IT IS DOING AND WHY.
WORKS IN IT.
IT IS IMPORTANT FOR THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AND THE FREE WORLD.
The American Hungarian Library
and Historical Society
352 East 84th Street
New York 28, N. Y.
Hungarian Library and Historical Society
President: John Pelenyi. Former
Hungarian Envoy to Washington, D.C.; Prof. Emeritus, Dartmouth;
President Emeritus, Free Europe University, Strasbourg, France.
Alexander St.-lvanyi. S.T.M. (Harvard), D.D.
(Meadville); Bishop Vicar, the Unitarian Churches, Hungary;
former M.P.; President, Hungarian Red Cross, etc.
Baron Francis Neuman de Vegvar. Hon.
President, New York American Hungarian Sport Club, Inc.
Archives Comm.: Tibor Eckhardt, Doctor
of Law and Pol. Science, former Hung. Envoy to the League of
Nations, Geneva; M.P.; Chairman, Political Comm. of Hungarian
Catholic League of America.
Count Geza Kuun. Board Member, Am. Transylvanian
Board Member, Hung. Piarist Alumni Assoc.
Otto Hamos. Distr. Director, Hung. Reformed
Federation of America.
Former Diplomat, Hungarian Envoy.
Advisors: Aloysius C. Falusy. LL.D., Counselor
B. Mark, Doctor of Jurisprudence, Counselor at Law.
Committee: Leslie Acsay. Architect, Former
Vice-President, Hungarian National Council; M. P.
Baron Francis Neuman de Vegvar.
Stephen Revay. Director, Research Institute
of Hungarian Minorities.
pamphlet was edited by
our Society Aims to Achieve
of our recently bought, six story House in New York, it seems
appropriate that we spell out the two-pronged program for which
our Society was organised.
We aim to
be a home for Hungarian culture in the free world. We also aim
“to further interest in and knowledge of their (i.e. of
“Hungarian art, history and sciences”) contribution
to the United States”, to quote paragraph 2 a. of our
of a home for Hungarian culture in the free world needs little
or no explanation. While the twisting of history and the stifling
of free expression remains an everyday practice in Captive-Hungary,
it goes without saying that a culture, like the Hungarian, with
a thousand years of written history and an even longer known
development of cultural traditions, deserves such a home.
of Hungarian culture to the United States, on the other hand,
may need some clarification. Can Hungarian culture contribute
anything to the United States?
two recent events – the sputniks and the Hungarian Insurrection
of 1956 – shocked the free world with their unexpectedness and
with their great portent. The free world did not know the background
out of which both developed, yet the very survival of the free
world might easily depend on the knowledge of that background.
Let us gather
together a few scattered news items which were published for
everyone to read but which – separately – may not have formed
a telling picture in our minds.
Shortly after the outbreak of World War II., “the U.S.
incurred the first major installment of its massive debt to
Hungarian born scientists. Physicist Leo Szilard, leaping in
thought from laboratory fission to atomic bomb, set out to urge
the U.S. Government to get an atomic research project going.
Reasoning that a letter to President Roosevelt would have maximum
impact if signed by Einstein, Szilard recruited his fellow-Hungarian
Edward Teller to chauffeur him out to Peconic Bay, N.Y., where
Einstein was vacationing. Einstein signed and the eventual result
was the Manhattan Engineer District Project that produced history’s
first atomic bomb”. (Time Magazine, Nov. 18,
also able to read news items at various times about John Von
Neumann, Theodore Karman, Nobel Prize winner Albert Szentgyorgyi
and other Hungarian scientists working now in the U.S.
and then our daily papers tell us of Bela Bartok, Erno Dohnanyi,
Zoltan Kodaly, Jozsef Szigeti, as well as Ormandi and Dorati
and Szell and many other Hungarian composers, conductors or
concert artists who contributed and are still contributing their
talents to the U.S.
about heroes of the faith like Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty, Bishop
Lajos Ordass and others whose fight against Communism still
remains a bright chapter in the history of the West?
continue – and will in coming issues – calling to memory news
items concerning Hungarian men of letters, artists, actors and
producers who have given their best to America because this
country is the last ray of hope in the ever darkening horizon
of our days to achieve that freedom for which to fight is a
thousand year’s old Hungarian heritage.
