ÖDÖN PÁSINT: A PRISONER OF HIS CONSCIENCE – PART I

A Voice for Minorities in Dangerous Times

Part I

Chief of the Prime Ministerial Department Ödön Pásint (1900–1950) was the Transylvanian born son of a Unitarian pastor’s family, later on a secretary of Count István Bethlen, Hungarian Prime Minister (1921–1931), who maintained close and confidential ties with him up until late 1944 when Bethlen was detained by the Soviet Army. In 1928 Pásint became the personal secretary to Bethlen and in 1942 the head of the Special Agency for Transylvania, where he headed a number of rescue efforts aimed at ethnic minorities during and after the Second World War. In the spring of 1950, he was driven into death by the constant harassment suffered at the hands of the communist State Security (ÁVH). As it happens so many times, the one who dedicated his life to protect and save others could not finally save himself. Béla Nóvé’s biographical reconstruction, based on both archival and oral history research, was first published in Hungarian by Kriterion Publishers, Cluj/Kolozsvár/Clausenburg, Romania, in 2012. The present edited excerpts have been selected from the upcoming English version of his biography titled Ödön Pásint: a Prisoner of his Conscience. A Voice for Minorities in Dangerous Times.

BIRTH AND DEATH – TWO LARGE QUESTION MARKS AND SEVERAL SMALLER ONES IN BETWEEN

The last century of Middle Europe and the Hungarians of the Carpathian Basin within it were deeply marked by an almost constant sense of threat, by a rapid succession of individual and collective traumas. It is a heavy debt of historical research that the full dimensions of the losses sustained in life, property and spiritual values remain insufficiently assessed to this day. One of these public debts, and a particularly grievous one as I see it, is the reconstruction of the fates and deeds of the mostly unknown or unduly forgotten victims. The guilt of omission is particularly heavy where, as it can be inferred from several sources, the victim himself undertook to play a key role in some important public events and in a series of courageous rescue missions.

Chief of Prime Ministerial Department Ödön Pásint (1900–1950) was undoubtedly one of such personages as attested to by many of his coevals.

And yet his career is framed by two large question marks to this day: the mysteries besetting his birth and his death. As for the former, it should suffice here that according to contemporaneous rumours Ödön Pásint was more than personal secretary to István Bethlen: he was the Prime Minister’s “fourth child” (chronologically the first), having been born to a Unitarian pastor’s wife in Transylvania, who thus gave birth to the great man’s natural-born son. As for the latter, Pásint was driven into premature death in the spring of 1950 by the constant harassment suffered at the hands of the State Security (ÁVH). Another circumstance calling for further research, partially based on oral history, is the fact that the collective memory of the age has a lot more to suggest about his role and his personal undertakings than whatever can be found in the meagre and often meaningless documents that survive. It is a well-founded suspicion that Pásint’s informal sphere of influence far extended his official purview in a whole range of delicate matters requiring special discretion. The present biographical reconstruction is motivated by two considerations. One is the intention to find out whether the suspicions alluded to can in fact be substantiated by a close examination of the available sources. The other is to use Pásint’s extensive network of connections to conjure up the deserving figures of the “swept-aside generation” of the post-Trianon era, especially the repertoire of fates fraught with tragedies that befell those “redeemers of minorities”.

As Pásint left no memoirs and no personal records behind, it is the biographical outline compiled by his widow, Dr Mária Bartha that will have to serve as a point of entry. While calling for several emendations and additions, this document paints a faithful picture of the major stations within a career beset by trials and tribulations. The original copy of the undated and unsigned typescript that has surfaced from the family archives was sent in a letter by Pásint’s widow to the Budapest Archives in 1969(1) – in all likelihood in connection with the archival process when the stack of documents created by her husband in 1942–43 was being rearranged and transferred to microfilm.(2) Here, then, is the sketchy biography reconstructed by the widow:
 

To the Budapest Archives,

The biographical data of the late Ödön Pásint, former Chief of Prime Ministerial Department, member of the national committee in 1945, and Budapest Commissioner of the Debrecen provisional government are as follows.

