A missed anniversary

Memories of the Avarffy trial1

Of course, one hundred and fifty is a dignified and awe-inspiring anniversary and we celebrated it more ways than one. Next to that a mere one hundred years may seem like some object of insignificance, but not this one. And yet, we have skipped by it, forgetting and not mentioning it, although it was much worthy of mention.

The story of the following chain of events began on the 6th of January 1921, when a parliamentary back bencher, one Elek Avarffy, published an article in the National Newspaper (Nemzeti újság), entitled ”A few words about the Galicianers and a bit of statistics.” The word ”Galicianer” referred to those Jews who had flooded into Hungary since the 1880s under anti-Semitic pressure in Russia from the province of Galicia. Which province, by the way, at this time was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and therefore, those refugee Jews were really citizens and not ”migrants”. In fact, up until the early 1920s, most of them were transitory, eventually setting out for America; only a minority remained in Hungary.2 But in the anti-Semitic political climate of Hungary after World War One, even those few were far too many.

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A Broken Water Main

The latest mishap

A few days before Christmas, a water main broke in a suburb of Budapest paralysing the water supply of three municipalities: Érd, Diósd and Törökbálint.  The population of these suburbs has grown steadily over the last decade, testing the already inadequate and neglected infrastructure of utility and water supplies.  During the last three years, the population of Érd increased from 50,000 to 80,000 residents.  Breakdowns of the power and water supplies began to occur regularly.

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Seasons Greetings

The Perspective is getting better

We are wishing all the best for the Holiday Season to all our friends, relatives, acquaintances and readers for Christmas and the New Year.

One of the many Christmas street cars.

I suppose, our writing passion is going to be somewhat dulled by all that food and alcohol we must consume in the service of celebrating these coming notable days. I also feel that the year left behind us was certainly not a banner year, there was not much to celebrate about it. All we can do is preparing for making a better one next.

For our part the Hungarian Perspective shall continue to strive to accomplish that.

Best wishes from

Janet, András and Sándor

December’ Children

A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs

This post is dedicated to the many young girls and boys who no longer have their abode in good old Buda – to be clear: vajjon s mikor lészön jó Budában lakásom?

There is a joint on the Buda side of this town still under Turkish rule after more than four hundred and fifty years of Ottoman occupation.  It is easy to find this place if you wish to contemplate the future and conjure up the past.  Both can be productive endeavours.

The café or pub goes by the name of Murok, and you can find it on Turk Street just off Main Street.  It is not an orthodox Muslim joint as alcohol of great selection is being served here for the evening crowds.  Turkish sherbet, too, is served for the faithful.  Jews who drink booze are also welcome for Hanukah.  They get hot latkes, and on this day only they can pay with Hanukah gelt.  You can light the second Menora candle on this Friday.  There is a schism here, as it always is with these smart Jews, between those who light the second candle adjacent to the first one on the left side and those who light the second one on the opposite right side of the Menora.  These are important traditions.  We see adherents of both lighting methods here.

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Transparency in the dark

An international NGO

Here we are again, together, ready to celebrate the lights of Christmas and the joys of togetherness. Let us celebrate then! But before we do, perhaps we should celebrate another, darker kind of light, coming from a much more sinister, but also, much more unlikely source.

Let us first, my Dear Reader, get acquainted with Transparency International!

This highly respectable institution is present and working in more than a hundred countries around the globe; it is an international NGO. Now NGO usually means non-govermental organization, but in this case you may consider it an AGO, an anti-corrupt govermental organization. Transparency is fearless in confronting governments in its pursuit of ”ending the injustice of corruption by promoting transparency, accountability and integrity.” Yes, they do have a website and yes, it explains what they are doing, which is very nice, but there is much more to it than that. And this is what I wish to inform you about today. Because, naturally, we have our own homegrown subsidiary of this internatonal organization. In fact, if there is any country that is the richest soil for this organization to grow on, that is Hungary.

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A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing

Recently, I was asked to review a new Bill before the Hungarian Parliament, coined as ‘In Defence of Hungarian National Sovereignty’.  There is an urgency to approve this legislation, we are told by Government outlets, as the heat is on.  Hungary’s sovereignty is under attack by dark forces, and the country needs an adequate response to repel all attacks by external and internal forces.  The Government outlets do not miss to name the targets against whom the new law would be used in defence of Hungarian Sovereignty.  Internal dark forces are all opposition parties that in 2022 acquired financing from foreign sources through crowdfunding and petty cash contributions from Hungarians living and working abroad.  Of the evil forces in distant lands, large billboards in city centres and on highways portray two dark knights: one being no other than Ursula van der Leyen, a Conservative German politician, now President of the EU Commission, and the other is Alex Soros, son of Satan George Soros. The billboard’s message is very clear (all printed in caps): we Hungarians should not dance to the tunes of catchy music that these dark knights whistle into our (Sovereign) Ears.

