Cardinal József Mindszenty (1892–1975), Archbishop of Esztergom was arrested by the Communist authorities in 1948 and following a show trial he was sentenced to life imprisonment. In 1956 he fled to the American Embassy in Budapest and lived there until he was allowed to leave Hungary in 1971. After that date he was busy with the pastoral care of the Hungarians living abroad, in diaspora. In 1973 he was exempted from his archiepiscopal office but even after that he continued this activity. In 1972 in Liechtensein he founded the Mindszenty Stiftung to support the Hungarian, Christian, charitable and cultural institutions and organizations. Another aim of the foundation was to handle the Cardinal’s literary legacy. These aims were adopted by the Hungarian Mindszenty Foundation as well, which was established in 1994.
After the death of József Mindszenty the majority of his inheritance coming from his years in emigration was kept in Mariazell; a smaller but more valuable part was kept in Vaduz (Liechtensein). The documents were primarily classified by Sister Geraldine Galovits in the 1970s and 1980s. She created thematic folders: Mindszenty in prison, The Cardinal and the Hungarian revolution, Correspondence from the Embassy, Letters to Paul VI, Memoirs, Faith and morality in Communist Hungary, etc.
In October 1994 the entire material was transferred to Hungary. Since then the inheritance has been owned and administered by the Hungarian Mindszenty Foundation. Since 1996 its private archives have been open to the public. The archives were placed in the László Majthényi Salesian House (Felső Svábhegyi út 12.), which functioned as the centre of the Foundation as well. Here the Mindszenty Archives was directed by Salesian friar János Szőke. After his death, in the summer of 2012, under the direction of Gergely Kovács the Foundation and the Archives moved to the House of the Society of Jesus in Horánszky Street.
The Archives not only preserve the “core material” composed of the inheritance of the Cardinal but enrich the collection with further copies. For example, in 2003 the Archives acquired the Washington National Archives’ material concerning the Cardinal and in 2004 the copy of the inheritance of Tibor Mészáros, the Cardinal’s last secretary. Besides, the Mindszenty Archives was given records or pictures connected with József Mindszenty by many individuals and institutions.
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