He was born on 9 March 1900, in Torockószentgyörgy (Colteşti), Transylvania. His father was a Unitarian pastor and the father of seven children. Ödön Pásint attended secondary school in Nagyenyed (Aiud), after which he repatriated, in 1920, to Hungary, where he continued his studies, graduating with a secondary-school teacher’s degree; this was followed by a French study grant enabling him to spend two years in Strasbourg and Paris. On his return home in 1926, he was employed as a journalist at the Budapest Hírlap [Budapest Daily]. In January [1928], he was enlisted by the Press Department of the Prime Minister’s Office to work there as an internal aide. From there he was transferred to Prime Minister István Bethlen’s office, where he was employed as personal secretary, in which position he earned the highest esteem and acknowledgements. He continued to serve here under three consecutive prime ministers, until he was transferred by Kálmán Darányi to the Minority Affairs Department of the Prime Minister’s Office, where his work met the highest standards of professionalism. On the return of Transylvania to Hungary in 1940, he was placed as an expert liaison of the Hung. Royal Govt. with the occupying military forces.

After the rise to power of Gyula Gömbös, Pásint turned more and more against the reigning political system, and assisted, in connection with a variety of press-related issues, Endre Bajcsy-Zsilinszky and his circle in their political activities. As Hitlerism gained ground in Hungary, exerting an increasing pressure on the country, Pásint found himself ever more pitted against the Hitlerite ideology and Germany’s expansionist policies, and as a result came to be counted among the most visible anti-German members of the prime ministerial staff by the 1940s.

After Hungary’s German occupation on 19 March 1944, he was pensioned off by the newly formed Szálasi or Arrow Cross government.

In early 1945 – with the country’s liberation – the restoration of constitutional order was begun with the setting up of the National Provisional Government in Debrecen. It was then that Ödön Pásint was charged with the task of organising, in Budapest, the complex and responsible work of creating, in continual cooperation with the Debrecen- based government, the basic conditions for the rebuilding of the war-torn, siege-devastated capital. In his own residence, in a fourth-floor flat of 28 Baross Street, he convened those ministerial and prime-ministerial staffers who had disobeyed orders issued by the pro-German Arrow Cross authorities to evacuate the government to the West. He established ties with the Soviet authorities of Budapest in order to obtain identity papers and permits providing freedom of movement for the members involved in commencing the work of reconstruction and organising food distribution. In the ruinous city, he had to obtain basic office space for the National Government, which was then preparing to transfer its seat to the capital, and also for the British and American members of the Allied Control Commission as well as the Soviet authorities. And he also made arrangements to solve several individual problems. His work is documented by written sources that have been preserved.

After the arrival of the Debrecen government in Budapest, he continued his official work – now promoted to chief of ministerial department. Among other things, he was delegated to the Capital City Board of Public Works as a representative of the prime ministerial department, in which capacity he took part in directing the reconstruction of Budapest.

In 1948, he requested retirement on grounds of ill health, and with his request approved by Prime Minister Lajos Dinnyés his retirement took effect at the end of the same year.

In 1949, he was exposed to unfounded accusations and to harassment of such a nature and intensity by the interior authorities meaning to obtain enforced testimony from him to prove trumped-up charges brought against others that he was forced to escape into suicide.


 1945–1948: REARGUARD DEFENCE

Although the three-month siege of Budapest causing horrendous material destruction and loss of human life ended on 13 February 1945, the west of the country continued to be devastated by desperate fighting for another two months. At that time, through the Soviet commander-in-chief Marshal Voroshilov, Ödön Pásint contacts the new, provisional government as yet residing in Debrecen. From that time on, it is the Pásints’ Baross Street flat that serves as the first Budapest office of the Debrecen government. It is here that the government officials who had either disobeyed the Arrow Cross orders to evacuate or had renounced or lost their jobs for political reasons even earlier, show up, and it is from here that the work of organisation begins aiming to restore life to normal in the ruinous Hungarian capital beset with severe hardships of supplying the public with the bare necessities.

