Page 49 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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Let us think of Budapest’s Lipovaros [Leopoldstadt], the much-
maligned, often-satirized bastion of the capital’s cultivated and moneyed
Jewish middle class, and the unique medium that received and sponsored
and sustained modem Hungarian art. Without it, as is well known,
[the literary periodicals]
Szep Szo
could not have survived,
for they would not have had readers and backers. And without it [the
poet Endre] Ady could not have made it either . . . or Bartok, for that
matter, who at the invitation of Georg Lukacs’s banker father stayed
at the Lukacs villa for years, working there in peace and comfort. And
the same applies to [Zoltdn] Kodaly, for i f not for this medium, who
would have performed and interpreted and above all, who would have
listened to their music?8
Historians agree tha t it was the political liberalism o f the Dual
Monarchy and the generally favorable economic conditions p re ­
vailing in the wake o f the 1867 Compromise between Austria
and Hungary .that enabled the rapidly growing Jewish popu ­
lation o f the Magyar ha lf o f the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy
to prosper. Nevertheless, anti-Semitic manifestations and cam­
paigns, even du ring this liberal period, were not infrequent.
T h e most notorious o f these was the Tiszaeszlar blood libel case
o f 1882, in which several Jewish residents o f the village o f
Tiszaeszlar in Eastern Hungary were charged with the ritual
m u rd e r o f a peasant girl. The trial, which ended in acquittal,
attracted worldwide attention, and the literature about it is con­
siderable. A recent Hungarian-F rench feature film,
(Raftsmen), was based on the Tiszaeszlar trial, and the screen­
play, together with a collection o f original documents and trial
transcripts was published in a popu lar edition.9 Interestingly,
reviews o f both the film and the book stress that while the trial
demonstrated the persistence o f medieval prejudices and supe r­
stitions in this pa r t o f Europe, it was also a vindication o f nine­
8. Zsido identitas es asszimilacio Magyarorszagon” (Jewish Identity and Assim­
ilation in Hungary). In
Mozgo Vilag.
11:8 (August, 1988): 42. See also the
following special issues o f Hungarian journals devoted to Jewish subjects:
Kultura es Kozosseg.
Uj Iras.
28:9 (September,
9. Judit Elek and Mihaly Siikosd,
A tiszaeszlari per dokumentumai
(Raftsmen — Documents o f the Tiszaeszlar Trial). Budapest: Magveto
Konyvkiado, 1990.