Reviewed by Gergely Tóth University of Utah, Salt Lake City: Review: 21st Century Hungarian Language Survival in Transylvania.

Gergely Tóth 

21st Century Hungarian Language Survival in Transylvania

This volume offers a fresh, comprehensive description of the current state of affairs of Hungarian as an endangered minority language in the Transylvania region, also making the reader aware of the struggles minority language speakers face. Seven scholars, linguists and sociologists based in the Carpathian Basin, and showing keen interest in and concern for their native tongue, set out to analyze the language’s position in six chapters, under the guidance of Prof. Kesserű Némethy. To be sure, the book’s first two contributions set a wider scope and provide parallels and comparisons to other countries of the region. After all, each of Hungary’s neighbors harbor a more or less sizeable native Hungarian minority, and all minority languages of the globe have to cope with many of the same challenges and obstacles. 

Following a Foreword which concisely announces the main chapters’ content, Prof. Kesserű Némethy sets the stage and identifies the basic problems in the Introduction, by delivering a brief yet thorough overview of the region’s history, political background, waves of foreign occupation, and ethnic relations from the Hungarian state founding in 1001 through our present day, including the pivotal 1920 Peace Dictate of Trianon, which has determined the life of all Hungarians, many of whom suddenly ended up as one of the largest minority groups in Europe. She also notes that the fall of Communism did not significantly improve the status of local minority languages. 

The first chapter, Traditions Shaping Language and Language Instruction Policies in East-Central Europe, written by Orsolya Nádor, approaches the question from a historical perspective. It is centered around the evolution and the status of Hungarian since the Middle Ages and collates the language with Latin and German, for a long time dominant in Central Europe. It takes a closer look at the role of linguistic ideologies leading to linguistic and social conflicts, and reviews international language laws and agreements affecting minority and majority languages. Debates surrounding minority policy are also discussed, along with the troubled fate of the Hungarian minority population whose status switched between majority and minority at least three times within just a couple of decades. The chances of linguistic and cultural survival are touched upon as well. 

Chapter 2, authored by Attila Z. Papp and titled Educational Policy Concepts in the Carpathian Basin, skillfully delineates the evolution of Hungarian minority education and the challenges that accompany it in Romania, Slovakia, the Ukraine, and Serbia, the four countries containing the largest Hungarian minorities. The article also illustrates in detail and compares the relevant programs of the leading Hungarian political minority parties of these countries, complemented by the agenda of organizations involved in the education of Hungarians outside of Hungary, offering a much needed and up-to-date overview. Minority education policies are contextualized in conjunction with demographics, educational statistics and development processes in the institutional framework. 

Chapter 3, Hungarian Public Education in Romania, with Particular Attention to the Language(s) of Instruction, composed by Rita Fóris-Ferenczi and János Péntek, focuses on the Hungarian sub-system of Romanian public education by interpreting the school as a unit of public administration, and also treating related legislation. It describes the system’s school types, teaching materials, and the development of curricula, and contrasts Hungarian with other minority languages as well as with foreign language instruction. It points out the particular situation of the Hungarian minority within the Romanian educational system, due to its size and deep historic traditions, considering Hungarian being by far the largest, historically long established minority (formerly majority) here. The authors also note that the system generally fails to aid the development of advanced bilingualism, by principally disregarding the students’ native language. 

The fourth chapter, featuring Noémi Fazakas’ The Hungarian Language in Transylvania: Its Existence in the Diaspora and the Possibilities of Revitalization, views the matter from a sociolinguistic angle and takes a look at the present state of the Hungarian language in Transylvania. It identifies the three main types of Hungarian’’s demographic and linguistic condition in the region (the fairly compact Székely territory, the numerous speech islands, and a scattered diaspora indeed at high risk of disappearance/dissolution). Drawing on essential sociolinguistic theories, including language endangerment, it deals with aspects of language maintenance and shift, linguistic rights and language policies (with reference to other languages of the world), the chances of revitalization, and it also contemplates the degree at which Hungarian should be considered an endangered language. 

