The papers of Balazs Nagy (c1927-2015) illustrate the international nature of Trotskyism. Nagy took the pseudonym Michel Varga for some of his writings. His papers, which are held at Senate House Library, University of London, have just been catalogued online. Most of Nagy’s life was spent as an exile in France. Unsurprisingly his archives reveal much about contemporary French Trotskyism but there is a great deal of material on Trotskyism in the UK from the mid-1970s onwards. Nagy was an activist promoting Trotskyism in Eastern Europe from the 1960s and his papers contain insights into Trotskyism in South Africa, Namibia, and South America.
Nagy was one of three secretaries of the Petofi Circle, formed in April 1956 by Hungarian intellectuals. He escaped over the border to Austria after the Russian invasion of Hungary, and became an exile in France. Nagy himself claimed to have had only a minor role in the Hungarian uprising of 1956. Instead he insisted that his true significance lay in his activities after 1963 as a "re-organiser" for Trotskyism in Eastern Europe. Nagy was involved in a number of schisms within the Trotskyist movement. He set up the International League for the Reconstruction of the Fourth International in 1973 but was expelled after a dispute in 1984. Nagy later became Secretary of Workers International to Rebuild Fourth International.
Subjects of the Nagy papers include:
- Hungarian uprising, 1956; Workers Aid to Bosnia, c1992-c1998; Tuzla miners, c1993-c2003; Petofi Circle, c1957-2007; Workers Revolutionary Party, c1976-c1995;
- Trotskyism in Eastern Europe (1960s-1970s), France, Namibia, South Africa; League of Hungarian Revolutionary Socialists; Imre Nagy Trust; International Communist Organisation (OCI);
- Socialist Labour League; the Fourth International / International League for the Reconstruction of the Fourth International; Workers International to Rebuild the Fourth International, 1990-c2014; Combat International, c1972-1988; Liga Internacionalista de los Trabajadores, c1974-1997, Ninth Congress of the Fourth International, 1984;
- Correspondents include Albert Camus, Bill Hunter, Dot Gibson, Bob Archer, Cliff Slaughter, Pierre Broue, and Radoslav Pavlovic;
- Trotskyist periodicals and pamphlets include Workers International Internal Bulletin, 1990s-c2003; Quatrieme Internationale, 1938; Workers International Journal, 2014-2015.
- Memoirs (in Hungarian) from 1944 onwards.
One of the fundamental objectives of Senate House Library (SHL), University of London is to highlight the research potential of its written and archive collections.
The Nagy papers are part of SHL’s extensive collection of Trotskyist archives which is one of the Library’s core collecting strengths.
Senate House Library’s recent engagement activities have included exhibitions and events highlighting political radicalism, particularly on the Left. An example is this year’s exhibition, Rights for Women,
The Library aims to attract collections of national and international importance, including Trotskyist archives, as one of the leading research libraries in the arts, humanities and social sciences in the UK and Europe.
Researchers are welcome to use the Nagy papers for research. Archive-only use at Senate House Library is free. The Library does though need at least a working day’s notice before a research visit. More details are here,