The economist Gyula Jobbágy (b. 1953) is a former student and teacher at the Karl Marx University of Economic Sciences (Marx Károly Közgazdaságtudományi Egyetem, or MKKE). In the late 1970s, as the leader of the university club, he organized numerous political debates and tried to establish an independent student organization to serve as an alternative to the Hungarian Communist Youth League (Magyar Kommunista Ifjúsági Szövetség, or KISZ). In 1981, the party leadership of the university forced him to emigrate.
Jobbágy graduated in 1976 and found work as an assistant lecturer at the Department of Scientific Socialism and from this time also led the university’s Közgáz-klub. Club life became more intensive and eventful under his direction: important political officials held lectures, concerts were organized, and banned films were shown. There was great interest in the club from both inside and outside of the university. Initially, Jobbágy got along well with the party leaders at the university. He remembered in an interview conducted in 2004 that the party secretary asked him to organize the annual May Day celebrations, instead of the KISZ secretary.
This changed radically in 1981, when Jobbágy began to organize an alternative, independent university forum. From the perspective of party leaders, the Meeting of Students from Universities and Colleges in Budapest (Budapesti Egyetemisták és Főiskolások Találkozója, or BEFŐT) represented an opportunity to unite and institutionalize the dissident students. They saw the danger of this initiative and their reaction to it arrived quickly.Before the meeting of BEFŐT, which was scheduled to take place on 21 March 1981, Gyula Jobbágy was charged with anti-state conspiracy, propagation of anti-Soviet ideas, and cooperation with members of the Polish Solidarity movement. Political leaders wanted to fire Jobbágy, threatening that he would never get another job as an economist or teacher in Hungary. Finally, he was forced to emigrate with the “help” of a scholarship to study in Canada. Jobbágy recalled that the secret police awaited him there in Canada and knew everything about him. In Canada, Jobbágy taught political science at a university in Toronto. Although he enjoyed living in Canada, he was nevertheless homesick. Jobbágy was rehabilitated in 1991.
- Budapest, Hungary
János Gyurkó (1952–1996), was a monumental architect, a member of Hungarian Parliament, and Minister of Environmental Protection and Territorial Development of Hungary’s first post-socialist, freely-elected government.
János Gyurkó was raised in Pestlőrinc, a traditional suburb of Budapest. He was the eldest son of a churchgoing Catholic family with seven children. His parents were respected intellectuals; his mother was a doctor (GP), and his father was a leading chemical engineer for Hungary’s largest pharmaceutical factory. Upon completion of secondary school, János went on to study architecture at the Technical University of Budapest, where he received his degree in 1976, and another on monumental architecture in 1983.
Gyurkó began his career in 1976 at the Institute of Construction Science (ÉTI), and in 1986 moved to the National Office of Monumental Building Protection (OMF), and the Urban Planning Research Institute (VÁTI). He received a doctoral degree in 1986 for his dissertation, “The architectural typology of early Hungarian churches of the 11th–13th centuries”. In the meantime, he took part in a number of major reconstruction projects as a researcher and monumental architect in cities like Sopron, Győr, Kőszeg, Szombathely, Sárospatak (the Rákóczi Castle), as well as in the nationwide research on the architectural heritage of the Hungarian Israelite Church.
In the meantime, János Gyurkó took part in a number of independent initiatives, such as writing and distributing samizdat papers, joining Duna Circle events by protesting against hydroelectric works on the Danube, or solidarity actions organized for Transylvania. Alongside these engagements, he soon became close with the samizdat periodical, Deadline Diaries – Transylvanian Monitor, and its grassroots movement, ETE-Transcar. Later, he took part in the international protest campaign against Ceausescu’s “Bulldozer policy”, through the organization S.O.S. Transylvania. (His maternal ancestors and relatives lived in the easternmost part of what was once the Hungarian Kingdom, Háromszék County, on Secker land. He remained closely linked to his childhood family, and this formed an important part of his cultural identity.) Gyurkó, a monumental architect, volunteered, along with colleagues at VÁTI and outside assistants, to research and edit a nearly 400-page document about Transylvania’s endangered, multicultural heritage in 1987–88. The expertly-written, richly-illustrated publication was translated into French, and copies were sent to the UN, UNESCO, the European Council, the Vatican, and the ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites). Press conferences and presentations were also held on the subject, and a travelling exhibition was organized to raise awareness in Hungary and abroad of the risk of losing thousands of buildings of unique heritage.
In May 1990, János Gyurkó won a seat as a member of the Hungarian Parliament in the first free elections following the political transition. He belonged to a small liberal fraction of the conservative governing party, the Hungarian Forum of Democrats (MDF). In early 1993, Hungarian Prime Minister József Antall appointed him the Minister of Environmental Protection and Territorial Development. At the end of that year, Antall died of cancer and the government rapidly lost public support. The elections in spring of 1994 left Gyurkó bitterly disappointed with politics; he left his position, and in the midst of clashes within his party, he quit MDF. Gyurkó returned to his job at the National Office for Monument Protection as a monumental architect. In autumn of 1996, he travelled to a countryside conference and was found dead in his hotel room from a stroke. He was 44 and left behind two children, a few valuable publications, and a number of work plans he was unable to carry out.