The next chapter, The Official Register of the Hungarian Language Used in Transylvania, submitted by Krisztina Sárosi-Márdirosz and consisting of two parts, stems from a database on spoken audiovisual media. It takes an inventory of the most characteristic features of the local Hungarian language used in the administrative and political domains. Part I, The Theoretical Framework, gives in-depth definitions on various linguistic varieties such as ‘minority vs. majority language’ or ‘national language’, and also scrutinizes the embedding post-war and present-day legal context. It talks about the particular difficulties the Hungarian minority language is confronted with: although its use is legally permitted above a certain minority population ratio, its official register in Romania is underdeveloped, lexical gaps exist, and, owing to the lack of full-fledged and efficient bilingualism, referred to above, complex translations often display errors or inaccuracies. Part II, Monitoring the Hungarian Audiovisual Media in Romania, outlines the project and the methodology, describes the examined media outlets, and summarizes the investigated linguistic phenomena, ranging from phonological to syntactic and semantic issues. The article also touches upon the notion of ‘Translationese’, i.e., flaws and misunderstandings in connection with inaccurate or inadequate translation. 

In the final, sixth chapter, Language Use in the Electronic Media in Romania, Borbála Zsemlyei explores the same database utilized in the previous chapter. This unit too is greatly instrumental in the volume’s overall data timeliness, as it inspects current tendencies and patterns in 21st century communication, and text-linguistically analyzes the use of the Hungarian language in electronic media. Based on certain speech patterns, the piece discusses some typical occurrences on Hungarian radio and television, and emphasizes the importance of correct language, considering the great role the media plays as a model for speakers of the region in general and for targeted listeners in particular. A short, colorful history of the local Hungarian media and brief descriptions of the four monitored outlets are followed by a detailed analysis of observed linguistic problems in pronunciation, morphology (such as inconsistent suffix use), the lexicon, or in syntax (e.g., article use or subject-predicate agreement). 

The book is supplied with several very helpful, clear and well laid-out figures and tables, a comprehensive but not overwhelming Appendix listing the linguistic concepts and notions featured in the contributions, and brief Author Biographies. Each chapter, including the Introduction, comes with an informative yet manageable bibliography. The handsome, high-quality volume is complemented by five fold-out color Ethnic Maps of the Carpatho-Pannonian Area, covering the time period between 1495 and 2001. The product is a clearly and carefully structured title, a convincing blend of first-hand expertise on a complicated and difficult topic. I unhesitatingly recommend it to everyone seeking a thought-provoking, diligently composed and easy-to-process depiction of the fragile Hungarian minority language in the heart of Europe.

Slavic and East European Journal, vol. 59, no.3 (Fall 2015), page 454: Review: Night and Fog: The Collected Dramas and Screenplays of Danilo Kiš

Radmila Gorup, Columbia University

Night and Fog

The anthology features five dramas (Night and Fog, The Parrot, A Wooden Trunk for Thomas Wolfe, The Mechanical Lions, and Electra), and two screenplays (Marin Držić Always Lands on his Feet and Končarevci: A Factory Story). All the plays take place in modern times with the exception of Electra and Marin Držić, and all their characters are situated in their social contexts. Some plays address social and political conditions (The Parrot and Končarevci), while others investigate legacies of the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century (Night and Fog, Mechanical Lions, and A Wooden Trunk for Thomas Wolfe). All the plays simultaneously portray everyday life and the human condition in a broader sense. Ideology has an important place in Kiš’s plays: institutional religion in Electra and Marin Držić, legacies of Fascism and Communism in the rest. Violence is foregrounded and many characters die a violent death.

Written and performed in 1968, Night and Fog is, in Kiš’s words, “a set of lyrical variations on the theme of time and memory” (Appendix, 351). Readers of Early Sorrows and Garden, Ashes will recognize Andreas Sam, a Yugoslav-Hungarian young man who twenty years later returns to a Hungarian village where he spent the war years. Each of the three characters— Andy, Mrs. Rigo, and her husband—sees the past in their own way. While Andy admits that memory is elusive, he is certain that an injustice was done to his family. Physically absent but omnipresent is the tragicomic figure of his lost father.

The Parrot, shown on Belgrade TV in 1970, portrays class and generational conflicts of the late 1960s, and recalls Kiš’s novel Mansarda. The bizarre “crime” takes place in an upscale Belgrade apartment. The intruder is a chatty young man, perhaps mentally disturbed, with an imaginary parrot on his shoulder. The “victims” are a middle-aged couple, representative of the red bourgeoisie. The absurd exchange of “Who are you?” ends with the shooting of the young man.

