antisemitism,  Hungary

“The Sixth Coffin”

Earlier this month we reported on an antisemitic play “The Sixth Coffin,” written by the late István Csurka, which has been included in the repertoire of Budapest’s New Theater.

Eva S. Balogh of the Hungarian Spectrum blog has read the play and presents a toe-curling summary:

The play is about a fantastic invention of two Hungarians that allows its users to recapture every word, every movement, every person from the past. Centuries later we can find out precisely what happened at any moment in history as long as the invention is on the spot where the event took place. The falsifiers of history can thus be eliminated and the past becomes completely knowable without any distortion. In addition to this “truth machine”–my own description of the invention–these two Hungarian geniuses are also able to make people and objects invisible.

The two inventors bring their machine into one of the conference rooms of the Palace of Versailles. They also employ a young Hungarian who is referred to as Apród (Page) whose grandfather was executed in 1958 because of his involvement with the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. They also drag in a huge coffin which, in addition to the grandfather’s remains, contains a few pieces from Stalin’s smashed statue. Interestingly enough, the dead grandfather in the coffin can merrily converse with Georges Clemenceau, and among his otherworldly possessions he even has a lighter tucked away.

The day that this “truth machine” focuses on is February 17, 1919, when there is a meeting of the committee that was entrusted with coming up with the new frontiers of Romania and Yugoslavia. I assume that Csurka’s source was Francia diplomáciai iratok a Kárpát-medence történetéről, 1918-1919, a collection of French documents pertaining to the Paris Peace Conference, edited by Magda Ádám and Mária Ormos.
It turns out early in the play that “”four American Jews and Arthur Balfour were responsible for the dismemberment of Hungary.” How does Csurka manage to find four Jews among the top decision makers? Jews and quasi-Jews come and go throughout the play, so I’m not sure who the real American villains were. Charles Seymour, history professor at Yale University and later its president, wasn’t Jewish; even Csurka doesn’t try to convert him. Csurka thinks that he was “a shyster of a lawyer in New York.” However, according to Csurka, Seymour reports to Edward (Colonel) House. Csurka makes a Jew out of House, whose ancestry goes back to Dutch immigrants of the colonial period. The family’s original name was Huis, Dutch for “house”. Not so for Csurka who decided that House’s original name was Mandel and that he was the son of a rabbi. In fact, House’s father was the mayor of Houston. Another Jew in this company was actually Jewish, Bernard Baruch. But Baruch had absolutely nothing to do with the territorial questions at the peace conference. He advised President Woodrow Wilson on economic matters and in fact argued against the exceedingly harsh reparation payments Germany had to pay after the lost war.

Other villainous Jews, also allegedly responsible for Hungary’s woes, turn up– a Rothschild, financier Jacob Schiff and Leon Trotsky, who “is described as a close friend of Rothschild, Baruch, and Schiff.”

In brief, István Csurka’s truth machine came up with a grotesque re-creation of the twentieth century. What is truly frightening is the reaction of the play’s director, Zsolt Pozsgay. To him “Csurka only used a historical event in its historical reality.” As for its antisemitism, to Pozsgay “there are no antisemitic thoughts in the play. There are only historical facts.”

There is history and there is fiction, and sometimes the two can be bedfellows. But Csurka’s play doesn’t even begin to rise to the level of historical fiction. It is propaganda pure and simple. History is not a bedfellow of fiction but a rape victim.

(Hat tip: Karl Pfeifer)

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