In Hungary, the animating fire of Skinheads is the naming of
enemies. Here "enemies" refers -- more than to any other group
-- to the Roma (Gypsies). But the term is used for others as
well; foreign students and guest workers, Arabs, blacks,
Cubans, homosexuals, liberals, the poor, the homeless and, of
course, the Jews.
When the Skinhead movement first arose in Hungary in the early
1980's, it was a small but vocal force among those opposed to
the then-Communist regime. When that regime fell, the restless
animus of the Skinheads turned toward the Gypsy population and
the growing numbers of "non-Hungarians" (sometimes including
Jews, but more particularly :non-Whites") whom they regarded
as dangerous criminal elements. There are presently a few
thousand non-white aliens in Hungary, most of them students.
(A large number of them have left the country during the past
couple of years, with insults and danger cited as the major
reasons.) The Skinheads have proclaimed that physical attacks
are the only effective means of driving the strangers back to
their native lands.
Skinhead "ideals" include nationalism, irredentism (the
establishment of "Greater" Hungary with widened frontiers) and
a purifying of the populace through the eventual elimination
of the aforementioned enemies. Some Skinheads openly profess
Nazi ideals and have sported the Nazi swastika and the
arrow-cross badge worn by Hungarian fascists during World War
II; others reject that image. (In April 1993 Hungary's
parliament outlawed both the arrow-cross symbol and the
The Hungarian Skins began to organize on a national level in
1990 when they held their first national conclave in Eger.
Certain international linkages were forged that year -- e.g.,
with German rightists including the ideologue Gerhard Frey,
leader of the German Peoples Union (DVU). The journal of a
neo-fascist segment of Hungarian Skinheads, _Kitartas_
(Holding Out) has been published since 1990 by Frey's group in
Germany. Two other Skinhead journals were launched that year:
_Pannon Bulldog_ and _Arpad Nepe_. Subsequently, the American
neo-Nazi Gary Lauck of Nebraska began publishing _Uj Rend_
(New Order) in Hungarian for an openly neo-Nazi Skinhead
faction. Hungarian Skinheads have ties with Austrian, Italian,
Polish, Czech and American organizations, as well as the World
Community of Anti-Communist Hungarians, headquartered in
One of Hungary's more active and extreme groups with Skinhead
membership is the Szalasi Guards, named in honor of Ferenc
Szalasi, Hungary's Nazi leader in World War II who was
executed as a war criminal. It is headed by a youth known only
-- and proudly -- as "Mengele," after the infamous doctor at
Auschwitz. Mengele reportedly puts the Guards' membership at
"a few dozen." These members have been known to attack
Gypsies, Arabs, Jews and foreigners in the streets. Mengele
acknowledged his group;s responsibility for a bomb threat
against a Budapest synagogue early in 1994. "We wanted them"
(the Jews), he told a newspaper, "to realize that times are
changing and that there are such organizations that do not
like the open Semite lunge in the Parliament. We want them to
notice that we are here."
The Hungarian Skins hang out in discos and beer halls. Their
haunts in Budapest include the Viking club, Petofi Casarnok
disco, Ocsi wine bar, Steffl beer-hours, Izsak wine bar,
Ketlen disco, Fekete Lyuk (Black Hole) club, Total car club,
and Keknyelu wine bar. The can often be found hanging around
major thoroughfares in Budapest. In Eger, the best known
restaurants frequented by Skinheads are Taverna and Express.
The weapons Skinheads have been known to carry include
baseball bats, chains, knives, iron rods, chair legs, etc.
Like their foreign counterparts they often wear the heavy Doc
Skins are active in rifle clubs, sports clubs, and at military
secondary schools (a major Skinhead base is in the military
academy in Eger). They are not "lumpens." Most come from
families of professionals and have at least an eighth grade
As elsewhere, music is a major part of the Skinhead scene.
Typical are the "oi" sounds of the English Skin bands, a
particular favorite among them being Skrewdriver. The leading
Hungarian bands during the early period (the mid-1980's) were
Mos-Oi, Kozellenseg (Public Enemy), and Oi-Kor, the latter
still staging concerts in the 1990's. Mos-Oi has since changed
its name to Pannon Skins. Among the newer bands are Archivum,
which once played at the headquarters of the Smallholders
Party; Magozott Cseresznye (Pitted Cherry), which plays at the
Viking Club in Budapest; and today's most popular band,
Egeszseges Fejbor (Healthy Skinhead).
A favorite Skinhead song for some years now has been
"Gypsy-Fee Zone," written by members of the Mos-Oi band:
We will do away with everything bad;
Everything base and evil will disappear;
A blazing gun is the
Only weapon I can win with.
I will kill every Gypsy, adult or child...
