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We are back in Transylvania again, this time down in its

Southwestern Region, in Alsó-Fehér County, where the majority of
the population was Romanian even in the 19th Century.

Zalatna (now Zlatna) was a picturesque village situated in a

valley, at the confluence of the Ampoi River with the Valtori creek, 36
km northwest of Gyulafehérvár, now Alba Julia. It was an important
gold mining center during Roman times, recognized as a municipium
under the name Ampellum. Zalatna (the name is derived from the
Slavic word for gold) is first mentioned under this name in a
document dating from 1347. In 1387 it was awarded town status.
During 1619-1620 Gábor Bethlen, the Ruling Prince of Transylvania,
invited German and Slovak gold miners there. After a period of decay,
the town was degraded to village status; it regained its town status
only in 1968.
József Ábrahám lived there with his family. He was a strictly
orthodox Jew who kept all the rules of the religion. He was also a
renowned Talmudist who received recognition from three famous
rabbis. When he was called to the
Torah, they pronounced his name
repeating the words “Morene rav” three
times, to acknowledge this recognition.
Cvi Hersele Friedmann (1808-1874),
the famous “Miracle Rabbi” of
Olaszliszka, said that if he had a tenth
of József’s knowledge, he would have
been the most famous rabbi in the
József was born in Nagyilonda
(now Ileanda Mare, in Northern
Transylvania, very close to Szilágy
County - what a coincidence! - and
quite far from Zalatna) in 1850. His
parents were Antschel (Ancsel) Ábrahám József
Ábrahám and Sára Mózes. It is
possible that his last name was not Ábrahám but József or Ancsel. At
the time of his birth, registration was carried out by the synagogues
and there were no strict rules about writing the last names first or last.

According to his death certificate, his father’s name was József
Antschel. This is how it happened that the last names of his brothers
were Ábrahám, József, and Ancsel, respectively.
He married Róza Mandel (1855-1935), a petite but strong girl
in Kápolnokmonostor (now Copalnik Manastur) on February 3, 1874.
Her parents were Hirsch Mandel and Berta Péterffi (judging from the
name, her mother was not Jewish) but as we see from the two
attached domicile registration forms, her mother could also be Hani
Mózes. Who knows?

One of József’s nephews, József Ancsel became a textile
wholesaler. His daughter was Éva Ancsel, the famous and wonderful
philosopher and psychologist. Her writings are full of wisdom.
The family rented a “regale” (tavern) from the local landowner.
As József was occupied with his prayers and studies almost 24 hours
a day, the tavern was run by his wife. She managed to keep order in
the tavern. When the big drunken Romanian lads started to kick up a
row, she threw them out and they obeyed her.
The family later moved to Sarkad (Bihar County, at today’s
border with Romania), then to Budapest where József worked as a
luggage porter, then as a doorman at Mátyás Square 9. He smoked
pipes and developed lip cancer that killed him on March 2, 1917. The
holy man was happily smoking his pipe, praying and studying until his
last day. (According to the Jewish religion, studying is appreciated by
God as much as praying.) His grave is in the Budapest Jewish
cemetery. It is surrounded by an iron fence.