[…]

That Pásint’s personal safety was not guaranteed even by the letter of transit received from the minister of the interior at the time of manhunts under the guise of some malenkaya rabota (literally a “little work”; in fact forced labour for civilians often taken for long years to the Soviet Union) is clearly shown by another document. On 10 March, the police commissioner provides him with a pass certifying that “Ödön Pásint works on prime ministerial reconstruction work. For that reason he cannot be apprehended and forced to do any other work.”(3)

According to the Official Gazette, Pásint is appointed ministerial aide on 1 May(4) and head of the prime ministerial department on 1 August(5) by Miklós Béla Dálnoki. On 3 May his past – his ethical and political record – is “pronounced to be vindicated” by the Lustration Committee of the Prime Minister’s Office.

[…]

In the less than four-year period from the spring of 1945 to the end of 1948, Ödön Pásint saw as many as four changes at the head of the government.(6) His “confidential” and professional relationship with his new bosses became increasingly distant – from Miklós Béla Dálnoki and Zoltán Tildy on to Ferenc Nagy and the nominal head of a puppet government, Lajos Dinnyés. The reason for that, aside from temperamental differences and varying likes and dislikes, must have been the fact that even though he played a key part in reorganising the apparatus of the Prime Minister’s Office, in minority-related issues, and in the work of the department responsible for preparing the peace treaty for more than a year – roughly until the summer of 1946 – Pásint was obviously unprepared to heed the winds of change. He refused to give up his vocation as a government official for a career in party politics. Although in the spring of 1945 he still joins the Smallholders’ Party, the largest non-communist mass party garnering 57 per cent of the votes in the first post-war elections, he refuses to accept, and fails to aspire to, any position in it. And that in spite of the fact that from the end of 1945, decision-making on issues of nationhood strategy is increasingly monopolised by party politburos and inter-party negotiations with the government’s professional bodies acting as obedient executors of the decisions thus taken. Moreover, the Smallholders’ leaders themselves, who were being forced into defensive positions under increasing pressures exerted by Mátyás Rákosi, the NKVD and its Hungarian equivalent the ÁVO (later ÁVH), regarded the former confidant of Bethlen and Pál Teleki with suspicion and fear, who, for his part, was hardly at all impressed by the personal and political calibre of these people. For a while he may have tricked himself into secretly believing that the Soviets would not necessarily force Hungary’s internal politics into the strait jacket of Stalin’s one-party system, and that one day even the “national conservatives” to the right of the Smallholders might be allowed some part to play. For these combined reasons, Pásint’s official positions were gradually weakened, as seen below, with his person and style slowly becoming an irritating memento of a bygone world.

Here is what Pásint’s close associate Mihály Szabados has to say, decades later, about the difficulties of a new beginning:

Fleeing the dangers of Budapest’s siege many of the employees at the Department of Nationhood Strategy escaped to the West in the autumn of 1944. […]