When the job is done, we can post
[the sign] "Gypsy-Free Zone."
Mayhem became more than a song or a mere boast as the Skins
grew to become a national menace in the early 1990's.
Hungary's Office of National Security reported 25 Skinhead
assaults in Budapest alone in 1991. Nationally, the Martin
Luther King Association, which records attacks on foreign
students, reported complaints in 70 instances, with 53 persons
listed in police records as attack victims. The MLK
Association listed 63 victims during the first half of 1992.
In November of that year, a 32-year-old Gypsy man, Zoltan
Danyi, was beaten to death by two 15-year-old Skinheads. On
August 30, 1992, a national holiday, Skinheads who gathered in
the center of the city of Eger shouted Nazi slogans and beat
up a passerby thought to be Jewish.
President Shouted Down
On October 23, 1992, the 36th anniversary of Hungary's 1956
anti-Soviet revolt, hundreds of Skinheads, marching into
Budapest in their boots and bomber jackets and openly carrying
Nazi symbols, shouted down President Arpad Goncz, preventing
his delivery of a patriotic speech. (The role of the police in
this event has been called into question.)
Hungary's police have generally been less than vigilant in their
attention to Skinhead lawlessness, at times even ignoring
street assaults against Gypsies. In part, the problem appears
to stem from an underlying sympathy of some police officers
with Skinhead prejudices. The Skinheads themselves, formerly
hostile toward the police, have for tactical reasons adopted a
more friendly stance.
Skions in Budapest have a doting elder in Istvan Porubszky, a
painter who fled the country after the 1956 revolt and now
heads a "1956 Anti-Fascist and Anti-Bolshevik Association"
which trains Skinheads in right-wing philosophy. Porubszky
hopes to register his trainees as a political party.
"Sixteen-year-olds cannot change anything if the Government
will not allow it," said a Budapest youngster whose Skinhead
boyfriend was sentenced to a year in prison, "but when our
generation comes to power, the country will be run according
to our principles." And at a "national congress" of Skinheads
held in Budapest in November 1992, its organizer, Istvan
Szoke, was quoted as saying: "As much blood needs to flow for
the Fatherland as is necessary. Either there will be radical
changes or anything may happen."
Later that month a long, major trial of 48 Skinheads ended,
with all convicted of causing severe bodily injuries and
disturbing the public order by their unprovoked attacks on
Africans, Arabs and Gypsies. Nine were given prison sentences
and the remaining 39 were placed on parole.
In January 1993, five Skinheads assaulted a young Jewish
woman, stabbed her in the stomach and carved a swastika on her
breast. It appeared that the woman had been followed for some
time before the attack. The atrocity was the subject of a
debate in the Parliament, where a member, Izabella Kiraly,
called the attackers "good sons of the Hungarian nation." That
same month, Budapest police arrested eight Skinheads for
assaulting people aboard a trolley car; a search of the homes
of the eight uncovered swastika armbands and literature
defaming Jews and foreigners.
A note of optimism sounded a few months later when Hungary's
ruling Democratic Forum (MDF) expelled some members of the
party's right wing, led by Istvan Csurka, even though it meant
losing parliamentary seats. Among those expelled was the
aforementioned Izabella Kiraly, who has been nicknamed "Mother
of the Skinheads." After her expulsion she created the
Hungarian Interest Party (MEP) and continued to be a supporter
of the Skinheads and an apologist for their actions.
Skinhead attacks continued in 1994. In March, two Skinheads
stabbed a Jewish passenger on a Budapest subway. In November,
in the town of Gyongyos, Skinheads threw Molotov cocktails
into a Roma family's home, burning it down. One of the victims
of the crime has alleged police misconduct in the handling of
the case. According to police, two Skinheads burned two Torah
scrolls in a synagogue in the easter city of Debrecen on
January 6, 1995, the birthday of the aforementioned Hungarian
Nazi leader Ferenc Szalasi.
At least one police official has been outspoken about the
Skinhead problem. Dr. Gyorgy Gabriel, a detective who heads
the Family, Child and Youth Protection division of the
Budapest Police Force, has stated that "beginning at the end
of 1991, the Skinhead movement began to grow wider, and they
began to enter the world of crime. They steal, they murder,
they mug.... This," he said, "is a society in crisis.
Everything is in crisis: the economy, the family, the school
system, the legal system, the police.... We have a high rate
of suicide, and now drugs are coming in, it's no wonder that
the most sensitive stratum, youth, is reacting this way."
(Anti-Defamation League, 44-48)
Anti-Defamation League. The Skinhead International: A Worldwide
Survey of Neo-Nazi Skinheads. New York: Anti-Defamation League,
1995. Anti-Defamation League, 823 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY
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