Gáspár Miklós Tamás’ Career in Documents

Gáspár Miklós Tamás1948–2023 (Éva Kapitány Photo Archive, Blinken OSA)


Gáspár Miklós Tamás’ funeral takes place today in the Farkasréti Cemetery. With the following brief introduction and compilation, we remember the philosopher who passed away on January 15, 2023.


Several collections preserved at Blinken OSA include historical sources documenting the various stages and events of Miklós Tamás Gáspár’s (TGM) career; searching our online catalog has more than 280 hits pointing to records related to him.

Most of the textual sources on him originated in the regime change process throughout the 1980s and the first years of the new Hungarian republic in the early 1990s. The Research Institute of the Munich-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty opened its so-called Biographical File on him in 1983, when the philosopher was already one of the most well-known and popular figures of the Hungarian democratic opposition. His various writings and interviews, remarks made abroad, and even the—occasionally critical and polemical—statements on him, were collected in this file until the institute’s closure in 1993. As examples of the hundreds of articles, interviews, analyses, and news agency reports published in the Hungarian and international press, below on the left are articles from The Independent and the Süddeutsche Zeitung about TGM’s comments on Transylvania, Romania, and nationalism, while on the right are a Times article and a Situation Report (produced at the RFE/RL Research Institute) on the 1985 general election in Hungary, in which TGM also ran as an independent candidate:

(HU OSA 300-40-5 Records of RFE/RL Research Institute, Hungarian Unit, Biographical Files)

TGM frequently published in samizdat journals like Beszélő (Speaker) and Hírmondó (Herald), and disseminated his essay collections through Hungarian samizdat publishers. Most of these—and other documents related to his opposition activity—can be found at Blinken OSA in various fonds related to the Hungarian opposition and its secondary publicity, e.g., the personal papers and collections of Gábor Demszky, György Krassó, Tibor Philipp. The following is his first, influential essay published in Hírmondó:

Gáspár Miklós Tamás’s essay in the 1983/2 issue of the samizdat Hírmondó
(HU OSA 302-1-2 Personal Papers of Gábor Demszky, Hungarian samizdat periodicals)

From 1989, thanks to the accelerating political changes, TGM has become a regular guest at the news and magazine programs of the Hungarian Radio. The RFE/RL Research Institute made verbatim transcriptions of Eastern-bloc state radio broadcasts, also capturing his appearances. The transcripts of the Hungarian-language broadcasts of 1989 and 1990 are available online, while the full collection can be browsed in our Research Room.

TGM is also a recurring hero in the historical photo and film collections of the period; he can be seen on the photos of Piroska Nagy, Éva Kapitány even made a portrait series of him, one picture of which can be seen at the top. In addition, Gáspár Miklós Tamás is a frequent character in the video documentations and programs of the Black Box Foundation. Perhaps the most well-known of these is the scene captured on June 16, 1988, at the opposition demonstration commemorating the 30th anniversary of the execution of Imre Nagy, where the police prevented him from giving his speech and assaulted him and others—including Viktor Orbán and János Kis.

“Let the people decide!” Liberal party delegate meeting, Eötvös Loránd University, 1989
(Éva Kapitány Photo Archive under processing at Blinken OSA)

This time, we publish three Black Box Foundation recordings that are unknown to the wider public, offering a glimpse into TGM’s political and philosophical activities in the early 1990s, at the dawn of the new Hungarian republic. The following excerpts are from the Black Box Foundations uncut videos:

Meeting of the Liberals in Szeged, Hungary, 1992. Opening remarks by Gáspár Miklós Tamás, discussing the perils to democracy, the situation after István Csurka's publication, the crisis of the Hungarian Democratic Forum:

Meeting of the Liberals in Nyíregyháza, Hungary, 1992. Q&A with Gáspár Miklós Tamás, addressing abortion rights, the far right, the liberal state, the meaning of Liberalism in Hungary:

International conference Revolution and Restoration in Eastern Europe, organized by Magyar Lettre Internationale, 1992. Presentation by Gáspár Miklós Tamás in English: