At the invitation of the University of Toronto and the University of Ottawa, Attila Pók (professor emeritus, Institute of History, HUN-REN Research Centre for the Humanities) gave several lectures in Canada between 1 and 6 April 2024.

On April 1, at the conference Flashpoints of Hungarian History organized by the Centre for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, Pók Attila gave a lecture entitled 1968: Halfway between 1956 and 1989?. Then he presented László Borhi’s book Survival Under Dictatorships - Life and Death in Nazi and Communist Regimes, recently published in English by CEU Press.


On 2 April, he talked about the events of 1989 in Hungary as part of Robert Austin’s course on the history of Europe. On 4 April, he attended the inauguration of the new director of the Slovak Institute at the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Arts, Roman Krakowsky, and on 5 April, he gave a lecture Freemasons and Modernization in Hungary in an Eastern and Central European Context at the conference Moving Beyond The Center-Periphery Dynamics: Central and Eastern Europe from the Mid-19th Century to The Present.


1968: Halfway between 1956 and 1989?

The presentation gives a short summary of the major events of 1968, from the perspective of a member of the so called 1968-er generation, myself. I will argue that 1968 was a historical turning point in the history of Hungarian statehood but as A.J. P. Taylor put it in connection with 1848: history came to a turning point but failed to turn. This topic is part of a longer term research on The Fourth Reform Generation in Hungary, i.e. reform efforts of various segments of the Hungarian cultural, economic political elite from  the mid 1950s to the late 1980s.

Freemasons and Modernization in Hungary in an Eastern and Central European Context

The presentation gives an overview of the history of Freemasonry in Hungary during a period of 271 years (1749-2020) from the perspective of the movement’s views on modernisation. The author covers the emergence and the development of Freemasonry in Hungary in the second half of the 18th century and its links with the Hungarian Enlightenment. The main part of the paper covers the period between 1867 and 1918 in which two grand lodges emerged (in 1870 and 1871) and were united in 1886 as the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Hungary. The role of this grand lodge in the period 1886-1918 is analysed and it is viewed as a part of Hungarian civil society, but also as an institution whose membership sometimes had differing attitudes that oscillated between social activism and contemplation, and between strong liberalism and traditionalism. The issue of the Austrian border lodges (Grenzlogen) is also covered. Freemasonry was banned in Hungary between 1919 and 1945 and had only a short revival till 1950, followed by a new ban by the Stalinist regime. In was re-established only in 1989. However, even during the time when it was banned or hardly visible, a number of its members were working on reform plans that turned out to be valuable assets of Hungarian political culture.