Did we ever
try to put together these scattered news-items? Did we ever
see that these men are not Hungarians by accident but by cultural
inheritance? They are contributing their best to the U.S. because
they were born and brought up in that Hungarian culture which
has kept on giving its best in talent, in blood, in suffering,
for freedom in the Western sense of the term, for a thousand
years. This thousand year-old Hungarian background and heritage
has to be maintained in the free world, as it is being stifled
or emasculated and changed in Hungary proper, so that its contribution
to Western culture and especially to the U.S. can be secured.
This is why our Society has been founded. It deserves your interest
I. The Library
The Feleki Collection. Undoubtedly the most valuable
collection of Hungariana in the free world. The following excerpts
from an article by Stephen Duggan will give some appreciation
of this value.
at the turn of the century a scholarly appearing man paused
by a book stall in a small antique shop on a little side street
in Pittsburgh and idly glanced over the store’s display.
His eyes, kindly yet forceful behind his spectacles, came to
rest on one book and he picked it up. It was a worn biography
of Louis Kossuth, Hungary’s great liberal statesman and
soldier. The man thumbed through the pages for a few moments,
then looked dreamily into space, reflecting and thoughtful.
moments was born a dream – a dream of someday seeing in the
United States a great American Hungarian library. That dream
was carried on through the years and today, even though the
dreamer has passed away, it has grown to reality and is embodied
in the world’s most complete collection of American Hungariana
– the Hungarian Reference Library.
of this man with vision and an ideal was Charles Feleky, internationally
known musical director of the Martin Beck Theatre productions,
who died in October, 1930. To him American Hungarians owe a
great debt of gratitude for having unselfishly devoted his time,
his money and his efforts to bring to fulfillment his fondest
wish – the fostering of better cultural relations between American
and Hungary the land of his birth.
collected from all over the world thousands of books, magazine
articles and newspaper clippings about Hungary and Hungarian
affairs written in English. He carried on this activity for
forty years. Book dealers in this country and abroad became
acquainted with his work and whenever they obtained a book in
English dealing with Hungary, they forwarded it to him.
death of Mr. Feleky, his wife, Mrs. Antoinette Feleky, a distinguished
psychologist, author and lecturer, left her studies at Columbia
University and devoted all her time to the care of the collection.
For seven years, until the purchase of the collection by the
Hungarian National Museum, she continued with the work left
by her husband.
addition to this valuable material on Hungary, will be found
thousands of standard and rare volumes on all phases of world
history. Included, in complete form, are histories of Central
Europe dealing with Austria, Germany, Yugoslavia, Rumania, Poland,
Czecho-Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Italy, Turkey and
Russia. The Library also contains histories of Great Britain
and the British Empire, America and the Near and Far East.
are over six thousand volumes including more than two hundred
rare books dating from the Sixteenth Century to the present
time. About ten thousand magazine articles, extracted from nearly
eight hundred magazines, are bound in book form. There are thirty-one
cases of rare pamphlets as well as collections of letters, manuscripts
and pictures. In fact, material on all the arts and sciences
is contained in this unusual collection.
the records shows, for example, that the oldest registered student
at Oxford University was a Hungarian, Nikolas de Hungaria, to
whom Richard the Lion-Hearted gave a scholarship “of not
less than one-half golden marks,” as the Pipe Rolls document
states. Nikolas de Hungaria was the first scholar at Oxford
whose name has been preserved, other students being listed only
one hundred years later, according to H. C. Maxwell Lyte, Oxford’s
A very rare
item in the collection is the original of one of the earliest
newspapers in the English language. It is a double sheet of
yellowed paper, firm of texture and clear of print, more than
three hundred years old, called “Corant or Weekly News,
from Italy, Germany, Hungaria, Polonia, Bohemia, France and
the Low-Countries.” Its date is October 11, 1621. Another
copy of this is preserved in the British Museum.
One of the
interesting ones of the rare old volumes is a 1573 copy of “A
Dialogue of Cumfort against Tribulation, made by the right vertuous,
wise and learned man, Sir Thomas More, sometime Chancellor of
England, which he wrote in the Tower of London, in 1534 and
entitled thus: A Dialogue of Cumfort against Tribulation, made
by an Hungarian in Latin, and translated from Latin into French,
and from French into English. There is a fine woodcut portrait
of Sir Thomas More – contained in this edition only – which,
according to Lowndes, was unknown to Granger and Bromley, and
is believed to be the work of Hans Holbein. There is also a
dedication by the printer to Jane Dormer, Duchess of Feria,
the companion of Queen Mary. The invention in dede of the authour
seemeth to respect some particular cases, which was of him wonderful
wittily devuised, applying his whole discourse to that peace
of Christendome, to wit, the land of Hungaria, which hath bene
these many yeares (and yet is) sorely persecuted and oppressed
One of the
most valued possessions of the library is the collection of
works on Louis Kossuth. It is the largest and most complete
English collection of the kind in the world.