József’s death certificate

In Budapest Róza lived in the 8th District (Kálvária Square 19
until 1921, Práter Street 68 from 1921 to 1929), then in Mátyásföld
with Rezső’s family. She worked at one of
the big markets (Garay Piac) selling geese.
She lived to be 80 and died in 1935.
They had seven children.
Szeréna was the oldest. She was a
very beautiful girl. When a cabinet minister
visited Gyulafehérvár and a ball was
organized in his honor, he would only
dance with Szeréna. She married a very
strange man by the name of Igyártó. He
made his living as an agent of big wine
merchants and publishing houses. He had
his own carriage and visited rich
landowners and merchants, trying to sell Ábrahám Józsefné
them wine and books. It happened Mandel Róza
sometimes that he lost his carriage at
cards and came home by train. He also invented a liver paste that
became quite popular and brought him some wealth. He was a
despot. At dinner he himself distributed the meal among his wife and
children. He was extremely stingy. If he noticed that a waiter had
cheated him by several pennies, he went back to the restaurant and
raised a scandal. He was diabetic and suffered a terrible death: his
legs were amputated in pieces before he died.
They had many children. One of them, Sára, married an illegal
communist, Nándor Lichtmann, with whom they emigrated to France,
then to the island of Guadeloupe (a French colony) where Nándor
became the leader of the local Communist Party.
Rudolf (Rezső in Hungarian) was born on December 18, 1882.
He was the most important person in my life. He played a crucial,
definitive role during my childhood, adolescence, and then all the
time up to this moment (I am 70 years old when I write this). His first
name was the same as that of the popular Crown Prince of the
Austro-Hungarian Empire. Emperor Franz-Joseph married his own
cousin, the exceptionally beautiful Bavarian Duchess Elizabeth
(Erzsébet) in 1853 when she was only 15 years old. (He originally
courted her older sister but fell in love with the younger one.)
Erzsébet (nicknamed Sissy) was very much liked in Hungary. Their
son, Crown Prince Rudolf killed himself and his mistress, Baroness

Maria Vetsera in Mayerling in 1889. Erzsébet was assassinated in
1898. These deaths were the beginning of the end of the Austro-
Hungarian Monarchy.

young and
became a
Then she
again and
went to
Rio de
with her
She wrote
letters to
her family,
then the
and she

Rezső‘s birth certificate

disappeared without a trace.
Margit was next. She worked at the Garay Market with her
mother. Her husband’s name was József Gróf. They had three
children. Erzsébet (Bözsi, 1911), Irén (1913) and József (Józsi).
Bözsi married her cousin from the Mandel family. Irén’s husband was
Hermann Tabák, a “polisi” (Polish) Jew from the Carpathian

Mountains. He was a shrewd businessman who helped to develop a
successful goose trade for the family. Józsi became a technician.
Emilia (Mili) married a shoemaker, Béla Friedman, who was a
very religious man. He did not want to go to war in 1914. To avoid
this, he pretended that his legs were paralyzed. He was so successful
that after a while he really could not stand up from his wheelchair. Mili
worked diligently in the Garay Market as another goose trader. They
had four children: Zoltán (Zoli, 1905), László (Laci, June 30, 1908),
Rózsa (1910), and Erzsébet. This was the most religious part of the
Zoli became a technician. He married a girl who forgot to tell
him until after the wedding that she already had a child. They
divorced and Zoli married again. His wife, Ibi, was a quiet and rather
full-figured woman.
Laci wanted to become a doctor but he was not admitted to the
university because of Numerus Clausus, the law that severely limited
the number of Jews to be admitted to Hungarian universities. His
parents sent him to Bologna. Interestingly, a Jew could be a student
in Fascist Italy but not in Horthy’s Hungary! After his first year he
came home for vacation. He was helping his mother to sell geese
when a woman fainted in the market. There was no doctor available,
so they asked him to help. He looked at the woman and declared:
“Corpse!” The corpse soon regained consciousness and walked
home. In spite of this, five years later Laci graduated from the
University of Bologna as a doctor.
Cecilia (Cili) was born in Rákoskeresztur (a suburb of
Budapest where the Jewish cemetery is situated) on September 12,
1886. She married Márton Glantz. They settled down in
Rákosszentmihály (now in the 16th District of Budapest). They had
two children: Klára and Jenő. Klára was a very beautiful, sensual and
playful girl. Jenő was mentally retarded. On the other hand, he played
chess against himself and could multiply five-digit numbers
instantaneously in his head. When he was asked about his plans for
the future, he said: “I’ll make my living from my parents.”
Izidor (Izsó) was the youngest (he was born in Sarkad in
1892). He was a wild boy. He and his friends sometimes got into
trouble with the police. They spoke to each other in a strange slang.
Once Izsó noticed a policeman approaching. He shouted to his friend:
“Valack, strüy,” which meant: “get away.” He became a feather and
down merchant.

