Ferenc Nádosy's Legacy
The Nádosy bequest is an exceptional collection of materials documenting the daily work done by a Christian samizdat author and his efforts to establish a network of contacts. It also contains materials concerning the organization of the missionary working group, international communication, and the process of samizdat production.
Sárospatak Rákóczi út 1, Hungary 3950
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Name of collection
- Ferenc Nádosy's Legacy
Provenance and cultural activities
One of the major tasks and perhaps even the most important task of the Christian Church is to preach. This covers much more than just the sermons on Sundays. In addition to preaching to the congregation, the mission to spread the faith is part of this calling, which, according to the terminology of the Reformed Church, means telling people about the crucifixion and the redemption of Christ and inviting them to join the fold. In practice, this normally includes the renewal of congregational life with the addition of days of prayer, evangelizing, and the search for people who have drifted away from the Church. To organize missions to other countries is a special area of activity, during which representatives of the Church introduce people living far away to the Christian faith.
While there was a serious revival movement in Hungary following World War II, missions both in the country and abroad were increasingly hampered after 1945. The elimination of social and ecclesiastical associations and movements began on 4 July 1946, when a regulation was issued by the Minister of Internal Affairs. The next step was taken on 5 October 1949, when the Ministry approved the proposal made by the Universal Convent of the Reformed Church of Hungary aiming to disband the most important 14 associations. Meanwhile, mission work became impossible, especially after Albert Bereczky sent a letter to the deans on 8 January 1952 and the Mission Regulation came into force on 1 March of the same year. After this, the activity of the Reformed Church was limited to preaching. During the period in which legal restrictions were in place and limitations were accepted by the Church leadership, many formerly public activities went on illegally. Prayer Days, evangelizing, and youth events were organized under cover, and typographic copies of Christian records (e.g. birth and marriage certificates) were circulated as samizdat literature.
There is a wonderful collection of records and documents like the one Sárospatak, the Ferenc Nádosy collection, which is one of the biggest collections of sources regarding the Hungarian Protestant resistance between 1945 and 1989. The handwritten documents (which come to roughly 5,500 pages), the nine archival boxes (around 3,139 documents), which containing the so called “mission archives,” and the two archival boxes of the materials of the Mission traveling exhibition were given to the Scientific Collections of the Reformed College of Sárospatak by Nádosy in several instalments after 1981. In many cases, the collections even include further copies, most of which have been obtained from pastoral legacies. The collection of documents offers a detailed picture of the illegally operating Reformed and Evangelical organizations under the communist dictatorship, with particular emphasis on the missions to other countries.
Ferenc Nádosy was critical of the communist takeover. As he said, “I approved of the economic, industrial, and social changes of the new regime in many respects, but I rejected most of the intellectual conclusions of its ideology.” The confrontation between Ferenc Nádosy and the communist state was predictable. His samizdat-authoring and publishing activities began in 1946.
First, the communist state attempted to “reeducate” Nádosy in an ideological sense. A brigade of workers visited him on a weekly basis and tried to persuade him to change his views, without any success. The first open clash between him and the communist regime took place at the time of the elections in 1949. Though aware of the possible consequences of their acts, Nádosy and his wife both openly voted against the People’s Front in front of the counting committee during the open-poll election in Tótvázsony. A police investigation was launched against Ferenc Nádosy shortly afterwards because of alleged malversation, but the investigation was closed because the authorities could not find any evidence against him. A few weeks later, he was dismissed from his medical post.
Nádosy moved from Tótvázsony to Szentaltalfa, and after two and a half years of work as a private doctor, he moved to Litér. Due to the lack of medical personnel in the Várpalota district in 1951, the chief physician of the county contacted Ferenc Nádosy and offered him a chance to return and to work as a practicing physician. After a long debate, Nádosy accepted the offer on one condition: the state had to issue a sealed, registered document, signed by the chief physician, specifying the doctrines of Marxism that Nádosy did not accept and detailing the positions he took against them. The document also assured Nádosy that the state demanded only his medical knowledge, and it did not oblige him to deny his faith. After a short period of service in the Várpalota district, he again became a general practitioner in Litér, where he served for 14 years, after which he retired. He then moved to Balatonalmádi, where he spent the last years of his life.
Since the communist state never tolerated Ferenc Nádosy’s activities, during his time in Litér, he was repeatedly subjected to police interrogations, house searches, and harassment by his boss, who made sure that Nádosy was overwhelmed with work. The main aim was to make him put an end to his missionary work. In addition, he was constantly monitored by the communist state security forces: many reports were submitted on him in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, and his name frequently came up during investigations regarding the “translation and dissemination of religious propaganda.”