In the spring of 1945, the organisation of the Prime Minister’s Office and, within that, that of the Department of Nationhood Strategy was accomplished by prime ministerial aide Ödön Pásint, the head of the former Special Agency for Transylvania. The Department of Nationhood Strategy was flooded with journalists now belonging to the various parties, who had earlier operated in the countries of the “little entente” (in Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia). The employees of the Prime Minister’s Office remaining here from before 1944, people with professional expertise of national strategy, who had not left for the West, were increasingly intimidated and gradually sidelined. The purview of the Department of Nationhood Strategy considerably shrank after Hungary was restored to its post-Trianon condition by the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947, and the repeatedly detached territories with their Hungarian populations were all returned to the “victorious” little-entente countries. As citizens of these states, the Hungarians there found themselves in an even worse situation than before with inhuman methods being used against them. The large-scale political persecution of Hungarians, their complete disenfranchisement, and the unjustified as well as inhuman reprisals against them went unchecked in the neighbouring country of Yugoslavia. In the other two countries, in Czechoslovakia and Romania, the Soviet occupying forces tried to curb the by then completely unimpeded practice of retributions perpetrated against ethnic Hungarians. Thousands of innocent Hungarians fell victims to inhuman persecutions – not to speak of the masses of refugees. Those at the head of the defeated state of Hungary, people with little experience in leadership, could do little or nothing against the reprisals carried out in a state of nationalist frenzy. There would thus have been plenty to do in the area of national strategy. But severely limited in their freedom to act, and paralysed under the pressure of the Allied Control Commission, the reigning political powers of the country were deprived of all the means to give help, and were thus forced to sit by as large masses of Hungarians were being persecuted and destroyed.(7)

Although it is only the Hungarians whose sufferings are assessed above, their plight faithfully reflects the tragic overall situation after the war. It tells of the fact that the guns falling silent did not put an end to the large-scale violence when tens and tens of millions were doomed to flight, deportation, forced labour, and often life-long imprisonment in POW camps. The coercive machinery operated by the winners was used to serve, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, the purposes of merciless occupation, of collective punishment, and in some places of massive retributions, while the new administration, too eager to wait for the decrees of the peace treaty, immediately set about to take blatantly unjust measures in the name of “historical reparations”.

That there were a few who bravely defied the dauntingly heavy odds against them is in itself worthy of respect. Let us see a few instances of these rescue attempts.

[…]
 

RESCUE OPERATIONS CONCERNING MINORITIES

What follows here is meant to demonstrate, on the basis of a few newly discovered sources, what rescue operations were initiated by Ödön Pásint and his close associates simultaneously with the peace preparations – connected with or independently of these preparations – on behalf of the ethnic Germans of Hungary, the Hungarians of Romania living either in large conclaves or scattered in diasporas, the Csángó Hungarians in Moldavia, and with regard to the exchange of Hungarian versus Southern Slav, and Hungarian versus Slovak populations. What is most important about all this is that these rescue operations were no longer aimed exclusively at the Hungarian ethnic community as a whole or the Hungarian minorities, but having learnt the lessons of all the unjustly and inhumanly inflicted suffering, their initiators tried to remedy, in a spirit of reciprocity, fairness, basic humanity and equal rights, the violations suffered individually as well as collectively.

[…]

[In April 1945] Pásint felt obliged to send a pro domo memo to the Prime Minister, informing him that “an emissary of the political police has asked me today to provide him with mother-tongue-related statistics forthwith”.(8) It does not need emphasising what the stakes of such a “request” – or its refusal – were at a time when, hardly awakened from the nightmare of the persecutions at the end of the war, the country was on the brink of another bout of massive expulsions, internments and acts of ethnic cleansing. There were dangers threatening from several directions at a time – for one thing, there were the Allied Control Commission, the Soviet military authorities and the Hungarian political police, the latter already under Communist control. However, an equal danger lurked in the neighbourhood, too, where the vindictive successor states were once again on the offensive. Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia, which were all feverishly gathering data, regarded the possessions of the Hungarian civilian populations brought under their jurisdiction as spoils of war. Also, they used every method of forced migration and assimilation to establish a fait accompli in their favour in the areas of ethnic and territorial proportions well ahead of the resolutions passed at the new peace conference in Paris. Clearly seeing these dangers from the beginning, Pásint resolutely tried to salvage whatever he could; in these efforts of his, he could fortunately rely on associates representing such professional and ethical standards as Head of Department István Bibó at the Ministry of the Interior, President of the Central Statistical Office Sándor Dobrivits, or Lajos Thirring, a key figure at the Department of Population Statistics.