One of their cousins was a breathtakingly beautiful illiterate girl.
Her family lived up in the snow-covered mountains where there was
no school. She married a sergeant of the Austro-Hungarian Army.
They moved to Kolozsvár (now Cluj) where she went to school. She
loved learning so much that she received fellowships to continue her
studies in Budapest, Vienna, and Paris. Thirty years later she was a
full professor at the Sorbonne.
There were other relatives living up in the high mountains.
Rezső once went to visit one of them. It took him two days to get
there with the help of the mountain shepherds. These people spent
many months alone with their herds of sheep. When they felt a need
for communication, they went up to the peak and yelled out “ha-ho-
ho!” Other “ha-ho-ho” cries echoed from the nearby mountains. That
was the conversation. Their vocabulary was limited to no more than
200 Romanian words anyway, so the communication was quite
Two cousins, Cecilia and Bella emigrated to America. Bella
married a rich furniture merchant in Detroit. Her sister lived in
California and also married a wealthy man.
When Rezső was born, there was no electricity yet in Zalatna.
He heard the first Hungarian word at the age of five (at home they
spoke Yiddish and in the village they spoke Romanian). He attended
a Jewish elementary school in Sarkad. He was a good student but his
grades were not the best. There were two reasons for that. His
teacher, Salamon Steiner, believed that a Jewish boy had to work
twice as hard as a gentile to achieve the same success. Mr. Steiner
was also a perfectionist who once said: “Nobody deserves an A. If
you know the material as well as I do, then you get a B. If not, your
best grade is a C.” For a reason unknown to me, Rezső was exempt
from physical education in this school.

Rezső‘s certificate from the second grade of the Sarkad Elementary
School (1890). His religion is stated as “the religion of Moses.”

He went to middle school in Nagyszalonta (now Salonta), a

small town near Nagyvárad (now Oradea) where the great Hungarian
poet, János Arany was born.

Rezső‘s certificate from the fifth grade of the Nagyszalonta Middle
School (1893). His written tests are “untidy.”

He graduated from the 10th grade of the Budapest 8th District

Middle School (Német Street 44) in 1899.

Rezső‘s certificate from the seventh grade of the Budapest
8th District Middle School (1896).This is the first official
document where his first name is mentioned as Rezső.

Rezső‘s final certificate from the tenth grade of the Budapest

8th District Middle School (1899)

During the last two years of his studies he was tutoring younger
students. According to the affidavit signed by the director of the
school, his efforts were quite successful. Therefore, the director
highly recommended “this diligent, well-behaved, modest youth as a
private tutor.”

The Director’s letter of recommendation

This is how Rezső’s teaching career began. In the meantime,

he tried to find himself in other directions, too. Among other things, he
applied for a position at a customs office. The sergeant who took his

application asked him: “Have you tried other things?“ “Yes,“ he
replied. “And nothing turned out well?“ “Nothing.“ “Have you tried to
drown yourself in the Danube?“ “Not yet.“ “Well, try that and if you
don’t succeed even there, then become a customs officer.“
From September 1, 1901 to June 19, 1904 he worked as a
teacher at the Jewish Community of Csákvár (a village near
Székesfehérvár). He also worked as a private tutor of rich people’s
children in Sárosd, Györőcsike, Bogya, Bana, etc. I am in possession
of several letters of recommendation from the parents of his students.

Affidavit from the Jewish Community of Csákvár (1904)

A letter from some devoted and satisfied students (1905)

At the same time he was a correspondence-course student at

the Teachers’ School in Csurgó (Somogy County).

Rezső‘s certificate from the Teachers’ School in Csurgó (1905)

His grades (especially singing and music) were not very good,
but he graduated as a certified elementary school teacher on
December 22, 1906.

Rezső is a certified elementary school teacher (1906)

He was drafted the same year but was found unfit for military
service. He continued to work as a private tutor for another year.

The call to draft

Unfit for military service

From September 1, 1907 to June 23, 1908 he taught at the
Jewish Community School in Őcsény (Tolna County). His record of
service was signed by a certain Ignátz Deutsch.

Testimonial of Service to the Jewish Community of Őcsény. One of

the signers is Deutsch Ignátz.

