A Smashing Success? The Paradox of Hungarian Cultural Imperialism in Nazi New Order Europe, 1939–42

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Journal of Contemporary History
This article investigates the flooding of the Yugoslav film market by Hungarian features between 1939 and 1941, the impact of which continued well into 1942. This torrent and the simultaneous expansion of Hungary’s domestic market substantially influenced not only the Hungarian film industry, but surprisingly the cultural politics of southeastern Europe during the early imposition of the Nazi New Order. Viewing Hungarian cinematic success through the lens and rhetoric of cultural imperialism, the article examines the centrality of Jewish participation in and expulsion from Hungarian cultural production, Hungary’s perception of its role in southeastern Europe, and Nazi Germany’s understanding of Hungarian film as an existential threat to its European New Order. By ‘Europeanizing’ Hungary’s venture in Yugoslavia, the article opens new avenues of thought about the space afforded to small states in Nazi-dominated Europe. It explains how Hungary’s achievements in Yugoslavia reinvigorated a faltering industry and allowed Hungary’s film establishment the fantasy of perceiving itself, and being perceived by others, as possessing imperial prestige and power. It reveals the malleability of national identities, describing how these identities transformed when crossing borders. Finally, it demonstrates the importance of cultural politics in Nazi thinking, and that force and coercion were central to the New Order at an earlier stage than previously acknowledged.
Hungarian Film, Imperialism, Jews, Nazi Germany, New Order, Yugoslavia
Frey, D. S. (2016). A Smashing Success? The Paradox of Hungarian Cultural Imperialism in Nazi New Order Europe, 1939–42. Journal of Contemporary History, 51(3), 577–605. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022009415622804