Letter to the Editor – Zsa Zsa, the honorary freedom fighter?

HFP recently published my article about Zsa Zsa entitled Ambassador Réka Szemerkényi exploits Zsa Zsa’s memory for political purposes.

In this piece I mentioned that John Gizzi wrote an article (also produced a video interview) claiming that Zsa Zsa was “an opponent of Communist tyranny.” He added that, “Zsa Zsa was always speaking at events for the Hungarian community in Los Angeles and was even made an honorary Hungarian freedom fighter, the late Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty proudly told me in 1979.” (Read Mr. Gizzi’s article here.)

I asked Mr. Gizzi for proof of Zsa Zsa’s anti-Communist fervor since she visited Communist Hungary in 1968 and never expressed her dismay of the ruling Kádár-regime which oppressed the 1956 Revolution. She avoided the Hungarian community in California since never attended on March 15 or October 23 commemorations at the Hungarian House in LA. (Click here to see Mr. Gizzi’s video interview on Newsmax TV.)

And here is Mr. Gizzi’s response…

***

Dear Mr. Lazar,

Thanks for your note.

Zsa Zsa’s desire to celebrate her 100th birthday was widely reported at the time of her death. I will be happy to find the article that mentions this.

Her speaking out against the Communist regime and support of Nagy’s government has been widely reported contemporaneously—as were the broadcasts of Mickey Hargity. Ernie Kovacs, Ilona Massey and Bela Lugosi, all proud expats of Hungary.

Myron Liebman, one of the founders of Young Americans for Freedom, organized protest marches in front of the Hungarian embassy and counsel’s office in New York. He said that Zsa Zsa and Ilona were always marching. Lugosi could not join them (I presume because of ailments and age) but always sent a message to be read.

Mayor Yorty made a big point of telling his friends about Zsa Zsa not only making him an honorary Freedom Fighter but speaking on his behalf to Hungarian groups when he ran for mayor. The occasion was his 80th birthday at his home in Studio City, CA.

Everything in the article was documented from written sources and you will note that I quoted the book in which Zsa Zsa is credited with making a personal donation to settle the Hungarian refugees in 1956.

So many of my own friends from Hungary—the late Laszlo Pastor and my good friend the scientist Gabor Thongoly-Kege—made a point of telling me about Zsa Zsa’s activity on behalf of opponents of the Communist regime. This is the first I have ever heard she did anything less than that.

JG

***

According news reports Zsa Zsa was in South-Africa in the summer of 1956 with polo-player beau Derek Goodman. After spending two months overseas she returned to Hollywood and in October/November had a show at the Las Vegas Riviera, Nevada. Later that year she attended the Harvest Moon Festival in Chicago.

Zsa Zsa at the the Las Vegas Riviera – 1956 October

I couldn’t find any trace that she demonstrated in New York supporting the Nagy government in 1956. My understanding is that she had little interest in politics.

I was surprised to read in Mr. Gizzi’s response that Béla Lugosi also supported the Nagy government and even sent a message to be read on the demonstrations. Mr. Nagy assumed office on October 24, 1956 while Lugosi died on August 16, 1956 – two months before.

The more exciting question to me is why would anyone try to make Zsa Zsa today a fighter of Communist tyranny?

György Lázár

3 Comments

  1. Good question.
    The correct answer points to essential features of the system producing the event. In my reading:
    – The regime is building legitimacy and it’s self aggrandizing, i.e. all positive events present and past are appropriated, history is rewritten.
    – In this case someone had another silly idea, like so many others e.g. eliminating foreign words from the public space, Basic Law tables or hard cover colorful signed copies (made quickly obsolete by frequent and substantial amendments).
    – Which brings us to the issues of counter-selection of cadres in such regimes and, most importantly to
    – The process of authoritarian decision making, i.e. with little professional but a lot propaganda input.
    – Finally it demonstrates the lack of morals and scruples in the brazen lying and falsifications.

    This silly minor episode is so revealing of the basic faults of the system.

  2. Mazel tov!

  3. Trubetskoy

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