In September 1909, we find him at the elementary school of a

nearby little town, Simontornya.

Rezső is the teacher in Simontornya

Although he was running the elementary school there alone, he

was issued a Certificate of Poverty. He signed the following oath:
“I, Rezső Ábrahám, ordinary teacher, swear by the living God
that I will manifest a steadfast and unweavering faithfulness to His
Majesty my Apostolic King, to my Hungarian Fatherland, and its
constitution. I will obey the sanctified laws and lawful customs of the
country. I will always conscientiously, faithfully, and punctually carry
out the lawful orders of the national authorities and the duties of my
office as a teacher. I will educate the youth entrusted to my care in
the love of the Hungarian Fatherland. So help me God!“

So help me God!

Such was the life of an elementary school teacher around the

turn of the 20th century. These were the so called “happy years of
peace” in Hungary under the reign of the Apostolic Emperor and King
Franz Joseph I. The prime ministers were as follows:
• Kálmán Tisza (20 October 1875 – 13 March 1890)
• Count Gyula Szapáry (13 March 1890 – 17 November 1892)
• Sándor Wekerle (17 November 1892 – 1 January 1895)
• Baron Dezső Bánffy (14 January 1895 – 26 February 1899)
• Kálmán Széll (26 February 1899 – 27 June 1903)
• Count Károly Khuen-Héderváry (27 June – 3 November 1903)
• Count István Tisza (3 November 1903 – 18 June 1905)
• Baron Géza Fejérváry (18 June 1905 – 8 April 1906)
• Sándor Wekerle (8 April 1906 – 17 January 1910)

Everything seemed to be all right. The mighty Austro-Hungarian
Empire was one of the pillars of stability in Europe. Even the Balkans
were behaving appropriately. Nikita, King of Montenegro, received a
regular monthly allowance from Franz Joseph. Ferenc Kossuth
(1841-1914), son of Lajos Kossuth, the leader of the Hungarian
Revolution of 1848, was back in Hungary.
Newspapers appeared one after the other: Pesti Hírlap,
Budapesti Hírlap, Kis Újság, Magyarország, Pesti Napló, Budapesti
Napló, Világ, Friss Újság, Esti Újság, Kis Újság, Vasárnapi Újság,
Pester Lloyd, Az Est, A Nap, etc.

Newsboys were shouting on the streets: “Betörés a Deák téren!

Egy krajcár, csak egy krajcár!”
Magazines like Magyar Salon, A Hét, Az Én Újságom, Magyar
Lányok, Tolnai Világlapja, were also available. Satirical magazines
Bolond Istók and Borsszem Jankó were followed by more risqué
publications: Pikáns Lapok, Magyar Figaro, and Fidibusz.
I used to have all the 1899 issues of Magyar Figaro. (They

have disappeared together with the Box). I still remember some of
the anecdotes and advertisements (see the illustrations below
showing Anna Csillag with her 185 centimeter long Loreley hair and
the Lada bosom holder protected by 14 “world patents”). The frontal-
view drawings of full-figured naked women like the female orchestra
in the Bodega are very vivid in my memory. There was also a picture
of a couple watching a painting of a naked plump woman in a fur coat
in a museum. “See?” says the wife, “I would like such a fur coat!”
“And I would like such a wife!” answers the husband with a sigh.

Women had wide hips and big buttocks in those days. Those
who did not pretended that they did by padding their long dresses
with pillows. The bony supermodels of today would have been
considered sick then.

Fashion for full-figured women

All for ladies!

