In Defense of Christian Hungary: Religion, Nationalism, and Antisemitism 1890-1944

By Laszlo, Leslie | The Catholic Historical Review, July 2007 | Go to article overview

In Defense of Christian Hungary: Religion, Nationalism, and Antisemitism 1890-1944


Laszlo, Leslie, The Catholic Historical Review


In Defense of Christian Hungary: Religion, Nationalism, and Antisemitism 1890-1944. By Paul A. Hanebrink. (Ithaca and London: Cornell llniversity Press. 2006. Pp. x, 255. $39.95.)

Rarely have I come across a more engaging, better composed study dealing with the relatively recent history of a small European country. Professor Paul A. Hanebrink earned my deepest admiration for his sharp discernment, transparent clarity, and elegant style in presenting a half-century history of the most turbulent times of modern-day Hungary. His numerous references, and an incredibly huge, comprehensive, up-to-date bibliography are indication of the massive research effort brought to fruition in this volume. True to Hanebrink's stated goal, the focus of his attention is on the role of religion, more particularly that of the leadership of the established churches - notably the majority Roman Catholic Church and the largest of the Protestant churches, the Reformed or Calvinist Church - in fostering Hungarian nationalism and also the rise of anti-Semitism.

The starting point for Hanebrink is the closing decade of the nineteenth century, when Hungarian political culture was dominated by the ideas of western European Liberalism. It was the time when in the face of fierce opposition from the conservative Catholic hierarchy, but with the enthusiastic support from the Protestant leaders, clergy and lay alike, a number of laws were enacted by parliament, among them the law introducing civll marriage and the law on Jewish reception, granting the Jews not only full civic rights, which they already had, but also to the Jewish religion nul equality with the established Christian churches.

The bright picture which Hanebrink paints of the modern, liberal, secularizing Hungary, soon underwent somber changes during the Great War, and the chaotic times that followed. The defeated country was forced to cede two-thirds of its historic lands with a third of its ethnic Hungarians to its enemies, the remaining rump being overwhelmed with refugees, whlle the government had been taken over in the fall of 1918 by well-meaning democrats, who were in March 1919 overthrown by doctrinaire Bolshevik communists. This "dictatorship of the Proletariat" led by BeIa Kun lasted only until August 1919, but it left in its wake an indelible memory of unfulfilled promises, misery, terror, and also outrage over the desecration of religious and national symbols dear to the majority of Hungarians. Little wonder that these events caused a 180-degree turn toward rightwing nationalism in the minds of many people who placed the blame for the erosion of the traditional mores of Hungarians squarely on the shoulders of the latssez-fatre Liberalism of the previous regimes and the Jews. The latter, compared to their small proportion in the overall population (5%), played an enormous role not only in the economy, but also in the cultural life and in politics. At no time was this more evident than during the 1919 Commune, when the political and cultural leadership, as well as the personnel of the terror squads, were almost totally of Jewish origin.

The following twenty-five years had been the time of that "Christian Hungary" which gave the title to this book. As Hanebrink rightly observed, a purified, spiritually reborn Christian Hungary, which was the sincere desire of the leaders of the Christian churches and their committed followers, remained just a slogan for the politicians, and a rallying cry for the various rightwing groups and parties, a convenient cover for their anti-Semitic feelings and activities. For these people "Christian" had nothing to do with being followers of Jesus of Nazareth; it simply meant "non-Jewish" at best, a "hater of Jews" at its worst. The author eloquently demonstrates how during World War II, especially in its last year when Hungary - despite being allied to Germany, in the spring of 1944 was mllitarlly occupied and politically subjugated by German troops - this anti-Semitic agitation culminated in the deportation and mass murder of over half a mlllion Jewish citizens (including converts to Christianity) of that much vaunted "Christian Hungary. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

In Defense of Christian Hungary: Religion, Nationalism, and Antisemitism 1890-1944
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.