Limits of Solidarity

Hungarian Intelligentsia and the Middle East in the Cold War

Beyond the overall realm of socialist internationalism, there were several specific contexts in Cold War Hungary that not only shaped relations on the individual’s level towards independence struggles in the Third World, but also played a role in the still today incomplete liberation of these regions. Hungary’s diplomatic-ideological relations in the Middle East reveals that friendship and solidarity is much more nuanced on a personal level than to be simply controlled through ideological means. Also, unpacking various complexities of Third World solidarities within Hungarian society or in a wider Eastern European context, we also have to realize that the Second and the Third World, including the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement, were not only fellow travelers and friends in the search for the best version of Socialism, but were also competing for the very same resources offered by the Western defenders and advocates of “cultural freedom” in the era of the Cold War.

Photo from 1973, Fortepan Archive
Photo from 1973, Source: Fortepan Archive

In Hungary, as in other countries of the Soviet Bloc, the opening up of foreign relations came gradually. The Institute for Cultural Relations (ICR) in Hungary was responsible for negotiating and making cultural scientific and agreements with both friendly and capitalist countries. It was founded in 1949 as a special section of the Foreign Secretary with the aim to supervise and control all cultural invitations and delegations coming from or aimed at abroad. Interestingly, György Lukács was proposed as its first propose president,1 in the end, however, it was led by bureaucrats, with no cultural background, who had strategic positions both within the Communist Party and internationally. The first countries with which ICR had signed cooperation agreements were the GDR, China, Czechoslovakia, and Albania (1950–1951), then with North Korea and Vietnam in 1954.2 However, during the 1950s, Hungary remained much isolated internationally in terms of economic, diplomatic, and cultural relations, so much so that it only became a member of the United Nations (UN) in 1955.3

After the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, János Kádár—who became the General Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party right after the soviet invasion4—tried to extend the country’s foreign relations through cultural cooperation both towards Western Europe and the Third World, in order to restore his international reputation, after crashing the 1956 revolution. This new opening, following the pathways of “peaceful coexistence,” announced by Khrushchev, gave way to several reforms in international affairs, through both culture and commerce.5 In 1957, the exhibition room of the ICR was opened, artists from all over the world from the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) and beyond were invited to present their works.6

In some cases, state missions propagating anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, and disarmament, as well as friendship with the peoples of the Third World, resonated to some extent with various layers of the Hungarian society, beyond the official discourse.7 From the second half of the 1960s, counter-culture youth demonstrated against the Vietnam War8 and decorated their rooms with Che Guevara posters without state directives, dissident intellectuals affiliated with the New Left read not only the philosophers György Lukács and Herbert Marcuse, but also discussed Frantz Fanon.9 However, solidarity with “Arab issues,” and especially with Palestine, remained somewhat controversial, which is still affecting attitudes of Hungarian society today.

Döntsd el hova állsz
Self-organized demonstration of the informal Vietnam Solidarity Committee in front of the American embassy, 1965. Courtesy Anna Komjáthy.

Already since the early 1950, another player appeared on the international scene, as part of a global system of interests and counter-interests. Western, mostly US-based, organizations were fighting for the freedom of the “captive nations of Europe,” with Radio Free Europe in the foreground. The Suez Crisis in 1956 simultaneous with the Hungarian Revolution proved that solidarity and propaganda does not necessarily translate to military intervention (in this case to Hungary against its Soviet invasion in 1956), which was increasingly governed by global power relations.10 In this network supporting anti-totalitarian struggles all around the world—which of course coupled with interests in free trade—Third World conflicts became rivals with those of Eastern Europe. From the 1960s, and even more sharply in the 1970s, dissidents of Eastern Europe increasingly viewed the post-colonial sphere as competition in gaining the attention and funds of the philanthropic West.11 On the other hand, on the level of state diplomacy, socialist countries in Europe were competing with these very Western organizations for gaining influence—political, economic, as well as cultural—in the countries of the Third World.12  In this double triangle of solidarity and influence, Third World leaders and the members of the Non-Aligned Movement were cleverly maneuvering between the (economic and ideological) patronage of Soviet countries and the support of foundations and humanitarian organizations in capitalist countries. In the 1960s, to some extent, Hungary could also play this double game. In 1962, a National Solidarity Committee was formed in order to support independence struggles all over the world with the intention to establish close ties with the Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee. One year later, the Institute of Cultural Relations, then headed by József Bognár13—who was later the initiator of the new economic mechanism—received a delegation of the Ford Foundation.14

