This one is going to be a longer post than normal. I plan to write it months ago about a special excursion at Svábhegy, only I could not muster the energy to do so. But now!
So, why would anyone want to take a walk at Svábhegy (Swabian montain), and why would that be any special? Check the old photos on Fortepan portal: here.
First you should learn a bit on the history of the place: how it was inhabited by Swabian winemakers for centuries, how it became a popular and elegant settling spot in the 19th century and how it became home of entertainment in the wake of the 20th century: skiing, fancy restaurants, feasts, nice parks. And how it became the headquarter of the Gestapo after the occupation of Hungary in 14th March 1944.
In the start of 2021 I saw a documentary made by the 444 journal’s reporter, Daniel Acs, “The monument for the murderers“. It was utterly shocking. I love history but I was struck on how little I knew about the events of 1940′ in Hungary!! After this to learn more, I got down from our shelf a book by Krisztian Ungvary on the summary of the Horthy era (A Horthy-rendszer mérlege) I don’t know if it has been translated – it should be. The over 600 pages are not an easy read and the book is full of citations, but definately worth the read. It covers the period between 1900 and 1946, I recommend to anyone who is interested in this period. Shortly afterwards I also read the memoir of Valdemar Langlet, a Swedish diplomat, I enjoyed it and learned a lot.
I deeply believe that humankind needs healing from all the past trauma, and if anyone feels a calling to help in this, that MATTERS. The events of 1944 had been turning around in my mind very often and I felt that I should do something. Once I lighted a candle in the memory of all the people who suffered those times. Then an idea came to me: I should visit the places myself, kind of contact with the past on the spot.
It took months until I felt the right time is nearing and I organized the excursion meticulously. I created a map with notes. Here:
I planned to go very early in the morning when the city is asleep, but due to summer it’s already daylight. I choose a Sunday, it was 3rd of July. I prepared with tiny dried roses which I wanted to place at the affected locations. Let me show you my journey in pictures.
The way up the mountain is quite spectacular and it was really pleasant in the dawn – it was a bit over 5 AM when I sat down in the vehicle. I never traveled with it before, I was curious.
From the final stop of the cog-wheel train I started my way on Rege street. Almost all of the buildings which had been hotels in 1944 are standing, but the majority is in the hands of private owners. At the bushes in front of those I left a few dried roses.
From Rege street I arrived to Agancs street where two of the old hotels stood. Interestingly, those who live in these condominiums may be not knowing or just don’t care too much about their past. This is true for all the below mentioned buildings too.
From the Agancs street I paced back to Rege street and continued my way towards the Lookout. Through a narrow passage I down to the Széchenyi memorial road and there is a Lookout-memorial place, which is like a stupa – that came in my mind, seeing it.
From here I walked along the memorial road toward Melinda street. Huge villas line the street and the inhabitants cetainly have a great view of the city from the hillside. here and there I placed tiny dried roses in the roadside, I felt that some events certainly happened here too.
The road of Melinda is steep, it was a bit of an exercise to climb it. Soon I reached a building which was an old hotel again, the so called New Majestic hotel. The Germans had been using it for lodging and commading people in the wood storages – many of these survived the long decades.
As I progressed I could see the old Eden hotel. The description I found: “This building had been used by the Wehrmacht. – The plans of the community resort were prepared by Miklós Réczey, widow. Commissioned by Pál Sándor and Manón Fekete. The five-storey, curved building was placed with a very large height difference compared to the street. Its entrance is led by a bridge with a circular plan, bravuraly supported by slender pillars several stories high. Based on the design of engineer dr. Hugó Székely. 77 studio apartments opened from the building’s central corridor, and the glass-walled elevator was one of the earliest “panoramic elevators”. The owners restored it in an exemplary manner in 2016 with the support they received during tenders.”
Along the road I got to the next location, the Little majestic hotel. The Gestapo operated military headquarters here and prisons were set up in the basement, just like in the neighboring Mirabell hotel.
