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They were artists, they became informants

They were artists, they became informants

Zoltán Szokolay also came into the spotlight as a representative of the MDF, who, according to his own admission, wrote his reports diligently to the intelligence services of the party-state. The teacher and poet, who served as representative and vice president of MDF in MDF Colors, also reported on Tamás Cseh and Csurka, but according to his own public testimony, tried to talk about everyone he loved in a way that didn’t hurt them. He didn’t say what he said about those he didn’t like. His case did not create much fanfare as he disappeared from national public life after his past became public.

The public reacted with genuine shock to the agency’s first cases, but new operations soon began. It turned out that the writer Sindur Tar, also a member of the democratic opposition, was dragged, threatened and blackmailed by the state security service. He testified about his past as an agent in 1999 at Élét és Irodalom.

His case was made private by an exchange of letters: the writer Janus Kennedy, who was a parliamentary candidate for SZDSZ and on whom Tarr wrote his reports, publicly forgave the informer. In a letter to Kennedy, Tarr replied: “I am not asking you to forgive me, it is of no use now.” After the exchange of letters, a broad discussion erupts in Élét és Irodalom, from which it becomes clear that many people no longer see Tara as an informant, but as a victim. It looked like the tar had been cleared. Later, Kennedy also wrote that he hoped for catharsis after his forgiveness, but this was not close to the result.

After the publication of Harmonia Caelestis, Péter Esterházy confronted his father’s past as an agent, which he explained in his work titled The Enhanced Version. Matthias Esterhazy has reported to the State Security Service since 1957. After the secret came out, many people tried to make it relative. Arpad Gönch, the former president of Hungary and writer, said he sympathized with the condition of Esterhazy’s father, as he was harassed by secret agents. He added that no one would become an informant on their own. Writer Peter Nadas and publicist Peter Balassa described Esterházy’s revised version as a heroic gesture and step. Politician Ferenc Kosig stated that no one has the right to condemn Matthias Esterhazy’s actions.

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Similar voices could be heard when Oscar-winning film director István Szabó was revealed to have written reports for the legal predecessor of III/III: between 1957 and 1963, he reported under the pseudonym Endre Képesi to the II/5 department dealing with internal backlash prevention. Szabó was organized on the basis of statements of condemnation after the 1956 revolution, but according to documents published by András Gervai, it was loyal to popular democracy. It is not known what the results of the 48 reports written in the era of reprisals were. Among those spotted were Miklos Jancso, Karoli Mix and Marie Turicczyk. After the fall of Szabó, the famous exit purge began in the same way as in the case of Esterházy or Tar.

Prior to the regime change, István Szabo had a close friendship with Peter Gal Molnar that lasted for decades. Theater critic, journalist, dramatist and theater historian, who died in 2011, was a prominent figure in theatrical life before the regime change. In November 2004, it was revealed that he had reported. Based on state security documents related to Zoltán Latinovets, it became clear to the actor’s relatives that it was the critic who made the reports. In an article published in Népszabadság in 2004, Molnar admitted that he had already signed a recruitment declaration in 1963. After the publication of his autobiographical book Exodus – which also testifies about his past as an informant – Gyorgy Spiro paid tribute to him as follows: What he described in his diaries about his activities An unparalleled informant. No one had ever confronted the agent’s past with such honesty and objectivity.

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In 2004, singer Gyula Vikedal was found to have reported on fellow musicians between 1981 and 1986 as Agent III/III under the pseudonym “Dalos”. As a “secret agent”, he provided verbal reports to State Security, including on Viru Nagy and the communist pop czar Peter Erdos. From the documents that were discovered and published by the historical archives of the state security agencies, it was revealed that there is no doubt about any shattering or soul-shattering reports.

The state partisan officer wrote about him that he does his job reliably. Vikidál personally apologized to Feró Nagy for reporting on him to the State Security Service during the party state. Although Chief Beatrice did not attempt to excuse his former musical partner, he did speak of his generous forgiveness a few years ago: “It’s been thirty years since the regime changed. Let us be glad that we can live freely and decide our own destiny. I am too old for such things.” Old things are outdated, and these grievances have been abandoned.”

Regarding the Dalos case, it was found that Lagos Sum had prepared reports for the secret services. While most people try to hide and even deny that they were informants in the Cursed Regime, Lajos Som voluntarily revealed in Best Magazine that he was recruited as an Agent III/III in the 1970s. However, the founder and leader of the band Piramis stated that he also informed the band members what they requested, and all the while tried to pass on false and meaningless information.

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It seems that as the memory of the socialist system recedes, it becomes easy to forget the impudence of the informers. At least among those not directly involved.

For example, András Gervai provides a comprehensive treatment of the topic in his book Fedőneve: “sozialiszm” – Artists, Clients, Secret Servants, in which he provides detailed ex-agent descriptions of several well-known film and theater figures. In the presentation of the volume, Henrik Havas, who justifies the agents and attributes the weight of the agent’s past, spoke, among other things, about the fact that, in his opinion, István Szabo also gathered experiences for his work as an agent, without which he would not have been able to make his great films, Mephisto and Colonel Riddle.

Actress Béla Ernyei asked to speak out in exasperation from the audience, who said: The agents’ activities, the work of the III/III network, were not at all so moderate or without consequences as some people have said recently. Many people have been harassed, blackmailed, and threatened into reporting in this way, yet many are still able to refuse.

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