The US-based Ford Foundation started its world-wide philanthropic missions in the 1950s, including the support of the anti-Communist Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF). The Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) was founded in 1955, at the time of, and as a response to, the outbreak of the Korean War, to oppose the influence of the Communist friendly World Peace Movement, which could enlist several influential leftist intellectuals. The Congress for Cultural Freedom in the 1950s was mainly associated with the revisionism of disillusioned Communists, liberals, emigres from Eastern Europe, and international protests for imprisoned intellectuals, but it also had official relations with Polish cultural institutions. It gave (travel) grants to intellectuals, published translations and cultural magazines worldwide, and organized international conferences. The CIA funding of CCF became only known in 1966, till then, most intellectuals thought that the money comes solely from the Ford Foundation, which seemed much more acceptable.15

Final session of CCF's Berlin Conference, 1960. Source: CIA
Final session of CCF’s Berlin Conference, 1960. Source: CIA

Interestingly, the Ford Foundation, which was referred in the Hungarian press in the 1950s as “Nazi and Hitlerist,16 became unobjectionable for a short time in 1960s. Hungarian journals in the 1960s, on the one hand, published neutral reports on the research trips of scientists funded by the Ford Foundation, but also series of articles calling for the dangers of “peaceful coexistence” and uncovering the “evil strategies” of the ideologically subversive propaganda of Western organizations such as the Congress for Cultural Freedom or the Ford Foundation.17 The methodological department of the Hungarian army also made propaganda filmstrips exposing the strategies of imperialist subversion, and one slide showed CCF magazines such as Encounter.

CCF had an ambiguous position in the Arab world in the 1960s. Walter Laqueur, who was born in Poland and fled to Israel from the Holocaust, before moving to London, was the Israeli reporter of CCF for a short time. During that time, he advised the leaders of CCF not to start a magazine in the Middle East. He had argued that in Asia intellectuals were either moderate Communists or nationalists indifferent to the debates about Marxism; however, they unanimously viewed Americans as imperialists. In his memoir of CCF, he described an antagonistic relationship between cultural freedom and the fight against imperialism, claiming that the former was only important in Europe and the latter in the Third World.18 Still, an Arab language magazine of the Congress, Hiwar, was launched in Beirut in 1962 by Tawfiq Sayigh (a Christian Palestinian poet). The journal was surrendered by suspicions of it being a sheer instrument of Western imperialism, so much that in 1956, its generous prize was rejected by an Egyptian novelist. When the CIA backing of the Congress came to light in 1966, that journal was banned in several Arab countries.19 The Afro-Asian Writers’ Association affiliated with the Soviet friendly Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organization (AAPSO), took advantage of this situation and launched a Socialist counterpart of Hiwar. This was the tri-lingual quarterly, Lotus (1967–1990), which contributed to the international recognition of many Third World writes, also promoting the Non-Aligned Movement.20

Not much after the CIA scandal, another, more severe event caused a fraction in the global network of solidarity and peaceful coexistence of the 1960s. The six day war of 1967, after which Socialist countries (except for Romania) cut ties with Israel. On the personal level, however, it was difficult for Jewish intellectuals to view the conflict purely along ideological lines. In the Soviet states, efforts were made to avoid any association with racism and anti-Semitism; thus, it was always emphasized that the conflict should be viewed as a class-struggle and that Israel is a capitalist country. In the USSR, as well as in Poland and Czechoslovakia, however, many Jews immigrated to Israel in the fear of a new outbreak of anti-Semitism.21 In Hungary, however several prominent members of the party with Jewish background could keep their position, like György Aczél, who participated in the Zionist movement in 1930s, and in the 1960s, as the leading cultural functionary of the Workers’ Party, was the advocate of a more liberal and modernist cultural policy. At the same time, Hungarian intellectuals were discouraged from condemning anti-Semitic measures of the neighboring countries.22 Anything in connection with Israel suddenly became a taboo, and this made it uneasy for artists and intellectuals to view the Palestinian cause as just one of those other decolonialist movements, and to disconnect it from the aversion towards intellectuals and towards cultural internationalism as well as modernism maintained by some fractions of the Communist Party.

