of Hungary, who was by then one of the most popular saints in Europe. The official investigation around Margaret’s sanctity, supported by the Dominican Order, her brother, King Stephen V, and other royal families, started in 1273, first with a local inquiry, then with a witness hearing in 1276 by papal legates. Nevertheless, this process—as many other similar ones—remained unfinished in the Middle Ages, and after repeated attempts from the Hungarian kings and the Dominicans, the canonization of Margaret only succeeded in 1943. The present study is discussing a chapter in these efforts, the ones during the period of the Angevin rulers, for whom the cult of saint ancestors has been more important than for any other Hungarian royal dynasty. New studies on the canonization processes in general, and new studies on Saint Margaret in particular allow us now to see more clearly three such Angevin attempts, one in 1306, even before their accession to the Hungarian throne, one around 1340, which has been brought by Viktória Hedvig Deák in connection with the Legenda maior of Margaret, written in Avignon by Garinus, and a third in 1379, at the beginning of the Great Schism, the documents of which have recently been discovered by Otfried Krafft.

Keywords: Saint Margaret of Hungary, Dominican Order, Canonizations, Angevins, the Great Schism

 

The historical transformations in the canonic procedures of the canonization of saints have attracted much attention from historians in recent years. When the cults of saints took shape in Late Antiquity, the initiation of a cult of a saint was a matter for the bishops, who judged by the criteria of post mortem ‘saintly reputation’ (fama sanctitatis), the occurrence of miracles near the candidates’ earthly remains, and taking in consideration legends written on their exemplary life. During the canonization procedures the saints’ relics were elevated and placed underneath the altar of a church, a feast day was entered into the diocesan calendar, and the memory of the saint was consequently preserved in annual liturgy.1 This system survived until the twelfth century, although changes were gradually introduced after the first millennium. A tenth-century case set a precedent for local ecclesiastical leaders to request the approval of the Holy See for the canonization of a proposed new saint, and after the reform papacy of Gregory VII, popes in the twelfth century increasingly imposed this as a requirement. The pope’s exclusive right to approve the veneration of new saints was first vindicated by Pope Alexander III (1159–1181) and made a rule by the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, during the pontificate of Innocent III (1198–1216).2 Books by André Vauchez3 and Michael Goodich4 have pointed to the significance of this change and the fundamental transformation of the cult of saints which the new procedure brought about in the thirteenth century: after a local initiative (the fama sanctitatis, the first miracles and legends), a decision by the Holy See was required to start off the protracted legal procedure of canonization. Following a positive decision—made in only about half of the cases—papal legates went to the spot and heard witnesses, who testified, under oath, on the saintly life and miracles of the saint candidate. The papal consistory then made further investigations and debates, and after a period of some years, decades, or even centuries, decided whether the evidence gathered was sufficient for canonization. From the late twelfth to the early fifteenth century, popes launched seventy-one canonization processes, of which thirty-five ended in canonization during the Middle Ages.

These influential books by Vauchez and Goodich put new life into historical research regarding the canonization procedures. The documents of many canonization processes were published,5 and several major studies and monographs followed: books by Aviad Kleinberg,6 Bernhard Schimmelpfennig,7 Christian Krötzl,8 Luigi Canetti,9 Roberto Paciocco,10 Thomas Wetzstein11 and Otfried Krafft,12 and further books by André Vauchez13 and Michael Goodich14. A major international conference in Collegium Budapest in 2001, attended by many experts in the field, summed up research on the subject.15

It is due to the systematic investigations prescribed by the canonization processes that a wealth of detailed documentation has come down to us about St Margaret of Hungary, the daughter of King Béla IV offered to the service of God, and the people around her. Analysis of this has been one of the rewarding areas of medieval Hungarian religious history, and provided some wide-ranging insights.16 Margaret died as a Dominican nun on January 18, 1270,17 and her brother, King Stephen V, successfully petitioned Pope Gregory X to start a canonization investigation. This fact is recorded in a bull by Innocent V, who ordered the second hearing of witnesses,18 and in the Hungarian legend of St Margaret: ‘King Stephen … sent envoys to Pope Gregory humbly pleading that the almighty God ... for the sake of St Margaret’s virtues, had worked so many great miracles, that it would be unworthy not to invoke her assistance among other saints. Therefore his Holiness should be so gracious as to count her among the saints.’19 Evidence for the fama sanctitatis, required to initiate the canonization procedure, was probably provided by the first great public miracle, which occurred on the anniversary of Margaret’s death in January 1271 ‘on St Prisca’s day, on the anniversary of the death of the virgin,… [in the presence of] King Stephen V, the barons of the realm and indeed the whole royal court,’ when a woman named Erzsébet, suffering from possession by the Devil, was cured beside Margaret’s relics.20 The first committee charged with gathering Margaret’s miracles, consisting of Fülöp, Archbishop of Esztergom, Fülöp, Bishop of Vác and the Cistercian Abbot of Zirc, and—after the death of Archbishop Fülöp in late 1272 or early 1273—Ladomér, Bishop of Várad (later Archbishop of Esztergom) started its work on the Rabbits’ Island (today Margaret Island at Budapest). According to calculations by Vilmos Fraknói—based on the statements of soror Candida—the committee started work in July 1271,21 but Otfried Krafft has proposed, with reference to the chronology of the pontificate of Gregory X, that this be changed to 1272 (Gregory X was elected pope in early September 1271, but his coronation took place only in March 1272, and for canonical reasons it is very unlikely for the investigation to have been launched during an interregnum).22 His view was recently given additional support by the discovery by Bence Péterfi of the relevant bull issued by Pope Gregory X, dated May 4, 1272, which had previously only been known from references.23 Depositions were taken from at least forty witnesses, who related seven miracles performed during Margaret’s life, four miraculous visions connected to her death, and twenty-nine miraculous healings ascribed to the intercession of St Margaret, by then dead, but still present through her relics. The edited compilation of these miracles has been preserved by Margaret’s oldest legend, the Legenda Vetus, which is ascribed to her confessor Marcellus.24

The fact that Pope Innocent V, by a decree of May 14, 1276, ordered another hearing of witnesses, which took place between July 27 and October 12, 1276 on the Rabbits’ Island, has sometimes been interpreted by Hungarian historians as implying that the first inquiry was not sufficiently thorough. In fact, the inquiries into Margaret’s sainthood did not depart from the procedure which had become customary in the thirteenth century: the first stage was always a local inquiry. It was only after its findings—the first life of the saint and the list of miracles attesting to the fama sanctitatis—had been sent to the Curia, that the inquisitio in partibus could begin, in which papal legates interrogated the witnesses to the miracles according to the strictest rules of canon law. In the second stage (or even the third and fourth, as necessity demanded) the body of cardinals which dealt with the process of canonization examined the depositions in the Curia. I will cite two Central European examples. One was the process of canonization of St Elizabeth of Hungary between 1232 and 1235, in which Gregory IX ordered the inquiry after the first lists of miracles and the Summa vitae, written by Conrad of Marburg, had been sent to Rome.25 The same occurred in the case of St Stanislaus of Poland: the Archbishop of Gniezno, the Bishop of Wrocław and the Cistercian Abbot of Lubiąż compiled the first list of miracles in 1250, and after it was sent to Rome, the taking and recording of depositions in the inquisitio in partibus started in 1252, under the leadership of the Italian Giacomo Velletri, appointed by Innocent IV.26

