The Communist leadership of the Hungarian Geographical Society after the Hungarian Soviet Republic, 1919 – sin, penance and absolution

Room F
Wednesday, 2 September 2015
08.30 – 10.15
Hungarian Geographical Society, political ideology, science history

In the spring of 1919, shortly after the communist takeover in Hungary, the old leadership of HGS (like the leadership of all Hungarian learned societies) was replaced by a new one loyal to the new system. However, when the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic collapsed in August, 1919, the first committee of the Society’s reinstated board decided to investigate the collaboration with the previous regime. To make the case more delicate, one of the sinners was the renowned meteorologist, member of the old board, Antal Réthly whose professional legitimacy was beyond question. Reading the protocols of the well-documented investigation it gradually unfolds that, the heated climate of the political turmoil notwithstanding, this case could not be reduced to a simple political condemnation. While the Hungarian Geographical Society and its leadership supported the counter-revolutionary, nationalist-conservative regime of interwar Hungary, old ties, friendships and scholarly reputations might have helped geographers to transcend ideological barriers. In my paper I want to show that, though connections between ideology and politics certainly mattered, on a personal level the story is much more complicated.

Róbert Győri
Társadalom- és Gazdaságföldrajzi Tanszék, ELTE TTK Földrajz- és Földtudományi Intézet
gyorirobert [at]

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