This can be precisely demonstrated by the story of the first Hungarian solo exhibition of Lili Ország (1926–1978), an artist of Jewish origin, who used Hebrew characters and motives in her paintings from the early 1960s, also referring to the tragic fate of Jewish people. Ország was part of a circle of modernist artists and intellectuals, many of whom emigrated from Hungary after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, or stayed in Hungary, but withdrew from the public life, and who were affiliated with the Congress of Cultural Freedom, like the poet János Pilinszky (1921-1981).23 In 1966, she could still get permission for her first solo exhibition in Tel Aviv, but one year later, her exhibition planned in a county museum in Székesfehérvár, Hungary was almost cancelled. During the partly bureaucratic, partly informal process of acquiring permission for both of her 1966 Tel Aviv and 1967 Székesfehérvár exhibition, cultural authorities, critics, as well as the intellectuals supporting the artists, played a tactical game of phraseology. First, Lili Ország’s art was declared anti-fascist and humanist, still in 1966, while Israeli reviews pointed out the specific representation of the Holocaust trauma in her works. Since Ország used Hebrew characters and had personal contacts with Zionists, organizers also feared that her exhibition in Hungary could be accused of spreading foreign intelligence. Finally, only the titles of the works were re-written during the production of the exhibition, so that censorship could be avoided. All geographic or theological references were neutralized: e.g., instead of “Exodus” they put “Run.” The catalog text again connected the works to the trauma of World War II, whereas a press review boldly referred to current political aspects, but not in connection to the Six Day War, but the 22nd anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, which was originally included in the title of one work actually drawing parallels between various catastrophes.24

Lili Ország: Wailing Wall, 1960s. Courtesy Kieselbach Archive
Lili Ország: Wailing Wall, 1960s. Courtesy Kieselbach Archive

Another artist, only two years junior of Ország, Miklós Erdély (1928–1986), whose first artistic orientations in the 1950s also originate from the same secluded modernist circles and the Hungarian diaspora in the West, tackled similar taboos but with a Neo-avant-garde toolkit from the second half of the 1960s. He developed an idiosyncratic symbolism to unpack hidden and embarrassing contradictions within socialist humanism, also in relation to his dual Jewish-Christian family background. Erdély’s 1970 conceptual object Boy-shirt Stiffener, and the installation the Pool of Placidity, addressed directly those unstable directions of meaning and interpretation, which determined the reception of Lili Ország’s oeuvre. Boy-shirt Stiffener is based on a simple juxtaposition: Erdély placed a piece of matzo in his boy’s scout shirt he used in the 1930s when he participated in a Jewish scouting club. Erdély’s fellows in the club became prominent figures in the Communist Party, which not only merged scouting into the Pioneer Organization in 1948 but which, since 1967, increasingly equaled Zionism with imperialism and Fascism. Boy-shirt Stiffener was exhibited together with Erdély’s environment Pool of Placidity in a self-organized group exhibition that raised much interest and press attention, as it offered a very wide overview of new artistic movements at that time. The Pool of Placidity was composed of cans of condensed milk made in the USSR, their content drained into a pool in which matzo was placed in between big cubes of yeast, and from another can some water was trickling into the pool. The gas formed was led with tubes to an outside smelling place, a rubber nose to be used by the visitor. The chemical reaction of these materials and objects loaded with political connotations—annihilation, disintegration, suffocation, assimilation in relation to Judaism, Communism, and racism—received some very straightforward interpretations. Recollections mention that György Aczél, the most determining figure of the era’s cultural politics, also visited the exhibition, and “smelled” this work. Aczél was not happy with what he felt, though the interpretation of the work Erdély gave later suggested that it was a cynical tribute to the Hungarian Communist Party leaders who stopped anti-Semitic campaigns infiltrating from the USSR and other Communist countries. One press review, however, pointed out that despite the artists’ intention, but due to this sketchy, anti-art realization, the work can be interpreted as if it were making fun of the Holocaust.25 Though it seems to be a simple misunderstanding, Erdély later consciously used the performative tension of contradictory connotations in his later works as well.

