"Budapest is not much more than a rubble, although we can see how lovely it must have been – the palace and the Parliament building are mere shells and most of the bridges are new, but even so it is lovely. "The contrast between Germany and Hungary is startling, Germany is in the throes of [...]

Prelude to the Cold War: WW2 in Budapest

One month after Hungary declared war on the United States in December, 1941, Minister Herbert Claiborne Pell and the rest of the diplomats of the U.S. Legation in Budapest left the country. Pell did not fail to inform President Roosevelt that Hungary declared war under pressure from Nazi Germany, and that the majority of the [...]

Cold War Candy from the American Secret Service, Sold by Nuns

Does this look like a clandestine CIA office to you? I was walking along Molnár Str. in downtown Budapest yesterday and couldn't help but remember the secret and curious history of this building. According to a top secret report by an agent of Katpol (a secret Hungarian military intelligence organization) in 1948, "the secret service [...]

Tricky Notes: Playing Jazz behind the Iron Curtain

What an amazing story the Los Angeles Times ran about Steve Hideg, an ordinary man who fled Hungary in 1956 to fulfill his dream as a jazz drummer. He is still as penniless as he was before his escape, but in between he has had 60 marvellous years and at age 85 he is still going [...]

After the Siege, before the Siege

Summer, 1956. The Buda Castle is still quite in ruins: windows of the Palace are missing; the dome, destroyed during the 1945 siege of Budapest, is not yet rebuilt. In a few months, much of the city will be destroyed once again by an invading Soviet army. Curiously, just before the revolution broke out, in [...]