According to his contemporaries, Nádosy’s missionary work began at what was perhaps the most urgent moment. Shortly after the communist takeover in 1949, the leaders of the Protestant Church in Hungary eliminated the Hungarian Reformed Association for missions, which provided the institutional background for missions to other countries. According to László Draskóczy, one of the most outstanding representatives of mission work, people who had worked with the missions became psychologically paralyzed. This was when Ferenc Nádosy’s letter arrived, asking about the work of Mária Molnár, a missionary who was killed by the Japanese on the Admiral Islands during World War II, and the addresses of the Liebenzell Mission and the mission to Manus Island. Nádosy then contacted these institutions via post. During his work as a missionary, Nádosy managed to contact even more institutions. According to a source from before 1956, he was already communicating with the mission of Chuuk Lagoon (in the Caroline Islands) and a missionary working in Japan, and he already acquired information on Billy Graham’s evangelizing trips, the mission work in China, and the revival movements in Brazil, France, and Italy.
Ferenc Nádosy published the news collected through his constantly expanding network of contacts and through his extensive correspondence in the form of samizdat. He edited papers that were 25–30 pages long entitled Missziói levelek [Mission Letters] from June 1955 until March 1956, Missziói lapok [Mission Papers] from 1956 until 1958, and Misszió [Mission] from June 1958 until February 1963. He continued his work by entitling the publication Külmissziói körlevél [Foreign Mission Circular] and Missziói Körlevél [Mission Circular] in the 1970s and the 1980s.
There was already a kind of working community functioning with the samizdat mission journal of Ferenc Nádosy at its center in the 1950s. 15 of the authors of the 23 published volumes of Misszió used their own names, and an additional four names were involved with production and reproduction in the 1950s. Nádosy managed to distribute the papers by post. With a typewriter, he was able to produce several copies simultaneously, and he used separate identifiers for each. He then sent them to his correspondents and readers. Due to the limited number of copies available, Nádosy used a technique he called “ring-connection.” Several recipients would read the same copy in a specified order. In other cases, he asked his readers, in writing, to send back the documents after two or three weeks. We have very little information about his readers. According to his circular from December 1983, the group of readers included a young priest, a public prosecutor, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a parish priest, and an elderly ecclesiastical leader.
The missionary work of Nádosy was more than just contact and information networking. According to his correspondence, he also took part in organizing relief efforts. According to a letter from 1976, within the framework of the handwork action of the Danubian Baptists and Nádosy’s mission community, they sent a donation of 9,000 forints to India, through the Basel Mission, already before 1969. This money was enough for a village to build a well. The letter from 1976 contains information concerning another relief action. The mission community and the Danubian Baptists contributed to the donation of the Red Cross of Szentendre, which was sent to Ethiopia, by donating 30,000 forints. Another source from 1976 mentions an aid package sent by Ferenc Nádosy to the Soviet Union with the permission of the Hungarian National Bank. Nádosy also tried to send money to the Carmel Evangelical Mission in West Germany in 1978, and in 1980, he started to organize aid for the flood victims in Békés County.
In addition to the literature related to his mission work, Ferenc Nádosy also wrote several texts about society and Christianity. His works include Spiritualismus und materialismus [Spiritualism and Materialism] from 1948, Krisztusi magatartás szovjeturalom alatt és a nagygazdagok hatalmában [Christ-like Conduct under Soviet Rule and the Reign of the Tremendously Welathy] from 1951, Kiút a materializmus tévedéseiből [A Way Out of the Mistakes of Materialism] from 1954, and Materializmus, idealizmus, keresztyénség [Materialism, Idealism, Christianity] from 1969. After 1970, he also writes about beat culture, hippies, sexuality, hooligans, bums, and drugs. His work covers these topics until the 1980s. He then became occupied with and wrote on global political studies and the reconciliation of theology and the natural sciences. The former texts include topics like the threat of nuclear war, terrorism, and, at the end of the decade, glasnost. He introduced the dissemination strategy used for these texts in a publication at the end of 1989 entitled Messzelátó [which means both binoculars and far-sighted]. According to his description of this strategy, he shared his political and politico-futurological writings with many people working in the government, diplomacy, the sciences, and the mass media. There are many clues in his work which suggest this. In his circular of December 1983, he mentions that he sent his text entitled Érett ésszel, józanul [With a Mature Mind, Sanely] to the editor of a weekly magazine in Budapest. Although he knew that they would not publish his article, he still hoped some of his thoughts might affect the journalist. In another one of his personal letters, he expresses the same wish for politicians and diplomats. He also forwarded his letters to them at the end of the 1980s. He wrote an essay on foreign policy that he even sent to the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, the Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, the Patriotic People’s Front, the Hungarian Communist Youth Association, the Secretariat of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and the British and Soviet Embassies.Ferenc Nádosy, during the work he pursued as a missionary and someone who supported missionary work, successfully established ties beyond the Iron Curtain and organized channels for the sharing of information. He did this at a time when both of these activities were forbidden. According to inventory lists and archival records, his works were read. His legacy surely deserves to be met with interest among scholars, but the documents kept in Sárospatak also offer insights into the unique details of the process of his work. The collection contains his correspondence, manuscripts of his finished works, samizdat publications, and many of the replies, as well. The Nádosy bequest is thus an exceptional collection of materials documenting the daily work done by a Christian samizdat author and his efforts to establish a network of contacts. It also contains materials concerning the organization of the missionary working group, international communication, and the process of samizdat production.