R exhibition with Miklós Erdély installing his work Pool of Placidity, 1970. Photo: János Berényi , Copyright: Heirs of Miklós Erdély
“R” exhibition with Miklós Erdély installing his work Pool of Placidity, 1970. Photo: János Berényi , copyright: Heirs of Miklós Erdély

In the 1970s in Hungary, the need to clarify the complexities of various post-colonial conflicts around the world was reflected in several didactic publications, which went beyond the overarching rhetoric of anti-imperialism.26 The guerilla aesthetics of cultural products of the Third World was also utilized by journalist who by then developed some expertise and international networks in relation to various independence struggles. In these guides it was a common figure to compare independence fights of the Third World to that of Hungary in 1948, also implying that these people were going through stages of development that “we” had already went through.27 The revolutionary romantic appeal targeted at the non-conformist youth was also deployed by a new generation of journalists giving a running commentary from fighting zones. Such example is the didactic film Guerilla Fighters in Jordan,28 which was played in cinemas as a complimentary program before feature films. The reporter of the film, Alajos Chrudinák, was one of the “bush-fighter” Middle East experts, who later got to be the editor of a very popular TV program on foreign affairs with on the spot reports—who then later became a right-wing public figure after the regime change in 1989. The film, in addition to documentary footage, includes interviews Chrudinák made in Jordan with Yasser Arafat and the leader of the Syrian Communist Party, as well as a Palestinian refugee studying in Hungary. Propaganda posters of Fatah, like a famous one comparing the case of Palestine with Vietnam—which was so popular in Hungary—were also shown together with the excerpts from the renowned Palestine poet Mahmoud Darwish’ the famous poem ID Card, in which the speaker takes on stereotypes connected to Arabs and confronts the hostile feelings they evoke.

Stills from the film
Stills from the film Guerilla Fighters in Jordan, 1971. HU OSA 424-0-1-059; Soviet Propaganda Film Collection; Open Society Archives at Central European University, Budapest.

The more liberal era allowing contacts and exchanges with the “progressive” intellectuals all around the world, including some forms of cooperation between state institutions and New Left thinkers at home and abroad, ended around 1973. Contributing to this freeze was the death of György Lukács in 1971, right after he had started a solidarity campaign for Angela Davis. Through Lukács, his students could get in contact at the Korcula summer schools (1964–74) with Ernst Bloch, Herbert Marcuse, Jürgen Habermas, or Henri Lefebvre, and he also often intervened and protected Neo-Marxist dissidents against anti-intellectual campaigns within the Party. First in November 1972, the New Economic Mechanism was withdrawn, then in May 1973, a Party decree condemned several philosophers of the Budapest School who were discussing alternative economic theories in the last few years, and removed them from their academic position.29 Some months after the Vietnam War ended, a new Arab-Israeli war broke out in 1973. It was also the time when the successor of CCF, the International Foundation for Cultural Freedom, now funded only by Ford Foundation, and acting worldwide in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, and in Latin America, had serious crisis in harmonizing European and Non-European priorities and solving the cultural misunderstandings between US pragmatism and European existentialism.

Here paths have ultimately parted between state institutions using populist culture to build diplomatic and economic contacts with the Third World and dissident intellectuals. Several artists and writers emigrated to the West during the 1970s—those who stayed in Hungary got estranged from socialist internationalism and became involved in human rights discourse and redirected their solidarity towards various forms of oppression within Europe.30 When, for instance, the National Gallery organized an international “Anti-Fascist Poster exhibition” in 1975, it was realized without any non-European cooperation partners, and only with ones from Western Europe, such as the Gramsci Institute in Bologna. Historical agitprop works were exhibited together with more or less recent posters dealing with the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, the Korean and Vietnam War, the Cuban revolution, and the liberation of various Sub-Saharan countries, thus positioning anti-colonial struggles as parts of the global anti-Fascist movement. It was important to show that the European artists are still expressing solidarity with various Third World struggles, but the possibility to include non-European artists together with European ones did not occur.

Regarding the relations to Arab countries, when the PLO under Arafat’s leadership started to build up diplomatic and cultural contacts in Eastern Europe in the 1970s,31 particularly from 1972 in Hungary, Third Worldism among the youth and intellectuals was already on decline. The PLO had two important international exhibition projects in 1978, which demonstrated two versions of transcultural exchange and solidarity. In 1978, a large-scale international solidarity exhibition was held in Beirut with the participation of artists from both socialist and capitalist countries, both from the “Third World” and from Europe. It was very diverse what participating artists and organizers considered as adequate artistic expression of solidarity. Artists from Soviet satellite countries approached the issue as part of Communism’s perpetual struggle against Fascism and imperialism. They submitted works relating to either the agitprop imagery of these historical fights or universalistic socialist humanism,32 also claiming that art and artists are integral part of political struggles. Another attitude present at the exhibition regarded artists as public intellectuals, and participation in an exhibition and donating a work of high cultural value as a realm where artists can take politically responsible action without addressing directly the actual political cause within their work. This approach that assigned autonomy to artistic creation was manifest in the participation of several artists from the Middle East but also from Latin-America and Japan. Only a few artists sustained a genuine personal and thematic commitment to the specific cause of the exhibition. Artists based in the Middle East expressed emotional relation to a lost and desired homeland, whereas members of self-organized collectives from Western Europe, activist affiliated with Eurocommunism (e.g.,Claude Lazar from France or Paolo Ganna from Italy) used their art as a political tool.33

