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Antisemitism in an Era of Transition

Continuities and Impact in Post-Communist Poland and Hungary

Edited By François Guesnet and Gwen Jones

The post-Communist transition in Eastern Central Europe has brought about democratic reform, liberalized economies and accession to the European Union, but also the emergence of political movements that revert to antisemitic rhetoric and arguments. This volume compares the genealogies and impact of antisemitism in contemporary Poland and Hungary. Leading and emerging scholars contrast developments in both countries from the last quarter of the nineteenth century to the present, analysing the roles played by organised religion, political leaders, media and press, but also by Communist Parties. They present historical analysis as well as the results of qualitative and quantitative research on contemporary public memory, the image of the Jew, antisemitic media, political constituencies and the interplay of prejudices, specifically anti-Roma racism. A topical bibliography of research on antisemitism in post-Communist Eastern Central Europe offers pathways to further research.
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The work of antisemitic art in the age of digital reproduction: Hungarian publishing revivals since 1989: Gwen Jones


Gwen Jones

Before the system changes, Hungarian antisemitic texts were kept in print by small émigré groups of Arrow Cross sympathizers in western Europe, north and south America and Australia.1 Since 1989 however, domestic publishers have been freed from state subsidies and control, and can publish—with a few exceptions—whatever they want, subject to market demands. This has allowed for the republication of a substantial body of antisemitic works, the majority of which were banned for over forty years. These are primary texts, key post-Emancipation, interwar and wartime antisemitic works, including translations, republished for a post-Communist readership. Moreover, given the digital publishing revolution of recent years, the opportunity to remain anonymous and evade Hungarian law by hosting sites overseas, as well as broader difficulties surrounding the definition and regulation of hate speech,2 a large number of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century antisemitic texts are also available online.

My lines of enquiry here are the following: of the substantial range available, which antisemitic authors and works have been rehabilitated since 1989, which have been forgotten or ignored, and why? What, if anything, does the rehabilitation process tell us about antisemitism in Hungary after 1989, and more broadly, about post-Communist approaches to coming to terms with the past?

This is not a study of antisemitic writing in general. Anyone in Hungary who wants to read invective against ‘the Jews’ can easily turn to certain well-known columnists in daily papers, for instance Zsolt Bayer, who...

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