The Material of the Hungarian Reference Library, New York.
As Prof. Duggan told us already in the above article, the Feleki
Collection was sold by the widow of Mr. Feleki after his death
to a privately established – but also governmentally supported
– organisation in Hungary, the Federation of Hungarian Museums,
or, as Prof. Duggan mistakenly calls it: The Hungarian National
Museum. This organisation made the Feleki Collection the basis
of the Hungarian Reference Library, New York, which was officially
opened on April 20, 1938. The new Reference Library was also
given thousands of books, pamphlets and other material by Hungarian
publishers. When we speak of the material of the Hungarian Reference
Library, New York, we mean, therefore, both the Feleki Collection
and the additional titles from Hungary.
World War II, the Alien Property Custodian confiscated the material
of the Hungarian Reference Library and deposited it at Columbia
University. After World War II, the Library of Congress purchased
the entire material for a fraction of the real value. As practically
every library in this country, the Library of Congress also
has problems of space. Undoubtedly because of this problem,
the Library of Congress found it impracticable to keep this
valuable collection as a unit or to make it part of a Hungarian
or Ural-Altaic Section as the Hebrew, Slavic, South-American,
etc. sections which they do have. This unique collection of
Hungariana was therefore in danger of being broken up, the books
distributed according to subject and subdivisions of subjects
among the many millions of other books, whereas books which
the authorities of the Library of Congress did not deem important
from their point of view, would have been donated to public
libraries all over the country. Several members of Congress,
and especially Congresswoman Frances P. Bolton, intervened at
that point and tried to persuade the Library of Congress to
sell the Hungarian Reference Library material to an American
Hungarian organisation for the same price at which it had been
acquired in order to keep this priceless collection intact.
The Library of Congress was unwilling to do this, but agreed
to give this material as a loan to a properly chartered American
Hungarian organisation. The American Hungarian Library and Historical
Society was organised for this purpose in 1955.
Other books. Since the foundation of our Society in
1955, we have received and purchased several hundred other books,
pamphlets and periodicals. We were also promised valuable private
collections by Americans of Hungarian descent as well as by
Hungarian political refugees.
II. The Archives.
Library and Historical Society on April 29, 1958 elected Dr.
Tibor Eckhardt as Chairman of its Archives Committee whose purpose
was defined as that of “collecting all documents concerning
Hungary’s role during World War II, particularly the attempts
made by various Hungarian governments at concluding a separate
armistice with the Western Powers.”
of documents shall primarily serve as a source for future historians.
It would seem to be of particular interest to inform the Western
World of the pressures to which a comparatively small nation
may be exposed if wedged in between two overwhelmingly stronger
and ruthless powers, such as Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia
have repeatedly mentioned various negotiations which, during
World War II, Hungarian governments were conducting or trying
to conduct in various countries, such as Switzerland, Turkey,
Portugal, Sweden, Great Britain and the U.S., in order to extricate
Hungary from the war. However, no comprehensive survey or documentation
concerning this interesting historical period has yet been assembled.
The American-Hungarian Library and Historical Society wishes
to perform this task while the main actors of the drama are
still alive. It is also of importance to collect available documents
on the subject to prevent their possible loss.
the following collections have been donated to our Society.
a. The confidential
correspondence of the Prime Minister’s Office
of Hungary relating to secret negotiations with the Allied Powers
during World War II.
entire top-secret correspondence conducted by various Hungarian
governments through the Hungarian Legation at Lisbon,
Portugal, with the Allied Powers, among them with the
U.S.A. and President F.D. Roosevelt.
George Bakach-Bessenyei left to us eight big boxes
of similar correspondence of international importance conducted
through him and by him while he was Hungarian Envoy in Switzerland
during and after World War II.
Barcza, former Hungarian Envoy to the Court of St.
James, London, England, donated his private Journal to us which
gives a day to day account of diplomatically important events
during the war years.
Eckhardt added his private collection of diplomatic
documents relating to the peace-negotiations after World War
I and also to his own negotiations during World War II and after.
He was not only head of the most important opposition political
Party in the Hungarian Parliament, but was accredited Hungarian
Envoy to the League of Nations in Geneva and special representative
of the Hungarian Government in the U.S.A. during World War II.
His collection consequently is of special historic value.
