The Jews who weren’t there: cinema, anti-Semitism and Hungarian national identity 1938-48

Gergely, Gabor (2015) The Jews who weren’t there: cinema, anti-Semitism and Hungarian national identity 1938-48. In: AAJS 27th Annual Conference, 15-16 February, 2015, University of New South Wales, Sydney.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


In early 20th century Hungary a history of relatively peaceful coexistence was overwritten in public discourse as irreconcilable difference. ‘The Jews’ were labelled a homogeneous community with shared goals and ambitions. ‘They’ were said to be opposed to the nation. Drawing on centuries of national self-identification as defenders of Christianity from eastern invaders, ‘Hungarian’ was determined in opposition to the invading ‘Jew’.
As the debate of what makes a Hungarian raged in the press, literature and in the political arena, Hungarian cinema neither recognized the history of peaceful coexistence of Jewish and Christian groups, nor did it belabour the narrative of irreconcilable opposition. Rather, Hungarian cinema, recognized as a key asset in the dissemination of state-approved ideology, omitted ‘the Jews’ from the social makeup of the nation altogether.
The paper considers Hungarian filmic representations of the nation during the war and its aftermath. It compares two films: Europe Does Not Answer (Radványi, 1941) and Somewhere in Europe (Radványi, 1947). Both films address issues of vital importance of their time, and both omit ‘the Jews’ from narratives spun from real scenarios. One imagines the effect of the outbreak of war on the broad ‘European family’, the other tells the story of children orphaned by war. In both, the war, from the outbreak to its aftermath, becomes a Hungarian experience in which ‘the Jews’ play no part.
The analysis of the two films will interrogate the omission of ‘the Jews’ from films that purportedly articulate historical truths about Hungary’s position in the international order.

Keywords:Jewish Studies, Hungary, Cinema
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P303 Film studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Film)
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ID Code:29925
Deposited On:06 Dec 2017 12:35

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