Choose one for your wife


On the beach
It is interesting that all these magazines were published at the
time of Victorian morals when even the legs of a table were
considered obscene. Yes, but Siegmund Freud also worked at this
time and Dr. Richard von Krafft-Ebing published his Psychopathia
Sexualis, let alone Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s famous Venus in
Furs. A poet under the pseudonym of Árpád Lőwy spread his
pornographic poems copied by hand. He was also slightly anti-
Semitic. He claimed that his pseudonym was the result of the fact that
although a substantial part of Hungary’s population was Árpád (i.e.
Hungarian) but many others were Lőwy (i. e. Jewish):
Irodalmunkban, - büszkén mondom -
Nincs több olyan tipikus költő,
Mint Lőwy Árpád, akit ismer,
Immár egy egész emberöltő.
Nincs, ki a magyar géniusznak
Hívebb tolmácsa volna, mint ő,
Bár meglehet, hogy van nálánál
Nem egy kiválóbb magyar költő.
De ő nevében egyesíti
A fajt, amelyre néz a Kárpát,
Hiszen fajunknak fele Lőwy,
A másik fele pedig Árpád.

He ignored the fact that Hungary was a multinational country. Half of
her population was not Hungarian but Slovak, Serb, Croatian,
Romanian, etc. (This was the justification for the country’s
dismemberment by the Trianon Treaty.)
Jews fared relatively well in those days. They were integral
parts of Hungarian society and culture.
Tivadar (Theodor) Herzl (1860-1904), the founder of the
worldwide Zionist movement, was born in Pest. (Budapest was
formed only in 1873 by the union of three cities: Buda, Pest, and
József Kiss (1843-1921), the great Jewish poet, wrote sad
poems like this:
Simon zsidóéknál minden esztendőbe’
Kis deszkakoporsót tesznek le a földbe,
Kis deszkakoporsó – alig-alig rőfnyi,
Szegény kicsi féreg, nem tudott megnőni!

“Simi” Krausz (1876-1938), the famous and very muscular

Jewish banker, was the bugaboo of the anti-Semites. Once he was
sitting in a candy shop sipping his coffee when a group of young army
officers came to the shop, sat down, and started to talk about Jews in
derogatory terms. Simi broke a piece off his marble table, wrote his
name on it, and asked the waiter to give it to the officers. As soon as
they received the ominous signature, they asked for their check, paid,
and quietly left.
On the other hand, fifteen Jews were put on trial in 1882,
accused of killing a 14-year-old Christian peasant girl for use in a
Jewish religious ritual in Tiszaeszlár. The accused were defended by
Károly Eötvös and acquitted, but the trial became a major
international scandal and also a flashpoint for Hungarian anti-
The press was relatively free. Frivolous anecdotes like this
appeared regularly: Prime Minister Széll arrives at the railroad station
late. His train is already moving. A railroader recognizes him and
shouts with a German accent: “Fosson, Kegyelmes Úr, fosson!”
(Run, Your Excellency, run!) The train moves faster and Széll gives
up: “Most már foshatok!” (Now I can shit.) – This is an example of a
Hungarian play on words that is impossible to translate to any other
language, especially English.
Nyugat (West) was a magazine started by Ernő Osvát, Miksa

Fenyő, and Ignotus (Hugó Veigelsberg) in 1908. The great writers
and poets of this era, Endre Ady, Mihály Babits, Frigyes Karinthy,
Gyula Juhász, Margit Kaffka, Dezső Kosztolányi, Árpád Tóth,
Zsigmond Móricz, Gyula Krúdy, Jenő Heltai, Milán Füst, and many
others published in this magazine. It was at the forefront of Hungarian
culture for 34 years.

The editors and authors of Nyugat met regularly in the beautiful

Café New York. Some of them spent the whole day there. The Café
subscribed to 400 newspapers and magazines. The regulars hotly
debated the news.
Hungarian cities were full of cafés. Most of them had live music
in the evening. Womanizers sang the popular song:
Asszonykám, adj egy kis kimenőt,
hadd zülljek éppúgy, mint azelőtt.
Az egyik kocsmából a másik kocsmába,
törzskávéházamból zenés kávéházba.
Megjövök éjfélre, háromra, vagy négyre,
hadd zülljek éppúgy, mint azelőtt.

