Far-right publisher and Hungarian diplomats at Lake Hope “Itt-Ott” event

At the end of September Péter Turcsány suddenly passed away in Hungary, he was 64 years old and a well-known figure in Hungary’s far-right circles. His Pomáz-based publishing house, Kráter, is the distributor of pro-fascist and anti-Semitic literature.

In August he was in the US, at Lake Hope State Park, as a guest of the Hungarian Communion of Friends, also known as Itt-Ott. This was an annual gathering to learn about Hungarian heritage and culture, hear lectures, listen to music and relax in nature.

Mr. Turcsány was invited to promote his hero, Albert Wass, a fascist, anti-Semitic writer and convicted World War II criminal. In February, Los Angeles based Wiesenthal Center publicly protested such events glorifying the Nazi collaborator who lived most of his life in the US and was investigated by the Justice Department. (For the Wiesenthal Center protest, click here.)

Mr. Turcsány and the Albert Wass statue in Pomáz, Hungary.  In a letter to Turcsány Mr. Viktor Orbán warmly praised Wass and the statue in 2009.

Mr. Turcsány and the Albert Wass statue in Pomáz, Hungary. In a letter to Turcsány Mr. Viktor Orbán warmly praised Wass and the statue in 2009.

Kráter is the publisher of Mr. Wass’s works in Hungary and in 2009 Turcsány was instrumental installing his statue in Pomáz and to my surprise Viktor Orbán wrote a letter to him praising Mr. Wass and congratulating to the statue. Mr. Turcsány is also well known in the US due to his association with Lóránt Szász, aka Zas. Szász, an engineer and poet who died in 2011, who was an icon of the Hungarista (Hungarian style fascist) movement; he was also the publisher of Magyarok Vasárnapja (Hungarians’ Sunday) a far-right publication. When Mr. Szász was buried in Budapest, Mr. Turcsány gave the eulogy.

Mr. Szász frequently labeled his American opponents as “Jews” or “Communists” and he even accused onetime Hungarian ambassador Géza Jeszenszky of being a “Communist agent.” Mr. Jeszenszky’s sin was that he organized a festival called Hungarian Spring in Santa Barbara which featured pictures of Lajos Kassák, a left-leaning avant-garde artist. Mr. Turcsány and Mr. Szász promoted Hungarian far-right writers like Lajos Marschalkó, Géza Alföldi and Ferenc Fiala.

How did Mr. Turcsány end up at Lake Hope? It seems that he was invited by Peter Kovalszki, the organizer of the camp, a Romanian born MD who came to the US in 1986. According to Mr. Turcsány’s blog, his trip was supported by William Carter and Katalin Kővári. (I asked Mr. Kovalszki about his invitation, but he did not respond.)

Mr. Turcsány at Lake Hope State Park at the Hungarian Communion of Friends event in August 2015.

Mr. Turcsány at Lake Hope State Park, at the Hungarian Communion of Friends event in August 2015.

Naturally, Mr. Kovalszki may invite, and Mr. Carter and Ms. Kővári may sponsor whomever they wish. At the same time, it is puzzling to me that Hungarian diplomats attended the Lake Hope camp, when they had received the program in advance and they knew full well about Mr. Turcsány’s far-right sympathies. Zsuzsanna Király and Imre Szakács were there from the New York Consulate, and Ambassador Réka Szemerkényi from Washington DC was also present.

Why didn’t they raise their voices? Why didn’t they protest? Why didn’t they boycott this event?

In the past, Ms. Szemerkényi received a neo-Nazi Jobbik delegation in Washington DC and the New York Consulate also hosted Jobbik politicians. Ms. Szemerkényi wrote to HFP: “My personal values as well as the Hungarian government’s stance on strongly refusing anti-Semitism and any trace of neo-Nazism have always been very clear.” She also wrote that it was “legally unacceptable” for her NOT to meet with Jobbik representatives. (Read here.)

We don’t know of any law or legal obligation in the US which would make it mandatory for the Ambassador or any other Hungarian diplomat to meet and brief Hungarian neo-Nazis in Washington DC and New York City. I would encourage Ambassador Szemerkényi to explain to our readers why Hungarian diplomats meet with Jobbik representatives? And why did she attend the Lake Hope event?

György Lázár

2 Comments

  1. It seems as though it is almost an unwritten rule with Hungarian people, that we must stand behind ANY Hungarian, regardless of the affiliations or how they behave. To deny any wrong doing of any Hungarian no matter what. To not do, so we would be considered “anti-Hungarian”, that we are traitors if we don’t support other Hungarians regardless of misdeeds. This is evident when speaking up on this site as well as any others against hatred and antisemitism as well as when we speak up against the Hungarian government actions. As far as Szemérkényi hosting Jobbik, I have said it before and will say it again. I feel as though Jobbik is a faux opposition, they are put there as a deflection and to help Fidesz dominate for many years to come. Even if Fidesz were to fall, Jobbik would then take over, however, I am pretty sure they would form a coalition, although they certainly seem to be much more successful at dominating by pretending to be separate. Just my opinion, but I often wonder how others don’t see it, as many have insisted that this is not what they see. Fidesz has implemented most of Jobbik suggestions since their conception.

  2. András B. Göllner says:

    The reason why Orbán’s diplomats don’t mind sharing the stage with neo-nazis is simple – they want to have their cake and eat it too. Or as we say in Hungarian, they want the goat to be well fed and keep the cabbage as well. Orbán and FIDESZ are ultra-nationalists, and share the same hatred of cosmopolitanism, Liberalism as the neo-nazis. For the latter, Liberalism and Cosmopolitanism is the ideological basis of the Jewish “desire” to end Christian civilization in Hungary (please read Szálasi, Prohászka and the major anti-Semitic theorists) Orbán is careful not to engage in anti-semitic rhetoric, but does everything he can to attack the roots that anti-Semites consider to be the essence of the “Jewish threat”. Wass Albert, Nyirő are comfy cozy for this bunch because they are “cross dressers”, who disguise their hatred of the Jews be religious, folkloric and patriotic guises. This was Csurka’s approach as well. This explains the commemoration of Prohászka – a semi-saint for Hungarian Catholics – the glorification of Horthy, and the entire political culture that feeds and provides a warm, fertile soil for the hatred of the Jews.

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