Péter Galicza
The abstract is a summary of the content of the full interview, with the purpose of helping navigate through the full text. The numbers in brackets in the abstract refer to the pages of the full interview where the certain event or people are described in greater detail.
Teacher of Philosophy, Professor of Aesthetics

Place and date of interview:
Budapest, November 2006. – May 2008.
Interview length: 326 pages
Name of Interviewer: János Molnár
Maker of the Abstract: János Molnár

The interview was made of the Oral History Archive of the Institute of 1956, its original copy can be accessed and reasearched in the Institute.


Péter Galicza was born on February 7th 1950. in Budapest. His father was Károly Galicza (1920-1952) officer, an activist of the illegal communist movement, his mother was sculptor Katalin Neumann (1919-2005).

On the father’s side, the family was poor and lived in the countryside. His paternal grandfather, Károly Galicza senior was a driver, his grandmother, Mária Toldi, was a mai, and later a factory worker (pp 2-3, 9-11). He did not personally know Károly Galicza senior, he only saw him once when he had grown up, as his grandparents got divorced before his birth (pp 11-13). His paternal grandmother, Mária Toldi, however lived with his family until her death.
On his mother’s side he is the descendant of a Jewish merchant family. His grandfather, Géza Neumann was a well-known merchant of sports equipment, the owner of two shops selling sports equipment. His grandmother, née Róza Markfeld, was helping out in the family business (pp. 1, 4-9, 23-25). At the birth of Péter Galicza, the shops of his grandparents had been taken over by the state.

His father, Károly Galicza, was a good friend of Endre Ságvári, who later became a communist martyr and an emblem of the Hungarian socialist regime, and somehow took part in the illegal communist movement. However, the Interviewee did not know any details (pp. 5, 13-16, 33-34, 37). Károly Galicza, the civil servant from a modest background and Katalin Neumann, rich merchant girl got acquainted through the communist movement and got married in 1939-40 (pp. 3-4).

During the second world war, Károly Galicza was a member of the army. The Interviewee does not know any details, but he thinks his father never fought on any fronts (pp. 38-39). His mother rescued several Jewish people during the Holocaust, hiding them in her parents’ home in Napraforgó street. She also saved her only family by not allowing them to wear the yellow star, nor to obey any orders of deportation. However, she could not save her younger brother, László Neumann, who, against her advice, joined the forced labour camp set up for Jews towards the end of 1944 and died somewhere in the western part of Hungary (pp 21, 26).

After the war ended, Károly Galicza was a high ranking official of the 12th district of Budapest for a short while. According the Interviewee, he might have been the secretary of the party (pp. 22, 37-42), but because of his “bourgeois roots” he was dismissed – his father-in-law had transferred his non-Jewish son-in-law his shops during the war. For a short while he then worked in the family sports equipment business, but after the wave of nationalization he became the head of the cultural department of the Budapest Council of the then communist state party, the Hungarian Workers’ Party (p. 40).

After the death of her first husband, Katalin Neumann married party functionary and journalist Endre Kálmán (1909-1989).

Endre Kálmán worked for various communist party newspapers, and was the Head of the Institute of Party History between December 1956 and 1960. After that he was a vice-editor of the Társadalmi Szemle, the theoretical newspaper of the communist state party (1960-1971) (pp. 42, 44-57, 73-75, 85.). After his retirement he translated Marxist literature from German for the Kossuth publishing house.

Péter Galicza has three brothers. His oldest brother, János Galicza (1941) is a teacher at college and university, specializing in Pedagogy (p. 3). His two step-brothers were born to the marriage of Katalin Neumann and Endre Kálmán: György Kálmán C., litterateur, publicist (1954) and László Kálmán linguist (1957) (p.42).

Péter Galicza had a good relationship with the couple Dezső Orosz (1899-1981) – Piroska Vigyázó (1898-1980). They were both members of the illegal communist movement, high ranking party functionaries, and childless – they treated the Interviewee as their adopted child (pp. 4, 16-19, 32-33).

After the war, Katalin Neumann (Kató Kálmán) studied at the Budapest College of Fine Arts, then worked as a restorer of sculptures in the Inspectory of Monuments, later at the National Gallery. At the end of her life, she worked as an independent artist (pp. 29-31).

During the 1956 revolution, the Interviewee was six years old, and was at home with his family in their house in Buda, Széher street (pp. 58-59). He does not remember his step-father being involved in any way in the revolution, but he spent a few days in the building of the Institute of Party History in Kossuth tér, opposite the Parliemant. Péter Galicza attended kindergarten in the Rákosi Mátyás Kindergarten, a school reserved for the children of the communist elite (pp. 65-68). He went to several primary schools – Labanc street, Szajkó street, Pasaréti street (pp. 70-71). The family spent their summer holidays in party resorts, especially in the resort of Aliga, set up for the mid-ranking officials of the communist elite (pp. 81-83), but also other places. He started his high school studies at the Kató Hámán high school in Jurányi utca, but was sent away due to behavioural issues. He then attended János Arany Gimnázium in Sas-hegy, where his brother, János, was a teacher (pp. 78-79, 87-89, 103). He graduated from high school in 1968 (p. 95).

During his teenager years, the Interviewee, coming from a family of cadres, enthusiastically got involved in the communist youth movement. In high school he was a pioneer leader and an active member of the local Communist Youth Alliance (KISZ). He has unquestioningly believed in the communist ideas until 1968, when Hungarian troops intervened Czechoslovakia (pp. 98-102, 107).

