The Weidemann case, 1961. Sports, power and state security service in the early years of the Kádár-regime
On 2 November 1961, the vice president of Ferencváros Sports Club (FTC) and party secretary of the society, Károly Weidemann was arrested on suspicion of subversion of the democratic state order and other crimes. We will use the process to present how the political police treated FTC, which had been a symbol of opposition both for the fans (the “people”) and the authorities (the “power”) since the end of the 1940s. Though after 1956, the club could retain both the name and the club colors restored during the revolution, and it did not have to give up its best players either, the state authorities continued to regard Ferencváros as the meeting place of “reactionary” and “fascist” elements. The secret police suspected hostile political intent behind any expression of “fradista” identity, and regarded the scandals accompanying the matches as premeditated actions organized and secretly controlled by the enemy forces clustered around the sports society. It was in the beginning of 1961, at the latest, when the secret police turned its attention to the person of Weidemann, after receiving intelligence of his presumptive “fascist” past and subversive statements. On the basis of these, they thought Weidemann must have played the role of organizer and leader. Moreover, his person could explain why the secret police had failed before to identify the man actually responsible for the disturbances, as Weidemann could use his position in the club leadership and in the party to cover up his doings. An open investigation was launched with the consent of the top party leadership, but it failed to yield the expected results. As they considered the disturbances premeditated provocations, the investigators were looking for organized groups among the fans, but they lost traces of the FTC supporters sitting together on the stand as soon as they left the stadium. The only organized group was the Circle of Fans, but Weidemann was on openly bad terms with them. The investigation was a total failure: not even did they manage to document the manifestations of subversive political intent by the fans of Ferencváros. Though the party leadership of the capital declared the “FTC problem” resolved in the April of 1962, this failure must have played a part in why FTC continued to remain in the focus of political police activity targeting sports and especially football even in the following years.
In the shadow of the one-party state. Friendship Games instead of the capitalist Olympic Games
With the goal of promoting peace, the modern Olympic movement was born on the eve of the 20th century, burdened with political and ideological tensions, therefore international conflicts have always had an effect on the summer Olympics. After World War II, despite the fact that the world had become bipolar, sports could continue to surmount the political, social and ideological differences between countries for some time. But in the 1980s, the conflict between the Soviet Union and the USA became so intense that the Olympic Games became the theatre of waging international conflicts with political leaders resorting to the means of boycott. The group of participants was not complete either at the 1980 summer Olympics in Moscow, or in Los Angeles in 1984. In compensation, the athletes of the Socialist countries boycotting the 1984 Summer Olympics could participate in the A-category Friendship Games in the summer of 1984. Staying away from the Olympic Games, however, deeply wounded everybody, and the “surrogate Olympics” provided opportunity for abuse. Even though the Olympics became victim of power politics in the 1980s, it managed to rise renewed from its ashes as the leaders of the biggest powers of the world realized that they need to resolve their political conflicts elsewhere. In 1989-1990, the transformation of world order and the series of regime changes provided a new framework and new possibilities for managing international sport relations.
The politics of fame and the contingencies of history. The two versions of the film Csodacsatár
The 1950s was a remarkable period in the history of Hungarian football, not just because of the spectacular results, but we can surely state that the Golden Team (Aranycsapat) was an image-building means in the propaganda arsenal of national communism, which played a prominent role in the system-level symbiosis of sports and politics. The way the team's fame was changing and was being shaped grew far beyond the significance of the events of sports history: the riots on the streets of Budapest after the 1954 world cup final as well as the rewriting and deletion of the memory of those players who stayed abroad after the crushing of the 1956 revolution equally belong to the interpretive context of Márton Keleti's movie A Csodacsatár (The marvellous striker), which was originally filmed in the summer of 1956, then partially re-filmed with new actors in 1957. In my paper, I mainly look for answers to the question: what strategies of politics of memory can be detected in the storyline of the movie as well as in the characterization and the modal formation of the genre of satire? Both versions of the movie can be interrogated using such interpretive interests since it thematizes fame itself, as it is being formed in mass media, in such a way that in its historical references it recalls the political agents and practices of both the interwar period and the Rákosi regime.