As to Lomnic hotel, Dieter Wisliceny and the Hungarian political police jointly used this hostel. It was built in 1939 for Iván Démán, after the plan by Imre Szőke. It contained 48-eight one-room apartments, complete with a restaurant and lounge.
From here I walked forward and the road merged with Karthauzi street.
The Mirabell hotel had been the accommodation for SD (Sicherheitsdienst) and Gestapo men. Prisons were built in the basement, many of their victims had been tortured or murdered here.
I moved along and found the most infamous of all the old hotels: the Majestic hotel.
The Majestic hotel was the home of Adolf Eichmann, who coordinated the deportation of the Hungarian Jews. Over 800.000 people had been sent to the death. He had his rooms and office in the second floor. The head of the State Security Police, Péter Hain, moved here too, as well as the part of his organization dealing with Jewish affairs. Gendarmerie Colonel László Ferenczy, the Hungarian liaison officer who got assigned to Eichmann, was also based here.
Nobody should underestimate the scale of cruelty that took place within these buildings. The captured people: opposition members, soldiers, army leaders, artists, journalists, so-called communists, wealthy Jewish traders, factory owners had been blackmailed or/and tormented here, beaten up to resign their belongings in the favour of SS henchmen and afterwards often sent to a concentration camp. Although there is somenewly sprung strange amazement in Anglo-Saxon culture about the “genius” German Nazis, these men were brutes. At least for me, they have no excuse, they did know very well what they do.
While stationing in front of the building one can almost hear the shouts, he moans, the bangs, the cars coming and speeding away, shuffling steps, doors creaking open, the German jabber and the laughter of commanders…
Nowadays a pharmacy works here. The bigger building behind it is the once Great Majestic hotel, it was rather run-down by the time of the German occupation. The Karthauzi street ends in crossroads, and by walking a little more we reach this interesting grocery – and a cog-wheel train station.
I just noticed that the bus 212 starts from nearby and I knew that this would be ideal for me as I should cross the city going home. I hesitated a bit, then walked over to the bus station – but I placed a tiny rose here too, between the boards.
The excursion was a very special action for me. I did it mostly out of piety, or grace, I felt that somehow I give a sign to those who had to suffer there that look, people do still remember, people do care. What is shocking – after reading a lot about the events – that one cannot find a single signpost, a commemorative plaque, nothing… They should exist.
How we look at the world, have you ever wondered? Though we see similar images they wake different thoughts and sentiments according to our mental associations. We have our own filter when viewing places, people or anything. This filter is the summary of our previous knowledge, a previous experience, a hearsay, a stereotype, a preconception, an assumption. This way, when looking at something that can be associated with wealth seems cooler somehow. Have you noticed it? Only a few people wanted to learn Japanese before it became a fizzy wealthy land.
Viewing an image of a café if you know it stands in Paris seems stylish. The same café in Italy looks vivid and if it is actually in Belgrad… …you may be just wondering as you may have little info on Belgrad since this city is barely part of the mainstream culture which typically ignores any land Eastern from the once Iron curtain…
You can only have a a better picture if you visited Belgrad and you are closely familiar with the area and its inhabitants, you collected personal memories and friends. Without the curiosity to know a land better you can never develop insight – preconceptions are not insight.
Looking at a picture of a mountain in Switzerland generates entirely different feelings than looking at a picture of a mountain in Kirghistan, Morocco or Slovakia.
Nature does not make such distinction, such bias, only humans. A mountain is a mountain.
There may be thousands of us who have been watching the series prepared as Canadian-British co-production, the Murdoch Mysteries. Honestly, I like the series, I do. But there are a few glitches I noticed in the episodes and I thought to share them, maybe I am not alone with my observations.
During the more than 12 series and over 200 episodes I kept wondering to myself how many people may actually believe the “reconstructed” past reality of the series: I mean how many people believe that the series depict the true image of 19th-20th century Canada and Toronto. My feeling is that too many. Although this is clearly a fiction story.
