THE OBJECTS OF A SOLDIER: FRAGMENTS OF MEMORIES / Timea Tibori
With a few exceptions, the objects used by a soldier are simple, practical, and of little aesthetic value, but the stories and emotions associated with them transform these objects made of low-grade materials.
My grandfather, Mihály Molnár, whose most important life events have been recorded in Tamás T. Kiss’ book,(1) lived through all of the momentous events, trials, and cataclysms of the twentieth century. As a young man, he served and was wounded in World War I, he also served in World War II, and in 1956 he became the chairman of the workers’ council in a village of Southern Hungary. He established a mechanized model farm on his estates, which he managed with increasing knowledge and in a modern spirit, providing an example for his environment. He behaved in the same vein as a recruiting officer, a soldier, a father, and a grandfather. His story is an example of the way history shaped the life of a man from the early twentieth century to the seventies, and the way the changes in powe- structures made it impossible for him to fulfil his true potential.
As a child in the early fifties, forced displacement, the destruction of the flourishing farm, the nationalization of the machinery, and the exile from the estate to a farmstead took on a different meaning for me: it meant long train journeys and walks to receive the longed-for embrace of the grandfather, closeness to nature, special tastes, aromas and scents, the smell of animals, the changes in the weather and its elemental force, conversations and songs in the evenings, and a gathering of neighbours. Stories, fates, distant and close, with familiar and unfamiliar characters and personalities. Mudbrick houses, kerosene lamps, maize stalks in the oven, endless card games, cigarette smoke and personal confessions coming either in short sentences, or as an unstoppable flow of words.
What was the outcome of all this? The gritty, purposeful, hardworking, continuously creating personality of a man who loved order and a liveable life, and who was respected and loved both by those close to him and by the wider circle of his acquaintances. He remained a major to the day of his death, but he was also a loving, protective, affectionate grandfather.
The exhibited objects are closely intertwined with both his life and the life of his son, Mihály Molnár the younger, another tragic figure caught up in the historical events of the twentieth century.(2)
There is a story related to them and to these objects which I have remembered since I was seven. Arrest in the spring of 1957, solitary confinement, a dripping faucet, a slap in the face, and the trial in August where both father and son, both of them called Mihály Molnár, were presented by accident. Finally, my grandfather was acquitted because an entire village appeared at his trial. The keywords are values, freedom, democracy and endurance.
(1) T. Kiss Tamás: Frontvonalban. Molnár Mihály élete dokumentumok tükrében. Belvedere Meridionale, Szeged, 2013. 297 o.
(2) See his several dozen diaries and the interview about his life made by Adrienne Molnár in 1994. 1956 Institute–OHA, no. 579
Köszönet a tárgykölcsönzőknek és történetmesélőknek:
FISCHER ÁGOTA ÉVA
FÜLÖPNÉ WELTZ MÁRIA
HÁTSZEGI GÁBORNÉ, JULIKA
HELLER MÁRIA (RÓZSA PÁL)
HELLER SÁNDORNÉ, MÜLLER ANIKÓ
KÁNAI GYULÁNÉ PEREDY GIZELLA
LEÁNYFALVINÉ GORDÁN ILDIKÓ
TERÉNYI ISTVÁNNÉ SULLAI VINCENCIA
TÓTHNÉ RUDI MARGIT
Köszönet a kiállítás létrejöttéhez nyújtott segítségért
TÓTH GERGELY MÁTÉ
ELEVEN EMLÉKMŰ CSOPORT
HERITAGE CONTACT ZONE
HUMÁN PLATFORM EGYESÜLET
OPEN SOCIETY ARCHIVES
Castrum Peregrini, Amszterdam
Asociatia Timişoara Capitala Cultural Europeana, Temesvár
Eleven Emlékmű / Humán Platform, Budapest
Etz Hayyim, Hanía, Kréta
European University Institute, Firenze
Culture Action Europe, Brüsszel