Cardinal Mindszenty played an important role in the 1956 revolution. He assumed his post as archbishop immediately after his release from captivity, appealed for international aid for Hungary, initiated the process of cleaning the church from Communist infiltration, while also being active in the political life of the country. Firmly holding onto his conservative view of himself as the most important dignitary of Hungary, he tried to set the direction of the course of events. Contrary to the recent myth-busting efforts, this direction was not reactionary or outdated.
‘The speed and eagerness with which Hungarian clubs sought to return to their old identities, with all the loyalties and connections they represented, demonstrated the power of these emotional and social meanings. And it was just as clearly a mark of the utter failure of the Party to co-opt and utilise the power of football for its own purposes. The Party abandoned the micro-management of football, paralleling its wider realisation after 1956 that, while its authority was still non- negotiable, it could and would not protect and justify it through the politicisation of society or the ideological mobilisation of the people.’
The extreme judgements about Begin have often been motivated by political ambitions and therefore do not help historical clarity. 110 years after his birth it is time to appreciate his values while not turning a blind eye to his flaws either.