Thursday, 10 April 2014


We so nearly never knew her

Here's a little story that Mária Hári told me, a very long time ago. I did not take notes and memory is beginning to fade with time.

It refers to an experience of hers during the War. When I heard it, I did not then know enough to ask relevant questions so I just let her tell me as it came out.

I do not therefore know more exactly the date at which this happened, or where – or who 'they' were.

Mária had been born in 1923 into a prosperous family, with a grand house in Buda behind where the Hotel Budapest now stands. Her father was a banker. He was Jewish, her mother was not. This made her a 'half-Jew'. This may not have been easy for her in the social climate in which she grew up but it became actively dangerous after the German take-over of Hungary in 1944. She was Jewish enough to merit extermination under the suddenly worsening regime.

I gather that Mária's father went to Switzerland while he still could, leaving behind in Budapest his wife, Mária, and Mária's disabled sister. Mária was put to work sewing along with other women in a factory making shirts for the military. I do not know which military, the Hungarian or the German. Then the factory was cleared. She told me –
One day they came for us, and took all the women. I hid in a cupboard. Another girl also hid. I had to stay absolutely not moving for three days.

And the other girl?
She moved. They found her. She died.

Remembering Mária

Mária herself died in October 2001.

In October 2004 I made a contribution to the Memorial Day organised by Agnes Borbély and Moira in Budapest. The room was full of ladies from the Pető Institute who had known Mária and worked with her for years. Some has heard that little tale, many had not. How true was it as I recall her telling me? I do not know, but it showed them a younger Mária whom they at once recognise from her later years. It was 'true' in that sense.

I spoke about Mária's contradictory characteristics, including her 'rigidity (her own word for it), with this little vignette of her three days silent in a store cupboard as one illustration –
Mária hung on, and lived. I can picture a crazy, frightened young woman in the store cupboard. Only someone with iron will could have survived, only someone 'rigid'. Perhaps this was exactly the person that Conductive Education needed to act as the bridge from the strange world of András Pető to the dawn of the new Hungary.

I have told this little story before, but it is worth acknowledging how she was, both those of us who knew her and those who did not, and what her contradictory personality gave to Conductive Education,


Sutton, A. (2007) Mária Hári, from whom we still have much to learn (presentation to Commemorative Meeting hosted by Moira at the Budapest Technical University, 9 October, 2004), in Mária Hári and her Conductive Education, Budapest, MPANNI, pp. 60-66

Also translated into Hungarian by Földiné Németh Gabriella:

Sutton, A. (2005) Mária Hári, akitől még mindig tanulunk, in Mária Hári (1923-2001), Budapest, MPANNI, pp. 59-65


Anonymous Andrew said...

Coincidentally, while having breakfast in a cafe this morning, only an hour of so after posting the above, I noticed the following in a newspaper TV review. Ian Hislop, was quoted by Christopher Howse as saying --

‘The Olden Days have the best characters, and the best stories – but not necessarily the best facts’


‘The Olden Day always have a future’

Too true, just as long as myths, their roles and functions, are recognised for what they are.

Howse, C. (2014), Ian Hislop’s Olden Days, BBC Two, review, Daily Telegraph, 9 April

Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 11:45:00 BST  
Anonymous Andrew said...

Gill Maguire writes to tell me that she has been doing some sleuthing, and finds the following from Ildikó Kozma’s speech at Mária Hári’s funeral ceremony –  

After the final examination at the secondary school she finished her studies at Mozdulatanító-Képző (Movement Teachers' Training College), and worked as a factory worker...'

What a way to put it.

Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 17:41:00 BST  
Blogger Nalis Incognitus said...

I hope (or I must say I wish) that the history won't repeat with even immenser recurrence...

Mária Hári was an ideal conductor. But do we want to be like her or at least try?

Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 20:56:00 BST  

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