When writer David Filip suggested to several colleagues that they write a play on the seven deadly sins, Kiš chose to write on laziness, the lesser sin, and composed A Wooden Trunk for Thomas Wolfe, which was shown on Belgrade TV in 1974. The play’s two characters, an old doctor and a young would-be writer, are based on real people. Holocaust survivors, they are trying to forge a new existence but their traumatic past prevents that. Unable to do it himself, the old man encourages his younger friend to write about the war experiences and bear witness to the Shoah, but the young man is afflicted with laziness and lacks talent. The two characters are reminiscent of similar ones in Kiš’s The Psalm, Early Sorrows, and The Lute and the Stars.

Mechanical Lions, staged in 1980, is a dramatization of the story “A Tomb for Boris Davidovich” and two other stories from the same collection. Kiš met with unexpected difficulties transferring narrative to drama and needed a new approach to portray the tragic destiny of Boris Davidovič Novsky, an idealistic revolutionary and true believer, pitted against a system intent on sacrificing him in the most brutal fashion. The system is represented by the investigating magistrate Fedjukin, who relentlessly tries to corrupt Novsky’s stellar revolutionary past, which Novsky fights to the very end to preserve. The play illuminates various historical periods, starting with pre-revolutionary Russia, the Revolution, and the political persecutions of the Soviet period.

Electra (1968), Kiš’s first dramatic work, was commissioned by the Belgrade experimental theater “Atelje 12.” Kiš began work with the single available Serbo-Croatian translation of Euripides’s play, but ultimately had to write his own verse. Kiš preserved the general traits of the famous legend of Electra and Orestes but combined it with elements of the theater of cruelty of Antoine Arnaud, to whom Kiš dedicated the play. The combination of the two models makes Kiš’s Electra modern and the play bridges the tyranny of antiquity with the oppressive ideologies of the twentieth century.

In 1979, Kiš wrote two screenplays, one on the life of Dubrovnik Renaissance playwright and perpetual rebel Marin Držić (1508–67) and another on the unorthodox socialist industrialization in Yugoslavia. Neither screenplay was filmed.

Cox translated Marin Držić Vidra, the title of the first screenplay, rather awkwardly as Marin Držić Always Lands on his Feet. Even if not exact, Marin Držić the Fox might have been better. This is not a screenplay in the true sense of the word since dialogue is sparse and narrative and stage directions predominate. Kiš must have found the figure of the Renaissance playwright appealing because of his rebellious streak and his broad-mindedness. Držić never stopped pursuing his artistic interests even though he became a priest. He criticized conservatism and the corruption of the Dubrovnik ruling class and the intolerance of the church and universities. The play is also a meta-text, as parts of Držić’s most successful play Uncle Maroje are integrated in the work. The screenplay written in Dubrovnik vernacular attests to Kiš’s linguistic skills.

Končarevci: A Factory Story is an accomplished screenplay that depicts the turbulent years after World War II, the crisis after Tito’s split with Stalin, and Tito’s subsequent efforts to forge Yugoslavia’s path to Socialism. The play consists of scenes with detailed settings and numerous prompts. The plot takes place in a pre-war Siemens electronic factory, now reconstructed and named after a partisan hero. The characters are numerous, and they are depicted in conflict both with society and with one another. Končarevci is another meta-text, a film within a screenplay. Within the screenplay a film crew is making a film. The screenplay ends with a loss of confidence in the Communist ideology largely because of the Party’s unwillingness to face reality and admit crimes committed in the name of an illusory future. Kiš’s irony is evident as Beethoven’s music is being played to an indifferent factory audience. Biography plays a crucial role in Kiš’s entire opus. Images of the author’s life are incorporated into his plays. He extended his cosmopolitan orientation to his dramatic works. His dramas include a classical tragedy, a Renaissance play, a portrayal of the Soviet gulag and its legacy, the Tito-Stalin split, and the Yugoslav brand of Socialism.

