István Csurka, a Hungarian anti-Soviet dissident playwright turned politician died on 2012 February 4. Csurka took part in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, he was the leader of the National Guard (Nemzetőrség) at the college where he was studying. For his participation in the revolution, he was interned by communist authorities for six months. He was released only after agreeing to become an informant of the communist regime. After the system change he became an MP for the MDF party which governed Hungary from 1990 to 1994. Following differences with party leadership Csurka was expelled from MDF in 1993, and founded his own far-right party, MIEP. This party entered the Hungarian Parliament in 1998 for the first and the last, time. After the 2002 election defeat, MIEP fell out of Parliament, and could never re-enter it. After losing his parliamentary seat in 2002 he and his party gradually lost influence to the point of becoming irrelevant in Hungarian politics.
Csurka got back into the news in late 2011 when the newly appointed director of “New theater” (Új szinház), György Dörner suggested that he might ask Csurka to be the unpaid intendant of the cultural aspects of the theater. Because of Csurka’s past as a far-right politician, this caused some controversy and as a result, the suggestion about Csurka’s possible role was withdrawn by director of New Theater, György Dörner. A few days before his death, a letter from Csurka was read to the staff of the New Theater, in which he asked members of the theater to work together in harmony despite their political differences.
One of Csurka’s last works, “The Sixth Coffin,” a play about Trianon, the post-World War I treaty which forced Hungary to give up 70% of its territories and over 60% its population, is planned to be staged at the same theater later in 2012.
While Csurka’s politics were controversial, his talent as a playwright was not. His plays were put on in various theaters across Hungary over the decades. István Verebes who can be found at the other end of the political spectrum from Csurka wrote: “One of the great playwrights of our time, István Csurka has died! His life and career had more than a few illuminating moments, but his works remain.”