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Note Concernant les Archives Hongroise/Note on the Hungarian Archives.

My thanks to Balazs Szalontai. Très grand merci à Balazs Szalontai


The post-1945 documents of the Hungarian Foreign Ministry are available in the Hungarian National Archives (Magyar Orszagos Leveltar, MOL), whose English homepage is http://www.natarch.hu/mol_e.htm. The documents available for research cover the pre-1980 period, with a few exceptions (a handful of pre-1980 documents, related to, say, North Korea, have been recently reclassified and they will not be available until 2030 or so). These documents include 1) reports prepared by the Hungarian embassies accredited to various countries, 2) reports prepared by the officials of the Hungarian Foreign Ministry who dealt with foreign embassies and visiting delegations, and 3) reports sent to the Foreign Ministry by other Hungarian authorities (e.g. the Ministry of Education) which had to deal with foreigners (e.g. with foreign students). MOL also has documents from the Communist party archives, which are, however, usually less informative with regard to South-east Asian subjects than the Foreign Ministry documents (in many cases they are merely the duplication of FM reports). MOL has some 12 large boxes of Top Secret documents and about the same amount of administrative documents on Vietnam from the 1945-1964 period. Since Hungary had no embassy in Vietnam before 1955, there are only a handful of documents covering the 1945-1955 period. Most of these are based on conversations with Vietnamese diplomats accredited to Moscow or Beijing, and they hardly reveal any new information about the Franco-Vietnamese war. From 1955 on, however, the documents are very informative on the internal, economic, cultural, and foreign policies of the DRV. It is the military issues which were the least known to the Hungarian diplomats. Another weak point is that the Chinese diplomats accredited to Hanoi (or P'yongyang), unlike their Soviet or East European counterparts, did not tell the Hungarian diplomats anything that was not published in "Renmin Ribao," and therefore Sino-Vietnamese relations are not covered adequately. Thus in this two respects the Hungarian documents are certainly less informative than the Chinese ones studied by, say, Professor Qiang Zhai. I am just studying the post-1964 documents and therefore I know less about them than about the pre-1964 ones. It seems, however, that they contain relatively less (but still substantial) information than the pre-1964 sources. For instance, we have annual reports (that is, detailed summaries about the regime's economic, cultural, foreign, etc. policies) from the 1955-1958 period, but no such reports were prepared from 1959 on. Cultural issues received much less attention in the 1960s than in the second half of the 1950s. In general, the Hungarian diplomats did not know much about the North Vietnamese intra-party conflicts, and if they did, they tended to interpret these squabbles as reflections of the Sino-Soviet rivalry (which was not necessarily the case). It seems that Polish diplomats, thanks to the Polish representation in the International Control Commission, knew more about military issues and North-South tension than their Hungarian colleagues did.    

Balazs Szalontai <HPHSZB01@phd.ceu.hu>


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