Kiš started to write dramas somewhat late in his career. Cox offers an argument that the author might have had reservations about drama because of his literature of facts, i.e., his reliance on documents, something which drama by its very nature avoids. Whatever the case, Kiš found a way to preserve the authenticity he advocated elsewhere.

Readers and scholars of Kiš should be grateful to Cox for an excellent translation of the writer’s dramatic works. Even though they are minor works when compared to his masterpieces, these plays nonetheless add to our understanding of one of the most important European writers of the second half of the twentieth century.

Slavic Review, vol. 74, no. 2 (Summer 2015): In Search of the Budapest Secession: The Artist Proletariat and Modernism’s Rise

Slavic Review, vol. 74, no. 2 (Summer 2015)

Lee Congdon
James Madison University

In Search of the Budapest Secession

In addition to academic training, Jeffrey Taylor brought to his search for the “Budapest secession” years of experience in the art trade. In the course of his extensive research, he discovered not one but a series of secessions (and secessions of secessions) and concluded that they were driven primarily by economic rather than aesthetic motives, that is, that they were less struggles for stylistic supremacy than competitions for commercial success. Although he may overstate it—were Hungarian artists businessmen and -women first?—he presents a well-argued case.

In early nineteenth-century Hungary, artists began to paint without benefit of a patron, thus creating the need for a market in art. Such a market, pluralistic in nature, began to develop in the shops of Pest booksellers, only to be devastated by a flood in 1838. Two years later, the Pest Art Society introduced a salon-based monopolistic market. At a time of increasing ethnic consciousness, however, the society gained a reputation as a venue for foreign artists and by 1868 it had ceased to exist. In 1859, a group of painters had seceded from the society to form the National Hungarian Fine Arts Society (OMKT), whose aim was to improve the prospects of Magyar artists. The new society was able to do so, however, only for a small number of painters, members of what Taylor refers to as a “labor aristocracy” (33), as opposed to an “artist proletariat” (59) composed of lesser talents who were left to their own devices. Until the outbreak of the Great War, according to Taylor, each “secession”—each new commercial venture—was either egalitarian (attempting to include as many artists as possible) or elitist (attempting to restrict opportunities to those with established reputations).

The OMKT did achieve a measure of commercial success, primarily thanks to state purchases and raffles, but it made the mistake of aligning itself with academic painting, as epitomized by Gyula Benczúr’s historical canvases, thus setting itself on a path of opposition to the modernism on the rise. The National Salon, formed in revolt against the OMKT in the 1890s, was driven, Taylor insists again, “not by aesthetics but by economics” (59); it was less interested in advancing the modernist cause than in expanding the art market. That may be so, but the salon did stage two important exhibitions of modern French art in 1907: one devoted to Paul Gauguin and Paul Cézanne, and one to Édouard Manet and Claude Monet. Moreover, it hosted exhibitions by members of the two most important Hungarian modernist movements: the MIÉNK (Circle of Hungarian Impressionists and Naturalists), led by Pál Szinyei- Merse, József Rippl-Rónai, and Károly Ferenczy; and the Eight, composed largely of the MIÉNK’s younger members, who looked for inspiration to the postimpressionists, Cézanne above all.

Taylor does not deny that the revolt against the OMKT’s authority represented by the group gathered around Simon Hollósy was at least framed in aesthetic terms. Hollósy, who had been working in Munich, led his followers to Nagybánya in Transylvania in order to practice plein air painting, a style for which the OMKT evinced little sympathy. Hollósy might have formed his own salon had not János Hock—Catholic priest, author of Art Reform, and enemy of the OMKT—persuaded him to cast his lot with the National Salon.

In time, it is true, “traditionalists” led by painter and critic László Kézdi-Kovács consolidated control over the National Salon, but they proved incapable of providing sufficient outlets for what had become a vast overproduction of artworks. As a result, new secessions, new models of commerce, began to challenge the salon model: private galleries such as the Könyves K.lm.n, self-staged exhibitions similar to the profitable one organized by Rippl-Rónai in 1906, coffee houses, and studio exhibitions. One of the most promising ventures was that of the Artists’ House, founded in 1909 by Miklós Rózsa, who had formerly served as artistic director of the MIÉNK, but it, too, failed financially and was forced to close in 1914. “Despite the increasing diversity of [art market] models,” Taylor concludes, “none but those supported by state funding or alternate revenue streams could survive because of the fundamental reality that the sale of contemporary artworks could never cover the cost of Pest rents” (191)

Hungarian Historical Review: The Inauguration of Organized Political Warfare – Cold War Organizations Sponsored by the National Committee for a Free Europe / Free Europe Committee.

