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Imre Forbath diaries, 1900-1943

Summary Information

Abstract

This collection comprises twenty one journals of Imre Forbath (ака Emerich Forbath), one of the greatest engineers in Europe. These diaries span the period from 1900 to 1943.

At a Glance

Call No.: BA#0527
Bib ID 7269482 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Forbáth, Imre, 1898-1967
Title Imre Forbath diaries, 1900-1943
Physical Description 4 linear feet (2 document boxes)
Language(s) English , Hungarian , German .
Access

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.

Arrangement

Arrangement

Diaries arranged in chronological order. Various inserts found in journals are placed in folder and stored at the end of collection in Box 4. Description of the each journal includes a summary of the content and alphabetical list of people, writings, public presentation, and works mentioned in the journal.

Description

Scope and Content

The collection contains twenty one journals of Imre Forbath (aka Emerich Forbath), Hungarian engineer. The handwritten journals span the period from 1900 to 1943 and cover many important historical events and provide a valuable record on twentieth-century Hungarian and European history, history of technology, culture, and political life.

There is also two photographs, one letter, one business card, and one book-plate found as inserts in the diaries and placed in one folder.

The Budapest Archive has some documents from György Forbáth, engineer, who escaped from Russian captivity. Most likely, these are also a part of Imre Forbáth's legacy.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of the Bakhmeteff Archive. The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Imre Forbath Diaries; Box and Volume; Bakhmeteff Archive, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed Maria Subert 2008.

Finding aid written Maria Subert 2008.

Finding aid prepared for publication Katia Shrago 2/2010.

Revision Description

2010-02-18 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Diaries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
City planning Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Civil engineering -- Europe -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Civil engineering -- Hungary -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hydraulic engineering -- Europe -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
World War, 1914-1918 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
World War, 1939-1945 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Imre Forbath was born in 1875 and died in 1944. One of the greatest engineers in Europe, he lived during the turbulent final decades of the Habsburg Monarchy, the First World War, the troubled Twenties and Thirties, and the Second World War. He was an eyewitness to many of the historic events of these times.

The young Hungarian-Jewish engineer Forbath started his career as a civil engineer in Frankfurt and Berlin after attending universities in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in Germany. He later worked in cities all over Europe in this period of rapid urban growth. He became known as one of the greatest engineers in Europe.

Imre Forbath took part in the canalization of the major European rivers and in the designing of ports. He also worked on such urban infrastructure projects as water supply, sewage systems, gas works, and power plants. The nitrogen factory he directed for seventeen years, gaining for it an international reputation, still exists in Romania.

His peers regarded him as the best writer on city planning of his time. Forbath published articles in professional journals and elsewhere on a weekly basis. In 1906, he became a private professor at the Budapest Technical University. Imre Forbath was regarded as one of the leading figures in Budapest's engineering and political worlds.

It was his fate to be present during many important historical events. Imre Forbath took part in the First World War as an engineer with the Austro-Hungarian forces. His division was sent to Przemysl, which was besieged by the Russians. In his journal, he writes movingly about conditions in the surrounded fortress. When all their food ran out, the Austro-Hungarian troops had to surrender. This was one of the crucial moments of the war for Austria-Hungary. Forbath's account of this event is the only detailed one that has survived.

After the surrender of the fortress, he became a prisoner of war in Russia with his fellow soldiers and was taken to Siberia, to the cities of Tobolsk and Petropavlovsk, from which he managed to escape. He appeared in Moscow eight months after the Soviet revolution. He returned to Hungary when a Soviet republic was established there, too, during 1919.

His house and property were nationalized, but he was looked upon with respect by the revolutionaries as one of Budapest's leading engineers. He held a position under the regime but resigned before it collapsed. The treaty of Trianon formally ended the First World War for Hungary in 1920, completely redrawing the country's borders.

Forbath kept his intellectual outlook and optimism for a better future alive throughout this disturbed period. His historical writings, unlike his technical ones, remained unknown and unpublished during his lifetime. Other than a few lines in biographical dictionary articles, nothing was written about his life in Hungary or elsewhere in Europe. Even the fact of his tragic death in the Holocaust in 1944 was not known. The Hungarian biographical lexicon and the Report of the Hungarian Hydraulic Society give his year of death as around 1952.

