INTERVIEWER: Did he ever say to you, as clearly as you said before that actually Gorbachev had said, "We looked at the Hungarian reforms and we learned from them." Did he ever say that to you in any conversation, and if he did could you tell me that he had said it?
MIKLOS NEMETH: Yes especially in the field of agriculture, yes. they wanted to follow to some extent the Hungarian experience, despite the fact that during our meeting I taught him that this is a dead end, we have tried everything, believe me, that's why we're favoring another route and totally liberalizing the economy, and establishment of a new political institutional system. Because the two big areas of the society are inter-linked one influencing the other, so without that political reform, that was my key message, I we have tried that, since '68. We have tried out that route. And it will not lead to better efficiency, it will not lead to the better use of the available resources. No. You can achieve some results, but basically this route will lead to a dead end again. He did not believe, he was surprised to hear this. He, he at that time, he was a strong believer of Lenin's new economic policy and the methodology applied by them at that time. We told them, I told him that I don't believe in this.
INTERVIEWER: Right, now can we get onto the reburial of Imre Nagy in June. What was the significance of that reburial ceremony and why was the decision taken to do it?
MIKLOS NEMETH: Early 89, I have asked the Minister for Justice to take out of the archives all the available documents on the so-called trials of Imre Nagy and his compatriots. In February when I saw the list of the victims, more than 400, it was clear to me, having in mind the looming 30th anniversary of their killings and trial, that we can't leave this issue, just like that. After 30 years you have to give some answers to very valid questions and comments. I was very young in 56 so I did not know anything of this and officially it was not told in the schools or at the Universities. It was an issue for a very, very limited people.
INTERVIEWER: Did you actually know about it though?
MIKLOS NEMETH: No it was clear that they, they killed them. we heard several versions, stories about those days and events, but nobody knew what really happened in those days and, and especially why they killed Imre Nagy and some key players of those days. So I was stung to see that on that list young boys when they imprisoned them, arrested them, they were fort, sixteen years old and they waited 'til they celebrated their 18th birthday and next morning they killed some of them. so it was clear to me that if we want to, if we want to tackle this issue without further blood shedding, we have to be ready with certain answers by the 16th of June when the 30th anniversary was. And there was another committee, a so-called task force, which besides the legal part, which worked on certain documentation, that was sort of historical approach. And at the same time Pavel had this actions of the government some victims or family members of those days victims formulated and form a sort of group independently and separately from the government, who wanted and requested quite publicly, the reburial of Imre Nagy and his martyrs, colleagues. The party was in total opposition of this initiatives including the leadership. Karoly Grosz, made a presentation to the Central Committee of his findings, on Imre Nagy's days when he was in exile in Moscow in the late 20s and 30s. Of course he got some access to the Soviet Archives as the Secretary General of the Hungarian Communist Party and based on his findings and, and based on certain documents he got from the Soviets during that Central Committee meeting. I was present, I heard it, and I remember of that meeting quite well, even today. I was shocked to hear from him, that Imre Nagy, also he was the leader of the '56 revolutionary days. But Imre Nagy was a member of the KGB, even he gave to the Central Committee his code name, and based on his findings in Moscow, how many compatriots of those community live in those days in Moscow, suffered of his reporting activities to the KGB then time called Chekov. And even he accused of him that he killed by his activities, reporting activities how many Hungarians lost their lives. So in other words, he as an agent, he did not deserve any special treatment. That was his life. At the same time, a growing pressure from the Society, from the intelligentsia, from the looming new parties that we can't leave this issue like that, unsolved. So that was a quite hot potato. and you know if you don't do the job properly, it can easily lead to another bloodshed. So in order to avoid this step by step the government became part of the whole process. I negotiated whole ceremony with the representatives of the victims and it was at a very important day, a month before President Bush and James Baker visited the country. An important day for reconciliation.
INTERVIEWER: Sorry could you say that again, I interrupted you.
MIKLOS NEMETH: A very important day for the nation's reconciliation with its past and history.
INTERVIEWER: Was it also a renewal in some way?
MIKLOS NEMETH: A renewal, a new start, definitely. because together opposition, government, you know, we did it, and one of the new opposition party leader made a quite important speech at the Real Square, that day requesting the Russian soldiers to leave the country. And according to the whole practice and old rules, even that minute the security forces would have arrested him. It did not happen, he was able to finish his speech. It was live on the television and on the radio. So the conclusion for the country and for the society was quite clear. So we can believe in this new process. There will be something happening soon. And to restore the confidence of the Society and the people of the democratic process, this was of vital of importance, and the reburial, meant to us a reconciliation with our past and history. It meant a new start, a fresh start, especially in the political side of our life. And a renewal. Everyone felt at that night, or on that day, that somebody recharged my batteries.
INTERVIEWER: How did you feel?
MIKLOS NEMETH: it was an interesting day for me. I told you that key players within the party opposed that that day and the ceremony it's it there was a quite, quite important threat, directed against me and against my closest collaborators. You know those days the party, had a special telephoning network system.
INTERVIEWER: We've run out the tape is just 30 minutes, we'll have a small break. This is very good it's going very well.
INTERVIEWER: I think I'm going to move your hair a little bit, it's coming down. Okay. So this is roll 10853, now Mr. Nemeth, you were telling me how you felt during the funeral of the reburial of Imre Nagy.
MIKLOS NEMETH: It was a very important day for the whole country. we managed to have a an important shared feeling of reconciliation of the whole countries history. It was a day for renewal. It was a day for recharging our batteries and it was a joy for nearly all of us, which did not mean that some of the key party players and military persons, especially the party militia shared these feelings with us and with the government. I remember that when it was made public that we will do it together, government and opposition, or the representatives of the victims, of '56, on the special party telephone networks, I got quite interesting phone calls, you know, and some of them, was quite harsh, threatening my life: "If you go there we will kill you.". Of course we made some precautions and preparatory work and I remember when I left my office the two secretaries really got emotional and they, they touched my shoulder they to some extent believed that something will be happening there. And they maybe will not see me again in life. But it went without any accident, without any fuss and turmoil.