The first thing I noticed as I was watching Murdoch episodes was the amount of make-up on the actors and the actresses. This just doesn’t match the era. Detective Murdoch actually has eye-liners on, it’s pretty visible. I don’t understand why, he would look quite good without it.
Similarly, a large amount of make-up is applied to the whole portray of the era, too: the unrealistic neatness of streets, clothes and hairdos, and the unrealistic political correctness when it comes to behavior or communication.
It gave me always the lurking feeling that the image the film shows about the super intelligent, educated, modern and tolerant characters rings false. For example I can hardly imagine that a black woman could become a pathologist without facing discern from the workplace colleagues. Women’s carrier was quite challenging and their success was rare, sadly.
I found this in Wikipedia on History of Canadian women:
“In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, women made inroads into various professions, including teaching, journalism, social work, and public health. Nursing was well-established. These advances included the establishment of a Women’s Medical College in Toronto (and in Kingston, Ontario) in 1883, attributed in part to the persistence of Emily Stowe, the first female doctor to practise in Canada. Stowe’s daughter, Augusta Stowe-Gullen, became the first woman to graduate from a Canadian medical school. Graduating from medical school did not ensure that women were allowed to attain licensing. Elizabeth Scott Matheson graduated in 1898, but she was refused her licence to practise by the Northwest Territories College of Physicians and Surgeons. The government contracted with her as the district physician for $300 annually in 1901, though she was unable to secure her licence until 1904.
Apart from a token few, women were outsiders to the male-dominated medical profession. As physicians became better organized, they successfully had laws passed to control the practice of medicine and pharmacy and banning marginal and traditional practitioners. Midwifery—practised along traditional lines by women—was restricted and practically died out by 1900. Even so, the great majority of childbirths took place at home until the 1920s, when hospitals became preferred, especially by women who were better educated, more modern, and more trusting in modern medicine.“
Another strange part is when a dead is body found. I mean the abnormal reaction of the officers, Dr. Ogden or Emily Grace. They often examine the body and the gruesome wounds by hand (no gloves or face mask), and without a flinch like it was a titbit thing. Sometimes they happily note what they see. For me this is absulutely unnatural. The sight of a corpse normally revolts or shocks those who see it, especially if the poor person died in a violent way. Not to mention, often it has a smell.
Check the contrast, Columbo reacts with great seriousness when they find a body:
The same is true when many of the romantic scenes take place in the autopsy room, like it would be a lovely café terrace to feel relaxed. Here is some of the music dr. Ogden listens to while dissecting and analysing tissue samples:
I could never understand why the director made it this way, it is just bizarre.
In the series one cannot ignore the surprising amount of technical nonsense. I mean when Detective Murdoch invents the microwave oven, he creates a drone, travels with a vacuum train, or visits a mock Hagia Sophia. The bunch of ‘novel ideas’ might have even been funnily presented only if they weren’t tinted with the image of exclusive Anglo-Saxon brilliance.
Most of the time I took them with a small sigh. But I listened with widened eyes when one time, sipping tea and chit-chatting with Mark Twain dr. Ogden remarked that if William Murdoch cared he could create better inventions than Nikola Tesla. This is when, if this was brought up in an online chat I would react with :facepalm. Why, I ask, are Canadian, British and Americans so sure that they are the sole intelligent humans in the whole universe?? I miss humbleness very much.
I could catch a few prejudices too which were certainly imported from the present to the depicted past. For example in the season 8 / 2 episode when a murdered woman’s body is dissected and dr. Ogden reckons that the bad quality tooth implant indicates that the victim was from Eastern Europe. I am very sensitive to this type of derogative remarks and I went to look after.