The two papal legates in the second examination of witnesses for Margaret’s cause were the papal chaplain Umberto Bianchi of Piacenza and a canon of Verona, doctor of canon law De La Corre. The surviving record of the examination contains statements by 110 witnesses, but is nonetheless incomplete. Viktória Hedvig Deák has made a credible estimate of how much of the document has been lost (at least another 23 depositions).27 After the depositions had been taken and thoroughly compiled, they were sent to Rome, where, however, the final “curial” stage of the canonization process apparently failed to set off. There could have been several reasons for this, the most important probably being the frequent changes of pope in these years. Innocent V, who had ordered the inquiry, died on June 22, 1276, before the commission could even start its work in Buda, although it was probably somewhat later that the members of the commission got news of this.28 Innocent V’s successor, Hadrian V, occupied the papal throne for hardly more than a month (July 11 – August 18, 1276); when the depositions reached Rome, the pope was already John XXI, but not for long (September 8, 1276 – May 20, 1277). In the following twenty years, there were a further six popes, following each other every two or three years. This state of flux obviously hindered the process considerably, but there was another obstacle as well to canonization procedures in the late thirteenth century, as André Vauchez has pointed out. The openness to new saint cults which had characterized the first half of the thirteenth century came to an end, and the Curia became increasingly critical and dismissive of proposed new cults. Only under express political pressure or in pursuit of its own diplomatic aims did it permit a local initiative to come to fruition. As it has already been mentioned: of the 71 medieval canonization processes, only 36 led to canonization before the end of the Middle Ages.29 The fact that Margaret’s case got stuck was thus anything but exceptional.

What is more surprising, however, is how little her cause benefited from the ascent to the Hungarian throne of the House of Anjou. For, as Vauchez observed, the Angevin dynasty was more successful than any other royal house in having the Curia recognize the cult of saints connected to them.30 The first signs of this special treatment are apparent from the time of the dynasty’s founder, Charles I (1265–1285): in 1270, he initiated the canonization of his brother, King Louis IX of France, who had died in the course of his crusade to Tunis. After protracted inquiries, Louis was eventually canonized in 1296.31 When Charles sought and found for his son, Charles II, a wife from the House of Árpád, in the person of Stephen V’s daughter Mary, he emphatically stated that Stephen, besides being a ‘great and warlike king,’ was ‘descended from a family of saints and great kings.’32 This relationship later served as the basis for the family’s claim to the Hungarian throne, first asserted by Charles I’s grandson Charles Martel and—after his early death in 129533 and the extinction of the House of Árpád in 1301—taken up by his great-grandson Caroberto. On several occasions during the more than ten years of struggle it took Caroberto to secure the crown, he underpinned his suitability for the task by referring to his descent from famous saints on both sides, the French Capetians and the Árpáds.34

It is in this context that we must interpret the information given by Bernard Gui (Bernardus Guidonis), a leading figure and historian of the Dominican order, that in 1306, the King of Hungary sent a Dominican friar, Andrew of Hungary, as procurator to the Holy See to ‘intercede with Pope Clement V in the cause of the canonization of King Béla’s daughter Margaret.’35 Bernard Gui does not mention the king’s name, but there can be little doubt that it was Caroberto, the future Charles I, who had assumed the title in 1301 but was still fighting for the kingdom. A recently discovered document may be linked to this same piece of information: a petition to the pope written by Bishop Imre of Várad, in the same matter and the same year.36 These moves by the party around Caroberto in 1306 may be related to a successful petition made that same year by his uncle, Charles II ‘the Lame’ for the start of the canonization process of Louis of Anjou, Bishop of Toulouse, who had renounced his position as heir to the throne to enter the Franciscan order and lived a saintly life up to his death in 1297.37 That cause bore fruit in a short time: Louis of Anjou was canonized at a ceremony in Marseille in 131738 and became the patron saint of the Angevin dynasty, who celebrated themselves as beata stirps.39 By contrast, Margaret’s canonization process failed to resume momentum, although the privileges of the Dominican convent on the Rabbits’ Island were renewed by Charles I’s third wife Beatrix of Luxemburg in 1319.40

In the fourteenth century, Margaret’s cult found another promoter in Hungary in the person of Elizabeth Piast, daughter of Wladislaw Łokietek, Prince of Krakow and later King of Poland (1305–20; 1320–33), who became Charles Robert’s fourth wife in 1320 and controlled court ceremony and patronage.41 An indication of her commitment to family cult of saints is her foundation (together with her husband) of a Franciscan monastery consecrated to Louis of Anjou in Lippa in 1325.42 We do not know whether she escorted Charles I when he went at the head of a ceremonial delegation to Naples in 1333 for the betrothal of his third-born son Andrew to Joanna, granddaughter of his uncle Robert I ‘the Wise’ (1309–43).43 If so, she would have had the occasion to observe the representation of grand style in which the family saints had been honoured by Mary of Hungary, Charles the Lame’s wife, and Sancia of Aragon, Robert’s wife: above all a cycle of frescoes in the Church of Santa Maria di Donnaregina portraying St Elizabeth and the holy kings of the House of Árpád, and sculptures adorning the family tombs commemorating the two St Louises, the King of France and the Bishop of Toulouse.44

In any case, it must have been due to Elizabeth Piast that a splendid new tomb for the Blessed Margaret was erected on the Rabbits’ Island between 1336 and 1340, probably involving the sculptor responsible for the tomb of Mary of Hungary (d. 1323) in Santa Maria di Donnaregina, Tino de Camaino of Naples, or at least his atelier.45 According to the chronicle of the Dominican Order by Galvano Fiamma, Queen Elizabeth donated silver adornments to the Dominican houses in Bologna and Milan (the resting places of St Dominic and St Peter the Martyr respectively), thus presumably hoping to contribute to the emergence of the cult of Margaret of Hungary in Italy.46 This was no doubt connected to a new attempt by the Hungarian royal family and the Dominican Order, around 1340, to revive Margaret’s moribund canonization process. Viktória Hedvig Deák claims that this could explain why, at just the same time, the Master-General of the Dominican Order, Hugues de Vaucemain, had his fellow-Dominican Garinus de Giaco (Garin Gy l’Évêque) write a new legend using the documents of the canonization process which were held at Avignon.47 Also possibly linked to this development was the inclusion of an image of Margaret, then as yet only Blessed, among the representations of SS Peter and Paul, the Virgin Mary and the Hungaro-Angevin family saints (Stephen, Emeric, St Louis of Toulouse, Ladislaus and Elizabeth) in the embroidery of an altar cloth which Dowager Queen Elizabeth donated to St Peter’s Basilica in Rome during her Italian pilgrimage in 1343.48

Evidence in favour of Deák’s proposal are the parallel attempts by the Luxemburgs of Bohemia, allies of the Hungarian Angevins and also their main rivals, to boost their prestige by promoting a new saint cult connected to their dynastic predecessors. Elizabeth Přemysl, wife of John of Luxemburg, with the help of the Franciscans in Bohemia made repeated attempts between 1328 and 1339 to persuade Pope John XXII and then his successor Benedict XII to start a canonization process for Agnes of Bohemia (d. 1282). Agnes—following the example of her cousin, St Elizabeth of Hungary—renounced her courtly surroundings to live her life in the convent of the Poor Clares in Prague, which she had founded in 1235.49 This resulted, during these years, in the writing of the legend of Agnes and the collection of miracles which occurred at her grave: Queen Elizabeth Přemysl herself contributed two personal miracle stories to the list.50

As for the canonization of Margaret, after the new attempt had ended with failure around 1340, Dowager Queen Elizabeth nevertheless continued to pay considerable attention to the family convent and the maintenance of the memory of the family saint-candidate. In 1353, she requested and received papal dispensation to regularly spend time in the island convent.51