Some of his works include:
Kelet-Magyarország Árpád-kori templomai. In: A dákoromán legenda, Budapest, 1989.
Gyurkó, János [Romlaky, Tivadar]: Hargita és Maros megye lerombolásra ítélt falvai, Kapu, 1980. március
Az 1990 májusi romániai földrengés hatásai Háromszék templomaira. In: Pro Domo Dei (Eds. István Varga, János Gyurkó, Béla Nóvé), Budapest 1990„Őrizd meg ezt a lelkületet…” Gyurkó János emlékére, 1952–1966. Eds. Bartos, Csilla – Nóvé, Béla. Hatodik Síp Kárpátaljai Kulturális Alapítvány, Budapest, 1997.
- Budapest, Hungary
Gyönyör was a very important person involved in the process of dealing with the Hungarians minority’s constitutional rights. It was not an easy task, especially because the main aim of the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia was to shape a homogeneous country of two coequal nations – the Slovaks and the Czechs. The constitution did not mentioned anything about minorities or other ethinic groups in these nations. Thus, dealing with problems of other nationalities became a difficult issue, but also a very important problem that needed to be solved. From 1969 Gyönyör worked in the Slovak government at the Department of Nationalities. Soon he became the key figure of this department and had the greatest authority. He remained in the Department until his retirement.
As a publicist he wrote articles for the Új szó (New Word) newspaper from 1968 onward. Új szó was first printed in 1948 and was one of the few periodicals that was written in the Hungarian language.
Gyönyör was never persecuted for his activities. For a short time he was under police surveillance because some members of his family emigrated. Due to this he temporarily lost his citizenship, which he acquired again in 1955. Throughout his life he received awards for his activities, such as that in 1990 from Madách publishing.
- Šahy, Slovakia 936 01
Vera Gyürey is a pedagogue and film historian, who played a key role in the restoration and preservation of Hungary’s film heritage. She had difficulty gaining admittance to secondary school and, later, university because her father, who was a baker, had had his own shop before the communist takeover, and she was stigmatized as class enemy. She started her career as a high school teacher in Hungarian language and literature, and she worked at the József Attila High School for decades, beginning in the early 1960s. Despite her family history, she was a devoted communist, and she supervised the Communist Youth Movement’s faction in school and was alarmed by nonconformist behaviour. According to the recollections of János Kenedi, who as a student openly sympathized at the time with the 1956 revolution and eventually grew to be one of the most significant members of the democratic opposition, Gyürey organized a politically motivated public trial against him which led to his expulsion from the same high school.
Gyürey was a pathbreaker in introducing film studies in secondary schools. In the mid-1960s, she supported the launch of a film club in József Attila High School, and she struggled to integrate film aesthetics into the curriculum. In 1985, she was invited to work in the Hungarian Film Institute by its director, István Nemeskürty, and to launch a training for secondary school teachers in film aesthetics. Gyürey had support for her lifelong professional interest in film in her husband, director István Szabó.
Before joining the staff of the Film Institute, Gyürey had a career in pedagogy. Responding to a call by literary historian and cultural politician István Király, she started to teach pedagogical methodology for students in the Hungarian Language and Literature program at Eötvös Loránd University. She also became a consultant on this subject at the Ministry of Culture and, later, at the National Pedagogical Institute (OPI). By the late 1970s, she had emerged as one of the most dedicated supporters of innovative schoolbooks in Hungarian literature, when she had to confront orthodox communists, like the aforementioned Király. She endured keen criticism in public debates which lasted for years, and eventually she left OPI and accepted the position at the Film Institute.
At the Institute, she quickly realized that the preservation and restoration of materials was an increasingly pressing task. In the mid-1980s, film archivists worldwide faced the same problem, because celluloid films were beginning to age and erode. She saved many documentary films by donating them to the Collection of Historical Interviews at the National Széchényi Library. In 1987, József Marx became the director of the Institute, and Gyürey was made his deputy.After the regime change in 1990, Gyürey took over the Institute, which was renamed the Hungarian National Film Archive. She served as its director for two decades. During this time, she focused efforts on restoration, and documentaries, old newsreels, and films were restored, including such classics as Zoltán Fábri’s 1955 Körhinta (Merry-Go-Round). She also significantly enlarged the silent film collection.
- Budapest, Hungary
Dr Zoltán Gálig studied at the Teachers’ Training College in Pécs and at the ELTE University, Budapest. His professional career is firmly linked to the city of Szombathely, particularly to the city gallery. He has been working in the Gallery of Szombathely since 1985 and was its director between 2000 and 2005. His main research interests include the less known, marginalized tendencies of fine arts. His main themes are the art of the first half of the 20th century, contemporary art and, particularly, the role of women’s art. Following 1989, he played an important role in that art confined to the margins during socialism could be integrated in cultural debates and exhibitions.
- Szombathely, Hungary