The poem’s original title was Szaltószabadság, a neologism difficult to translate (roughly, “Summersault Freedom”). It means “the freedom of flipping in the air,” but it also echoes the word sajtószabadság, which means “freedom of the press.” When the journal Mozgó Világ was launched by the Central Committee of the Communist Youth Organization (KISZ) in December 1975, Nagy’s poem was to appear in the first issue with its original title. However, the censors demanded that it be changed: editor Miklós Veress and the poet choose a line from the poet referring to Korbut.
A stage was set up every summer on the main square of the city, where theatre performances were held in the evenings. During the day, the stage lay abandoned. They thought it would be an ideal location, and so they agreed the evening before that they would recite poems (to nalaja is an invented term meaning to speak flawlessly based on a free association of ideas, a kind of improvised surreal rap) while playing on the flute and drum and presenting funny objects to tourists.
They went to the site at 3 pm and performed the action. At the end, a local policeman came and started to check IDs, so tourists and the participants stood around him. A voluntary policeman from a distance misunderstood the situation and called for more police units. It became a major raid, and everyone was taken to the police station, including friends and journalists who just happened to be present.
The participants were suspected of being part of an “organized conspiracy” (they learned this only years later), since during searches of their homes the police found the guestbook of an open air exhibition with some 400 addresses of visitors (who voluntarily gave their addresses in order to be sent invitations for the next exhibition), including East German and Czech citizens.
It took a long time to check all the names, so the participants were kept in custody for six months. After a six day trial at the City Hall they were charged with having “deliberately and in unison disturbed the peace.” They were sentenced to serve precisely the amount of time they had already been held in custody, with the exception of one journalist, who was also accused of having assaulted an officer.
Only a few photographs of the event remained by favor of György Hegedűs, a young photojournalist who was also present at that ominous sunday afternoon.
“Running women” by Jiří Načeradský is a good example of Jan and Meda Mládek’s interest in figurative painting. This piece was made a year before Načeradský’s stay in France and following the isolation of the artist.
The multiethnic, multilingual, and multicultural world of the French Foreign Legion, that throughout its almost two century long past has recruited its volunteers from among 150 nations, is well reflected by the manuscript “The Slang Vocabulary of the Legionnaires,” edited by Sándor Nemes, a Hungarian veteran residing in Course for close to 50 years now. It provides an authentic insight into the odd group identity of its many Hungarian recruits throughout the twentieth century. To better understand this, one needs to become acquainted with some basic facts of the Legions’ history. The French Foreign Legion, founded in 1831 by King Louis Philippe in Algeria, is still an active and legitimate French armed force, today with some 9,000 mercenaries, that still preserves much of its traditions, although since the 1960s it has been transformed from an old-fashioned colonial army into a modern elite force specialized for international missions of peace maintenance, humanitarian and anti-terrorist tasks, both in France and worldwide.
Ironically enough, the French Foreign Legion, due to several grave economic, political, and war crises, preserved for more than a century the traditional dominance of its German-speaking recruits (from Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and elsewhere), who left behind far-reaching effects even on the language use of the Legion’s command and its folklore, e.g., the military marches, which all used to be German songs. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that following 1945 and 1956, when more than 4,000 Hungarians joined the Legion, this newly arrived ethnic group also began to strengthen its cohesion against the challenging dominance of the “German mafia,” as Sándor Nemes and his fellow Hungarian veterans recalled in their accounts. This was, of course, but a limited and rather informal rivalry given the strict hierarchy and the wartime conditions (in Indochina, and Algeria!). Still a “two-front” cultural resistance emerged ever more markedly among the Hungarian volunteers, on the one hand against the mostly native French officers, and the German warrant officers on the other. In fact, at a closer look the Hungarian recruits (who were called “Huns,” “kicsis,” or “Attilas” in the common slang used by the Legion) were not homogenous either, especially as far as their cultural and political identity was concerned. Although the age difference between them was hardly more than 10–15 years, they belonged to two markedly different generations: the ’45-ers, or the “Horthy’s hussars,” recruited mostly from POW and refugee camps after the end of WWII, and the ’56-ers, who fled to the West when the Hungarian revolution was violently suppressed. The main difference between the active ’56-ers and the rest of the Hungarian legionnaires could be felt most in their attitudes and group identity, since the former were much more united in their common engagement in the revolutionary events and battles that they experienced as very young men or even minors. As members of the Hungarian veterans’ circle in Provence, they were the ones who kept in contact for decades and preserved the memory of the revolution up to the present day with their special group rituals (like banquets, memorial meetings, and the sharing of their revolutionary experiences and relics).These can be best illustrated with a number of funny, original, and telling entries in Sándor Nemes’s “The Slang Vocabulary of the Legionnaires,” especially in its Forward and in Chapters 2–6. (2. Slang and loanwords used by legionnaires; 3. Figures of speech, idioms, and proverbs; 4. The most common German phrases; 5. The most common Arabic loanwords; 6. Bynames of ethnicities and nationalities in the slang used by legionnaires.)
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