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When Soviet troops began withdrawing from Budapest an unbridled White Terror started in the Hungarian capital. We Soviet tourists recall this time with horror. It is difficult to describe the chaos which reigned in the city where public buildings were destroyed, shops looted, and where crowds of armed bandits, obviously fascists, walked along the streets committing bestial murders in broad daylight. I shall never forget what I saw with my own eyes. I think it was on 30 or 31 October . A man in a sports suit walked along the Lenin Boulevard. He might have been one of those who tried to restore order in the city. Several armed ruffians wearing counter-revolutionary tricolours ran up to him. A horrible inhuman cry was heard. A whole crowd of bandits appeared from somewhere. I was unable to see what they were doing with their victim, but in a few minutes he was hanging on a nearby tree with an eye gouged out and his face slashed with knives.
Some time ago I read how the fascists in Germany burnt progressive literature on bonfires. We saw similar things. ...A group of some hooligans looted and set fire to the House of Books. Thousands and thousands of books were smouldering in the muddy street. We were there, witnesses of this barbarity. The works of Chekhov, Shakespeare, Tolstoi, Pushkin, and other famous authors were lying in the mud, black smoke rising. We saw an old man who lifted a few books, then carefully wiped the mud with his sleeve, pressed them to his breast and walked slowly away. Many people did the same.
In the Hotel "Peace" the atmosphere in those days was extremely tense. The counter-revolutionaries core the red star from the front of the hotel and trod it underfoot on the pavement. We were told that the Hotel "Peace" from now on would be called Hotel "Britannia." The person who told us about it looked around and added quietly: "It doesn't matter. It will only be temporary.'
More than once we were witnesses of acts which manifested the friendly attitude of the Hungarians towards the Soviet people. This friendly attitude was felt by us Soviet people, when we were leaving Budapest. In small groups of two or three people we made our way along the devastated streets towards the Danube in order to board a Red Cross steamer. We were accompanied by a worker
a young girl. She led us from one cross-road to another, fearlessly seeking the safest way. All the pier we heartily embraced her. She said: "Some one in the West wants us to pull their chestnuts out of the fire. Don't believe them, dear friends. We Hungarians are for socialism, and we are with you." When we were in Czechoslovakia on our way home, we learned that the counter-revolution in Hungary was routed and that life was becoming normal in the country. Now we are at home in Moscow. We shall not forget that Hungarian girl who said that the Hungarians were for socialism and that they were with us.
HOW THE HISTORIAN ASKS QUESTIONS
The past three readings have concerned the way in which historians develop and validate hypotheses with factual evidence. But how does a historian develop a hypothesis in the first place? And how does he go about the complicated and time-consuming process of searching for facts to support his hypotheses? How does he know, for example, that he has not overlooked some really vital possibility in a complex historical situation? If he has, the explanation he has tried to develop will certainly fall short of the truth.
Historians deal with very complicated developments involving millions of people and great spans of time. Hence they must be particularly careful to develop procedures which will help them to cover the large number of possibilities inherent in any historical situation. Most historians work through a set of questions which often help to reveal the information which has a bearing on an issue. Knowing which questions to ask becomes a vital matter. No simple check list can cover the enormous range of historical possibilities. Every historian must always be ready to ask new questions, ones that he has never asked before, if he expects his frame of reference to expand. Still, having a few questions which have proved fruitful in the past in mind when beginning an historical investigation often prevents a scholar from overlooking a vital point.
In Reading IV, Carl G. Gustavson, a contemporary historian, explains his procedure for discovering the causes of the Protestant Reformation, He 18 concerned with both the development of hypotheses and with ways of uncovering facts which bear on them. The cause of the Reformation, one of the most complicated of historical problems, requires particular attention to the rules of clear thinking in historical investigations. As you read, think about the following questions:
THE CAUSES OF THE REFORMATION *
From Carl G. Gustavson, A PREFACE TO HISTORY (New York: McGraw-
In this chapter on the methods of the historian, Gustavson indicates
THE PROBLEM OF MIND SET
In Reading IV we studied the way in which a historian develops a hypothesis by asking analytical questions. Gustavson was trying to discover the cause of the Protestant Reformation. He assumed that a number of factors were at work; no major historical development is ever caused by only one event but by a combination of many. His questions were designed to reveal whether or not some of the more important causes of change in other situations were involved in this one. He conceded that all the questions which he listed might not be appropriate to every topic and that an alert historian would always have to watch for unique causes if he hoped to make an accurate interpretation.
