Tamas Meszaros, “A typical agent story from the Kadar period”, (Remembrance in time, Transilvania University Press of Brasov 2012), pp. 93-98.
Abstract: The agent’s task was to observe the Galyasi-, and Bibó circle. This can be supported according to the working-file, remaining from the period between April and August of 1968. His activity can not be reconstructed completely due to the narrow time-interval of the files. As the material is fragmented the historical work is basically putting together small pieces. Just as the case of “Gáspár Szabó” shows, we can not get a full picture about the working system of the Political Police of the socialist state.
After the political turn in 1944/1945 the new, central state security authority was created from the Political Department of the Budapest Police Headquarters lead by Gábor Péter. In 1946 the State Security Department of the State Police (ÁVO) was created with an order of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs. This was placed under the authority of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 1948 and this way a new authority came to existence. This was the State Security Authority of The Ministry of Internal Affairs. This authority became „independent” a year later and got out of control of the Ministry. Its original position was restored after Mátyás Rákosi’s downfall in 1953. The feared State Security Authority was dissolved by Imre Nagy on the 28th of October in 1956. The majority of its former members sought for the protection of the Soviets, while some of them were arrested by the revolutionists. After the 4th of November the former State Security members participated in the re-organisation of the police force and of the state security.
The new structure of the state security system was formed between 1956 and 1962. The new leader figures of the communist party created a new state security system as a part of the police. The reason for this was that they learnt from the big mistake of Rákosi’s dictatorship. Before 1962 the II/5 Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was responsible for „averting the inner reactionary”. In 1962 the whole department was re-organized. The aim of this re-organisation was partially to eliminate the remains of the former „total averting”.
The so-called III/III-4 Department of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs dealt with the „inner reactionary”2. During the Kádár Regime the state security system was in control of the party, opposed to the „SDA” which was a state within the state. This meant that the county police superintendent or his assistant of the State Security had to inform the first secretary of the county, who forwarded the information to the responsible organs of the Hungarian Socialist Party and the main party leaders.
The State Security employed agents in a great number to be able to control every step of the society. There were agents who became member of the network on voluntary basis but there were agents who had been blackmailed before becoming a member.
The agents provided their reports mostly in written form. The majority of these reports were destroyed before the change of regime in 1989. In Hódmezıvásárhely, situated in South-East of Hungary there are plenty of materials of local agents regarding to the 1960’s. The researches, done in the Historical Archives of the State Security prove that the “consigners” were interested mainly in the information about the human-intellectuals and the artists. The temporary exhibition titled “Detected Arts”3 was organized in 2012 according to the discovered reports. This is the first possibility, when the visitors of the museums in Hungary can get a view in the processes of the communist state security – through the reports about several local artists.
The artists and writers of Hódmezıvásárhely grouped around two old masters. The political police identified these people and constantly controlled them. For their control they organized agents that belonged to the circle of friends around the masters. Agents appearing in our exhibition called ‘Detected Art’
„Gáspár Szabó”He mainly wrote his reports about young and independent intellectuals, and the members of the Galyasi- and Bibó circle. Miklós Galyasi had been the founder and first director of the Tornyai János Museum and Lajos Bibó was a wellknown playwright before 1944. A glimpse at a civilian’s biography of Vásárhely Gyızı Moldvay (Hódmezıvásárhely, 12th June 1925. – Hatvan, 4th August 1996)
He was a poet, journalist and editor. He maturated at Gábor Bethlen High School in 1944. He published his writings in two local papers, in ‘Vásárhely Népe’ and the ‘Vásárhelyi Független Újság’ between 1944 and 1951. He got his degree at Teachers’ Training College of Szeged in 1957. He became the director of the Petıfi Community Centre between 1952 and 1954, and later he was the editor of the ‘Vásárhelyi Szó’, a local journal between 1955 for 1956.
Between 28th of October and the 14th of November in 1956 he was the editor of ‘Vásárhelyi Nemzeti Újság’ (National Newspaper of Hódmezıvásárhely), the official newspaper of the revolutionists. Due to his activity during the revolution he was interned on the 17th of December, 1956, but instead of starting a legal procedure against him he became free by the end of the year. His early arrestment can seem interesting, because Dr. Dezsı Kertész – the leader of the local Revolutionary Army Committee was arrested “only” on the 7th of January, 1957, while Imre Gyáni – the president of the National Committee – was seized even later, on the 31st of January, 1957.
The question may rise: how was it possible, that Moldvay was seized earlier, than the other two people, who had had a more important role in the revolution; and how could he get off the trouble without any retaliation due to his activity as an editor. Dr. Kertész was sentenced to 7 years, and Imre Gyáni to 6 years imprisonment. Even more – Moldvay was not only let out from the internment camp, but he could even finish his studies at the college in 1957! To find the answer to the above question, the related documents of the state security should be examined. The file no. 64 - so his personal file could be found during the researches at the Historical Archives of the State Security. From this document it was discovered that Moldvay was recruited by the political police of Kádár with the code name “Gáspár Szabó” on the 30th of December, 1956.
From the above data it can be seen, that the first three files after his recruitment have disappeared. The first file was opened in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County – situated in the north-east of Hungary, and however, that file disappeared, supposedly, the reports of that file also contained the name of the revolutionists in Hódmezıvásárhely.