An Extract from a review in the Hungarian Historical Review authored by Barnabás Vajda Volume 3, issue 4, 2014

Edited by Katalin Kádár Lynn. New York: 

The Inauguration of Organized Political Warfare

“There are eleven studies written by nine authors in this excellent book. The studies of two of the authors, Katalin Kádár Lynn, the editor of the volume, and Anna Mazurkiewicz are of key importance in the volume. The book is an immense contribution to the history of émigrés and at the same time to the knowledge of the activities of the Free Europe Committee. Though the survey is far from complete—all authors have raised many issues for further research—the book is an important step in furthering our knowledge about the true nature of American policy toward Eastern Europe during the Cold War.” 
Please go to for the full review.

A Nation Adrift The 1944-1945 wartime diaries of Miksa Fenyő Az elsodort ország

Translated from the original Hungarian by Mario Fenyő


A Nation Adrift

This compelling, articulate and often painful diary was written during the ten months while Miksa Fenyő, one of the most prominent public intellectuals in Hungary, was in hiding from the Gestapo and the Hungarian Fascist Arrow-Cross. It was first published in Hungarian in 1946 as Az elsodort ország.

Fenyő was one of the founders of NYUGAT (Occident, 1908–1941) the most influential Hungarian literary publication of its age, where he served as a founding editor and critic. 

From March 19, 1944, the date of Hungary’s occupation by Germany, until January 19, 1945 when Pest was liberated, he went into hiding in the homes of friends after being targeted for arrest by the Gestapo and their Hungarian cohorts. 

In 1948 he left Hungary, first relocating to Rome, then Paris, eventually in 1953 he moved to New York City. His last years were spent in Vienna where he passed away in 1972. His essay titled HITLER that appeared in the fall of 1933 in NYUGATand in 1934 as a short monograph, was the first work to expose the character and plans of Hitler and the Nazi Reich to the Hungarian public and identify the theory of race and German racial superiority as the key element in Mein Kampf. It earned him a permanent place on Hitler’s enemies list. 

Zsuzsanna Varga in her Foreword says this about Fenyő’s work: “This book is a particularly important document from the final, tragic year of World War II. It was not authored by a politician or a shaper of war, nor was it fashioned for some political or moral gain. The document reflects a highly cultured man’s musings on the conditions of internal exile; it is the voice of a committed and outspoken anti-Fascist, who towards the end of the war, could have equally been killed being anti-Nazi or Jewish. His thoughts on 20th-century European and Hungarian history show the ideas of a man of letters who staunchly believes in the values of liberal humanism, and who becomes aware of the post-war threat to his ideals only too late.”

Fateful Years 1938–1945 (Végzetes esztendök 1938–1945)

Vilmos Nagy de Nagybaczon
with an introduction by George Schöpflin
— MEP for Hungary 2004-present
— former Jean Monnet Professor of Politics, University of London


Fateful Years 1938–1945

Little known outside of Hungary, Vilmos Nagybaczoni Nagy (30 May 1884–21 June 1976) was the first Hungarian to be named “Righteous Among The Nations” by Yad Vashem. 

Born into a family of minor nobility of Székely ancestry in Parajd, Transylvania [now Praid, Harghita County, Romania], Nagy showed early promise. Following a distinguished early career, he rose to the rank of general in the Royal Hungarian Army. In a politically motivated move on 31 March 1941, he was retired with the rank of Lieutenant General.

In September 1942, the Hungarian Regent, Miklós Horthy, asked General Nagy to return from retirement and accept the portfolio of Minister of Defense. In this position Nagy attempted to keep the military out of politics, rein in the pro-Nazi faction of the Army, and struggled to modernize and preserve the military in order to prevent a repeat of the tragedy that befell it during World War I. His insistence on the humane treatment of all who served, including those serving in the labor companies, made Nagy a target of the Arrow Cross, which pressed for his removal from office. Under constant attack by the far right Nagy resigned on 8 June 1943. 