Here is what I found:
Modern dentist science is dated to Pierre Fauchard’s famous work which was published in 1728 with the title ‘Le chirurgien dentiste ou traité des dents’. His work influenced the rest of European practitioners and those who wished to study this subject. For a good time Paris remained the centre of the highest quaity dentist care. In the Hungarian Kingdom dentist profession started its recognition by following France in the middle of the 18th century. Prospective dentists learned surgery, and dentistry belonged to the study. When the study was completed certificates could be obtained.
In 1763 Mihaly Zurbrucken wrote his doctoral dissertation augural in Latin with the title Odontalgia. After leaving the university in Vienna he started his practice at Chemnitz. The dissertation has three parts: autopsy of teeth and gums, causes of toothache and treatment of toothache. The bases of institutional dentistry studies were laid down in 1778 by Plenck (Plenk) Jozsef Jakab’s book: Doctrina de morbis dentium ac gingivarum – published in Vienna. In his book he describes the growing of teeth, neural network in tooth, the milk teeth anatomy, the importance of dentures, the dental filling techniques. For dentures he used teeth carved from ivory or hippopotamus fangs and the teeth were fastened to the neighbouring teeth with yarns and sealing wax. Teeth of dead humans were also used, or the teeth of poor young people. The material for dental filling (dentis plumbatio) was lead or golden plate. He described tooth extraction and the toolset needed for such work.
Plenck also considered that educating barbers on teeth’s nature would be imperative. His other book was written for them in 1782 (De Dentibus, Hungarian translation prepared by Samuel Ratz). Ratz also wrote his own work on dentistry in 1778.
Academic education of dentistry and odontology in the country started from 1844. Dental filling materials in the end of the 19th century: gold, lead, amalgam (an alloy of mercury and other components). These were used in almost every European country.
Seeing these it is far fetched and reveals a preconceptious mind to assume that Eastern European countries were always behind Western Europeans – in every field of life. It is diminishing and discriminating.
The good example on what Canada might be like in that period is Anne of Green Garbles and the Road to Avonlea. There we find a lot less idealized mindset, a more realistic (and more likeable) one I think.
I collected randomly a couple of articles on the bias present in Canadian society. I think assuming that the bias situation was better in the turn of 19th-20th century than today is rather foolish and painfully naive.
Joyce Echaquan: Outcry in Canada over treatment of dying indigenous woman
She Was Racially Abused by Hospital Staff as She Lay Dying. Now a Canadian Indigenous Woman’s Death Is Forcing a Reckoning on Racism: https://time.com/5898422/joyce-echaquan-indigenous-protests-canada/ (less polite) “Our health system was built on racial segregation,” McCallum says. “White supremacy and colonialism is in the fabric of our being—it is the air we breathe and the water we drink in Canada.”
2018 Canada denied visas to dozens of Africans for a big artificial intelligence conference https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/12/canada-denied-visas-dozens-africans-big-artificial-intelligence-conference “Yoshua Bengio, a NeurIPS organizer and professor at the University of Montreal invited more than 200 scientists from Africa to participate. But about half of the visa applications led to denials or acceptances so delayed that the researchers were unable to attend” “Bengio calls fears that foreign researchers would stay in Canada absurd. “Why would a Ph.D. student in Africa doing research in AI become an illegal immigrant in Canada and end up washing dishes and living undercover?” he says. “We all know that their skills are in high demand and that they’ll be able to get very good jobs almost anywhere.” Some NeurIPS invitees from Asia and Eastern Europe were also denied visas, Bengio says. But the high rejection and no-response rate for Africans—nearly 50%—“raise the possibility that bias, discrimination, and racism are part of the explanation.””
2019 Canada refuses visas to over a dozen African AI researchers
In April 8. 2015 a Roma researcher with Roma roots, Eva, a professor at a university from Hungary tried to travel and make a survey on how the large number of migrated gypsies live in Canada. Although she owned all the necessary documents and visa for the journey she was harrassed in Vienna for more than a day in the airport. Her luggage was confiscated, and she was taken to inspection that took hours.