The joint efforts of the Dowager Queen and the Dominican order to promote Margaret’s canonization had an interesting consequence in Italy in the middle of the fourteenth century. The word spread that the beatified Hungarian princess, the sole female Dominican candidate for sanctification whose canonization was in process, had once—like St Francis of Assisi—been honored in a moment of ecstasy by the appearance on her body of the stigmata, the holy wounds of Christ. A painting by the ‘Master of the Dominican Effigies’ (c. 1350) in the sacristy of the Santa Maria Novella in Florence, stands as a record of this belief. It shows St Margaret in the company of other Dominican saints and candidates for canonization. There is a crown on her head and one hand holds a lily; on the other hand, which holds a globe, a stigma is clearly visible.52 The earliest representation of the stigmatisation scene itself appears on a severely degraded triptych-form fresco in San Domenico, Perugia (1368). On the left field, St Margaret is dressed in a white tunic and a hardly-visible cloak and headscarf, kneeling on her right knee, the crown laid on the ground, and receives the stigmata from a seraph crucifix.53 A third pictorial record of Margaret’s stigmatisation is a fresco by an unknown master in the church of San Niccolò in Treviso, near Tommaso da Modena’s famous series of Dominican masters, also made around 1370. The angels above the standing figure of Margaret hold a crown, and her portrait is accompanied by two inscriptions: “Beata Margareta regina Ungariae ordinis fratrum predicatorum” and “Ego enim stigmata Xti in corpore meo porto” – the latter a quotation from the apostle Paul (Gal. 6, 17).54 Another Italian connection from the middle of the fourteenth century is an incomplete Latin legend of her stigmatisation which survives in a manuscript from Pisa, appended to the legend of Garinus,55 and an Italian translation of it worked into the introduction of an Italian translation of a mystical tract called ‘Mirror of simple souls’, by Marguerite de Porete, a Wallonian Beguine burned as a heretic in 1310.56

The Italian fame of Margaret’s stigmatisation had one major consequence: it prepared the religious community for the emergence of a stigmatized saint whom the Italian Dominicans found among their own ranks, the famous mystic of the age Catherine of Siena (1347–80). She was a figure who could stand alongside St Francis of Assisi, putting the Dominicans on equal rank with the other mendicant order in this area.57 Later, when the zealous propagandist for the canonization of Catherine of Siena, Tommaso d’Antonio da Siena (1350–1434), known as Caffarini, Prior of the Dominican friary of San Giovanni e Paolo in Venice, contacted the Hungarian Dominicans to ask what they knew about Margaret’s stigmata, his Hungarian fellows had disappointing news for him. Provincial Gregory wrote in 1409 that the highly detailed thirteenth-century canonization documentation made no mention of stigmata, which must therefore have been a false rumour. He added that this sign of holy favour had in fact been granted to another Hungarian Dominican nun of saintly life, Margaret’s ‘magistra’, the Blessed Helen.58 The Hungarian court must also have been ignorant of the story of Margaret’s stigmata circulating in Italy, otherwise they would surely not have been left behind by the Italian Dominican cloisters in the pictorial representations of this exceptional holy phenomenon. For the Hungarian Angevins were otherwise very keen on keeping up with their Neapolitan relatives in saintly imagery: among the most striking examples are the Hungarian Angevin Legendary59 and the artistic propaganda commissioned by the court and destined for use abroad, which was studied by Ernő Marosi.60

The unbroken veneration of Margaret in the Angevin era is clear from an interesting literary source, a romantic travel account called Paradiso degli Alberti written in 1389 by Giovanni Gherardi da Prato of Padua, which tells of a European tour by a group of Italian youths, including a visit to the court of Louis the Great. There, the young men do not find King Louis in his Buda palace and are informed that the King is ‘on the Island’ (in all probability the Rabbits’ Island). There, indeed, they find him, without royal pomp or retinue, absorbed in solitary meditation. This is interesting and credible eyewitness evidence of the increasingly personal religiosity in the ruling courts of the time, such as, for instance, in the entourage of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, who built Karlstein and furnished it with a private sanctuary.61

In the 1370s, the Hungarian Angevins made another attempt to revive Margaret’s canonization process. The relevant documents were recently published by Otfried Krafft. This source, immensely valuable for Hungarian research, is currently in Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana Vat. lat. codex 6772 (20r): it is Urban IV’s decree of 1 June 1379 citing the petition of Dowager Queen Elizabeth and commissioning the addressee (an unnamed senior Hungarian cleric) to conduct, together with Stephen, Patriarch of Jerusalem and the bishops of Pécs and Veszprém, an investigation into the life and miracles of Margaret, daughter of King Béla.62

This papal announcement of a fresh canonization process was made in the second year of the Great Schism.63 The double papal election aroused consternation throughout Western Christendom and made the choice between them—Urban VI of Rome and Clement VII of Avignon—the dominant issue in the year 1378–79, as the two popes attempted by diplomatic manoeuvring to win over supporters and followers. This is the context in which we must interpret Urban VI’s decree of 1 June 1379 which, satisfying the repeated petitions of the Hungarian royal dynasty, ordered a new hearing of witnesses in the matter of the sanctity of Béla IV’s daughter Margaret.

One of Urban VI’s main efforts was to secure the alliance of the Angevins, who ruled Hungary and—by then—Poland. Shortly after his election, in May 1378, he openly turned against Queen Joanna I of Naples, threatening to deprive her, by virtue of the feudal lordship of the Holy See over Naples, of her crown and send her to a convent. As her replacement on the Neapolitan throne, the Pope chose her cousin, Charles Durazzo ‘the Small’, who was living in the court of Louis the Great of Hungary, and this became the starting point for an increasingly close alliance with Louis.64

In December 1378, Urban VI sent Cardinal Pileus de Prata on a diplomatic mission to Hungary. He stayed in the country in the first few months of 1379, and also visited Prague.65 It was clearly through his preparatory mediation that Wenceslaus IV, who had recently assumed the Bohemian throne and also bore the title of King of the Romans, agreed on a meeting with Louis the Great. The two kings met in the castle of Zólyom (Zvolen, Slovakia), where they ceremonially announced their joint support for Urban VI, confirmed the engagement of Mary of Anjou and Sigismund of Luxemburg, and in all probability agreed to promote Charles the Small’s claim to the throne of Naples.66 Louis followed this up the same year by sending Charles to Italy at the head of an army. Charles was to carry out military operations against Venice, lend support to Urban VI, and implement the plans for gaining control of Naples.

The reopening of Margaret’s canonization process thus became part of a tide of events that decided political supremacy in Italy for a long time to come. Although the name of Dowager Queen Elizabeth is the only one to appear among the petitioners for Margaret’s canonization, it is reasonable to suppose that this papal gesture towards the royal house of Hungary was actually aimed at strengthening the strategically vital alliance with Louis the Great.

In taking up the cause of the canonization of the Hungarian princess who had become a Dominican nun, Pope Urban VI must have been influenced by a member of his close circle who was very active in securing international support for him: the highly respected visionary within the Dominican Order, Catherine of Siena. Catherine wrote directly to the King of Hungary in the matter in early 1379, and had previously written to his mother Queen Elizabeth in 1375.67 Catherine of Siena and her circle—especially her confessor Raymund of Capua, who would become Master-General of the Dominican Order from 1380, and the scribe of many of Catherine’s letters, Stefano Maconi68—may have known that Margaret of Hungary was venerated as a saint, indeed a stigmatized saint, in the churches of Italian Dominican convents (in Florence, Perugia and Treviso). Thus when Pope Urban VI, surrounded by Dominican counsellors, and giving particular support to Hungarian affairs, ordered a new examination in Margaret’s cause, he was not only supporting the petition for a dynastic cult of a royal family he wanted to win over as an ally, but also taking up the cause of a widespread but still-unofficial cult connected to the Dominican Order, one that was becoming increasingly popular in Italy in the final third of the fourteenth century.