Not satisfied with having Nagy removed as minister, after its government takeover in mid-October 1944, the fascist Arrow Cross, had the gendarmerie arrest him at his home on 16 November. After being held at a prison facility of the Arrow Cross, he was transferred to the prison in Sopronköhida. As the Red Army approached, the prisoners, were transported to Germany. Released on Sunday 28 April 1945. Nagy was in Zimmern when the US forces reached there on 1 May.

General Nagy returned to Hungary in 1946, and while a freely elected government was in place, he wrote his memoir of the critical period from 1938-1945 Végzetes esztendök (“Fateful Years”) first published in 1947. After the Communist takeover of 1947, he was unjustly attacked, his apartment confiscated, and his pension revoked. He found employment as a gardener and caretaker at the tree nursery of the Pilis Park Forest, later he found employment as a metal smith.

In 1965 this decent man, who never abandoned his principles, was named the first Hungarian “Righteous Among The Nations” by the Yad Vashem Institute of Jerusalem. Vilmos Nagybaczoni Nagy remained active until his death by writing, editing, and reading. In 1964, he revised and updated his memoir, translated into English in this edition. 

Vilmos Nagybaczoni Nagy died in Piliscsaba on 21 June 1976, shortly after his ninety-second birthday.

Translated from the original Hungarian by Thomas Cooper

Third Europe. Polish Federalist Thought in the United States – 1940–1970s

Sławomir Łukasiewicz


Third Europe

The genesis of the federalist thought that the book discusses is related to the collapse of the international order in East Central Europe in the years 1938-1939, which also marked a breakthrough in political concepts. One of the projects widely discussed beginning in the fall of 1939 was the idea of combining Poland’s and Czechoslovakia’s war efforts, which soon developed into federalist concepts, leading, in turn, to particular political gestures: the Polish-Czechoslovak Declaration of November 11, 1940; a joint project of a constitution of a future Polish-Czechoslovak Federation; and, finally, the Declaration from January 1942. The process was also reflected in the activities of other groups from East-Central Europe — including Polish circles — in the United States. The Declaration of November 1940 coincided with the publication of the inaugural issue of the journal New Europe and World Reconstruction, after the war the same milieu created another initiatives — Polish Federalists’ Association in America (Związek Polskich Federalistów — ZPF), Czechoslovak Polish Research Committee or the journal “The Central European Federalist”. The journals and organizations aspired to influencing U.S. policy. Poles and their Central European colleagues in exile cooperated with the American Committee for European Reconstruction during the war or with the National Committee for a Free Europe (later Free Europe Committee) after the war. There were many more initiatives referring to federalist ideas which incubated in the United States. Chronologically, the first organizations dealing with such problems included the International Peasant Union and the Christian Democratic Union of Central Europe. Another, much more important initiative was the Assembly of Captive European Nations — ACEN — established in 1954. ACEN included both representatives of national committees, which were part of the Free Europe Committee and representatives of CDUCE, the International Peasant Union, the Socialist Union of Central-Eastern Europe and the Liberal Union of Central Europe.

The goal of the political federalist thought was to offer the best solution to the situation in which Poland found itself after World War II. There were differences of opinion about the actual structure of the federation of states (or nations) that was to be established, about the way of establishing it and the political options that were proposed. However, the common assumption was that, without joint activism by the émigrés, followed by collective action by the countries of East Central Europe, independence could not be gained.