After the slapdash control procedure a most interesting information came: the airline stated that the Immigration Service of Canada forbade them to send Eva to Toronto while the Immigration Service – when asked – replied that they leave the decision with the airline.
She was questioned in an intimidating and abusive fashion and was interrogated why she plans to travel to Canada, why she wants to settle there. She desperately tried to defend herself and stated that her travel was only for research reasons, she does not want to live there. The officers did not believe her and finally she was blocked from travel. She was shocked and deeply humiliated. All the assets she paid for previously were lost.
Austrians – just like Canadians or other folks who like to position themselves as ‘enlightened, modern, open, etc.’ are apparently unable to tell one Roma from the other and they don’t suppose anyone with a different skin colour might have respectable knowledge of anything.
Of course, the rules of crossing the border are an internal matter of a given country, but based on Eva’s history, Canada filters Hungarian immigrants primarily on the basis of skin colour, and the examination of immigrants is superficial and prejudiced.
In Hungary we know that not all gypsies are the same and although some prejudices prevail, this incident would never happen here. We, the majority, know very well that there are a lot of people among the Roma who shun work and bank on state aid, sadly this is too striking. But there are numerous others who want to learn and do work hard. They face a lot hardships and still do their best. From my part I have great respect for these people (and for all people who do their best).
I found a few successful Romas who deserve recognition:
Jozsef says we can reach anything we want, it is only question of our will power. The young man grew up in a gipsy settlement in Karcag and dreamed about becoming a jurist one day. But in highschool he just discovered how amazing the biology is.
And he is only one of the excellent people we have over here with Roma background. There are a number of successful singers, musicians like Roby Lakatos, Gusztav Nagy, Gyorgy Cziffra, and famous people like Laszlo Bogdan who was a mayor and made miracles in his village (of course, the Guardian certainly never mentioned him).
How nice are Canadians, really? Reckoning with racism, police use of force tests long-standing myths https://globalnews.ca/news/7109213/canadian-myth-nice-racism/ The article explains: “Canadians tell two stories about the birth of this nation: One is about Europeans who bravely travel to North America, where they find vast, empty lands on which to build their ideal democratic states that reflect western ideals, Walcott says. – The other is “the more terrible story of colonization, which we know involves the taking of Indigenous land, the near genocide of Indigenous people and the bringing of Africans into the Americas as slave labour and commodities.” The latter is the truth.”
These are sharp signs of segregation, racism and discrimination toward anybody the Canadian authorities consider is less “civilized”: people of colour, Eastern Europeans, Asians, Africans, the riff-raff as the British would put it. These real stories give a striking contrast to the modern, open-minded image we see in the Murdoch series. I feel the film-makers present an idealized past they wish to have, an idealized self-image – which is very flattering but altogether anachronistic and false.
Other examples for this “rewriting history” tendency:
What the makers thought, would it be too upsetting for the viewers to see the less complementary past Toronto? Or do they delude themselves so much that they belive what they show? I am sure that people would accept the real and imperfect past Toronto, no problem.
Take a look at one of the Sherlock Holmes series, there we see a realistic image of how England might have looked like. The characters are fictional but there is no rosy make-up on the setup, and the era and the environment is pretty credible.
I can’t help it, I appreciate realism. This »beautification« of the past can be observed in other recently made British (and some American or Canadian) films as well, it seems to be a phenomena. I think that instead of hypocritical denial, the past should be acknowledged as it was. Even if it is not so pleasant to face it. Otherwise there is no hope we learn from it! No hope for a fairer future… Just think about this a bit.
I could not do the personal interviews I planned, still, I want to introduce a few (progressive!) food manufacturers. Here comes the first: tempehguru
I just love tempeh, it is a super healthy thing. It is not popular enough, sadly. So what is tempeh?