"Palestine Popular Art" exhibition organized by PLO, Museum of Ethnography, Budapest, 1978. Source: MTI, the Archive of the Museum of Etnography
“Palestine Popular Art” exhibition organized by the PLO, Museum of Ethnography, Budapest, 1978. Source: the Archive of the Museum of Etnography

In addition to the International Exhibition for Palestine, which was organized by Mona Saudi, the head of the Plastic Arts Section of the Unified Information of PLO, in the same year a traveling Palestine Folk/Popular Art exhibition was put together by Ismail Shammout. Mona Saudi, herself a sculptor, represented international modernism with several contacts to established modernist artists around the world, aiming to integrate Arab art as well as a specific form of political engagement into this cosmopolitan canon. On the other hand, Shammout, the head of the Union of Arab Artists, was known for narrative, emotional, figurative paintings and agitprop posters, reminiscent of Soviet propaganda art. The popular art exhibition, which was also presented in the Budapest Museum of Ethnography in 1978, with Arafat participating34 at the opening, intended to establish the historicity and European acknowledgement of traditional Palestinian culture as an autonomous entity.  For this reason, the exhibition combined contemporary guerilla props with the live demonstration of sophisticated handicrafts, as well as objects connected to the local historical Christian heritage. In the following years, a Palestinian painting exhibition showcasing this anti-modern, populist trend of engaged art, also organized by Shammout, was travelling in smaller cultural houses of Hungary and other countries of Eastern Europe.35  From the early 1980s, even such state institutions as the Budapest gallery of the Institute of Cultural Contacts turned towards local and Western artists, thus the possibility to introduce forms of artistic or intellectual commitment that are progressive—on the level of post-colonial ideologies as well as regarding artistic trends, such as 1978 Beirut exhibition—disappeared from the agenda.

Róza El-Hassan: Blood Donation, 2001
Róza El-Hassan: Blood Donation, 2001

The conflicts of institutional and personal solidarity with independence struggles in the Arab World and its victims, as well its association with different sides of political trenches, had one reverse manifestation in the wake of the 9/11. Róza El-Hassan, a Hungarian artist of half-Syrian origin was invited to the exhibition celebrating the re-opening of the Belgrade Museum of Contemporary art in October 2001, not much after the Yugoslav war ended with NATO bombing the city. For this occasion, she proposed to reenact Yasser Arafat’s recent demonstrative blood donation with which he reacted to George Bush’s statement claiming a collective guilt of Arab people in the terrorist attack of New York and Washington DC. Arafat’s action was also to counteract the television images of Palestinians celebrating in the streets after 9/11. The 2001 Belgrade exhibition presented several works that addressed the transcultural aspects of political violence in a provocative and perfomative way. Yugoslavia, the only European member of the Non-Aligned Movement, until its break-up could muffle tensions between religious, ethnic, national, and political affiliations through a federal state built on socialist universalism and modernism in a similarly utopian and yet catastrophic way as the experiments with pan-Arab socialism. Still, despite the artists’ intention, the performance could never be repeated in the same form in other venues in Europe. One year later, the Budapest Ludwig Museum refused to house this performance, in the fear of possible associations with terrorism or anti-Semitism.36 13 years after the Regime Change, in the dawn of the “War on Terror,” the faith in solidarity transcending the borders of Europe and European identity37 was already corrupted and buried under the stale memory of state-sponsored friendship between Hungarians and Palestinians.

The research to this article was partially sponsored by Közép-Európai Egyetem and International Visegrad Fund. The theses explained herein are representing the own ideas of the author, but not necessarily reflect the opinion of KEE.