Sławomir Łukasiewicz, Hab. PhD, historian, Europeanist. Since October 2015 director of the Institute of European Studies, John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Law, Canon Law and Administration. Head of the Research Department at the Lublin branch of the Institute of National Remembrance, 2011-2015 coordinator of research program on Polish political exile 1939(45)-1990. Author of the books Trzecia Europa. Polska myśl federalistyczna w Stanach Zjednoczonych, 1940-1971 [Third Europe. Polish federalist thought in the United States – 1940-1970s], Warszawa-Lublin 2010; Partia w warunkach emigracji. Dylematy Polskiego Ruchu Wolnościowego “Niepodległość i Demokracja” 1945-1994[Émigré party. Dilemmas of the Polish Freedom Movement  “Independence and Democracy” 1945-1994], Lublin-Warszawa 2014; and several publications about Polish émigrés and their European visions (e.g. “Poles in European Federal Movement”, Warszawa 2005) as well as about activities of Polish communist intelligence after the II World War. Editor among others of Tajny oręż, czy ofiary zimnej wojny? Emigracje polityczne z Europy Środkowej i Wschodniej[Secret weapon or the victims of the Cold War? Political émigrés from Central and Eastern Europe], Lublin 2010; Towards a United Europe: an Anthology of Twentieth Century Polish Thought on Europe, Warsaw 2011; Polska emigracja polityczna 1939-1990. Stan badań[Polish political exile 1939-1990. Research reports], Warszawa 2016.


A ground-breaking book that unveils a world hitherto unknown to the English-language reader — even though this world was based in the United States. Required reading for any student of political exile and emigration

Piotr H. Kosicki, University of Maryland

Third Europe is about an idea. Many émigrés from East Central Europe who left their native lands because of World War II and communism wound up in the United States, where they were free to discuss the future shape of Europe and quickly discovered new inspiration — not only in regional traditions but also in the thoughts of the American Founding Fathers. Sławomir Łukasiewicz recounts the fate of these thinkers, illustrates the historical and political context in which they would act and create, and discusses the concept of a federalized East Central Europe. Many of these ideas are still current, which is why this book is not only of scholarly importance but also is significant in contemporary discussions about this topic.

John Micgiel, President and Executive Director (Kosciuszko Foundation)

The outbreak of the Second World War and the complete collapse of the world order created at Versailles led anti-Fascist, democratic politicians and intellectuals from Nazi-occupied Europe to work out plans for a future lasting and peaceful European settlement. In such a context, the projects that envisioned federalist or confederalist solutions formed the origins of the quest for a European union that was destined to characterize post-war Western Europe. Ideas put forth by the émigré political leaders and scholars from East-Central Europe were part of a process that was not limited to the war years but continued long after the ‘iron curtain’ had divided Europe and were of paramount relevance to defining the characteristics of the ‘return to Europe’ after 1989. Professor Lukasiewicz’s study explores those plans in detail on the basis of broad and in-depth research. This important scholarly contribution offers food for thought for everyone who is interested not only in the history of the European integration but also in the image of a continental order that was nurtured by Polish politicians and intellectuals.

Antonio Varsori, professor, History of International Relations, University of Padua

Comrade Baron

Jaap Scholten

Comrade Baron

In the darkness of the early morning of 3 March 1949, practically all of the Transylvanian aristocracy were arrested in their beds and loaded into lorries. That same day the Romanian Workers’ Party was pleased to announce the successful deportation and dispossession of all large landowners. Communism demanded the destruction of these ultimate class enemies. Under the terror of Gheorghiu-Dej and later Ceaușescu the aristocracy led a double life: during the day they worked in quarries, steelworks and carpenters’ yards; in the evening they secretly gathered and maintained the rituals of an older world.

To record this unknown episode of recent history, Jaap Scholten travelled extensively in Romania and Hungary and sought out the few remaining aristocrats who experienced the night of 3 March 1949. He spoke to people who survived the Romanian Gulag and met the youngest generation of the once distinguished aristocracy to talk about the restitution of assets and about the future. How is it possible to rebuild anything in a country that finds itself in a moral vacuum?

An extraordinary, passionate 
and important work

  • Jury, Libris History Prize
  • Shortlisted for the Bob den Uyl
    Prize for best travel book 2011
  • Winner of the Libris History Prize 2011

This is a classic in the lines of Patrick Leigh Fermor

Norman Stone, professor of modern history, Oxford

Combining a warm heart with the tenacious pursuit of truth, Jaap Scholten restores to vivid life the world of the Transylvanian aristocracy from its glory days to its tragic finale. Scholten thereby captures a missing piece of history and provides the reader with a gripping journey through a lost world.

Kati Marton, author and award winning former ABC News correspondent

I have enjoyed this book so much – such a great tale, with brilliant original research and source material, and so many stories, tragic, humiliating, painful, yet all engrossing and highly readable.

