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Mária Schmidt reads László Rajk Jr’s memoirs

May 4th, 2020

A conservative historian criticizes László Rajk Jr. whom she findsmore critical towards the incumbent government than towards the communist dictatorship.

In a review of an in-depth interview published just after Rajk Jr’s death, historian Mária Schmidt criticizes László Rajk Jr. for failing to acknowledge that he and other liberal anti-Communists enjoyed vast privileges under Communism as children of Communist officials. Schmidt writes that Rajk (whose father, László Rajk served as Minister of Interior and Foreign Affairs, and supervised the ÁVH, the Communist secret police before being purged executed under his former comrade, Mátyás Rákosi) was perceived as untouchable by the Communist police, and therefore Rajk Jr and members of the left-liberal opposition with Communist forebears could criticize the regime without risking much. Schmidt finds it particularly strange that children of Communist cadres protected by their parents should now label anyone as abettor of dictatorship anyone who does not perceive the democratically elected current Hungarian government as illegitimate.

Heti Világgazdaság’s Árpád Tóta W. recalls that last Autumn, Mária Schmidt wanted to include László Rajk Jr. in a series of  stamps representing prominent Hungarians. The liberal columnist therefore finds Mária Schmidt’s review and criticism of Rajk unfounded and calls her a ‘bipolar historian’.

Népszava’s Róbert Friss accuses Mária Schmidt of outright lying. The left-wig commentator believes that László Rajk Jr. did acknowledge his father’s involvement in the crimes of the Communist regime. Friss writes that Rajk was an ardent opponent not only of Stalinist-type Communism, but even Kádár’s goulash Communism. He denounces Mária Schmidt as being ‘morally dead’ for her ‘ideologically motivated’ criticism of the deceased László Rajk Jr.

On Index, Róbert Braun finds some of Mária Schmidt’s statements tasteless, but acknowledges nevertheless that the main point put forward by the conservative historian does make sense. The left-wing analyst, who served as an adviser to Prime Ministers Medgyessy and Gyurcsány thinks that Rajk and  his comrades did fail to fully acknowledge their parent’s responsibility for Communist crimes. Braun contends that without honestly facing history and acknowledging our ancestors’ involvement in crimes, Hungary cannot create a strong political community. As a positive example of facing a painful family past, Braun mentions Budapest 12th district Mayor Pokorni’s attitude when his grandfather was revealed to have been an Arrow-Cross murderer (see BudaPost January 23).

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