In Memoriam Dr. Bulcsú Veress

Bulcsú Veress, Hungarian-American political scientist and long-time Coalition supporter, died after a long illness at the age of 71.  He is survived by his nieces Ajna and Dóra and their children, nephew Ádám and brother-in-law Ákos of Budapest, and numerous friends.

He was born and raised in Budapest.  After the 1956 Revolution, still a high school student, he joined an underground anti-Communist student group at the Petőfi High School.  The group was betrayed and its members arrested in 1958. Bulcsú was sentenced to 8 months in prison.

Keeping his prison past hidden, he was admitted to the School of Law of the Eötvös Loránd University and earned a degree in law.  In 1965, the Secret Police discovered him there and pressured the school to dismiss him, which was flatly opposed by the law faculty.

He was sent for post-graduate studies in comparative and international law to the University of Strasbourg, and in 1970, he decided not to return to Hungary.  He emigrated to the United States in 1971. The same year, he was admitted to the Graduate School of Columbia University in New York , where he received a degree (his third) in political science/international relations in 1976.

Bulcsú at the time of imprisonment, 1958

Bulcsú threw his energies into the work of the New York-based Committee for Human Rights in Rumania (later Hungarian Human Rights Foundation). With HHRF, he regularly traveled to Washington D.C. to lobby Congress on behalf of the Hungarian minority in Romania.  In 1980, he joined the campaign to elect Christopher Dodd of Connecticut to the U.S. Senate.  After Dodd’s election, Bulcsú worked for many years as Senator Dodd’s Legislative Assistant, serving on the Foreign Relations Committee. On Capitol Hill, he became known among U.S. lawmakers as an expert scholar on minority rights issues and a credible political analyst of Communist societies and their leadership. With his thorough understanding of U.S. politics and the inner workings of Congress, Bulcsú was an invaluable resource for HHRF and other Hungarian-American efforts to influence U.S. government policy on East Central Europe. Bulcsú was the originator of HHRF’s ultimately successful strategy of using the Jackson-Vanik amendment to pressure Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu on human and minority rights in Romania.  He was also an accomplished interpreter and translator.

At the end of 1991, Bulcsú returned to Hungary and served as advisor to the newly democratic Parliament of Hungary.  Later, he worked as advisor to Hungary’s foreign minister and as editor and consultant at Duna Television.

In 1992, during the Antall government, Bulcsú Veress was awarded the “1956 Memorial Medal”.  Bulcsú was extremely proud of receiving this award together with his father Zoltán, who was awarded posthumously.

Throughouthis turbulent life, Bulcsú demonstrated an unstinting commitment to his beloved nation. His many friends recognized the uncompromising integrity and humor which underlay his rough, outspoken demeanor.  With no children of his own, he was always devoted and gentle to those of his nieces and friends.  The Hungarian-American community has lost an extraordinarily intelligent and accomplished man.

You can read an interview with Bulcsú (in Hungarian) which aired on István Elek’s “Rendszerváltoztatók 20 év után” program on Radio Kossuth on January 3, 2009.

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