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Crime in slow motion

As the EU is passively looking on

The disagreeable minister of regional development in Hungary is trusted to negotiate with the European Union for the release of the billions withheld from Hungary for over a year now. The reason for the stern suspension of funds was the belated, but nevertheless, determined position of the European Union that Hungary ceased to be a lawful democracy and until this condition is corrected, payments shall be withheld. Minister Navracsics, formerly a professor of law and also one of the leaders of Fidesz party, was also appointed by prime minister Viktor Orban in 2014 as EU commissionaire. He was surrounded with suspicion and distrust in his position as commissionaire of a minor portfolio there. He failed to convince his collegues about his readiness to represent union interests as opposed to national Hungarian ones as demanded from him his ”master,” Mr. Orban. But now he is back on his old turf, as someone with connections to the Union bureaucracy, commissioned by Viktor Orban to be the sly fox that will eventually lure, cajole, or wrest the billions of Euros from the holding of the Union escrow. And Mr. Navracsics is busy, negotiating almost weekly in Brussels, trying to convince his interlocutors about the corrective measures the Hungarian government have done to comply with the twenty seven ”mile stones” the European Commission set for them as the conditions of releasing the funds. And while he is repeatedly assuring the Hungarian public about the imminence of the arrival of the funds, the truth is that the government is rather trying to sneak around the required changes than instituting any substantial improvements as demanded from them. All the changes are superficial, without really restoring in their effect the rule of law, or reduce the staggeringly rampant corruption in Hungary. And for a while it looked like the European Commission, (or for that matter the European Court of Justice), shall not be fooled and the stalemate remains.

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The state of the nation

When I first came here some twenty odd years ago I believed I was moving to the middle of Europe. Indeed visiting the Hungarian Cultural Centre in London to help familiarise myself with the country, its people and its culture before my migration eastwards, any assertion that Hungary was a land in the Balkans was firmly denied by its personnel. Once I had arrived I found that any description of Hungary as an eastern European country met with outright hostility particularly amongst  the business community. Hungary was in central Europe and moreover central to it. True, its language was not easy for foreigners but then there was a widespread pride in the Hungarian adeptness to learn and speak a variety of European tongues and even those of the wider world. No, Hungary was definitely a country that if not precisely in the middle topographically, certainly intended to use its intellectual genius, scientific brilliance and organisational talent to become pivotal to the commercial and cultural life of Europe.

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The Death of a DJ

Underground Music Man Zsolt Palotai

On the very day of the award ceremony of Budapest’s Pro Cultura Urbis Award, Zsolt Palotai (a.k.a. DJ Palotai) died suddenly at the age of 62.  He was one of the awardees, but could not attend the award ceremony.  He came to be known in Budapest as DJ Palotai, but he was not a traditional disc jockey.  Clearly not for those true boomers who came to know disc jockeys as entertainers in old-style discos playing disco genre – whatever that music is.  From bubble gum to Ra-Ra Rasputin, from Sugar Sugar to the Roof that mother fucker roof.

In the 1990s, DJ Palotai turned to alternative music, underground and techno (whatever techno is).  First, he began playing discs in a hangout called Tilos az Á (the Hungarian version of Trespassers W – for clues: W stands for ‘Will Be Prosecuted’).  Then he was associated with an underground or alternative radio station, Tilos Rádio (Forbidden Radio), where he could experiment with many new styles of music.

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The Birth of a City

We Take a Walk On the Bright Side

We do, from time to time, revisit the question: what kind of city is this?  We have discovered many dark sides of the city which is contemporary Hungarian landscape.

This time, let’s take a walk on the city’s bright side.

On a foggy November 17th day in the year 1873, forward-looking Hungarian magnates, ambitious merchants, and city elders decided that Buda, Óbuda and Pest should form one metropolis.  Budapest, a city of slightly less than two million residents now is almost as diverse as it was in 1873.  Almost – is the operative word here.  Germans and Jews, Serbs and Greeks, Armenians and Slovaks formed the majority of the 1873 population.  Soon each group began to assimilate and become Hungarian.  This process suffered setbacks and led to the dark days of Budapest’s Jewish community in 1944, as the leftover shoes on the bank of the Danube offer testimony to tragic events.

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