Gabor Fencsik writes:
>This is true in principle, although you may be underestimating the
>difficulty of doctoring these archives on the sly. I had an expert
>explain to me recently how these archives are organized. First,
>almost everything is archived in several places, under multiple
>jurisdictions. Copies of files have been forwarded to local police
>headquarters, to central archives, to prosecutorial offices, and a bunch
>of other places. There are five or six copies of everything, scattered
>in various archives with their own numbering and cross-referencing
>schemes. There are no computerized cross-indexing data bases anywhere,
>so tracking down anything requires intimate familiarity with the various
>filing policies. To get rid of all traces of a file, you would have
>to locate and destroy all copies and all cross-references in the various
>catalogs. There are strict file numbering schemes that run all the way
>back to the days of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Missing numbers
>can be easily detected. I am not saying that destroying all traces
>of a document would be impossible, but it would certainly require a
>massive, precisely coordinated effort, executed flawlessly and in
>total secrecy. Knowing something about Hungarian bureaucratic sloth,
>I doubt such an operation can be successfully carried out. I am sure
>a great many documents have been destroyed at various points, but
>I think competent historians will be able detect this, and even dig up
>hidden copies of some destroyed documents in out-of-the-way archives.
Well, this sounds better than what I presumed about the files, and I am
willing to change my mind again, although using a historical parallel e.g.
the Saxon Chronicles, at times, there is more historical attention given to
a copy that has different information than other copies. Of course part of
the fault may lie with the historians who utilize those different versions.
It is very very difficult, as time goes by, to clearly define why the
difference in a particular copy or version. It also has to be kept in mind
that these type of documents were most likely slanted originally to achieve
the desired purpose and taking them always at face value would result in
a very distorted history. But that type of interpretation would not be a
first time event either.
>As with all other historical writing, your only guarantees of accuracy are
>the reputation of the author, the existence of peer review, and your own
>common sense and experience.
Even reputable authors are known to have produced slanted writing. It is
often but not always possible to identify the slant.
The intent of the book in question
>[Kis allambiztonsagi olvasokonyv] is not to document individual cases,
>but to illustrate the modus operandi of the secret police.
I have ordered the book, in that context it may be appropriate.
>As long as you are reading Nadas, you might want to look up his essay
>"Our Poor Little Sascha Anderson". It is about one of the most prominent
>STASI snitches in Germany, and the psychopathology of snitching in general.
>It may be the best essay ever written about this dreary topic...
Where was this essay published? I am enjoying the Memories, but I am sure
glad I did not get one of his sentences to analyze in my grammar
matriculation orals, which related to mellerendelt and alarendelt sentences.
He gets the closest to Proust in my opinion. But sentences longer than a page
are still bothering me. I heard it was a great success in German, and I am