Theaters flourished. They
presented plays from all over the
world. In 1900, Sári Fedák (1879-
1955) burst into the Hungarian
operetta as its unquestioned prima
donna. And what operetta! Ferenc
Lehár, Imre Kálmán, Jenő Huszka,
Viktor Jakobi, Béla Zerkovitz
composed operettas that millions of
people enjoy even now, a century Fedák Sári

A poster advertising a play by Maxim Gorky presented by the Thalia

Society in 1907

Sándor Rott (1868-1942) was Rezső’s favorite entertainer. The

“little Rott” was running a vaudeville theatre (Műszínkör) in the City

Park and played there with his wife, Berta Türk (1875-1960).
Rezső was somewhat romantic. He liked sad songs like this:
Én vagyok a falu rossza egyedül,
engem ugat minden kutya messzirül.
Sem az apám, sem az anyám nem volt rossz,
csak egyedül, csak egyedül magam vagyok a gonosz.
(this used to be the favorite song of Crown Prince Rudolf), and this:
Ki tanyája ez a nyárfás?
Behallik-e a kurjantás?
Vagy alusznak, vagy nem hallják,
vagy talán nem is akarják.
This was also the time when Pista Dankó (1858-1903)
composed hundreds of melancholic songs so that Hungarians could
have a good time crying.
Endre Nagy started the famous Hungarian cabaret in 1907. The
entertainers were mostly Jewish. Here are some popular songs from
the Orfeum Cabaret:
Jaj, kígyó van a szobában, nagy a feje, nincsen lába.
-Ez anyátok hamis copfja.

Furcsa Isten teremtménye ő,

reszketek, ha közelembe jő!

Egy hő imádóm van nékem, a neve Lőwinger.

Oly szörnyű módon féltékeny, akár egy vadember.
Zsebében mindig revolver, folyvást lövésre kész
és agyonlőne mindenkit, ki fél szemmel rámnéz.
Lőwinger, ó Lőwinger,
nagy benned a lőinger.
Most mutasd meg, hogy mit tudsz:
tudsz-e lőni, vagy hazudsz?

Furcsa az én őrültségem,
szörnyű módon tetszik nékem
a néger tánc, s a néger dalok.
Veszek egyszer néger nótát,
fújok minden Johnson strófát,
valóságos néger smok vagyok.
Néger vagyok kétszeresen,
hisz az apám két szerecsen

utcában vagy húsz évig lakott.
Édesanyám is fekete
himlőkórságban szenvedett,
mikor engem világra hozott.
Hogyha látok fekete szerecsen néger táncost én,
lábam rögtön kopogó-ropogós tánclépésbe mén.
Mért születtem hébernek,
mért nem inkább négernek?
Micsoda csillag lehettem volna én a tánc egén!
Orfeumba, ős Budába
hogyha fellép néger dáma,
én azonnal beleszeretek.
Multkor cudarul megjártam,
kis feketére találtam,
drága nő volt, fene egye meg.
Ostromozott, átkarolott,
össze-vissza csókolgatott,
jaj micsoda rettentő blamázs!
Hát nem fehér volt a pofája?
Csak suviksz volt kenve rája,
óriási kiábrándulás!
Hogyha látok fekete szerecsen néger táncost én,
lábam rögtön kopogó-ropogós tánclépésbe mén.
Mért születtem hébernek,
mért nem inkább négernek?
Micsoda csillag lehettem volna én a tánc egén!

The phonograph started to spread. The First Hungarian Record

Factory produced records of popular songs.

Hungary celebrated its Millennium (the thousandth anniversary
of the country’s founding) in 1896. For the occasion, Budapest was
rebuilt by Baron Frigyes Podmaniczky (1824-1907). The largest
Parliament building on the Continent, one of the most beautiful opera
houses, and one of the finest synagogues in the world were built

Sugár út in 1896. On the left is the Opera House. Soon thereafter the
avenue was renamed Andrássy út, to commemorate Count Gyula
Andrássy (1823-1890), the first prime minister of Hungary after the
Compromise with Austria in 1867. During Communism it was first
called Sztálin út, then Népköztársaság útja (Avenue of the People’s
Republic). Now it is Andrássy út again.