Pope Urban VI’s choice of appointees to the canonization commission is also revealing. Among the twenty-nine new cardinals Urban appointed in an attempt to counterbalance the fraction hostile to him in the College of Cardinals on 28 September 1378, one of his first actions after being elected pope, was the highest Hungarian church dignitary, Demeter, Archbishop of Esztergom since 16 August 1378, previously Bishop of Zagreb. The Pope conferred on him the title of Cardinal of the Sancti Quatuor Coronati, while ordering him to continue to stay in Hungary and act as Archbishop of Esztergom.69 As Krafft argues, Demeter may have been the addressee of the June 1379 decretal letter ordering the new canonization procedure and the head of its commission of examination. An echo of this may be the intitulatio of a charter he issued some months later, on 22 November 1379, in which he called himself, inter alia, in regno Hungariae sedis apostolice legatus.70

The member of the canonization commission named as ‘Stephen, Patriarch of Jerusalem’ was none other than István Szigeti, Archbishop of Kalocsa, the second ecclesiastical dignitary of the realm, a position he held between 1367 and 1382. In a charter of 4 December 1378, he also referred to himself as a papal legate. József Udvardy, in his biographical study on István Szigeti, linked this title to the archbishop’s prominent role in church politics, among others to his appointment in connection with the planned establishment of the Bishopric of Szörény (Turnu Severin, Romania) among the Romanians, under the sign of the unionist movement, but it is also possible that in his case as well the legatine title was linked to the role he was to play in the canonization commission.71

Another appointee to the commission, Bálint Alsáni, Bishop of Pécs, also warrants some attention. He may have been known to Urban VI and his circle from the diplomatic negotiations relating to the war against Venice, held in North Italy in 1378 and 1379, where he was one of Louis the Great’s representatives. At the end of the war, he was again one of the senior members of the Hungarian delegation at the peace conference of Turin in 1381 and was associated with one of the important outcomes of the treaty, the transfer of the body of St Paul the Hermit to Hungary. In 1384, Urban also appointed him a cardinal on similar terms to Demeter, so that he did not have to give up his title of Bishop of Pécs, where he was the main promoter and organizer of the—sadly short-lived—University of Pécs.72

Unfortunately, we have very incomplete information on the fourth member of the commission, the Bishop of Veszprém. Otfried Krafft, on the basis of Conrad Eubel’s twentieth-century book on the Catholic hierarchy73 identifies him as Péter, but according to the archontology of Pál Engel, Péter was only Bishop of Veszprém between January 4 and June 14, 1378, after which the office remained vacant for some time, and his successor, Benedek Himházi, took over only after the issue of a papal bull of June 4, 1379.74 The probable explanation is that the Bishop of Veszprém was included in the commission not for personal reasons but on account of his diocesan competence; a previous passage of the bull reveals the papal chancellery’s awareness that the ‘Island of the Rabbits’, where Margaret lived, belonged to the Veszprém diocese.

Archbishop Demeter of Esztergom, Archbishop István Szigeti of Kalocsa and Bishop Bálint Alsáni of Pécs would have been well qualified to organize the new commission for Margaret’s canonization had it actually started; yet every sign seems to indicate that it did not. This time, the reasons are most probably to look for in the situation within Hungary. As we have seen, the appointed members of the commission had other things on their plate between 1378 and 1380. The petitioner, Dowager Queen Elizabeth, died in December 1380.75 King Louis himself died on 10 September 1382. Margaret’s canonization, as is well known, still had to wait for several more centuries.

In epilogue, we should make mention of King Matthias’ two petitions in her cause: in 1462 and 1464 he petitioned Pope Pius II to revive the ‘interrupted matter’ of Margaret’s canonization process.76 Attempts continued in the modern age: between 1639 and 1643, witnesses were heard in Pressburg (Bratislava, Slovakia) at the initiative of Zsigmond Ferrarius and under the coordination of Antonio Sartori,77 and the Dominican Order renewed its attempts between 1729 and 1770, but all in vain. Margaret was eventually canonized only in 1943.78

 

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Translated by Alan Campbell

1 Sofia Boesch Gajano, La santità (Rome–Bari: Laterza, 1999); Thomas Head, ed., Medieval Hagiography. An Anthology (New York–London: Garland, 2000).

2 Stephan Kuttner, “La réserve papale du droit de canonisation,” Revue Historique de Droit Français et Étranger, 4e série 17 (1938): 172–228; Eric Waldram Kemp, Canonization and Authority in the Western Church (London: Oxford University Press, 1948).

3 André Vauchez, La sainteté en Occident aux derniers siècles du Moyen Age d’après les procès de canonisation et les documents hagiographiques, Bibliothèques des Écoles françaises d’Athène et de Rome, 241 (Rome: École Française de Rome, 1981, 1988); in English: Sainthood in the Later Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

4 Michael Goodich, Vita Perfecta: The Ideal of Sainthood in the Thirteenth Century, Monographien zur Geschichte des Mittelalters, vol. 25 (Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 1982).

5 Richard Stachnik, ed., Die Akten des Kanonisationsprozesses Dorotheas von Montau von 1394 bis 1521 (Cologne–Vienna: Böhlau, 1978); Jacques Cambell, ed., Enquête pour le procès de canonisation de Dauphine de Puimichel, Comtesse d’Ariano († 26-XI-1360) (Apt et Avignon, 14 Mai–30 Octobre 1363) (Turin: Bottega d’Erasmo, 1978); Enrico Menestò, ed., Il processo di canonizzazione di Chiara da Montefalco, con un appendice documentaria di S. Nessi (Florence: Nuova Italia, 1984); Nicola Occhioni OSA, ed., Il Processo per la canonizzazione di S. Nicola da Tolentino (Rome: Ecole Française de Rome, 1984); Raymonde Foreville and Gillian Keir, eds., The Book of St. Gilbert (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987).

6 Aviad Kleinberg, “Proving Sanctity: Selection and Authentication of Saints in the Later Middle Ages,” Viator 20 (1989): 183–205; idem, Prophets in Their Own Country. Living Saints and the Making of Sainthood in the Later Middle Ages (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992).

7 Bernhard Schimmelpfennig, “Heilige Päpste – päpstliche Kanonisationspolitik,” in Politik und Heiligenverehrung im Hochmittelalter, ed. Jürgen Petersohn (Sigmaringen: Jan Thorbecke, 1994), 73–100.

8 Christian Krötzl, Pilger, Mirakel und Alltag. Formen des Verhaltens in skandinavischen Mittelalter (12.–15. Jahrhundert) (Helsinki: SHS, 1994).

9 Luigi Canetti, L’invenzione della memoria. Il culto e immagine di Domenico nella storia dei primi frati Predicatori (Spoleto: Centro Italiano di Studi sull’Alto Medioevo, 1996).

10 Roberto Paciocco, “Sublimia negotia.” Le canonizzazioni dei santi nella curia papale e il nuovo Ordine dei frati minori (Padua: Centro Studi Antoniani, 1996).