Pelenyi, Hungarian Envoy to Washington D.C. before
and during World War II, our Honorary President, is now organising
his material to place in our Archives.
St.-lvanyi likewise, is working on his collection of
letters and documents relating to pro-Allied activities, the
defense of Allied citizens and members of Allied armed forces
in Hungary during World War II, and the preparation of separate
material has been promised to our Archives by several Hungarian
statesmen who now live in the free world. Dr. Eckhardt is heading
a committee of former diplomats and statesmen for the organisation
of this material.
III. Art Treasures.
Society bought from the Alien Property Custodian a part of those
works of art which were sent to the New York World’s Fair
in 1938 by Hungarian artists and were consequently confiscated
during World War II.
special value of the collection is that it gives a fair sample
of contemporary art in Hungary. There are in this collection
bronzes, paintings, ceramics, objects of metal and textiles
from the representative Hungarian artists of the late thirties.
large oil painting by Aba-Novak represents a colorful and animated
village fair in Hungary. Aba-Novak was one of the young moderns
of the period in question; his name was well-known abroad, too.
C. Molnar had also won international acclaim and the Society
is rather lucky in owning one of his best works: “Holy
Family.” The ageless theme is beautifully reproduced on
the discreetly signaled background: a carpenter’s workshop
recognized elder masters of the late thirties sent two paintings
of Oriental inspiration:
Csok is represented by a cheerfully smiling composition of flowers
and a statuette, while J. Vaszary created a mysteriously looming,
and symbolism are the keynote of a much admired painting by
E. Mattioni. “Youth and Age” – these are represented
in the colorful peasant costumes of Mezokovesd. From the same
artist came a lovely landscape on the lake Balaton, and a third
painting – this writer’s choice – a grandiose bouquet
of late fall flowers, and behind them, in the background, the
misty shore line of the Balaton, the “Hungarian Sea.”
Szantho has also three paintings in the exhibit. One of them
depicts a delicate blonde young lady in the costume of the noblewoman.
(“Sunday”) The theme of the second is a gypsy-type
brunette, of golden tints – it was always one of the most popular
pictures of the exhibit. The third is a large still-life of
luscious Hungarian fruit and food.
Marffy has only one painting to speak of his unique art. His
“Garden Scene” is full of movement, drama and subdued
Benczur is represented with two compositions of flowers, “Peonias”
and “Spring Flowers”, painted with consummate mastery.
Marton has two paintings of strongly Hungarian character. One
of them depicts a Hungarian village corner in Transsylvania,
the other is a Hungarian interior with gay textiles and pottery,
of the Transsylvanian variety also.
Rainer-Istvanffy exhibited a painting of the most amusing and
life-like encounter between a white cat and an angry turkey.
Her aquarelle: “Homewards” showing peasants going
home is equally popular.
Faradi-Veres’s genre shows a typical old cook, suspicious
and belligerent, coming from the market and resting for a while.
(“A Little Rest”)
Komaromi-Kacz painted a still-life of flowers (“Carnations”)
and a girl spinning: “Transsylvanian Girl”.
M. Clauder the Society is grateful for a beautiful and wistful
oil painting: (“Evening on the Danube”) and an aquarelle:
(“Pine of the Carpathians”).
of the most colorful and true pieces of regional costume paintings
is the cheerful oil of V. Telkessy: “Sunday at Toroczko.”
The same artist painted the tragic “Trianon.”
‘Two beautiful aquarelles of K. Pechy-Ronay capture the
charm of the late fall on the Danube and that of a park in winter.
Mezey’s two aquarelles are “Fiume” and “Taban”;
the latter is a part of old Budapest, “gone with the wind.”
Probably this is all that is left from the oeuvre of a gifted
woman painter too, who lost her life in 1944 under the ruins
of bombarded Budapest.
whose works are owned by the Society are: E. Lorant, T. Schutz,
I. Hranitzky, L. Erdelyi, E. Lohwag, M. Klammer, P. Szuts, P.
Porter, I. Feher, I. Demeczky, 0. Rath, M. Perczel E. Weil,
I. Barna, J. Jaritz, J. Somogyi, A. Szuly, M. Hevesi, A. Endresz,
large bronze head, one of the highlights of the exhibit, is
the portrait of a Transylvanian shepherd-boy, original sculpture
of Z. Borbereky-Kovacs. An impressive bronze bull of the Hungarian
breed is the work of F. Medgyessy.
these, the Society owns hundreds of smaller items of historic
or artistic value. The most valuable of these is the collection
of Zsolnay ceramics. These are very special products of Hungary,
pottery covered with a unique glaze of metallic hue, the eozin.
