My previous efforts to solve The Transylvanian Problem set a ball of historical reassessment rolling - in my own head, anyway - and I fully intend to further pursue my investigations. However, there’s just a chance, though it may be a long shot, that we don’t have to rake up the past and thereby get on everybody’s tits. Maybe we can convince both sides that it simply doesn’t matter!* The only way to do this is trivialisation, and there’s nothing more trivial than a TV game-show, surely; so I hereby summon game-show king Mr Bruce Forsythe:
Brucie: Nice to see you; to see you...
Assembled Masses of Romanians and Hungarians (in unison): Nice!!
Brucie: Welcome to the Transylvanian Generation Game, where we try to stop generations upon generations of Romanians and Hungarians continuing to hate and/or distrust each other. Now, here we have Nicolae Ceauşescu who works as a dictator and who instigated a programme of systematically oppressing Hungarian culture and sometimes beating people up simply for speaking Hungarian. And he’s accompanied by his lovely wife – come over here my love, over here – Elena Ceauşescu, a semi-literate peasant woman who nevertheless required that she be revered as a major international scientist - didn’t she do well!
Assembled Masses of Romanians and Hungarians (in unison, and with %100 irony): Hurray!!
Brucie: And their opponents today are Miklós Horthy who works as Regent of Hungary - but he’s only got his hands on (emphasising the word and giving a meaningful look to the camera) the rump of Hungary these days.
AMoRaH (in unison, not understanding if that was a joke but suspecting it probably was): Ha ha ha!!
Brucie: And with him today is his lovely great-great-aunt twice-removed, Countess Erzsébet Báthory**. And it says here that – give us a twirl, my love, give us a twirl - you work as possibly the world’s most prolific female serial killer.
AMoRaH (in unison, despite themselves): Hurray!!
Brucie: The first game today is an easy one to get you started and it’s called “What to do with The Jews”. Miklós, when you came to power in 1920 you introduced laws severely restricting education opportunities for Jews and presided over a two-year period known as The White Terror when thousands of Jews and Socialists were massacred and sadistically tortured – do you think you can win this game?
Horthy Miklós: An iron broom alone could sweep the country clean.
Brucie: Nicolae, you sold Jews to Israel for a good price and invoked the fascist rhetoric of earlier Romanian leaders whenever you saw advantage in it – how do you rate your chances?
Nicolae Ceauşescu: We’ve made good money this way, but... (grinning) ...maybe I steal his broom later if I need it!
AMoRaH (slapping each other on the back and falling about in hysterics): Hurray!! Ha ha ha ha ha!!
Brucie: The next game is called “Who Should Run Transylvania”. Nicolae?
Nicolae Ceauşescu: (shrugging his shoulders) You know, there are more, errr, “business” opportunities for me in Bucharest, and every time I come to Transylvania everybody is so stuck-up I think I must have fall asleep in train and arrive in Austria!
AMoRaH (in unison, practically wetting themselves): Ha ha ha ha ha!!
Brucie: Miklós, how about you?
Horthy Miklós (pausing.... it’s a tense moment): You know, Transylvanian peasants both Romanian and Hungarian rose up against our rule, the Germans we installed there eventually betrayed us, and we even had to fight our brother Magyars the Székely on occasions. Hmph..... I don’t want it either!
A voice from the audience (actually Zsa Zsa Gabor, for it is she): Hey, Brucie, why don’t YOU be King of Transylvania? Would you need a queen??
Brucie (giving a look to the camera): Dthuthvugthrvth***
Another voice from the audience (Ilie Năstase, this time): And bring your former-Miss-World ex-wives with you – I find work for them!
AMoRaH (in unison... several vigorous, miscegenationist relationships having already started up on the back row seats): Ha ha ha ha ha!! Hurray!!
Brucie: Good game good game! (looking at camera) It looks like I’M the contestant for the conveyor belt round, then. After I’ve seen all the wonderful things on it, all I have to do is remember what they were. I get to keep every one I remember and lose the others. Ready? Ready.
The Lovely Anthea: On the conveyor belt today we have Transylvania, human rights, historical objectivity, political accountability, harmonious multiculturalism, cuddly toy.......
* Though it does, of course. Communist-era thinking is still in evidence and should be undone. I’m hoping that (ethnic Hungarian) László Tőkés, catalyst of the 1989 revolution and now well-placed as an independent member of the European Parliament, will lobby successfully in this vein.
** This is not really fair: she’s not exactly relevant to the discussion here, having carried out her activities in today’s Slovakia, between the years 1585 and 1610, and being a psychopathic freak that any society might throw up; but for some she epitomises, surely unfairly albeit colourfully, the dissociation from ordinary humanity claimed to be in evidence in the attitudes of the Hungarian aristocracy. And I needed a female.
*** That noise Brucie makes when he’s dithering.