The collection was taken to Sárospatak while Nádosy was still alive. Part of the collection was brought to Sárospatak thanks to Nádosy’s document mission. Another part, the “mission archive,” was brought to Sárospatak to create a unique collection. This material may have been brought to Sárospatak in June 1981.
Description of content
A part of the bequest is in the Scientific Collections of the Reformed College of Sárospatak, in the collection of bequests. Another part is in the Manuscripts of the Big Library of the Scientific Collections of the Reformed College of Sárospatak. Here, the documents are organized by typed cards. The handwritten documents (which come to roughly 5,500 pages), the nine archival boxes (around 3,139 documents), which containing the so called “mission archives,” and the two archival boxes of the materials of the Mission traveling exhibition were given to the Scientific Collections of the Reformed College of Sárospatak by Nádosy in several instalments after 1981. In many cases, the collections even include further copies, most of which have been obtained from pastoral legacies. The collection of documents offers a detailed picture of the illegally operating Reformed and Evangelical organizations under the communist dictatorship, with particular emphasis on the missions to other countries.The correspondence regarding the missions to other countries and the related samizdat literature are the most important parts of the work of Ferenc Nádosy among the documents in Sárospatak. Nádosy published the news collected through his constantly expanding network of contacts and through his extensive correspondence in the form of samizdat. He edited papers that were 25–30 pages long entitled Missziói levelek [Mission Letters] from June 1955 until March 1956, Missziói lapok [Mission Papers] from 1956 until 1958, and Misszió [Mission] from June 1958 until February 1963. He continued his work by entitling the publication Külmissziói körlevél [Foreign Mission Circular] and Missziói Körlevél [Mission Circular] in the 1970s and the 1980s. In addition to these samizdat journals, Nádosy also authored several other book-long texts on mission work authored. Furthermore, many samizdats that do not have the copier’s name are linked to Nádosy’s network of connections, including for instance descriptions of Tommy Hicks’s missions to Argentina, Russia, Finland, and Israel and Billy Graham’s missions to Finland, India, and the Far East and also a report on János Cserepka’s visit to the Romanian leprosarium. These materials were spread in typographical format.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 1000-
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Sárospatak Rákóczi út 1, Hungary
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Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
Author(s) of this page
- Kovács, Áron
- Pál, Zoltán
ÁBTL – Állambiztonsági Szolgálatok Történeti Levéltára (Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security)
3.1.5. Operative files managed by departments keeping central operative records (O-dossiers)
MREZSL – Magyarországi Református Egyház Zsinati Levéltára (Synod Archives of the Reformed Church in Hungary)
89. László Draskóczy’s legacy
SRK TGy Levéltár – Sárospataki Református Kollégium Tudományos Gyűjteményei, Levéltár (Scientific Collections of the Reformed College of Sárospatak, Archives)
Zempléni egyházmegyei iratok (Documents of the Zemplén dioecese)
R.E. VIII. 6/5. Esperesi iratok – 1952.
SRK TGy Kézirattár – Sárospataki Református Kollégium Tudományos Gyűjteményei Nagykönyvtára, Kézirattár (Scientific Collections of the Reformed College of Sárospatak, Archives, Manuscript Collection)
Ferenc Nádosdy’s legacy
László Seres’ legacy
Zoltán Horváth’s legacy
Kádár, Ferenc. Ekkléziasztika. Az egyház élete és szolgálata. Sárospatak: Sárospataki Református Teológiai Akadémia.
Kollega Tarsoly, István, ed. Magyarország a XX. században. Vol. II. Szekszárd: Babits Kiadó, 1997.
Lutheran Church register, Zvolen, Slovakia https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9T94-4LP?i=43&cc=1554443Molnár, László, ed. A Pázmány Péter Tudományegyetem Orvostudományi Karán végzett orvostanhallgatók jegyzéke 1921–1951. Budapest: Semmelweis Kiadó, 2006.