Sports and/or politics. Mihály Farkas and the Budapest Honvéd football team
With the establishment of the Stalinist system, nationalization commenced even in sports in Hungary. After various restructuring efforts, the single-party state created an extremely centralized top organization to oversee sports (OTSB), which was directly controlled by the party, more specifically by the Sports Department of the Administrative Office of the Hungarian Working People's Party (MDP). This department was led by Mihály Farkas, one of the most powerful politicians of the system, who, as minister of defence, championed the idea of creating a sports club for the army. Established in December 1949 in Kispest and officially founded in February 1950, Budapest Honvéd was one of the most distinguished sport clubs of the Rákosi era up until its fall in the autumn of 1956. This is especially true of the football division where such soccer geniuses as Ferenc Puskás and József Bozsik were playing, and where key players of the Hungarian national side, the Mighty Magyars, including Sándor Kocsis, Gyula Grosics and Zoltán Czibor, ended up through “controlled” transfers. However, due to the circumstances, the players could not become professional footballers: officially, all of them were officers of the Hungarian People's Army, who supplemented their salary with modest bonuses and smuggling, which was tacitly overlooked by the Farkas-led sports leadership. Between 1950 and 1956, the “Great Honvéd” won one championship after the other and remained Hungary's most successful football club even after Mihály Farkas was deprived of some of his powers in the summer of 1953. After losing his seat of defence minister, Farkas was not in a position any more to influence the life of the sports society with the usual favours, and the team harmony, between the players accustomed to rewards started to break down. In the summer of 1956, the MDP party leadership named Farkas “the primary person responsible” for the unlawful Stalinist acts, and had him arrested in autumn. In the same autumn, after the fall of the revolution and war of independence, several Honvéd footballers and leaders, then on a tour abroad, decided not to return home. This way, in paradox way simultaneously, yet independently from each other, ended the career of one of the most prominent leaders of the Stalinist era and fell into pieces the greatest and most successful football team of the 1950s.
“When the enemies will make peace with each other, we will meet at home.” Zoltán Czibor and the state security service
After the communist takeover, those in power quickly realized the risks and the possibilities inherent in Hungarian sports life. Parallel with the establishment of the dictatorship, the top leadership of the party signed several party resolutions, which led to the complete reorganization of the institutional framework of Hungarian sports life. With only slight alterations, the results of this essentially survived until the change of regime, despite the fact that the Kádár regime later split with the Stalinist traditions of the Rákosi era. In my paper, I describe the relationship between the communist power and football through the analysis of an actual state security operation, which–apart from getting us closer to understanding the operational mechanism of the political police of the era– provides interesting additions to the biography of one of the greatest geniuses of Hungarian football history, Zoltán Czibor. The Olympic gold medalist, world cup silver medalist left winger's first encounter and cooperation with the State Protection Authority (ÁVH) is a typical example of the communist internal affairs authorities' incompetent and ill-advised decisions, which, to use soccer terminology, “went offside”. In practice, Czibor's network activity failed to– and as we will see, it simply could not– yield the expected results, and the action plan the secret police developed after the crushing of the revolution and Czibor's emigration was doomed to failure from the start. Even though, during the dictatorship, the communist secret police failed to construct the psychological profile of the ideal informer, the scanty archival sources we have on Czibor, and which sometimes need to be treated critically, clearly prove that the footballer was very much unfit for working in the network of informers.
Known or unknown? József Kliegl, the painter-inventor
The name of the less-known József Kliegl is mostly mentioned in Hungarian and foreign works on the history of printing. Gifted with an inventive mind, Kliegl spent decades trying to solve the problem of mechanical typesetting, but he was also obsessed with a couple of other technical ideas that looked fantastic in the first half of the 19th century. He was a trained and talented painter: some of his miniatures of high standard have survived, but from the documentation of his inventions almost nothing has been handed down to us. Relying on sources from the period, the paper dispels the commonplace about the genius, who–due to his unappreciated works and lack of support–went to waste, even though the business capital and the industrial background was of course missing. The Hungarian reform era is about an emerging Hungary with a growing middle class, when any performance reflective of the new age was met with instant response in the more and more lively public life. Kliegl's typesetting and distributing machine, whose main promoters were, not accidentally, people involved in literature, became a national matter, and the continuous patronage was far from insignificant, given the economic situation of the society. We also need to mention that in the summer months of the 1848 revolution the radical opposition suggested that the inventor receive government support. Kliegl was a Hungarian nobleman, who was as socially embedded as most landowners or public officials and creators with a noble background, and his hard life is an illustrative example of how the bourgeoisturned nobility related to bourgeois life. But at the time both the business capital and the industrial background were still missing for a successful career in technology
The council of ministers and the appointment of Catholic bishops in Hungary (in Transylvania, the Banat of Temesvár and the Serbian Voivodeship), 1848–1850
After the 1848/49 revolution and war of independence, a peculiar element in Austrian politics aiming at abolishing the results of the revolution was the appointment politically loyal bishops. In our paper, we discuss the political aspects of the appointment of these bishops and mostly the proposals and arguments that came up at the meetings of the council of ministers. We will also review the group of candidates, taking into account the results of recent literature, as well as the apparent changes in the appointment process. In 1848, the ultimatum-like proposal of the Batthyány government resulted in the appointment of new bishops, among whom there were conservative (e.g. János Hám) and liberal (e.g. Mihály Horváth) prelates alike. The minister of home affairs, Alexander Bach, who was also responsible for church politics between 1849 and 1850, considered it a matter of principle to annul the appointments that had taken place during the 1848 revolution. Until 1850, Bach's influence on appointments was decisive, and he primarily made political decisions. János Scitovszky archbishop of Esztergom also had considerable influence, and a couple of his reliable colleagues were granted an episcopal office. Bach regularly consulted Anton Geringer, and occasionally asked the opinion of Josip Jellačić as well. The way the appointment of bishops was managed was radically different from what was to come from 1851. From that year, standard competitions were announced, while the influence of Leo Thun, minister of education became decisive over the appointments.