Trianon Conference at the University of Toronto

On October 15, 2020 the University of Toronto, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy organized a Zoom conference entitled European Conflicted Heritage: New Reflections on the Treaty of Trianon 100 Years in Perspective (1920-2020).

According to the brief description the Treaty of Trianon was signed 100 years ago yet its impact is still being felt by Hungarian minorities and the diaspora alike. The event planned to discuss the political and social memory of the Treaty, the development of Hungarian foreign policy, the territorial rearrangement and the impact of the Treaty on new generations.

As part of the Conference Susan Papp moderated a session called Living with the Consequences of Trianon Today: New Perspectives and Fresh Voices and invited politicians of the Orbán government but the fact that they are politicians was not mentioned in the invitation.   In an email I asked Dr. Papp why did she invite political actors as “fresh voices?”  I also mentioned that the late Peter Munk, a Holocaust survivor would be surprised to see a Trianon Conference at his alma mater.  Dr. Papp responded.

In response I wrote a protest email to the President of the University.

You may find the detailed program of the conference here and here are the emails:

***

Dear Mr. Lázár:

Thanks for your note. The on-line version of the programme does not list the titles of individual presenters for technical reasons (character count supported by zoom), but a document, listing the accreditation of each presenter and the abstract of their presentation, will be sent out to each registrant a few days prior to the conference. I am sending you an advance copy of that as an attachment to this email.

Regarding your comments, this conference is being organized and sponsored solely by the Centre for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the University of Toronto and the Hungarian Studies Programme directed by Professor Robert Austin.

The Treaty of Trianon has had an enormous impact on the history of Hungary, including the rise of antisemitism during the interwar era. The focus of the conference will be to examine the impact of the many aspects of the Treaty that reverberate throughout Europe to this day.

For your information, I interviewed Mr. Peter Munk on a number of occasions and wrote the biography of his family (with particular attention to his uncle Ernő Munkácsi) in the recently published book How it Happened: Documenting the Tragedy of Hungarian Jewry (McGill-Queens University Press, 2018). I’m confident that he would be pleased that so many aspects of Hungarian history are being examined through academic conferences at the Munk School. My Ph.D. dissertation was about the discriminatory laws faced by Hungarian Jewish filmmakers during the Horthy era. I also wrote a book based on a true story from the Holocaust era, Outcasts: A Love Story, originally published in English, has been translated and published in Hungarian, Hebrew, Italian and made into a documentary film.

As a former Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, I am very familiar with their work.

Hope you enjoy the conference!

Best,

Susan M. Papp

Susan M. Papp was the Tziporah Wiesel Fellow at the US Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.

****

To the President of the University of Toronto

Dear Mr. Gertler,

 When I read that the University of Toronto, Munk School of Global Affairs and Policy had organized a conference  entitled European Conflicted Heritage: New Reflections on the Treaty of Trianon 100 Years in Perspective (1920-2020) – I got excited.  I expected a vigorous academic debate about this controversial subject with historians from various viewpoints.  I expected that academicians from Romania, Ukraine and Slovakia would be invited.

Instead, the Conference includes a section entitled “New Perspectives and Fresh Voices” and the invited speakers are Andrea Bocskor, PhD, Ágota Dorottya Demeter and Márton Ugrosdy.  None of them have active academic positions or credentials; they are politicians of the Hungarian Orbán Government.

When I asked why doesn’t the program mention that they are politicians representing Hungary’s new Trianon approach, Ms. Susan M. Papp responded that   “The on-line version of the programme does not list the titles of individual presenters for technical reasons (character count supported by zoom), but a document, listing the accreditation of each presenter and the abstract of their presentation, will be sent out to each registrant a few days prior to the conference. I am sending you an advance copy of that as an attachment to this email.”

I find it misleading that the invitation does not indicate that Andrea Bocskor is a member of the European Parliament, Ágota Dorottya is a Hungarian EU advisor in Brussels and Mr. Ugrosdy is an advisor to Hungarian Foreign Minister, Péter Szijjártó.

They seem to represent a Trianon interpretation of the pre-WWII pro-Hitler Horthy regime which was supported in the 1930s by the banned US fascist organization – the Silver Shirts.

I wonder if “conferences” like these satisfy the University of Toronto’s ethical standards of academic rigor.  It seems to me that they provide a forum for political stump speeches.  It is also worth to mention that this online “conference” is heavily advertised by Hungarian politicians all over the world.    It is my understanding that no US University was willing to host a similar Trianon Conference, only a private organization, The American Hungarian Federation was willing.

I’ll be reporting about this event for the Hungarian and English language media and your response would be appreciated.

Sincerely,

György Lázár

7 Comments

  1. Avatar Tolvaj György says:

    Tisztelt Lázár Úr! …Megértésem szerint egyetlen amerikai egyetem sem volt hajlandó hasonló trianoni konferenciát rendezni … Mert egyébként rendeztek bármilyen konferenciát Trianonról Amerikában? Jól gondolom, hogy egy ilyen konferencia csak akkor lehet elfogadható bizonyos amerikai egyetemi körök számára, ha az elítéli Magyarországot és Trianont jogosnak tartja?