Ferenciek Square in 1902

The main staircase of the Inside the Budapest Opera
Budapest Opera House

The Dohány Synagogue

The new Erzsébet Bridge in 1903. Like all the other bridges on the
Danube in Budapest, it was blown up by the Nazis in 1945. It is a pity
that the Communists rebuilt it as a boring modernist edifice.

Horse-drawn tramways were the basic transportation in the big

cities, but they were later replaced by electric streetcars. The first
subway on the European Continent was introduced in Budapest in
1896. Railroads were the sole inter-city transportation.

Oktogon Square in 1896. The small building on the left is the

entrance to the subway.

A railway schedule from 1904

By the turn of the century the automobile entered the

picture. János Csonka built the first Hungarian car in 1905.

Csonka’s car from 1905

Commerce developed fast, too. Merchants were eager to sell

everything from electric light bulbs to cosmetics. Sellers tried to entice
customers by flattering them, calling them Nagyságos Uram (My

Esteemed Gentleman) or simply telling them that “it can be seen that
you belong to the cream of society; therefore, I will give you a 10%
On the other hand, some merchants were quite picky. There
was a very rich aristocrat (I do not remember his name) who owned
most of the land around Lake Balaton (the largest lake in Central
Europe, with an area of about 600 km2). He liked to dress casually.
Once he entered a very fashionable restaurant and ordered a cup of
coffee. The waiter told him that they do not serve anybody who is not
dressed formally. The count left and came back dressed in a tuxedo
and carrying another tuxedo. He was greeted with reverence. Then
he ordered a cauldron of coffee. When they brought it to him, he
threw the tuxedo into the coffee, saying: “Here you are, my tuxedo,
drink your coffee!”

Shops in Budapest in 1905

A 50-korona banknote from 1902

Buy tungsten light bulbs from The Margit Cream is the

Tungsram! best cosmetics

Life on Lake Balaton

Ladies enjoying the water

Less fortunate ladies

Good times

Everything looked just fine. On the other hand, there were

people who were not satisfied with the status quo. The relative peace,
prosperity, tolerance, and liberalism of the Austro-Hungarian Empire
were accompanied by economic inequality, harsh conditions for the
industrial poor, political intrigue, corruption, and backwardness. The
great poet, Endre Ady (1877-1919), was writing his angry poems
about the “Hungarian wasteland,” the land of stupid gentry:
Elvadult tájon gázolok:
Ős, buja földön dudva, muhar.
Ezt a vad mezőt ismerem,
Ez a magyar Ugar.

We have seen in the previous section that some people, like the

Szilágyi family, were very poor. Many people emigrated to America.
As Attila József wrote later: "Kitántorgott Amerikába másfél millió
Revolutionary students chanted slogans like this, denouncing
and endorsing various politicians:
Vesszen Tisza,
Vesszen Csányi,
Vesszen Báró Fejérváry,
Éljen doktor Takács Zoltán!

The Labor Movement reached Hungary, too. The Social

Democratic Party was formed in 1890. Its newspaper, Népszava
(Word of the People), was started in 1905 (it still exists today.)

The tone of the cabaret songs was changing, too:

Egyre másra csak szidják
szép Budapest városát,
nem lehet megélni benne már:
a koszt, mosás, a lakás,
minden csupa zsarolás.
Tönkre mén itt báró es bankár.

Ha ez igy tart még soká,
szökik magyar, tót, oláh,
mind Amerikába vándorol.
A bankoknál nincs hitel,
nagy a szegénység, hidd el,
ember ilyen snasszot még nem ért.
No de kérem, sebaj, itt az éj!
Nézze csak meg Budapestet éjjel,
tele van az nótával, zenével.
Csattan a csók, pezsgősüveg durran,
pénz van elég, sose kérdik, honnan.
Mindenfelé szép lány, virágillat,
még az éj tart, s ragyog fenn egy csillag.
Találkozhatsz akárhány gyökérrel,
egész mást lát, egész mást lát,
aki nézi Budapestet éjjel.

The happy times of peace approached their end. They were

beautiful as a dream, but dreams fly away, and only a painful memory
Szép volt, mint egy álom,
Elszállt, mint egy álom
És a fájó emlék maradt meg csupán.


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