A NOTE ON WESTERN INTELLECTUALS

As always I enjoy reading the Hungarian Review. The depth of its coverage puts many much wider circulation up-market intellectual magazines in West Europe to shame.

Having visited, and admired, the House of Terror Museum in Budapest I was puzzled by the allegations of its Director, Mária Schmidt, in your last issue that many British intellectuals are unduly “protective” of Communist regimes, inclined to play down the “demonic side” of Communist history and, safe in their nice London suburbs, impose double standards on poor Hungary. “Maybe”, she concludes, “they have to deal with their own conscience regarding their feelings and thoughts in the past”.

This is, too put it mildly, unfair and inaccurate. Of course in the past there were, shamefully, apologists like the Red Dean of Canterbury. All are now dead, and after 1956 there were very few with any illusions left. Yet she uses the present tense, as though present day intellectuals were still guilty of similar behaviour. I am not aware of a single British public figure today who would dream of defending, or would have any hesitation in condemning, the monstrous cruelties of the Hungarian Communist regime so well reflected in the House of Terror. If she has particular individuals in mind perhaps she would let us know?

John Gordon

Former British Ambassador to UNESCO Wallingford, Britain

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