Members of the Hungarian American Coalition were saddened to learn that Dr. Edward Chaszar, a founding member of the Coalition who dedicated his energies and intellect to furthering the cause of Hungarian minority rights, passed away peacefully on September 11 in Pennsylvania. He was 91 years old.
Edward Chaszar was born in Nagyrákos, a small Hungarian town at the intersection of Austria, Hungary and former Yugoslavia, and a crossroad of cultures and ethnicities. He studied law and political science in Budapest, when in 1944 he was drafted into the Hungarian Army. His unit chose to surrender to the U.S. forces in Austria rather than to the advancing Soviet Army. After years of internment, mainly in Italy, in 1950 he was sponsored to immigrate to the United States by an unknown elderly Hungarian lady, a resident of Cleveland, Ohio.
From very young age, Edward Chaszar was an enthusiastic boy scout and leader, participating in the World Jamborees in Gödöllő, Hungary, in 1933, the Netherlands in 1937 and in Canada in 1955, and in many other scouting events in the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean and in the Americas. Soon after his arrival to the United States, he became a leading figure of the Hungarian Scout Association in Exteris, serving as one of the founding scoutmasters of the Hungarian Scout Troops of Cleveland, which remain active to this day.
In the aftermath of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, he reached out to young refugees, providing counseling and acting as interpreter. His commitment to help the advancement of young people was one of the hallmarks of his life.
He pursued graduate studies in politics and government at Case Western Reserve to focus on international law, international organizations and world politics. In 1969 he joined the faculty of Indiana University (IUP) to teach and those subjects and in 1972 he earned a PhD from George Washington University. He retired as Professor Emeritus of Political Science of Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
His professional and personal life was dedicated to the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities throughout the world. While teaching international law and politics over 22 years, he was engaged in research on the human rights of national and ethnic minorities. His many published articles, papers and books include Decision in Vienna: The Czechoslovak-Hungarian border dispute of 1938 (1978) and The International Problem of National Minorities (1988 and 1999). For 14 years, he participated in the work of United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.
Edward Chaszar was also a human rights activist who spoke up and provided assistance to minority politicians such as Miklós Duray, the ethnic Hungarian leader persecuted under the Communist regime of Czechoslovakia, and later sponsored Duray’s visit to the United States. He was a founding member of Hungarian American Coalition and was Secretary General of the National Committee of Hungarians in Slovakia, a human rights organization focusing on the human rights of the Hungarian community of Slovakia.
In recognition of his concern for minorities, in 1992 he was awarded the Officers’ Cross of Merit by the President of Hungary “for meritorious service on behalf of national minorities.”
For many members of the Hungarian communities in the Americas and Europe, “Csede ba” will be remembered as an engaging scout leader, with a song in his heart, who even in his advanced age was happy to attend the annual Hungarian scout camps in upstate New York.
His was indeed a rich and noble life.
Dr. Edward Chaszar is survived by his widow Maja Hartmann, daughter Julianna, son Andras, son Edward from a previous marriage, and his extended family.