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Imre Forbáth Diaries, 1900-1943



Box 1 Journal 1:, March 29, 1900 - November 31, 1901

At the time of his first entries, Imre Forbáth is still using his original last name of Fischer. He is twenty-five years old, fluent in Hungarian, German, and French, a recent graduate of the Technical Universities of Vienna, Zurich, and Berlin. Imre Forbáth records his opinions on the latest developments in literature, philosophy, and music. While employed as a civil engineer for the city of Magdeburg, he works on his doctoral dissertation. The young civil engineer falls in love with Trüdchen, a German Christian woman, but has to break up with her. He writes a sensitive reflection on the relationship between Christians and Jews at this time. Conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian army, he is sent to Croatia for military training. While there he records the solar eclipse of May 15, 1901. He wins third place in an international competition for city planning in Bergen. Mother sells her house.


Box 1 Journal 2:, December 1, 1901 - October 16, 1904

At this time, the writer of the journals uses the family name "Forbáth-Fischer." He is a paid employee of the city of Frankfurt, working as a civil engineer. He is a member of the Society of Engineers of Frankfurt, as well as of the city's Skittles Society. He is published regularly in the Technicians' Association Journal. After getting his Austrian diploma recognized, he earns a doctorate with honors in Darmstadt (his thesis: Stadtebau in Alten und Neuer Zeit/ City Building in the Past and Present). He takes part in a trial concerning Magdeburg's building supplies. In 1903, Imre Forbáth quits his job in Frankfurt and moves to Berlin, where he becomes head engineer and assistant principal of the office of civil engineering. Rapidly expanding opportunities in the field of city building bring him home to Hungary, where Imre Forbáth establishes a private engineering office in Pest. He loses the network of contacts in government and engineering circles that he had built up in Germany and has to develop a new one. Still quite a young man, he sets out to find work for his private engineering firm. Forbáth meets all the major political leaders of Hungarian cities where improvements are being undertaken. He holds liberal political views, which make him unique in his conservative circle. In Pest, he encounters ultra-radical socialist views for the first time in his life. The young engineer longs to live in England or America. He reads widely and keeps up with everything new in cultural life. Imre Forbáth publishes articles, mainly about the building of ports. For hygienic reasons, cities begin to build slaughterhouses. Forbáth's plans win first place in a competition for a slaughterhouse in Altenesse. The family attends Joseph's wedding. Mother lives in Vienna. Uncle Rudolph dies.


Box 1 Journal 3:, October 26, 1904-April 19, 1908

The journal's writer uses the name, "Forbát Imre Dr." He opens a private engineering office in Budapest. He is not part of the Budapest elite yet, and still has to make a great effort to attract clients. He begins to learn English and travels to Manchester. He also travels to Berlin, Magdeburg, Frankfurt, and Constantinople. He earns his doctorate and becomes a lecturer at the Technical University in Budapest. Imre Forbáth takes his first steps in the field of communal politics. He is a member of the 48 Party, which supports the ideals of the 1848 Revolution, and takes part in national elections. He is a convinced liberal, excited about the political changes in France, especially the separation of church and state. He distances himself from Judaism, valuing it as a culture rather than a religion. He becomes one of Budapest's leading figures in the fields of public works and city planning. He is a member of the Engineers' Society. People want him to play a larger role in the city's leadership, but he refuses. He is asked to appraise gas prices for Budapest. Banki paints his portrait. He wins second place at an international competition in Varna. He comes in first in the Ruscsuk canalization and water supply competition. He writes about the August 29, 1905 solar eclipse.


Box 1 Journal 4:, April 22, 1908-July 25, 1911

The author of the journals uses the name, "Imre Forbáth Dr." He is a lecturer at the new Technical University and is elected to its governing body. He takes part in parliamentary election campaigns. People in many constituencies ask him to run for office, but he refuses. He wants to be financially secure first. He travels to France, Italy, Bulgaria, and Germany. He is the Hungarian representative at the International Exhibition on City Planning held in Berlin. He is one of the Hungarian delegates sent to the jubilee celebration in Rome. He travels to the World's Fair in Brussels and visits Antwerp to take part in a city planning competition. Forbáth and Vargha submit plans for Antwerp, which take third place. Imre Forbáth's lifestyle has changed; he is now part of the Hungarian elite, moving in circles beyond those of his family and profession.


