Budapest John Lukacs Historian American

He believed that the Cold War was an unnecessary waste of American treasure and life and saw populism as the primary threat to modern civilisation. He published more than thirty books, and his favourite genre was the essay that was easy-to-understand even for non-professionals. John Lukacs was 95 years old, and he passed away in his Phoenixville (Pennsylvania) home because of congestive heart failure.

Hiding from the Wehrmacht

He was born on 31 January 1924 in Budapest in a Jewish civic family, and his father was a physician. Lukacs attended a classical gymnasium, had an English language tutor and spent two summers in a private school in England. After his graduation, he studied history at the University of Budapest. Though both of his parents converted to Roman Catholic faith after the German occupation of Hungary, he was forced to serve in a Hungarian labour battalion for Jews. From there, he escaped and was

hiding in a cellar until the end of the war, but he never saw his parents again.

Since he did not expect too much from the occupying Soviet troops, he left Hungary in 1946, went to the United States and worked there as a history professor at Chestnut Hill College (Philadelphia) until he retired in 1994. Of course, he was visiting professor many times at Princeton, John Hopkins and Columbia universities, and from the 80s, at Hungarian universities as well – reported.

He wrote more than 30 books and hundreds of papers. His main field of research was the history of WWII, but he published a lot about American history and philosophical issues, too. His favourite genre was the essay, and even though he wrote them with a high-level language and professionalism, they were understandable even for non-professionals.

The Soviet Union would have collapsed even without the Cold War

He regarded populism as the main threat to modern civilisation and identified it as the main essence of both Nazism and Communism. In his books,

Lukacs defended the Western civilisation against the mass culture and the rise of vulgarity.

He considered Sir Winston Churchill the greatest statesman of the 20th century. Even though he declared himself many times an anti-Communist, he claimed that the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapsing and thus the Cold War was an unnecessary waste of American treasure and life. Furthermore, Lukacs criticised the American intervention abroad and also condemned the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

He published “A History of the Cold War” in 1961 which is regarded as one of the best analysis of the era even today. “The Last European War: September 1939–December 1941” and “1945: Year Zero” are also very popular. He published “Outgrowing Democracy: A History of the United States in the Twentieth century” in 1984 while in 1988, he wrote about the past of the Hungarian capital in “Budapest 1900“.

PM Orbán sent his condolences

In fact, he was a president of the American Catholic Historical Association and

member of the Royal Historical Society.

In the United States, he was honoured with an Ingersoll Award in 1991 and a George Washington Award in 2001. In Hungary, he received – among others – the Hungarian Corvin Chain Award in 2001 and the Commander’s Cross with a Star of the Hungarian Order of Merit in 2011.

He declared himself to be a Hungarian-American. He said that his mother country was Hungary, but the USA was his home. “My mother is Hungary, and my wife is the United States,” he added in an interview.

MTI reported that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán expressed his condolences over the death of Hungarian-born US historian John Lukacs. In his letter of condolences to Lukacs’s family, Orbán said he was shocked to learn that “the internationally-renowned figure in historical studies and recipient of the Hungarian Corvin Chain Award, John Lukacs, is no longer with us”. The prime minister said that Lukacs, “with his wide-ranging knowledge and perception, served not only his homeland and adopted home, but the whole world.”

Source: MTI,

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