[…]

[In a memorandum] under the heading Remarks, Thirring enumerates […] his convincing professional and ethical arguments why the 1941 census is unsuitable for the purposes of compiling a list of Germans to be expelled. Among these, he emphatically argues the confidentiality principle of censuses: the anonymity of data processing and the freedom of choosing one’s identity, the unconditional honouring of which Pál Teleki himself had insisted on long ago (“we don’t want paper Hungarians!”). As Thirring underscores, a person’s political orientation, “his or her loyalty to the nation” cannot be assessed on the basis of their nationality alone, not to mention the fact that Nazi propaganda had not refrained from using “dirty tricks of manipulation” in 1941, that serious violations had occurred around the interviews, and that many of the data sheets were subsequently destroyed or misplaced during the siege of Budapest.

It is, unfortunately, unknown for whom the Thirring-memorandum – now kept in the manuscript archives of the Hungarian Central Statistical Office – was meant. (The document must in some way be related to the wave of protests that followed the government decree on ethnic expulsions, and to the setting up, on 9 January 1946 and with the membership of Pásint himself, of the inter- ministerial committee meant to harmonise the political parties’ conflicting interests and the principles of execution.) That it cannot possibly have had any serious effect, like similar warnings voiced by Ödön Pásint, István Bibó and many others, is a sadly known fact. Between 1945 and 1948, nearly 250,000 Germans of Hungarian citizenship had to leave for the Western Zone of Germany, and then a smaller number to the Eastern Zone and to the Soviet-occupied sector of Austria.

But then the fate of Hungary’s German population – i.e. the wish that their expulsion should possibly be executed in a decent and humane manner in compliance with the minimum requirements determined by the Great Powers’ decisions taken in Potsdam – had an importance to Pásint that went beyond itself. He recognised it early on that this could serve as an important precedent when it came to the similar aspirations of the neighbouring countries with regard to their behaviour vis-à-vis their Hungarian minorities. That was one of the reasons why he raised his voice against the anti-German propaganda and rumour campaign begun in the press as early as mid-April insinuating that the Swabians of Hungary deserved a collective punishment commensurate with their “war crimes”. In a tangibly emotional memorandum of 4 June 1945 made for Prime Minister Miklós Béla Dálnoki, he has this to say:
 

Citing the Hungarian News Agency as their source, the daily papers report that the Ministry of the Interior has drafted a government decree proposing to solve the German question by settlement-dispersal, internment, forced-labour camps, and referral to the People’s Tribunals among other things. Stories of that sort appearing in the daily press are exceedingly injurious to the interests of the more than three million Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries, and can in fact bring complete destruction down on them. The governments of these countries intend to use our planned-for treatment of the German question in Hungary (by dispersing settlements, etc.) as a precedent and an example to follow in liquidating the Hungarians living there. Czechoslovakia and Romania have already passed laws and decrees stripping Hungarians of their citizenship, whereon they are expelled from their countries en masse, while the land-reform acts dispossess the smallholders of their land without compensation just because they are Hungarian.(9)

In order to respond to the discriminatory practices of Slovakia and Romania with contrary examples, Pásint asks to be supplied with the data of Hungarian land distribution, so he can demonstrate with them that Hungary’s nationalities enjoy equal rights and equal treatment in every respect. His dealings show the same responsibility and resoluteness when he is informed of cases involving violations of Hungarian minority leaders’ rights or their persecution by the authorities. A prime example of that is the indictment of Count János Esterházy in the summer of 1945. This courageous and dedicated leader of the Hungarians of the Northern Country, the only member of the Slovak National Assembly to have voted against the law decreeing the deportation of Jews in May 1942, was arrested by the Slovak National Council as early as 20 April 1945, and then was put on a train with another five Hungarian minority leaders to be taken to Moscow via Budapest, Bucharest and Iasi. His confidant Jenő Holly kept Pásint informed of Esterházy’s fate; Pásint took action when he learned from diplomatic sources that the Slovakian people’s tribunal had set the date of his obviously unfounded, anti-Hungarian show trial. Pásint takes immediate steps instructing his associates in the following memorandum of 28 June:

Department aide Körmendy-Ékes and ministerial secretary Mikó are to compile without delay the material that can acquit Esterházy. Then we are to discuss it with legal advisor Jakobovits. The relief material thus prepared is to be forwarded forthwith to the Allied Control Commission with the request that it see that the material is used in the defence of the North-Country Hungarian politician.(10)

There is of course no trace in the official documents of the number of cross- border Hungarians, mainly those living in Romania, informally helped by Pásint, but there must have been a good many of them turning to him with their greater or lesser difficulties. He visibly paid special attention to the problems, graver even than those arising in 1918, attendant upon the huge influx of Transylvanian refugees: in these cases he took the initiative on several occasions and actively participated in the process of inter-ministerial coordination. But finding a satisfactory solution was hindered by several obstacles for years to come. The Soviet–Romanian onslaught in 1944 sent four hundred thousand Hungarians on their way to the West, and although many of these returned later, the citizenship and the future fate of hundreds of thousands of people remained undecided for two or three years (at least until the signing of the Paris Peace Treaty in the spring of 1947). It is also well known that Romania – encouraged by the initial successes of the expulsion of Hungarians from Czechoslovakia – urged the relocation of some half a million Hungarians into Hungary; this, luckily, was not endorsed by the victorious powers. Another obstacle in the way of settling the issue was the fact that Hungary itself, mired in the vicious internal scuffles of party politics, showed little willingness to accommodate these people. The crisis was further deepened by the addition of a wave of economic refugees in the wake of the unprecedented drought and famine hitting Romania from 1946 to 1947.

In any case, the issue of Transylvania was a much more involved problem […] than whatever the politics of minorities could handle. This is shown by the umpteenth inter-ministerial meeting, chaired by Pásint and convened with the participation of foreign and internal policy experts at the Prime Minister’s Office on 5 November 1946. Still on the agenda is the acute Transylvanian refugee crisis, simultaneously debated by the Council of Ministers and the Alien Administration Bureau (KEOKH). As chairman Pásint posits, however limited the government’s jurisdiction may be, “it is necessary that we should carefully examine the issue as we must find the techniques of stemming the tide of massive immigration”. His best expert associates, Béla Demeter and Tibor Mikó, make several practical suggestions. Those contributing to the discussion are all aware that a new, albeit still ex lex, situation obtains in Romania, because although the peace conference has not announced it yet, Romania’s claims on Transylvania have practically been met by now. However, there can be no other goal to be set than to secure the basic conditions of continued existence for Transylvania’s Hungarians in their native land. To do that, as many are urging, the motivations of those wishing to migrate to Hungary (clerks serving in the public administration of 1940–44, those left out of the land distribution, refugees escaping from the drought) must be assessed so their complaints and injuries can be specifically remedied.

[…]

But let us now see, in broad outlines, how the great powers’ plans for peace took shape in terms of drawing the frontiers and treating the minorities.

The USA, in fact already from 1941 on, found frontier readjustment worthy of consideration from a purely professional point of view. The Soviet Union, however, was against any modification of the 1920 Trianon borders in the case of Hungary, and in the armistice treaty of late 1944 promised the greatest part, or even the whole, of Transylvania to Romania, which had transferred its allegiance to the Allies in August 1944. Hungary’s prospects were further worsened by a two-faceted mutual understanding which had taken shape among the Allies by the end of the War. One aspect of the understanding was that no country on the losing side was to be awarded with territorial gains at the expense of the victorious countries (therefore none of the great powers supported the modification of the Trianon-drawn frontiers of 1920 between Hungary and Czechoslovakia or Hungary and the Serb-Croat-Slovene Kingdom). According to the other understanding, ethnic minorities were, through expulsion or population exchange, to be liquidated once and for all, wherever possible, together with any guarantees of collective rights and the recourse to legal redress, so these could never again serve as the causes, or pretexts, of armed conflicts.