About the author
Zsuzsa László is a researcher and curator at (since 2009) and completing a PhD in Art Theory at the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. She is member of the editorial board of the online magazine Mezosfera and has recently (co-)curated various exhibition and publication projects, including: Art Always Has Its Consequences, 2008–2010; Parallel Chronologies 2009- , Sitting Together, 2016, Creativity Exercises, 2014–2018. Between 2008–2012, she was lecturer at the Intermedia Department of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, and between 2005–2007 at the Institute for Art Theory and Media Studies, ELTE, Budapest.


  1. Anna Kosztricz, “A Kulturális Kapcsolatok Intézete,” ArchivNet, 15 no, 4 (2015): 1-7, accessed May 28, 2018,
  2. Hungary signed further cultural cooperation agreements with Iraq (1959), Indonezia (1960), Cuba, Brazil (1961), India (1962), Algeria (1964), Cambodia, Chile, Sudan (1967), Iran, Syria (1968), Japan (1969), Afghanistan, Congo (1971), Morocco (1972), Libanon, Argentina (1973), Külpolitikai Évkönyv, 1974.
  3. After several fiascos in the first half of the 20th century, in 1950, Hungary started experiments with growing exotic corps, such as cotton, to treat its serious lack of foreign currency, and to cover its import needs.
  4. See more on the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 in Eszter Szakács’s essay in this issue, “Propaganda, Mon Amour: An Arab ‘World’ through Hungarian Publications (1957–1989),” Mezosfera Issue No 5, Refractions of Socialist Solidarity, ed. Eszter Szakács (Budapest:, 2018),
  5. Radio Free Europe background report (HU OSA 300-8-3-13191) describes the intention of a series of visits paid in 1960 as “to make friends and influence people or possibly worse.” During a one-month Afro-Asian tour in 1966, credit agreements were also made with Egypt, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kuwait, India. First, the motivation was to settle the Hungarian question at the UN, which was resolved in 1963.
  6. The exhibition room of the Institute for Cultural Relation rarely presented exhibitions related to Arab countries, compared to the fifteen exhibitions held about and in tribute to Vietnam, and eight about Korea. In 1957, there was the exhibition of Egyptian artist Hassan Heshmat; in 1962, a photo exhibition on the life of Afghan people; in 1975, an exhibition on the art of Algeria; and in 1978, Hungarian artist’s Lajos Vincze’s work on Iraq. Lajos Vincze, originally a soldier, was specialized in illustrating translation of Third World authors like the prison diary of communist Vietnamese revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh, Cameroon diplomat, politician, and author Ferdinand Oyono, South African novelist and prominent anti-apartheid leader Alex La Guma, or Japanese communist writer Hiroshi Noma.
  7. More on themes and motives of connection: Péter Apor and James Mark, “Socialism Goes Global: Decolonization and the Making of a New Culture of Internationalism in Socialist Hungary, 1956–1989,” The Journal of Modern History 87: 852–891.
  8. Self-organized solidarity with the Third World was mostly connected to a Maoist group of young university student in Budapest in the second half of the 1960s. See more on this group: Ádám Takács, “The Maoist Incident. Effects of Political and Ideological Consolidation on Youth Mentality in the Kádár Regime in Hungary in the 1960s,” RESOCEA (Regime and Society in Eastern Europe, 1956 – 1989) Report, 2012.
  9. E.g.: Marton Imre, Eszmék és téveszmék a harmadik világról (Illusions and Delusions about the Third World) (Budapest: Kossuth, 1969.) Marton already wrote about Fanon in 1965 in French: Imre Marton, “A propos des thèses de Fanon,” Action: revue théorique et politique du Parti Communiste Martiniquais, 7.2 (1965): 39–55, and 8/9.3/4 (1965): 45–66.
  10. Frances Stonor Saunders describes in detail the ambiguous mission of Radio Free Europe inciting revolutionaries without any military plotting or pledge for support, and also how the Suez Crisis played a role in the fact the the US did not intervene in Hungary, The Cultural Cold War The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters (New York: The New Press, 2000), 302–6. Also, on the Hungarian Revolution and the Suez Crisis is 1956, See Eszter Szakács, Ibid.