Tempeh or tempe (/ˈtɛmpeɪ/; Javanese: témpé, Javanese pronunciation: [tempe]) is a traditional Indonesian soy product, that is made from fermented soybeans. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form. Here a special fungus is used, which has the Latin name Rhizopus oligosporus, usually marketed under the name tempeh starter. Tempeh being sold in a traditional market in Indonesia It is especially popular on the island of Java, where it is a staple source of protein. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but it is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities. Tempeh’s fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins. It has a firm texture and an earthy flavor, which becomes more pronounced as it ages.
Many many things happened during this summer. People showed lack of attention to infection danger and swarmed to beaches, events and popular sights. I saw this while we were on a holiday.
I attended a lovely and great event, the Turtle Symposium organized by the TSA, the Turtle Survival Association. The videos of each session are uploaded to Youtube so that anyone can see them. I really recommend watching them! 🙂 Check their page: https://turtlesurvival.org/2020-symposium/
In summertime the vegan activists did not rest. My friend, Pitt did a few videos. I truly appreciate his work and dedication for the good cause. God bless all the people who care about animal lives. Respect. See one his videos:
An amazed book series found me a few months ago. The title of the collection is Yotengrit and it consists of four volumes. It describes the ancient philosophy of our ancestors and of whole ancient Europe, probably. Wise old knowers faithfully preserved this knowledge successfully throughout the strict Christian rule and the storms of history. They kept it in secret for centuries and passed it on from master to disciple up until today. The reason why it was allowed to be shown to public: “if our nation is in the danger of ruin, the old wisdom should be brought to light as it can save us from destruction”. The books present surprisingly modern and pragmatic ideas about our world, about our relationships with others, about animals, about men and women. I would recommend it to everyone who can read Hungarian.
I am deeply grateful to meet this set of ideology, it is so rich and so beautiful. The books explain a lot of things I thought about Hungary and Hungarians – as a Hungarian – and proved me that I know too little. So far it is not translated to English but hopefully it will be done very soon. 🙂
Here is an except of its summary (translated by me, using Google Translate):
Yotengrit means “first deity” but also “first world sea”. It is formed from the word tengri = god in the Altai languages. *Tengri also means sea (tenger).
In the world of our ancestors, Yotengrit, whose roots go back to the (ice) Stone Age, is the name of the all-encompassing ancient spirit, which is also a state of origin.
Yotengrit takes out evil from itself and manifests as a woman-god: UKKO and a man-god: GONUZ, creating a dualism of femininity and masculinity that is very different from the Chinese Yin-Yang dualism, but even more so from the old Iranian dualism, in which there is a good and bad balance, and their eternal struggle is the motor of existence.
In the Chinese philosophical system, femininity is passive and masculinity is active. In the Hungarian dualism, which our fathers preserved from the ideas of the Northern Eurasian-American Ice Age to the present day, both femininity and masculinity contain activity and passivity. Their features are not opposed, but complement each other on a deficit-surplus basis.
This basic approach defines everything, social doctrines, the legal system, but even the life-death relationship.
Yotengrit is all-encompassing but more feminine in nature. It throws out evil from itself, which settles into a harmful force but does not become part of the dual interaction. It is a disturbing factor: he is Arman, the evil, harmful, harmony-disturbing spirit.
I am working on a series of articles about discrimination. I do it a year ago and I am still not done, I am generally too busy. I need time to elaborate the topic, the research works take a lot of time.
What type of discrimination is it I want to talk about so much? Racism? Genders? No. An issue much less known: ethnicism. What is ethnicism? Discrimination based on a certain person’s place of origin, nation, county or language. As modern media and press is dominated by Western European and North American news-telling it is not a miracle that hardly anybody has heard of ethnicism as an issue. Though they should….
Ethnicism is strongly present in Western Europe against Eastern or Central Europeans (WE, EE, CE). Why? Because of their alleged poverty and alleged lack of human/cultural values. News of humiliation of CE/EE workforce in Western countries hit my ears from time to time. This unfair deal, these inequalities inspire me to dive deeper and do research.