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Eszter Hargittai commemorates the end of Hungary’s involvement in World War II, 60 years ago today. Hungary, like many nations around the world, has yet to come to terms with its participation in the war. Things are a bit difficult in Hungary because a) Hungary fought on the side of Nazi Germany, participating with enthusiasm in the dismemberment of several other Central European states, and b) the end of the war ushered in forty-five years of Soviet domination, including the brutal Soviet crackdown of 1956.

I remember, six or seven years ago, I was on a list-serv dedicated to developing a successor to the Avalon Hill game Advanced Third Reich. This eventually became A World at War, and was finally published in 2003. The development team included a large number of Americans (unsurprising), a fair number of Britons (unsurprising), a substantial number of Germans (mildly surprising), and a number of vocal Hungarians (quite surprising). Discussions of the mechanics of the game often devolved into conversations about the war. I found the attitude of the Hungarians quite odd; they were unhappy with the Germans, not for getting them involved in a devastating, pointless, immoral war, but instead for withholding the best equipment.

What was funniest was the Hungarian attitude toward the Italians; most of the conversations would devolve into some story about how two Hungarian squads held off a Russian attack for 38 weeks before being relieved by six Italian divisions, which surrendered the position after three hours.

There were no Italian participants in the discussion. . .

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