11 Thomas Wetzstein, “Virtus morum et virtus signorum? Zur Bedeutung der Mirakel in den Kanonisationsprozessen des 15. Jahrhunderts,” in Mirakel im Mittelalter. Konzeptionen, Erscheinungsformen, Deutungen, eds. Martin Heinzelmann et al. (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2002), 351–76; idem, Heilige vor Gericht. Das Kanonisationsverfahren im europäischen Mittelalter (Cologne–Weimar–Vienna: Böhlau, 2004).

12 Otfried Krafft, Papsturkunde und Heiligsprechung. Die päpstlichen Kanonisationen vom Mittelalter bis zur Reformation. Ein Handbuch, Archiv für Diplomatik, Beiheft 9. (Cologne–Weimar–Vienna: Böhlau, 1995).

13 André Vauchez, “La naissance du soupçon: vraie et fausse sainteté aux derniers siècles du Moyen Age,” in idem, Saints, prophètes et visionnaires. Le pouvoir surnaturel au Moyen Âge (Paris: Albin Michel, 1999), 208–19; idem, “Les origines et le développement du procès de canonisation (XIIe–XIIIe siècles),” in Vita Religiosa im Mittelalter. Festschrift für Kaspar Elm zum 70. Geburtstag, eds. Franz J. Felten and Nikolas Jaspert (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1999), 845–56.

14 Michael Goodich, Violence and Miracle in the Fourteenth Century. Private Grief and Public Salvation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995); idem: Lives and Miracles of the Saints. Studies in Medieval Latin Hagiography (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004); idem, Miracles and Wonders. The Development of the Concept of Miracle, 1150–1350 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007).

15 Gábor Klaniczay, ed., Procès de canonisation au Moyen Âge. Aspects juridiques et religieux – Canonization Processes in the Middle Ages. Legal and Religious Aspects, Collection de l’École française de Rome 340 (Rome: Ecole Française de Rome, 2004).

16 There is an extensive Hungarian literature on the life of St Margaret of Hungary. Unfortunately the work by Elemér Lovas, Elemér Mályusz, László Mezey and Ilona Király is not accessible in foreign languages. On recent literature see Tibor Klaniczay, “La fortuna di Santa Margherita d’Ungheria in Italia,” in Spiritualità e lettere nella cultura italiana e ungherese del basso medioevo, eds. Sante Graciotti and Cesare Vasoli (Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1995), 3–27; Gábor Klaniczay, Holy Rulers and Blessed Princesses. Dynastic Cults in Medieval Central Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 195–295, 423–28; Viktória Hedvig Deák, La légende de sainte Marguerite de Hongrie et l’hagiographie dominicaine (Paris: Cerf, 2013).

17 Dezső Dümmerth, “Árpád-házi Szent Margit halála éve és a legendák” [The Year of Death of St Margaret of Hungary and the Legends], Irodalomtörténeti Közlemények 76 (1972): 617–20.

18 “Dudum ex parte clare memorie (Stephani) regis Hungarie, felicis recordationos Gregorio papae nostre fuit humiliter supplicatum...” — “Inquisitio super vita, conversatione et miraculis beatae Margarethae virginis, Belae IV. Hungarorum regis filiae, sanctimonialis monasterii virginis gloriosae de insula Danubii, Ordinis Praedicatorum, Vesprimis diocesis,” ed. Vilmos Fraknói (hereafter: Inquisitio), in A veszprémi püspökség római oklevéltára. Monumenta Romana Episcopatus Vesprimiensis, 4 vols., ed. a collegio historicorum Hungarorum Romano (Budapest: n.p., 1896–1907 (hereafter: MREV), vol. I, 160.

19 Géza Érszegi, ed., Árpád-kori legendák és intelmek [Árpád Era Legends and Counsel] (Budapest: Szépirodalmi Könyvkiadó, 1983), 147. Critical editions of the Hungarian legend: György Volf, Szent Margit élete [Life of St Margaret], Nyelvemléktár, vol. VIII (Budapest: MTA, 1881); János P. Balázs, Szent Margit élete 1510 [Life of St Margaret 1510], Régi magyar kódexek 10. (Budapest: Magyar Nyelvtudományi Társaság, 1990).

20 “Legenda Beatae Margaritae de Hungaria,” in Scriptores rerum Hungaricarum tempore ducum regumque stirpis Arpadianae gestarum, 2 vols., ed. Imre Szentpétery. Kornél Szovák and László Veszprémy compiled the Afterword and the Bibliography, and added the writings published in the Appendices into the material of the 1st edition (Budapest: Nap Kiadó, 1999), 685–709.

21 Vilmos Fraknói, “Prolegomena,” in MREV, vol. I, XLI.

22 Otfried Krafft, “Árpád-házi Szent Margit szentté avatási perének 1379-es újrafelvétele” [The 1379 Reopening of the Canonization Process of St Margaret of Hungary], Századok 140 (2006): 455.

23 Archivio Storico Capitolino, Archivio Orsini, Pergamene: II. A. XI. no. 8; cf. Bence Péterfi, “Újabb adalékok Árpád-házi Margit középkori csodáinak sorához” [New Additions to the Medieval Miracles of St Margaret of Hungary], in Micae mediaevales. Tanulmányok a középkori Magyarországról és Európáról, ed. Zsófia Kádár et al. (Budapest: ELTE BTK, 2011), 86.

24 Elemér Lovas argues in favour of Marcellus’ authorship (Elemér Lovas, “Árpád-házi B. Margit első életrajzának írója – Marcellus” [The Author of the First Biography of St Margaret of Hungary – Marcellus], in A pannonhalmi Szt. Gellért főiskola évkönyve (Pannonhalma, n.p., 1940/1941), 21–85, and although Hungarian historians have continued to argue about this identification, most accept it, including the present author. I gave my arguments in Klaniczay, Holy Rulers and Blessed Princesses, 290–91.

25 Paul Gerhard Schmidt, “Die zeitgenössische Überlieferung zum Leben und zur Heiligsprechung der heiligen Elisabeth,” in Sankt Elisabeth. Fürstin, Dienerin, Heilige, ed. Philipp Universität Marburg (Sigmaringen: Thorbecke, 1981), 1–6; Joseph Leinweber, “Das kirchliche Heiligsprechungsverfahren bis zum Jahre 1234. Der Kanonisationsprozeß der hl. Elisabeth von Thüringen,” in Sankt Elisabeth. Fürstin, Dienerin, Heilige, 128–36; Klaniczay, Holy Rulers and Blessed Princesses, 419–20; idem, “Il processo di canonizzazione di Santa Elisabetta. Le prime testimonianze sulla vita e sui miracoli,” in Il culto e la storia di Santa Elisabetta d’Ungheria in Europa, 18–19 novembre 2002. Annuario 2002–2004. Conferenze e convegni (Rome: Accademia d’Ungheria in Roma, 2005), 220–32; Otfried Krafft, “Kommunikation und Kanonisation: Die Heiligsprechung der Elisabeth von Thüringen 1235 und das Problem der Mehrfachausfertigung von päpstlichen Kanonisationsurkunden seit 1161,” Zeitschrift des Vereins für Thüringische Geschichte 58 (2004): 27–82.

26 Wojciech Kętrzyński, ed., “Miracula sancti Stanislai,” in Monumenta Poloniae Historica, vol. IV. (Lviv: n.p., 1884), 285–318; Jazmina Pleziowa and Zbigniew Perzanowski, eds., “Cuda Świętego Stanisława,” Analecta Cracoviensia 11(1979): 47–141; Aleksandra Witkowska, “The Thirteenth-Century Miracula of St. Stanislaus, Bishop of Krakow,” in Procès de canonization, 149–63.

27 Deák, La légende de sainte Marguerite de Hongrie, 239–41; for the latest analysis of the depositions, see ibid., 286–323.

28 This may be inferred from the record of the depositions on July 23 that starts with the words ‘primo anno pontificatus domini Innocentii pape quinti’ — Inquisitio, 165.

29 Vauchez, La sainteté, 71–98.

30 Ibid., 86–94.

31 Jacques Le Goff, “Saint de l’Eglise et saint du peuple: les miracles officiels de saint Louis entre sa mort et sa canonisation (1270–1297),” in Histoire sociale, sensibilités colectives et mentalités: mélanges Robert Mandrou (Paris: P.U.F, 1985), 169–80; idem, Saint Louis (Paris: Gallimard, 1996), 298–315; Louis Carolus-Barré, Le procès de canonisation de Saint Louis (1272–1297). Essai de reconstitution (Rome: Ecole Française de Rome, 1994); Cecilia Gaposchkin, The Making of Saint Louis: Kingship, Sanctity and Crusade in the Later Middle Ages (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2008).

32 “Dominus Stephanus... natus est de genere sanctorum et maximorum Regum, Princeps potens et bellicosus,” Magyar diplomacziai emlékek az Anjou korból [Hungarian Diplomatic Records from the Angevin Era], 3 vols., ed. Gusztáv Wenzel (Budapest: MTA, 1874–76), vol. I/1. 24.

33 The latest on Charles Martel’s claim to the Hungarian throne is Enikő Csukovits, Az Anjouk Magyarországon I. I. Károly és uralkodása (1301–1342) [The Angevins in Hungary I. Charles I and His Reign (1301–1342)] (Budapest: MTA BTK Történettudományi Intézet, 2012), 48–52.

34 I have analysed this saint cult based propaganda in several places. Gábor Klaniczay: “Le culte des saints dynastiques en Europe Centrale (Angevins et Luxembourgs au XIVe siècle),” in L’Eglise et le peuple chrétien dans les pays de l’Europe du Centre-Est et du Nord (XIVe-XVe siècles), Actes du colloque ... de Rome (27–29 janvier 1986) (Rome: Ecole Française de Rome, 1990), 221–47; idem, Holy Rulers and Blessed Princesses, 1–2, 295–367.

35 “Fr. Andreas Ungarus fuit factus archiepiscopus Antibarensis per dominum Clementem papam V anno domini MCCCVI ... in curia, ubi erat pro canonizatione sancte Margarite filie quondam regis Ungarie nomine Belle optinenda missus a rege Ungarie procurator, cuius sibi in hac parte cooperatus est interventus.” — Stephanus de Salaniaco–Bernardus Guidonis, De quatuor in quibus deus praedicatorum ordinem insignivit, ed. Thomas Kaeppeli (MOPH XXII) (Rome: Istituto Storico Domenicano, 1949), 102–03; Deák, La légende de sainte Marguerite de Hongrie, 221.

36 Archivio Storico Capitolino, Archivio Orsini, Pergamene: II. A. IX. no. 54; Péterfi, “Újabb adalékok Árpád-házi Margit középkori csodáinak sorához,” 88.

37 Margaret Toynbee, S. Louis of Toulouse and the Process of Canonization in the Fourteenth Century (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1927), 151–54; Klaniczay, Holy Rulers and Blessed Princesses, 324.

38 Edith Pásztor, Per la storia di san Ludovico d’Angiò (1274–1297), Studi storici 10 (Rome: Istituto Storico Italiano per il medio evo, 1955); Klaniczay, Holy Rulers and Blessed Princesses, 304–10; Mario Gaglione, “Il san Ludovico di Simone Martini, manifesto della santità regale angioina,” Rassegna storica salernitana XXIX/2, no. 58 (2012): 9–125.

39 André Vauchez, “Beata stirps: sainteté et lignage en Occident aux XIIIe et XIVe siècles,” in Famille et parenté dans l’Occident médiéval, ed. Georges Duby et al. (Rome: Ecole Française de Rome, 1977), 397–406.

40 Anjou-kori okmánytár I–VII [Charters from the Angevin Period], ed. Imre Nagy et al. (Budapest: MTA, 1878–1920), vol. I, 507.

41 Jan Dąbrowski, Elżbieta Łokietówna 1305–1380 (Krakow: Nakł. Akademii Umiejętności, 1914); Ewa Śnieżyńska-Stolot, “Queen Elisabeth as a Patron of Architecture,” Acta Historiae Artium Academiae Scientiarum Hungarice 20 (1974): 13–36; idem, “Tanulmányok Erzsébet királyné mecénási tevékenységéről” [Studies on the Patronage of Queen Elizabeth], Ars Hungarica 7 (1979) 23–32; idem, “Tanulmányok Łokietek Erzsébet királyné műpártolása köréből (Ötvöstárgyak)” [Studies in the Patronage of Queen Elizabeth Łokietek (Metalware)], Művészettörténeti Értesítő 30 (1981): 233–54.

42 “Chronici hungarici compositio saeculi XIV,” ed. Sándor Domanovszky, in SRH, vol. I (Budapest: n.p., 1938), 490.

43 István Miskolczy, Magyar–olasz összeköttetések az Anjouk korában [Hungarian–Italian Connections in the Angevin Era] (Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 1937); Samantha Kelly, The New Solomon. Robert of Naples (1309–1343) and Fourteenth-century Kingship (Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2003); Csukovits, Az Anjouk Magyarországon, 113–15.

44 Janis Elliott and Cordelia Warr, eds., The Church of Santa Maria Donna Regina: Art, Iconography, and Patronage in Fourteenth-century Naples (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004); Cordelia Warr, “Der Freskenzyklus der heiligen Elisabeth von Ungarn in Santa Maria Donna Regina in Neapel,” in Elisabeth von Thüringen: Eine europäische Heilige, ed. Dieter Blume et al. (Petersberg: Michael Imhof, 2007), 345–52; Ingrid Würth, “Altera Elisabeth: Königin Sancia von Neapel (1286–1345) und die Franziskaner,” in Religiöse Bewegungen im Mittelalter: Festschrift für Matthias Werner zum 65. Geburtstag, ed E. Bünz et al. (Cologne–Vienna–Weimar: Böhlau, 2007), 517–42; Klaniczay, Holy Rulers and Blessed Princesses, 336–38.

45 Pál Lővei, “The Sepulchral Monument of Saint Margaret of the Arpad Dynasty,” Acta Historiae Artium 27 (1980): 211; Tania Michalski, “Die Repräsentation einer Beata Stirps. Darstellung und Ausdruck an den Grabmonumenten der Anjous,” in Die Repräsentation der Gruppen: Texte – Bilder – Objekte, ed. Otto-Gerhard Oexle et al. (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998), 187–224.

46 “Hoc anno domina regina Hungariae Elizabeth ob reverentiam B. Dominici misit conventi Bononiensi paramenta ecclesiastica totalia, calicem argenteum, ampullas argenteas, propter quod fuit eidem deputata prima missa quae quottidie ad altare beati Dominici dicitur. Misit etiam prefata regina conventui Mediolanensi ob reverentiam B. Petri martyris paramentum unum veluti rubei completum pro altari majori. Aliud insuper paramentum veluti rubei viridisque cum frontali pulcro ac calice argenteo magno” — “La Cronaca Maggiore dell’ordine domenicano di Galvano Fiamma,” ed. Gundisalvo Odetto, Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum 10 (1940): 227–373 (quotation: 369), cf. Deák, La légende de sainte Marguerite de Hongrie, 222.