Petroc Trelawny, BBC Radio 3 presenter and journalist

Jaap Scholten, (Enschede, 1963) studied Industrial Design at the Technical University in Delft, Graphic Design at the Willem de Kooning Academy of Arts in Rotterdam (BA), and Social Anthropology at the Central European University in Budapest (MA). He has published seven books: collections of short stories and three novels. His novel, De wet van Spengler (Atlas Contact, 2008), was chosen “novel of the year” in the Netherlands. His latest book, Kameraad Baron (AtlasContact, 2010) is the winner of the Libris History Prize 2011. His novels and short stories are translated into German, French, Hungarian, Croatian. In 2011 Scholten created and presented a six-part television series for the VPRO about hidden worlds in Central and Eastern Europe. He has lived in Budapest since 2003. The English edition of Comrade Baron will be released by Helena History Press on May 1, 2016 and distributed worldwide through Central European University Press.

The War of the Princes: The Bohemian Lands and the Holy Roman Empire 1546-1555

Petr Vorel
Helena History Press, 274 pages


The War of the Princes

The mid 16th century represents a turning point in the history of Central Europe. The power politics of Emperor Charles V of Habsburg, culminating in the first phase of the military conflict with the opposition within the Holy Roman Empire (1546-1547), after a short time ran up against the effective resistance of protestant princes, who after the subsequent military victory (1552) used diplomacy to force the emperor to accept the Lutheran reformation (1555). After the subsequent abdication of Charles V, the main activities of Habsburg politics within the empire were taken over by his younger brother Ferdinand I., then King of Bohemia. 

Up to now the historiography, which in the case of the central European power crisis of the mid 16th century focuses primarily on the confessional and political dimension of this conflict, has not taken the significance of the Kingdom of Bohemia (nowadays Czech Republic) into consideration in the given contexts. This is the result of the fact that the Bohemian estates did fulfill neither the mandate of their king, nor the requests of the Lutheran German princes for military aid. The relatively strong Bohemian estates army did not in the end participate in 1547 on the Habsburg side even on the Saxon side. 

But why? What really happened in Bohemia at that time? Was it the betrayal of Lutheran co-religionists in the Empire and former political allies on the domestic political scene, or the statesmen’s prudence, that prevented the country’s military devastation? How is it possible that, for the following several decades, after the Estates opposition was suppressed by King Ferdinand in the year 1547, the Kingdom of Bohemia experienced a long period of peace, unusually extensive religious freedom and extraordinary economic prosperity, even accompanied by the transfer of the Emperor’s permanent residence to Prague (in 1583)? Why, for the Bohemian royal towns which were stripped of all their assets and had their political power removed in 1547, does the second half of the 16th century represent a time of extraordinary internal cultural and structural development? Also, the Unity of the Brethren, whose members were expelled from Bohemia in 1547, represented the most important and well-organized political power in the country just half a century later. How is it possible that the Bohemian political elites, weakened by monarchal sanctions in the year 1547, managed to reject the principle of the so-called Religious Peace of Augsburg of 1555 a few years later? Why, instead of politically-enforced confessionalization, commonly applied in the Holy Roman Empire, did the Kingdom of Bohemia offer the already confessionally-broken Christian Europe its own solution: Charter on Religious Freedom (1609)?

This book does not offer any simple solution. Nevertheless, it can contribute to the understanding of the deeper roots of the complicated situation in Central Europe two generations later (at the start of the 17th century), when the Bohemian Estates and the Prague intellectual political centre became (for the last time in its long existence) a driving force of “great” European history.

About the Author:

Petr Vorel: is a Czech historian, who serves as the Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Pardubice. He holds a PhD in history and Russian studies from Charles University in Prague where he also serves as an external lecturer. He headed the Association of Historians of the Czech Republic for several years, and serves as editor in chief of Theatrum Historiae, a scientific journal published by the University of Pardubice since 2006. 

Professionally Dr.Vorel deals mainly with Czech history of the early modern period, its nobility and the history of banking. He is considered an expert in numismatic history and was the organizer of an exhibition Thousand Year Tradition of Czech Currency from X to XXI Century organized by the Czech Center of New York. In 2000 he received the Egon Erwin Kisch Award for his book, Lords of Pernštejn.