Participation at the Cultural Forum of Budapest and social gathering in the home of the sculptor of Romanian Hungarian origin, Tibor Szervátiusz, 1985
Among the Helsinki post-conferences visited by HHRF, the most interesting event for the organization was the Budapest Cultural Forum, which was held at the Novotel Hotel in 1985.
During the conference, a private reunion was organized by the HHRF’s members in the apartment of the Hungarian-Romanian wood sculptor Tibor Szervatiusz, as a consequence of which, according to the founding members of the organization, they achieved a breakthrough in furthering a subtle understanding of the plight of Hungarians in Romania. Although the private reunion was supervised by András Knopp, a member of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, it has not been stopped. The profound power of this informal reunion, according to the HHRF’s members, was that for the first time they managed to help the members of the U.S. delegation understand why the protection of the human rights of Hungarians in Romania is so important. Some 75 representatives from ten countries participated in the reunion, where the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation held presentations and spread multilingual written documentations on the situation of Hungarian national minorities. At the reception held on October 31, the members of the cultural delegation of England, the Netherlands, France, Canada, Norway, West Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, and the USA took part. The more than forty foreign participants were also informed by representatives of the Hungarian intelligentsia, including Sándor Csoóri, Gyula Benda, Gabor Demszky, Miklos Haraszti, Rudolf Joo, Janos Kenedi, György Konrád, Ferenc Kosa, Béla Pomogáts, Laszlo Rajk, Gaspar Miklos Tamás, and Zador Tordai.
The next day, at the official working session of the Monument Protection Committee, Nancy Cooledge, one of the members of the American delegation, made mention of the fate of Hungarian monuments in Romania in her speech: “In the past ten years, priceless architectural treasures have been destroyed in Romania,” she said. “Monuments in Brașov, Alba Iulia, Cluj Napoca, Târgu Mureș, and Sighișoara of Transylvania have been destroyed which were of great importance for the minorities of Transylvania. Monuments of minorities in other cities and municipalities await a similar fate, unless immediate action is taken for their salvation,” she warned. In reaction to her speech, in a long and irritated response, the Romanian delegate declared Cooledge irresponsible and unreliable, stating that the content of her speech did not correspond with the formal stance of the United States on Romania. Because of the abusive tone of his response, the Romanian official position became obvious to the delegates present.On November 14, three U.S. delegations spoke up at the official meetings of the Cultural Forum for the protection of the Hungarian minority in Transylvania. William Least Heat Moon, an American writer and one of the members of the official American delegation, also interceded in defense of Géza Szőcs, who was not allowed to work by the Romanian state apparatus. The most important part of his speech at the Meeting of the Literary Commission was the following: “We are again hearing about the appreciated writer Géza Szőcs, who lives in Romania, and that he is under house arrest and papers are torn out of his typewriter. I urge the Romanian delegates to estimate their writers and their writers of national minority descend as national treasures – just as e.g. Nadia Comaneci – who obtained appreciation for Romania, as Jaroslav Seifert has acquired appreciation with his Nobel prize for Czechoslovakia. I close my words with this: there are voices who thought that this forum has no place for endangered minorities and imprisoned writers. But I urge my fellow colleagues to take home the names of our colleagues who have been silenced. They should tell, talk about them, speak these names out in their writers’ associations, in the press, in schools, at universities! Let us not become like those who once said: we cannot do anything against Auschwitz and Buchenwald, because we didn't know... My fellow writers: you know the names! I hope that this knowledge, like Adam, when his eyes are opened, will urge everyone to action.”
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- Hermann, Gabriella