The above is clearly reflected in the resolutions passed by the Council of Foreign Ministers. The victors approved the Trianon borders without any serious debate in London as early as 20 September. The only exception was a section of Hungary’s border with Romania that Great Britain and the USA still recommended for revision. Later, however, the Anglo-American suggestion failed in the face of Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov’s adamant refusal. In 1946 Britain no longer supported the ethnically based adjustment of the Hungarian–Romanian border, but settled for promoting autonomy for Transylvania. America’s determination also weakened even though in the 1946 round of the Deputy Foreign Ministers’ negotiations the USA still recommended direct talks between the two parties. Eventually the Council of Foreign Ministers reinforced the restoration of the Trianon borders with Romania after America, too, gave in to the Soviet refusal to accept even the slightest border adjustment. After all, Hungary had come under the Soviet sphere of influence recognised in Yalta, and in any case there were too many disputes burdening Soviet–American relations.

Hungary’s belated, directionless, and often amateurish diplomatic efforts could do as little to improve the situation as could Mátyás Rákosi’s secret visit with Stalin in the spring of 1946, or the ineffective campaign tour of Moscow, Washington, London and Paris undertaken by Ferenc Nagy’s government members between April and June 1946.

Chaired by Pásint, the experts’ meeting of May 1946 on the Szekler Land’s autonomy, and then another discussion concerning the international protection of minority rights turned out to be equally belated and futile efforts of damage control aimed at exerting some influence favourable for Hungary on the peace dictates. The role played by Pásint in the peace preparations effectively comes to an end as early as the summer of 1946. His and his employees’ subsequent fate at his department is first neglect, then, after the Communist takeover in 1948, dismissal, harassment by the communist secret police and imprisonment. Feeling that pressure unbearable, Ödön Pásint eventually committed suicide in March 1950.

To be continued

An edited version of the translation by Ákos Farkas

1 I received the letter, together with other family documents, from Ödön Pásint’s grandson Dr Péter Magyar Pásint (London).

2 Pásint Collection, National Archives, Documents of the Prime Minister’s Office, K764.

3 “The Police Commissioner of Bpest, 145/33/1945 pol. comm.” – family archives, property of Péter Magyar Pásint.

4 P. M. decree No. 1.589/1945, Official Gazette, 1945/25, 9 May.

5 Released by the Hungarian News Agency, MTI, 2 August 1945.

6 The four successive heads of Hungary’s government were Miklós Béla de Dálnok (23.12.1944 – 15.11.1945), Zoltán Tildy (15.11.1945–01.02.1946), Ferenc Nagy (02.04.1946–31.05.1947) and Lajos Dinnyés (31.05.1947–10.12.1948).

7 Mihály Szabados, A miniszterelnökség nemzetiségpolitikai osztálya és az Erdélyi Külön Szolgálat munkájáról [On the action of the Department of Nationhood Strategy of the Prime Minister’s Office and of the Special Agency for Transylvania] (1987), Manuscripts of the Jakabffy Foundation, Kolozsvár, K-12, p. 10.

8 National Archives, MNL OL–XIX–A–n–1. doboz [box], Z––569/1945. “Re: Memorandum for the Prime Minister”.

9 National Archives, MNL OL–XIX–A–n–1. doboz [box], Z–539/1945. It is worthy of note that two days earlier, in the 2 June 1945 issue of Magyar Nemzet, Pásint’s immediate superior Prime Ministerial Undersecretary István Balogh himself had categorically rejected the principle and practice of collective punishment.

10 National Archives, MNL OL–XIX–A–n–1. doboz [box], Z–569/1945. “Re: Information on the situation of János Esterházy”, and ibid., “Dept, Head Mr Pásint’s instructions re the defence of Esterházy”, with the markings “Confidential!” and “Very urgent!”.

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