The 55th Hungarian Congress – Historical Insights: Hungary and World War 2
Seventy years ago marked the end of the Second World War. But even after many Hungarians in the post-war refugee camps had fled abroad, they still tenaciously clung to the hope that they would soon be able to return into their native Hungarian land. But, as one year melted into the next, for most people that hope slowly died.
Having grown up in America during the cold war years of the 1950s and 1960s, my own as well as other generations learned that the then-communist Hungarian government was to be avoided and distrusted. Perhaps it was because of all of this – dashed hopes but a fervent feeling that one day Hungary would again be free – emigrant Hungarian community organizations were able to instill such a strong sense of Hungarian national identity in their members of all ages and backgrounds. One such organization was the Cleveland Hungarian Association. Although its leaders lived in Cleveland, it was and still remains an international organization, reaching out to members of the Hungarian community from Australia to South America to Europe. And these members would and still do come together at the annual Hungarian Congress held in Cleveland, Ohio.
The actual extent of this Hungarian network, especially in its early years, was something we discovered last year as we were packing up the archives of the association. Thank goodness those cold war years are now long gone, because the current Hungarian government had reached out to us, and through the Ithaca and Mikes grant programs which supported our efforts, we were able to conserve these archives. We packed up well over 150 filing boxes and shipped them to the Széchényi National Library of Hungary.
The extent of the collection included over 250 different “western” Hungarian language newspapers, and letters, spanning the last few decades from the 1950s onward. The packing was an enormous task and just when we thought we had totally finished our task, deep in an attic closet we discovered a huge box of newspapers. In all honesty, by then we had reached our limit and considered throwing them out… but since Éva Danyi from the Séchényi Hungarian National Library and who had worked with us for a week had been so particular about saving every letter, every community event invitation, and every newspaper clipping, we just had to repackage that box too.
What we found was truly amazing. There in the middle, perfectly preserved by the newspapers, were several files. One was filled with resignation letters of representatives to the Hungarian government from 1938, which actually caused the fall of the first Imrédy government. Another held several chapters of Dr. János Nádas’s treatise on his view of the current and past government ministers and prime ministers. As a secretary to a minister in the Teleki government and as a member of the press core, his insights had captured the historical importance of the time.
Many people have written about the 1930s, many people have theorized why and how Hungary became embroiled in WWII. Sadly, many people have also rewritten history to serve their own purposes and views. During the 55th Hungarian Association Congress to be held November 27-29, 2015, we feel a deep need to set the historical record straight. Therefore, we have chosen to explore this year as the Congress theme: “Historical Insights, Hungary and WWII.” Our guest of honor will be Dr. Sándor Szakály, Director of the Veritas Research Institute in Hungary. He will be addressing the historical issues of this time period.
We invite you to come and be part of this year’s Hungarian Congress. We are accepting papers and lectures until the end of July. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hoping to see you all in November,
Dr. John Nádas, President