  2. Avatar Christopher Huvos says:

    A meditation on being Hungarian: Why am I not surprised that there is further controversy related to aspects of how this conference was advertised and organized? As a native of Budapest but having left there in 1956 at the age of 10, here is my perspective. Hungarians are so stratified historically, socially, economically, politically, by faith and ethnicity, by age, level of education, date of having left Hungary or remained there, and by almost every possible aspect of being in the world, they are unlikely to agree on just about anything. They are a very nuanced population, as are all the “tribes” of this planet. However, from the perspective of biochemistry, psychology and neuro-psychology, they are no different from any other sub-group of homo sapiens. As infants and children, they were subject to the same issues of heredity, environmental conditioning, family and cultural values, and principles of attachment, as all humans. I suppose that means it’s possible that no significant majority of Hungarians will ever agree about anything. While sad on one level, we are no different from other sapient and sentient members of our species.

  3. Ms. Papp received a generous contribution from Hu to organize the Trianon conference where the Orban government’s commissars got a stage.
    Ms. Papp did not reply to Mr. Lazar’s letter, instead, she advertised herself listing her past work.
    No US university accepted the request to organize such a nationalistic,
    one sided conference.

  4. Taking into consideration the ceaseless flow of chauvinistic propaganda, the brazen falsification of history, the brainwashing going all the way to primary school children, etc. this is certainly going to be another propaganda event thinly disguised as a conference. The Orbàn regime has been rubbing salt in this wound in order to distract from the grim reality in Hu and sell its “cure”.

  5. Well big surprise here! Once more Hungarian Free Press takes issue with an event focused on the tragedy that was inflicted on millions of ethnic Hungarians. Where there were 3.5 million, and there should have been about 5 million based on natural demographic trends, now there are only 2 million ethnic Hungarians living in the lands gifted to Hungary’s neighors. A stat that no doubt warms the hate-filled heart of the likes of Gyorgy Lazar, who in the past embraced Romanian far-right slogans such as ” A Szekelyek nem Magyarok”, and never missed an opportunity to spew his hate against Hungarians. But it is also a stat that speaks volumes about the wrong that has been done to the Hungarian nation. And here is HFP once more being a platform used to attack an event that at least creates some awareness about what has happened and is happening now in this regard, therefore firmly establishing itself as a hateful anti Hungarian entity.

  6. Avatar András B. Göllner says:

    @ Joe

    “And here is HFP once more being a platform used to attack an event that at least creates some awareness about what has happened and is happening now in this regard, therefore firmly establishing itself as a hateful anti Hungarian entity.”

    Joe if you were not such a transparent and politically close-minded troll, you’d be a puppet on Sesame Street. Mr. Lázár’s piece is a calm, cool, reasonable request for information from the organizers of the Toronto conference on Trianon. Yours is the reaction of a nervous Nelly and as always, your rose colored slip is showing.

    The line-up of speakers at the Munk Conference on Trianon should raise numerous questions in the minds of all academics who expect historians to manufacture factual, rather than fictional narratives. In my view, Dr. Lázár’s line of questioning was not only fair, but understated. Why organize a conference on Trianon where, once again, the dice is loaded? Why give a platform to political puppets who disguise themselves as historians in order to cry over the milk spilled by their own hands? The Kingdom of Hungary that ended in 1918 was a multi-ethnic house of cards, held together by the might of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was the antithesis of the modern nation-state. Hungarians were a minority in the house their aristocrats – most of whom were non-Hungarians – built for themselves by conquest and intermarriage, and with the blood of their serfs who they kept in ignorance, misery and rags. Greater Hungary’s days were numbered by the turn of the 20th century. Millions fled the scene of the crime to the praries and the industrial heartland of North America, millions died on the battlefield, from disease and hunger to maintain the hoax perpetuated by Count István Tisza. Viktor Orbán’s attempts to revive his spirit, to make Hungary Great Again is as pathetic and dangerous as the antics of the artificial blond bomber to the south of us here in Canada.

    I hasten to add: none of the above is meant to excuse the hatchet job done on Hungary by the Imperial Great Powers at the end of WWI – look at what they did to the Kurds for example, or to other ethnic minorities of the former Ottoman Empire – but that should not be an excuse for inviting Orbán’s political spin-doctors to perform their make-belief reality shows on our campuses. Trianon deserves to be treated in a more professional manner. Those who value academic freedom and truth should not allow themselves to be used as puppets on a string.

    • “Why give a platform to political puppets who disguise themselves as historians in order to cry over the milk spilled by their own hands? The Kingdom of Hungary that ended in 1918 was a multi-ethnic house of cards, held together by the might of the Austro-Hungarian Empire….”

      Half of the 3.5 million ethnic Hungarians who were sentenced to slow cultural destruction at the hands of neighboring cultures were living in majority areas right along the current Hungarian border. Some of the most obvious such examples were right along the current Slovak-Hungarian border, part of the current Hungarian-Serbian border, parts of the current Hungarian-Romanian border, for example, Szatmar area. The way the borders were drawn was a clear attempt to satisfy France’s strategic goal of building an anti-German alliance in the East, by using animosity towards Hungarians. France’s strategic goals have changed since then, unfortunately, ethnic Hungarians continue to live with the consequences.

      Given your description of Hungary and Hungarians and their history and your embrace of the fairness of Trianon, despite the facts that I laid out, it comes as no surprise that you find Lazar Gyorgy and his ideas to your liking. It does serve to further cement this site’s reputation as a rabid anti-Hungarian entity, given your lack of balance in describing the historical event in question, and given your active nature on this site. It actually serves to help make my point, so thanks!

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