  11. The rivalry between the Second and the Third World is described both by Walter Laqueur, who between 1956–1964 was the editor of Survey, the Congress for Cultural Freedom’s (CCF) London journal of East & West Studies: “A Memoir of the Congress for Cultural Freedom,” The Partisan Review (Spring 1996): 193–195; and Marek Beylin, a Polish journalist and writer, who was commissioned to write the history of the Foundation for the Support of European Intellectuals after its stopped its activities, see “Foundation pour une Entraide Intellectuelle Européenne,” unpublished manuscript, 1994, 20.
  12. An example for such a rivalry, with regards to CIA and USSR involvement in Pan-African festivals, is explored in the essay by
  13. On József Bognár see on this in the essay by Zoltán Ginelli in this issue: “Hungarian Experts in Nkrumah’s Ghana. Decolonization and Semiperipheral Postcoloniality in Socialist Hungary,” Mezosfera Issue No 5, Refractions of Socialist Solidarity, ed. Eszter Szakács (Budapest: 2018),
  14. See Radio Free Europe Situation Report of 5 March 1965. Ford Foundation started similar cooperation with Poland (1957), Yugoslavia (1959), Romania (1965), Czechoslovakia (1968), and Bulgaria (1968), see Robert Byrnes, Soviet-American Academic Exchanges, 1958–1975 (Indiana University Press, 1976). Yale Richmond, U.S.-Soviet Cultural Exchanges, 1958–1986: Who Wins? (Westview Press, 1987).
  15. Though rarely mentioned in the literature on CCF, it also supported Hungarian émigré journals till 1962, precisely the publication of London and Paris based Irodalmi Újság (Literary Journal), a periodical started in 1950 by Communist writers who fled Hungary in 1956. István Orosz, “Beszélő-beszélgetés Szász Bélával,” Beszélő, vol. 1 no. 16 (1986). Another émigré literary journal was also fighting for funds from CCF, but was overmatched by Irodalmi Újság. This was the Munich-based (Új) Látóhatár, edited by emigre writers affiliated more closely with Radio Free Europe and the populist (concerned with rural, folklore, peasant, organic, vital, and national culture) orientation of Hungarian literature opposed to the urbanists (liberal, cosmopolitan, modernist) gathering around Irodalmi Újság, for more details on their story see the The Exile and Return of Writers from East-Central Europe: A Compendium, eds. John Neubauer, Borbála Zsuzsanna Török, (Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter: 2009): 204–230.
  16. E.g., Melvin Lasky, the editor of the German language journal of CCF, Der Monat, as well as its funder, the Ford Foundation, was associated with Hitlerism in an article published in 1955 in several local newspapers (such as Délmagyarország, Marc 5, 1955, 2.)
  17. István Darvasi, “Eszmei harc, eszmék nélkül (Ideological fight, without ideas),” Társadalmi Szemle, (1963/8): 39–51
  18. Walter Laqueur, 190–192.
  19. Issa J. Boullata, “The Beleaguered Unicorn: A Study of Tawfīq Ṣāyigh,” Journal of Arabic Literature, vol. 4 (1973): 69-93; and Michael Vasquez, “Hiwar,” Chronic (June, 2015)
  20. Sumayya Kassamali, “‘You Had No Address.’ Faiz Ahmed Faiz in Beirut,Caravan Magazine (June, 2016),; Hala Halim, “Afro-Asian Third-Worldism into Global South: The Case of Lotus Journal,” Global South Studies: A Collective Publication with The Global South (November 22, 2017),
  21. Jews in Poland were accused of treason and Stalinism in a populist campaign, which caused thousands, including professionals, party officials, and secret police functionaries, as well as dissidents like Adam Michnik, to go on an exile in 1967. Ceausescu exchanged Jews for subsidies from Israel. In Czechoslovakia, Jews were associated with the Prague Spring. Róbert Győri Szabó, “Zsidóság és kommunizmus a Kádár-korszakban I-III,” (Jewishness and Communism in the Kádár Regime, I-III) Valóság (2008–2009); Ioanid Radu, The Ransom of the Jews: The Story of the Extraordinary Secret Bargain Between Romania and Israel (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2005); Paul Hofmann, “Jews in Czechoslovakia Fear Rise of Anti‐Semitism in Party,” New York Times, Jan. 14, 1970,
  22. The Yugoslav journal Praxis, asked its Hungarian contributors to disdain anti-Semitic campaign in Poland, but György Lukács refused to do so, see Róbert Győri Szabó, Ibid.
  23. János Pilinszky was in friendly contact with the French poet Pierre Emmanuel, who also translated Pilinszky’s poems, and invited him to Paris regularly, and who was the director of the Fondation pour une Entraide Intellectuelle Européenne, which was first the European office, then the sole successor of Congress for Cultural Freedom renamed International Association for Cultural Freedom (IACF) in 1967.