47 Deák, La légende de sainte Marguerite de Hongrie, 219–24; Idem, “The Birth of a Legend: the So-called Legenda Maior of Saint Margaret of Hungary and Dominican Hagiography,” Revue Mabillon 20 no. 81 (2009): 87–112; idem, “The Techniques of a Hagiographer. The two legendae of Saint Margaret of Hungary,” in Promoting the Saints. Cults and Their Contexts from Late Antiquity until the Early Modern Period. Essays in Honor of Gábor Klaniczay for His 60th Birthday, ed. Ottó Gecser et al. CEU Medievalia, 14 (Budapest: CEU, 2011), 125–36. For the text of the legend, see Catalogus fontium historiae Hungaricae aevo ducum et regum ex stirpe Arpad descendentium ab anno Christi DCCC usque ad annum MCCCI, 3 vols., ed. Albin Ferenc Gombos (Budapest: Szent István Akadémia, 1937–1938), vol. III, 2481–545.

48 The altar ornament is described in a 1361 inventory: “Item unum aliud dossale pro dicto altari de syndone violato, ornatum de novem ymaginibus, videlicet, cum nostra domina in medio et a dextris ejus sanctus Paulus, sanctus Stephanus Rex Ungarie, Sanctus Erricus Dux Ungarie et sanctus Lodoycus, et a sinistris sanctus Petrus et sanctus Ladislaus Rex Ungarie, sancta Helisabet filia regis Ungarie, et sancta Margarita filia regis Ungarie, cum spicis aureis duplicatis inter ipsas imagines et in circuitu una vitis de auro in sindone rubeo cum rosis aureis” — E. Müntz and A. L. Frottingham (Jun.), “Il Tesoro della Basilica di S. Pietro in Vaticano dal XIII al XV secolo con una scelta d’inventari inediti,” Archivio della Società Romana di Storia Patria 6 (1883): 14.

49 “Chronicon Aulae Regiae,” in Fontes Rerum Bohemicarum, vol. IV, ed. Jozef Emler (Prague: Nákl. Nadáni Františka Palackého, 1884), 291–92; Jaroslav Polc, Agnes von Böhmen 1211–1282, Lebensbilder zur Geschichte der böhmischen Länder 6. (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1989), 158–63; Christian-Frederik Felskau, “Vita religiosa und paupertas der Přemyslidin Agnes von Prag. Zu Bezügen und Besonderheiten in Leben und Legende einer späten Heiligen,” Collectanea Franciscana 70 (2000): 413–84 (particularly: 415); idem, Agnes von Böhmen und die Klosteranlage der Klarissen und Franziskaner in Prag. Leben und Institution, Legende und Verehrung (Nordhausen: Traugott Bautz, 2008).

50 Jan Kapistrán Vyskočil, ed., Legenda blahoslavené Anežky a čtyri listy Sv. Kláry [The Legend of the Blessed Agnes and Four Letters of St Clara] (Prague: Universum, 1934), 124–26; György Balanyi, Csehországi Boldog Ágnes [Blessed Agnes of Bohemia], Regnum 1. (Budapest: Stephaneum, 1939), 137–68.

51 MREV, vol. III, 220–21.

52 Richard Offner, A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting (New York: New York University, 1930), Sect. III, vol. II, Part I. 58. table XXV; George Kaftal, Saints in Tuscan Painting, Iconography of the Saints in Italian Painting from its Beginning to the Early XVth Century, vol. I (Florence: Sansoni, 1952), coll. 31, 672–73. no. 214; Gábor Klaniczay, “Le stigmate di santa Margherita d’Ungheria: immagini e testi,” Iconographica. Rivista di iconografia medievale e moderna I (2002): 16–31; idem, “On the Stigmatization of Saint Margaret of Hungary,” in Medieval Christianity in Practice, ed. Miri Rubin (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009), 274–84.

53 George Kaftal, Iconography of the Saints in Central and South Italian Schools of Painting, Iconography of the Saints in Italian Painting from its Beginning to the Early XVth Century, vol. II (Florence: Sansoni, 1965), coll. 740–42. no. 243 (a).

54 Luigi Coletti, Catalogo delle cose d’arte e di antichità d’Italia di Treviso (Rome: Libreria dello Stato, 1935), 408; Lea Tolnay Danesi, “Un affresco senese a Treviso,” L’Arte 37 (1934): 223–29; Florio Banfi, Ricordi ungheresi in Italia (Rome: Reale Accademia d’Ungheria, 1942), 173–74; George Kaftal and Fabio Bisogni, Iconography of the Saints in the Painting of North East Italy, Iconography of the Saints in Italian Painting from its Beginning to the Early XVth Century, vol. III (Florence: Sansoni, 1978), 663–65, no. 194 (c).

55 “Cum quadam die virgo Margarita in oratorio suo quod erat inter chorum et murum ecclesie lacrimose oraret, visa est a quadam sorore elevari a terra per cubitos plures, sic quod per spatium duarum horarum se habens, cum postea rediret ad lectum suum visa est ab Idem sorore habere in quinque locis suis corporis, manibus videlicet et pedibus ac latere, stigmata quinque sanguinolenta. A qua virgo sancta precibus obtinuit quod, quam diu viveret, teneret secretum. Unde idipsum, post mortem virginis omnibus revelavit. Et consimiliter confessor virginis hoc ipsum quoque plurimi viderunt et attestati sunt. Et qualiter quidam inquisitores Innocentii quinti, post multum temporis, volentes videre corpus eius, aperientes sepulcrum dicta stigmata, ut prefatum est, invenerunt et inde instrumentum publicum confecerunt.” Thomas Antonii de Senis “Caffarini”, Libellus de supplemento, Legende prolixe virginis beate Catherine de Senis, eds. Iuliana Cavallini and Imelda Foralosso (Rome: Edizioni Cateriniane, 1974), 175; Tibor Klaniczay, “La fortuna di Santa Margherita d’Ungheria in Italia,” in Spiritualità e lettere nella cultura italiana e ungherese del basso medioevo, ed. Sante Graciotti et al. (Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1995), 3–27.

56 “Standosi un di questa venerabile Margarita divotamente in uno suo horatorio in oratione dinanzi al crocefisso con molta effusione di lagrime, incontenente fu rapta dallo Spirito Santo, et fu levata da terra per misure di quattro comiti, et in questo modo stette per ispatio di due hore e più. Et si come Iddio permise, questa beata così rapta fu veduta da una sua compagna et parente d’uno medesimo habito con questa beata Margarita, colla quale segrete revelationi, le quali da Christo ricevea. E tornata questa beata in sè, insieme con questa sua compagna et parente se ne andò in cella per riposarsi. Et levandosi ella il mantello insanguinato, et le sue mani, e i piedi. Le quale stupefatta di questa cosa, divotamente domandò la beata Margarita quello che questo volesse dire. Allora beata Margarita avuta prima la fede da lei che mentre ch’ella vivesse questo non dovesse manifestare, et allora gli narrò, come Christo crocefisso in ispecie di seraphino gli fermò le stimmate nel corpo suo. Et essendo venuto il tempo, nello quale beata Margarita migrò di questa vita, fu tempo che questa sua parente potè manifestare questo grandissimo miracolo, et così fece, con grandissima reverentia et devotione narrava ciò ad ogni gente… Et innanzi che questa beata fusse seppellita, fu da molti il suo corpo veduto colle ditte stimmate segnato”Published in Florio Banfi, “Le stimmate della B. Margherita d’Ungheria,” Memorie Domenicane 50–51 (1934): 304–06; cf. Dávid Falvay, Magyar dinasztikus szentek olasz kódexekben [Hungarian Dynastic Saints in Italian Codices] (Budapest: ELTE, 2012), 86–89.