Zsolnay factory in the city of Pecs, in the southwestern corner
of Hungary, was really a studio of art, where every item produced
was hand-painted and different. The collection of the Society
comes from the best time of this kind of production and it is
really representative. Large vases, small ashtrays, statuettes
of men and animals, different trays and vessels bespeak a peculiar
and unique art which amalgamated so happily Western sophistication
and Oriental brilliance, an art of which every Hungarian is
proud. In the same time these ceramics represent an uncommon
material value too. Even in old time Hungary, when they were
made plentifully, the price of a Zsolnay item was never less
than its weight in silver. Now, while the factory in Pecs continues
to produce copies of some types, those other items which grew
out of tranquil art and much dedication, are not more coming
forth. This is why the Society has decided to hold on and never
sell anything of its Zsolnay ceramics.
are a few samples of the Herend variety of Hungarian porcelains
and some pieces characteristic of the best modern ceramists.
objects, for Hungarians they are the remnants of their Atlantis,
a world which has been engulfed by the sea. Valuable for everybody
who cares for beauty, to Hungarians they mean much more..
addition to our Art Treasures is a 10 by 6 foot painting by
Temple: “On the Eve of Election Day in a Hungarian Village”
donated to us by Mr. Ladislas Pathy of New York. This exceptional
art treasure has a history of its own, in the way it arrived
from Budapest to Egypt and finally to New York.
organizations reside in the house of the American Hungarian
Library and Historical Society as guests and cooperate with
Gusztav” Hungarian Boy Scout organization of New York.
2. New York
American Hungarian Sport Club, Inc.
National Sports Federation, Inc.
Piarist Alumni Association.
5. New York
Society for Hungarian Gypsy Music
institute of Hungarian Minorities.
Library cooperates with all the scholarly organs of Hungarian
émigré groups from the succession States. Some
of these are: The research Institute for Minority Studies on
Hungarians Attached to Czechoslovakia and Carpatho-Ruthenia
and the American-Transylvanian Federation as well as a group
of the Hungarian émigrés from Yugoslavia, engaged
in scientific researches. These groups stored their complete
scientific and documentation material at the premises given
by the Library. By making use of the facilities of the Library,
these groups are able to continue with their research work.
Further, all other activities pursued in the interest of Hungarian
political minorities, has thus been closely joined to our Library.
The above mentioned minority organizations issue publications
regularly on the present situation of the Hungarian political
minorities in the succession States. The Research Institute
for Minority Studies on Hungarians Attached to Czechoslovakia
and Carpatho-Ruthenia, has just now issued the first English
language publication on the life and problems of the Hungarian
minorities in Czechoslovakia and Carpatho-Ruthenia, entitled
“Hungarians in Czechoslovakia,” an 168 page book.
The premises of the Minority Office as well as all research
material is at the disposal of anyone interested.
to lectures delivered by outstanding Hungarian experts in various
fields and in politics, our Society has conducted several undertakings
of cultural importance. Two of these deserve special mention.
The first of these was in connection with the Hungarian Revolt
of 1956. The First Aid for Hungary – which collected and distributed
about two million dollars to individual refugees as well as
to cultural and educational institutions established in the
Free World for refugee Hungarian students, teachers and other
representatives of culture – were offered our halls for headquarters.
From our offices this organization conducted their most necessary
and valuable work for two years.
engineered and financed the first U.S. concert of the Philharmonia
Hungarica, in Carnegie Hall, of more than 70 Hungarian musicians
who fled from Hungary after the 1956 Revolt.
requests for information on various problems relating to Hungarian
history, literature, etc. is another one of our activities.
We are working now on establishing prizes and contests for special
projects and research both in the field of Hungarian culture
in general and its relation to present day problems of the U.S.A.
and the Free World. To date we have not received any aid or
grant from any organization; we have had to depend entirely
on Hungarians who live in this country either as citizens or
as refugees. We do hope, however, that those who believe in
freedom will come to our aid. Brute force and the eventualities
of international political life try to destroy the freedom as
well as the national identity of a thousand years old culture
of the Hungarians. We must not let it happen. Keeping cultural
values alive is the best way to save a nation. Will you help
us in this endeavor?
to our Society are tax-deductible. Remember, neither the U.S.A.
nor the Free World can survive long if we look on indifferently
while the forces of tyranny destroy old and freedom-loving nations
and cultures one by one.