Asking analytical questions seems to be a simple matter. It is not. Everyone is conditioned by his culture, by the knowledge, beliefs, customs and skills he acquires as a member of society. Two men from different cultures may perceive the same events quite differently. What may strike a man from one culture as particularly important may seem commonplace and not worth noting to someone from another society. A culture can give a person a "mind set," attitudes toward life which condition the interpretation he will develop.
The excerpt below illustrates this point. It was written about the year 1000 AD by a monk in the monastery of St. Benedict at Fleury in France. This story was part of a two-volume work on the miracles of St. Benedict for whom the monastery was named. As you read, think about the following questions:
What really happened to Herbert? Was he struck by
2. Why did Herbert and the Monk think that St. Benedict
What factors account for the interpretation of history
A MIRACLE OF THE EARLIEST DAYS OF FEUDALISM*
The castle of Sully, which is three miles from Fleury, was in the possession of a certain Herbert. Our venerable abbot Richard had given this Herbert as a benefice some lands that were church property. But Herbert, being by no means content with these, by an act of scandalous boldness seized the remaining lands reserved there for the benefit of the monks. So the abbot and the members of the monastery go all together to him, asking him to take to heart the good faith he pledged to them by oath, and to cease occupying their possessions. Since he pays little attention to their pleas, they proceed to lay the mournful burden of their complaint before King Lothar and Duke Hugh, but make no progress in those quarters either. Then on their own they begin again with the man of bad faith, praying that he take pity on them and halt his oppression of them. Since he nonetheless averts his ears, they come back to his castle. All in all, for practically the whole period of Lent in that year, they poured forth their prayers of tribulation to God, amid solemn litanies, beating at the same time two pieces of brass, in order by the sound to invite the help of all who heard.
Meanwhile that man Herbert, continuing in his evil defiance and daily adding worse deeds to his bad behavior, on a certain night set out with some of his men into the district of the Gâtinais. And since, according to the clothing bearing the marks of holy wounds, whose whole covering gleamed with an ethereal brightness as he himself told his men afterwards. And then he let out a horrible cry, for he was hit between the shoulders by a staff which the figure seemed to have in hand; and then the vision disappeared before his eyes. The riders around him, struck by the horror of his cry, try solicitously to find out what has happened to him. "Saint Benedict," he tells them, "just now standing by me, struck me a powerful blow, from which I feel now severe pain. But you faithful fellow-soldiers, follow the path back and take me to my home, and from there hurry to the tomb of the glorious saint to demand urgent forgiveness for me.' They followed his orders and took him back to where they had started. Almost on the threshold of his home, in the arms of his servants, he gave up his soul; his devoted vassals, going to the monks of St. Benedict, reported what had happened and asked that the dead body be received for burial. The monks, although fearful of the indignation of the abbot, who at the moment was by chance absent, agreed and buried the body. Although they in part were quietly pleased, yet with pious compassion they did pity the man who had died, for in the first flower of his youth he was now deprived of the gift of this life and also unable to make up for the wickedness of his ways.
* Translated from the original Latin in Les Miracles de Saint Benoit,
ed. E. de Certain (Paris, 1858), pp. 107-109.
Even the language which a man uses may affect his interpretation of events. Each of us learns to describe his world in words. Some languages are much richer than others. Languages adapted to a particular environment often have a wide choice of words which another tongue lacks entirely. For example, Eskimos have a number of words for snow, each one with a special meaning. We have only one. This difference in language can cause different interpretations of history and different descriptions of the same events.
From Paul Henle, ed., LANGUAGE, THOUGHT AND CULTURE, (Ann Arbor, Michigan, University of Michigan Press: 1958), 7-8.
This selection deals with the language of the Navaho. Henle points out that the Navaho language uses the same word for green and blue and for brown and grey.
On the other hand, the Indian tribe has two words for black.