57 Carolyn Muessig et al., eds., A Companion to Catherine of Siena (Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2012).

58 Caffarini, Libellus de supplemento, 173–75.

59 Béla Zsolt Szakács, “Le culte des saints à la cour et le Légendier des Anjou-Hongrie,” in L’Europe des Anjou (catalogue Fontevraud) (Paris: Somogy, 2001), 195–201; idem, A Magyar Anjou Legendárium képi rendszerei [Iconography of the Hungarian Angevin Legendarium] (Budapest: Balassi, 2006).

60 Ernő Marosi, “Saints at Home and Abroad: Some Observations on the Creation of Iconographic Types in Hungary of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries,” in Promoting the Saints, 175–206.

61 Giovanni Gherardi da Prato, Il paradiso degli Alberti, ed. A. Lanza (Rome: Salemo, 1975), 231–35; Tibor Kardos, Studi e ricerche umanistiche italo-ungheresi (Debrecen: KLTE, 1967), 23–30; J. Fajt and J. Royt, Magister Theodoricus: Court Painter of Emperor Charles IV. Decorations of the Sacred Places at Castle Karlstejn (Prague: National Gallery, 1997); Iva Rosario, Art and propaganda: Charles IV of Bohemia, 1346–1378 (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2000).

62 Krafft, Árpád-házi Szent Margit, 462–64; this attempt had already been mentioned in Kornél Bőle, Árpádházi Boldog Margit szenttéavatási ügye és a legősibb latin Margit-legenda [The Cause of Canonization of Blessed Margaret of Hungary and the Oldest Latin Margaret Legend] (Budapest: Stephaneum, 1937), 6.

63 For a general description of the historical situation, see János Karácsonyi, Magyarország és a nyugati nagy egyházszakadás [Hungary and the Great Western Schism] (Nagyvárad: n.p., 1885); Antal Áldásy, A nyugati nagy egyházszakadás története VI. Orbán haláláig. 1378–1389 [The History of the Great Western Schism until the Death of Urban VI] (Budapest: Pfeifer Ferdinánd, 1896); Howard Kaminsky, “The Great Schism,” in New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. VI, ed. Michael Jones (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 674–96.

64 Anna Maria Voci, “Giovanna I d’Angiò e l’inizio del grande scisma d’Occidente,” Quellen und Forschungen aus italienischen Archiven und Bibliotheken 17 (1995): 178–255; cf. Áldásy, A nyugati nagy egyházszakadás, 78–79.

65 Áldásy, A nyugati nagy egyházszakadás, 120; Vilmos Fraknói, Magyarország összeköttetései a római Szent-Székkel I. 1000–1417. [Hungary’s Relations with the Holy See of Rome] (Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 1901), 283–85.

66 Karácsonyi, Magyarország és a nyugati, 10–11; Áldásy, A nyugati nagy egyházszakadás, 135; Magyar diplomácziai emlékek, vol. III, 183.

67 Sziénai Szent Katalin, Levelek [St Catherine of Siena, Letters] (Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 1983), no. 357, 821–25, no. 145, 335–38. On the political role of Catherine of Siena in the affairs of Urban VI, see Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, Poets, Saints and Visionaries of the Great Schism, 1378–1417 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006), 46–56.

68 On the group that formed around Catherine of Siena see David Movrin, “The Beloved Disciple: Stephen Maconi and St. Catherine of Siena,” Annual of Medieval Studies at CEU 10 (2004): 43–53.

69 Áldásy, A nyugati nagy egyházszakadás, 96–97; Mór Wertner, “Adalékok Demeter bíboros esztergomi érsek életrajzához” [Additions to the Life of Cardinal Demeter, Archbishop of Esztergom], Századok 38 (1904): 800–02; Erik Fügedi, A 15. századi magyar arisztokrácia mobilitása [The Mobility of Fifteenth-Century Hungarian Aristocracy] (Budapest: Statisztikai Kiadó Vállalat, 1970), 149.

70 “Demetrius miseratione divina tituli sanctorum quatuor coronatorum presbiter cardinalis in regno Hungariae sedis apostolice legatus, Strigoniensis ecclesiae gubernator et summus cancellarius” — Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Országos Levéltára [MNL OL], Diplomatikai Fényképgyűjtemény [Collection of Photocopies, DF] 237 418, quoted in Iván Bertényi, “Demeter. 1378. augusztus 16. e. – 1387. február 20,” in Esztergomi érsekek 1000–2003 [Archbishops of Esztergom 1000–2003], ed. Margit Beke (Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 2003), 195. Footnote 21.

71 József Udvardy, A kalocsai érsekek életrajza (1000–1526) [Biographies of the Archbishops of Kalocsa] (Munich: Görres Gesellschaft, 1991), 232–42. On p. 238, he quotes document no. 38 of the Museum of Transylvania: “frater Stephanus, magister sacre pagine, Dei et apostolice sedis gratia Patriarcha Jherosolimitanus ac administrator perpetuus ecclesiarum Colocensis et Bachyensis invicem unitarum, provincieque nostre sedis apostolice legatus, ac aule regie cancellarius.”

72 Antal Áldásy, Alsáni Bálint bíbornok [Cardinal Bálint Alsáni] (Budapest: Magyar Történelmi Társulat, 1903); Erik Fügedi, “Alsáni Bálint, a pécsi egyetem második kancellárja” [Bálint Alsáni, the Second Chancellor of the University of Pécs], in A pécsi egyetem történetéből [From the History of the University of Pécs], ed. Andor Csizmadia (Pécs: PTE ÁJTK, 1967), 97–110.

73 Conrad Eubel, Hierarchia catholica medii aevi (Regensburg: Monasterii Sumptibus et typis librariae Regensbergianae, 1898–1923), vol. I, 524.

74 Pál Engel, Magyarország világi archontológiája. 1301–1457, 2 vols. [The Secular Archontology of Hungary] (Budapest: História – MTA Történettudományi Intézete, 1996), vol. I, 78.

75 László Szende, “Łokietek Erzsébet végrendelete” [The Will of Elizabeth Łokietek], Kút 3 (2004): 2, 3–11.

76 The Hungarian translation of one of the letters is published on the basis of University Library, Budapest, Collectio Kaprinayana, vol. LXI, nos. 34, 35 by I. Király, Árpád-házi Szent Margit és a sziget [St Margaret of Hungary and the Island] (Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 1979), 198–99. Interesting new documents on Matthias’ efforts concerning the canonization of Margaret are revealed in Péterfi, “Újabb adalékok Árpád-házi Margit középkori csodáinak sorához,” ibid.

77 Péter Tusor, “Magyar szentek liturgikus tisztelete és a római Sacra Rituum Congregatio a korai újkorban” [The Liturgical Veneration of Hungarian Saints and the Sacra Rituum Congregation of Rome in the Early Modern Age], in Szentjeink és nagyjaink Európa kereszténységéért [Our Saints and Our Greats for the Christianity of Europe], ed. Margit Beke (Budapest: Esztergom–Budapesti Főegyházmegye Egyháztörténeti Bizottság, 2011), 112–13.

78 Király, Árpád-házi Szent Margit, 200–04; Kornél Bőle O.P., “Szent Margit tisztelete és a szenttéavatás története a XIX. és a XX. században” [The History of the Veneration and Canonization of St Margaret in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries], in idem, Gyöngyvirágok és margaréták Árpádházi Szent Margit oltárán [Lilies of the Valley and Marguerites on the Altar of St Margaret of Hungary] (Budapest: Credo, 1944), 5–24.