His later life He became the director of a community centre in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County in 1961 (up to 1964). Furthermore, he worked for the only radio station in Miskolc. He returned to Hódmezıvásárhely in 1965 and worked as a teacher till 1970. Later he moved to Heves County in 1971 and he settled down in Hatvan. He founded the Hatvan Gallery in 1972 and he was its director till the end of his life. After his recruitment in 1956 Moldvay – according to the instruction of the state security officer, dealing with his activity – made his environment believe, that he was a ridden person5 because of his 1956 past, and he was pushed to the periphery of the society by the communist power. Those who were punished after the revolution and those artists and intellectuals who were against the official trends which were determined by the government, could easily trust in him.
We can appreciate the work of Gáspár Szabó on the basis of the remaining Csongrádcounty file6. The documents, included in the file were issued between the 18th of April, 1966 and the 29th of August, 1968. According to the reports it can be stated that by this period he became a professional agent – which is not a surprise, as he had been employed by the power for ten years. His agent-responsible was István Molnár who was a major and then a lieutenant-colonel of the Csongrád County Political Detective Department. One of the target persons of his reports was Miklós Galyasi, the museum director before 1956, who was defined as an especially dangerous person.
He was sentenced to a 1,5-year imprisonment, because of his article – a total innocent one – published in 1956, at the time of the Hungarian revolution. After his release he led a sequestered life in Hódmezıvásárhely. He was visited by young intellectuals and artists who wanted to find an authentic
master. He was observed by several agents by the end of his life. Another target person was Lajos Bibó, a journalist, editor, and in the period between the two world wars he was also a celebrated playwright in Budapest. When after 1945 the communists asked him to write plays and novels in a left-wing tone, he didn’t do that.
Due to his decision his career as a playwright broke, and he had to retreat to Hódmezıvásárhely and lived of manual work. Despite his neglect a group of the local intellectuals highly respected him and regularly visited him. He was observed by several agents just as Galyasi. The other young target persons were approached by Gáspár Szabó through Galyasi and Bibó, about whom he regularly made his reports. His agent-responsible also urged him to build further relationships with new persons, as the State Security planned to have a throughout information about the circle of Galyasi and Bibó. Gáspár Szabó wrote about several artist-painters, like Csaba Fejér, József Fodor, Zoltán Füstös, József Németh, Péter Erdıs, István Kurucz D., Ferenc Hézsı and István Lelkes. In several of his reports he wrote about Violetta Ferrari – an actress-celebrity of the period before 1956. She immigrated to West-Germany and became a famous actress there. He also gave information about two young local writers: Tibor Szenti and Ferenc Vincze.
Along Bibó and Galyasi Csaba Fejér was one of the most important target persons, he was a painter, the member of the second generation of the Artistic School of Vásárhely. He introduced with his works the rural and agricultural world which was sentenced to death by the government. The agents of the Ministry of Internal Affairs defined him as dangerous because of his riot personality. He did not get a state award from the government. Several agents were responsible for observing him. His way of thinking is definitely represented in the quote from a report of Gáspár Szabó about him, dated on the 3rd of May, 1967.
“The members of the State Security just can not believe, they just can not resign themselves, that the painters of Hódmezıvásárhely are not organizing anything against them. They don’t want to do a counter-revolution. The reason for that is, that this is their obsession – said Csaba Fejér. They are seeking something that doesn’t exist. They are afraid of being retired if they can not find a conspiracy.”7 According to the above quote Csaba Fejér knew about the observation of the local artists, and he thought, that it was pointless. The surviving members of the Galyasi – or Bibó circle all stated in the interviews made with them8 that they didn’t plan to defeat the system, because it wouldn’t be realistic, after the pull down of the revolution of 1956. This statement is also supported by the reports of the circle around Bibó and Galyasi, made by other agents. The members were connected by their common intent to represent their own ways in their art. For this purpose they wanted to find the instruction of authentic masters, and the friendship of similar artists. For the power they became suspicious, because they didn’t follow the socialist-realistic style, imported from Moscow. The artists of Vásárhely insisted on their freedom in their art, however, they could see the limits, so they didn’t do anything against the system, being aware of the danger of such actions.
Methods of agent reporting It was an important part of the activity of Gáspár Szabó that he appeared on different events and he wrote reports about them. He got a certain task from his agent-responsible when he travelled abroad ( e.g.: Austria…etc). The source of the most interesting information and date were the different meetings with friends, where he was not only a participant, but he also organized and hosted such events and gatherings.9
The maniac writer and intellectual Moldvay was the editor of several journals; he published a monograph and three books of poems. His reports are readable and interesting. He characterized his target persons ( friends acquaintances) in a sophisticated way. He wrote about the artists’ and writers’ opinion and statements as a real expert. He wrote more than 2000 pages between 1956 and 1968 (Two of his six files has survived and they are 335 and 422 pages long10).
In 1968 his agent-responsible recommended his exclusion, because of an incident in Novi-Sad. After his exclusion his file in Csongrád County was closed. However, from the 4th of January, 1974 he was employed by the Political Department of the Heves County Police, because in the meanwhile he moved there. He got his new code-name, “István Boldog” at this time, and we do not have any data concerning his working file from this period. After a while he became a secret commissioner instead of being an agent, but we do not have a certain date of his leaving the network.
Notes: 1 Emlekpont Museum, Hódmezıvásárhely, Hungary.
2 Gábor Tabajdi-Krisztián Ungváry: The Withheld Past – The Party State and the Internal Affairs, Corvina, 2008. 46-49th pp.
3 Web: www.megfigyelt.hu (18th of September, 2012)
5 This „legend” still worked after the transition. In the Vásárhely Encyclopaedia it was written that “After his short imprisonment he had to escape from his hometown.” Encyclopaedia of Hódmezıvásárhely. Bába Kiadó, Szeged, 2002. 123rd page. 6 ÁBTL 3.1.2 M-29097 „Gáspár Szabó”.