East European Communities: The Struggle for Balance in Turbulent Times

By David A. Kideckel | Go to book overview

7
Ferenc Erdei and Antal Vermes: The Struggle for Balance in Rural Hungary

Chris Hann

Erdei Ferenc derek ember, / Megdicserjuk szemtol szembe! Magunk kozut ot valasszuk, / Szavat mind meeogadjuk! Eljen, eljen a Nemzet!

Ferenc Erdei is a decent man, / Let's praise him very openly! He is the one we choose among ourselves, / we accept his every word! Long live the Nation!

This jingle was recalled in 1993 in the village of Tázlár in south central Hungary by a man who had committed it to memory some forty years earlier, in the darkest years of Stalinism. Ferenc Erdei ( 1910-1971) had been the candidate in the parliamentary constituency of which this village formed a small part. This particular villager, known to me since the mid-1970s, had been the leading force behind the re-establishment of the Smallholders Party in this area at the end of the 1980s. 1 I was left in little doubt that, in his eyes, Erdei represented the despised ancien regime.

Antal Vermes is another good friend in the village of the same age. He vouchsafed some quite different information about Erdei. Antal too is, and always has been, emphatically anti-communist. However he holds a degree from what was once known as the Karl Marx University of Economics and has vivid and positive memories of Ferenc Erdei addressing packed lecture theaters in Budapest in the 1960s. The performances of the small, swarthy man with the booming voice were always electrifying. Even more striking was the message of

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