  24. Mária Árvai, “Ország Lili első magyarországi gyűjteményes kiállítása, 1967. Székesfehérvár,” (The first restorspective exhibition of Lili Ország, 1967. Székesfehérvár), Múlt és jövő, (2016/4): 86–95.
  25. Endre Rózsa T., “Az utak összeérnek,” Kritika (1971/6): 56. Erdély’ interpretation of the work was publisher in Miklós Peternák, “Beszélgetés Erdély Miklóssal, 1983 tavaszán,” Árgus, vol. II., no 5. (1991): 80. See also Péter Kőhalmi, “Szelíd, de nem súlytalan,” Különbség, vol. XII. no. 1 (May 2012): 161-164., Greskovics Eszter, “Az R kiállítás rekonstrukciója,” Balkon, (2014/1): 9-13; Sándor Hornyik, “Beyond the Bipolar Geopolitical Reality – Constructions of Central European Neo-Avantgarde Identity,” Ars Hungarica, vol 43 (2017/4): 457–8.
  26. The journal of The Communist Youth League, Magyar Ifjúság published regularly in 1970s didactic field reports on Third World conflicts.
  27. István Takács, “Mashrek ‘72, Oktatási robbanás,” Magyar Ifjúság (1972/12).
  28. Gerillatüzek Jordániaban (Guerilla Fighters in Jordan), Mafilm Katonai Stúdió, 1971,
  29. The incriminated philosophers were György Bence, András Hegedüs, Ágnes Heller, János Kis, György Márkus, Mária Márkus, Mihály Vajda, for more details see: Mária Ludassy, “1973,” Beszélő, vol 3. no. 4. (1998); János Weiss, “A filozófusper és következményei,” Fordulat, (2010/10): 168–183.
  30. James Mark and Péter Apor, Ibid, 885-891, describe in detail the causes and the process of the decline of Third Worldism in Hungary on both state and social level, and the turn towards the West-oriented disarmament, criticism of globalization, and green movements.
  31. PLO first contacted the Hungarian Solidarity Committee in 1972, from which they received medical treatment (from 1973), relief cargos (from 1974), and scholarships (from 1975) for Palestinian refugees, in addition to receiving delegations from various Arab/Palestine cultural organizations. MNL-XXVIII-M-13, 142.
  32. In this exhibition an etching by Gyula Hincz’s—a Hungarian expressionist artist who started his career back in the 1920s—Peace cycle from 1950 represented Hungary’s support for the Palestine cause.
  33. The story and context of this exhibition was extensively researched by Kristine Khouri and Rasha Salti in their project “Past Disquiet,” which was presented in MACBA, Barcelona, 2015; in HKW, Berlin, 2016; in MSSA, Santiago, 2018. An adaptation of this project was also presented at in 2016 under the title “Cartography of Artist Solidarity.”
  34. Arafat was invited to Budapest by the Central Committee of the Workers Party apropos of the exhibition. Arafat agreed to come for the opening only if Kádár receives him. MNL-KÜM-J-120-1
  35. The split between different historicisations of solidarity exhibitions supporting Third World independence struggles or specifically Palestine can be witnessed in Jack Persekian’s chronology which completely omits Eastern European presentation, only mentioning briefly a 1979 Moscow exhibition: “17 Lost Art Exhibitions,” Field Notes, Issue 04 (2015).
  36. This explanation was stated by the artist herself in several interviews and also in Eva Scharrer, “R. as in Róza? On Róza El-Hassan’s Ambivalent Sculptures,” Róza El-Hassan in Between (Hatje Cantz, 2012): 90-93. Anti-Semitism among East-European / Hungarian Communists is also discussed in Katalin Timár’s article “Politically Correct Trauma »The Hidden Holocaust«,” Springerin (2004/2): 283.
  37. Péter György wrote on El-Hassan’s action interpreting it as a performative demonstration of specific hybrid identities debunking predictable social and ideological labeling “Ahol asszonyok halnak, ott én éber vagyok!” El-Hassan Róza munkássága (“Where women die, there I am vigilant!” The oeuvre of R. E-H.) in Kádár köpönyege (Budapest: Magvető, 2005): 182-200. This essay was published just a few years before György started to explore the contradictions of Jewish and Hungarian identity in several articles and the book Apám helyett (In My Father’s Name), 2012 about his father who was a Holocaust survivor, then became a communist, and finally after the regime change in 1989 supported right-wing anti-Israel groups.

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