"Blood and Homeland": Eugenics and Racial Nationalism in Central and Southeast Europe, 1900-1940

By Marius Turda; Paul J. Weindling | Go to book overview

The Politics of Hatred:
Scapegoating in Interwar Hungary*

Attila Pók

The loss, between 1918 and 1920, of two-thirds of pre-war Hungarian territory after the Treaty of Trianon (4 June 1920) caused trauma and repercussions, still felt in the present day. Not surprisingly, the "Trianon syndrome" is a standard point of reference when dealing with any aspect of twentieth-century Hungarian history. The argument of this chapter is that the conceptual framework of scapegoating is useful in explicating one of the key problems of twentieth-century Hungarian history—namely the relationship between anti-Semitism and Hungarian involvement in the implementation of the Holocaust in Hungary in 1944. 1 If there had been a Hungarian Historikerstreit, this issue could well have been one of its focal points.2 The same question may also be asked differently: Does the Holocaust in Hungary represent the apogee of a long-term evolution in Hungarian anti-Semitism, one rooted in early modern and contemporary Hungarian economic, social and cultural history? Or, instead, was it the result of short-term antecedents rooted in interwar Hungarian society; can it, in fact, be traced to what we might call the "Trianon syndrome"? This chapter shall discuss the "complexity of complicity" in reference to the socio-psychological tool of scapegoating.

In terms of method and sources much here is collaborative: throughout, the works of many colleagues, including historians, social psychologists, anthropologists and philosophers, are employed. There are five authors, however, whose ideas and insights were of particular importance in my conceptualization of scapegoating: Ferenc Pataki, whose 1993 article effectively described the idea of scapegoating;3 György Hunyadi, who, for decades, has been trying to build bridges between history and social psychology, and whose 1998 book on stereotypes during the decline and fall of Communism deserves more atten-

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