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Directorate on the Study of Propaganda, Ministry of Interior: On the principle questions of antagonistic activities in the sphere of culture (1972)

In December 1970, it came to our attention confidentially that a group of visual artists have printed – and been distributing – an anthology without authorisation. A portion of the works featured in the anthology is of antagonistic content.

In April 1971, the Ministry of Culture also filed a report pertaining to this.

A confidential investigation on the matter yielded the following information:

16 artists had an anthology of their works printed and published under the title “Document 70”. The material featured in the publication has already been presented at exhibitions. The project was initiated by Gyula Konkoly who defected after collecting the materials.

From this point on, the organisation of the project was continued by P. S. (Sinkovits). The face value funds necessary for publishing the anthology were first gathered. Then a printer from an architectural institute (Iparterv? [presently: Industrial Buildings Consulting Co.]) was won over to the cause, who agreed, in return for the collected sum, to print the material without authorisation (illegally).The artists bound the pages together themselves in 500 copies, which they distributed among themselves in accordance with the paid amount. The paper required for the publication (150 kg) was stolen by the printer from the institute of his employment.

Of the contents of “Document 70”, 3 engravings (sic) were politically antagonistic and objectionable. One of the painters with the surname Erdély made an engraving (sic) which depicted a human corpse. The title of the work was “Error”. In the upper left hand corner of the picture the name of the artist was written with large block letters: ERDÉLY and underneath it, the title: “Error”. Clearly, the picture displayed in this format easily lent itself to political misinterpretation. It should be noted that, it was not, however, objectionable in the legal sense; one could say, “it should not be misunderstood”. The other engraving was explicitly and strongly anti-Semitic. For example, one had the telling title of “Yid Washing Himself.” The question was made more complicated by the fact that both anti-Semitic images were authored by an artist of Jewish origin who lost all of his relatives during the holocaust. It should be noted that the artist, during the investigation of the case, declared that he made the engravings with semitophilic motivation and was deeply shocked that it gave the impression of an anti-Semitic disposition.

Research by Edit Sasvári
“Studying the enemy: provisional notes for the Police Academy”. Topic 17: on the principle questions of antagonistic activities in the sphere of culture. Published by the Directorate on the Study of Propaganda, Ministry of Interior, 1972 (Strictly Confidential). Source: Historical Archives of Hungarian State Security, ÁSZTL – ÁB 370


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