In the autumn of 1968 he started his studies at the University of Eötvös Loránd (ELTE) in Budapest, majoring in Mathematics-Psychology-Philosophy (pp. 93-95, 107-125, 149-159). He abandoned Psychology after two years.

In the University he became an active member of the youth movement, he was elected into the leadership of the local KISZ, and became a member of the KISZ executive committee, ran by János Atkári, who was then considered a reformist (pp. 108-116, 130-135, 146). He gradually drifted away from the official ideology, and in his fourth year at university he was dismissed for the KISZ board of leaders. Shortly afterwards he completely broke away from the movement. He stopped paying his membership fee and declared that he had “quit”.

He graduated from ELTE university in 1973, with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, but even though there was supposed to be full employment in the socialist regime he could not find a job for month. Finally he started to work for the Pedagogical Research Team of the Hungarian Academy of Science (pp. 155-157, 159-165, 170). For a short time, he gave lectures the ELTE university, the dean of the Faculty of Humanities did not let him finish his course and removed him from the university (pp. 168-169). In 1974, he started to give courses at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Technology, and in 1975 he was appointed to be graduate teaching assistant, and in the 80’-es he became assistant professor (pp. 90-92, 182, 194-209, 219.). He had worked in this department for twenty-five years.

In 1975 he travelled to the “West” for the first time in his life, with his future wife. In Sweden, he met János Herskó, a Hungarian immigrant director and film pedagogue. In Denmark he was hosted in by a Danish Communist. In London, he visited extravagant philosopher Miklós Krassó, who had taken part in the revolution of 1956, and with whom he had become friends (pp. 182-194).

In 1976 he married economist Gabriella Salamon (1950), with whom he has worked together at the Pedagogical Research Team (p. 176.). Gabriella Salamon worked as an economical journalist for the Világgazdaság until 1989 (pp. 176-179, 211-217.). At the making of the interview she was the editor of the EcoNews English agency, set up by MTI, the official Hungarian Information Agency.
They have two children, a son, Pál and a daughter, Zsuzsa.

Péter Galicza has a wide social network, especially among liberal intellectual circles. His friends come from families of cadres, from university, from his experience in teaching philosophy and aesthetics and through his wife, who is a respected economic journalist. In the beginning of the’70-es he became good friends with two convicts of the Maoist trials, Gábor Révai és Tibor Gáti (pp. 108-109, 126-127, 262.) During this time he was closely linked with a commune, very unusual in the Socialist era, which was established by architect János Hajdú in the Rudas László street (pp. 128-130, 138-140). Through his wife, he meets several journalists of the Világgazdaság periodical, and thus he gets acquainted with the Hungarian reform economist movement of the time (pp. 163-164, 176-179, 209, 212-217, 266-267).

In October 1979 Péter Galicza and his wife, Gabriella Salamon, signed a petition against the arrest of the Czechoslovak Charta ’77, that was addressed to Pál Losonczi, head of state (pp. 92, 221-224, 226-242). Twice during the interview, Péter Galicza lists the people who signed this petition and talks about the people he knew (pp. 230-234, 247- 271). Pál Réti, their mutual friend, approached the couple about signing the petition. Three memers of his faculty signed it, two were fired, but he was defended by his colleagues.

In 1977 he and his wife apply for a passport to visit a friend in Norway, but the Ministry of Interior Affairs declines their claim, and they do not get their passports back (p. 198). From this date until 1988 the Interviewee had no passport to travel – due to family and financial reasons, he did not reapply, either.

The Interviewee says he led a life of a “hermit” after the end of the ‘70ies. He felt that the Socialist Regime was going to remain intact throughout his lifetime, so he planned to live a life of passive exclusion. He did not attend any events of the opposition after 1979, even though many of his friends were active members. He did not try to build a career, nor did he participate in scientific research. He continued to give courses, and he raised his children. For a long time he was the only non-party member at the Faculty of Philosophy in the University of Technology.

Apart from his courses in Philosophy, he also started to give seminars analyzing films, first in the College of Theatre and Film, then in the University of Technology (pp. 90-91, 243-245).

The end of the socialist era in 1989 does not bring around any significant change in the life of the Interviewee. He is actively watching what is happening, he attends several meetings but does not get involved in any political activity (pp. 285-290, 299-302). In 1988 and 1989 twice he attends seminars in Dubrovnik that Hungarian born American businessman György Soros sponsors (pp. 283-285).

In the mid 1990-es aesthete András Bálint Kovács starts a new program about films within the Eötvös Loránd University, where Péter Galicza asks to be an instructor. He is very active in creating the Institute of Art Theory and Media, which is going to be the host of this program (pp. 90-91, 309-310, 314-316).

In 1995 his mother, who is living with them, is diagnosed with Alzheimer. For the next ten years he is actively taking care of her (pp. 291-296).

In 1997-1998, an institute called Media Lab is created in the University of Technology, with the active participation of Péter Galicza. This institute organized the National Audiovisual Archive (NAVA). The Interviewee was active in its running for a few years (pp. 303-308).

In 2000 Péter Galicza was dismissed from the Department of Philosophy of the University (pp. 301-303).

At the time if finishing the interview, Péter Galicza, was working at the Institute of Art Theory and Media at ELTE University. He has coordinated the birth of the “Free Humanities”, and was giving courses (pp. 311-312, 316-319.).