Box 1 Journal 5:, July 26, 1911 - July 20, 1914

Imre Forbáth is a professor at the Technical University. He works with four other engineers: Nagy, Pikler, Indy, and Wagner. The last two are still students. Technical innovations such as new pumping methods and Puech-Chaval filters are introduced. Forbáth travels to Switzerland, Italy, and Dusseldorf, Germany. He visits the Hygienic Exhibition in Dresden. While there, he attends a performance of Isadora Duncan's dancers. He buys a Mednyansky painting. Forbáth takes out a 50,000-korona life insurance policy with the First Insurance Company. In 1912, his first book, titledStädtebauliche Studien,is published in Leipzig. At this time, he lives a very active social life. He is a member of the political circle of Lipotvaros and a delegate of the Independent Democratic Party. He is also in the leadership of the municipal Board of Works and is elected to the city council. After István Barczy, he is the biggest vote getter in this municipal election. He criticizes the Minister of Commerce for failing to submit the applications of Hungarian engineers to the Bosnian railroad on the grounds that there was a shortage of engineers in Hungary. He moves to a new house in Budapest, 46 Nador Street. He is financially successful. Imre Forbáth ends the year with a capital of 70,000 korona. He meets Olga Popper, whom he marries on February 1, 1913. On February 2, Rabbi Samuel Kohn performs the religious ceremony. On November 21, 1913, their first daughter, Eva, is born. Olga Popper's family owns the Latzka and Popper Company. Forbáth and his family move to a new house, 3 Becsey Street. He visits the Picasso exhibition in Munich and an architectural exhibition in Leipzig in 1913. He studies low-income housing in Paris, Stuttgart, Vienna and London. He is invited to San Francisco for an Engineers' Congress, but will be unable to go because of the outbreak of the First World War.Lloyd'seditor-in-chief forbids him to write for theJournal.Mor Revay asks him to write for the new Revai Lexicon. He wins first place for plan of Brasso.


Box 1 Journal 6:, July 21, 1914 - December 26, 1914

Imre Forbáth and his wife are in England when the newspapers bring word of the outbreak of war, then of the introduction of conscription. They see crowds of people in front of banks trying to withdraw their savings. Urged by friends and family, they leave for home, stopping in Brussels and Hassel. Germany is on the eve of military mobilization. The railroads in Bavaria are protected by armed civilians. Masses of draftees flood trains and stations. Imre Forbáth is called up to serve as an engineer with the Seventh Division of the Thirtieth Infantry Regiment. He has to report for duty in seven days. The Seventh Division consists of 1,500 laborers divided into six parts, with an officer and an engineer at the head of each. Wherever the troops go, the people welcome them with flowers. The Seventh Division is taken to Przemysl. According to the diary, Polish Jews and Ruthenes are sent there as well. In September 1914, Árpád Tamássy takes command of the fort. The workers build barbed wire fences, trenches, and roads. Most of the civilian population leaves. The Russians attack the city, finally surrounding it at the end of September. Both sides suffer many casualties. The besieged troops have to come up with new ideas to supplement their diminishing supplies; they make matches and tie wooden soles to their shoes. On October 12, Austro-Hungarian troops relieve the siege of Przemysl and retake the height of Paportenka. On Christmas day, a mass is held for the troops on the frontline. In this diary, Imre Forbáth reports on the August 23, 1914 solar eclipse.


Box 1 Journal 7 (Parts 1 and 2): December 1, 1914 - March 22, 1915, September 5, 1915 - October 20, 1915., December 1, 1914 - March 22, 1915,, September 5, 1915 - October 20, 1915.

The Russians had surrounded the fort of Przemysl again on November 8, 1914. Between Christmas and New Year, the fighting stops. The besieged troops are completely worn out and food is scarce. The laborers are armed with Wernil weapons and turned into soldiers. Weapons and ammunition are scarce. The army has to take care of the civilian population, including refugees.

In the diary of Imre Forbáth, we get precise data on the number of laborers and soldiers, their pay, their food supplies, and what they do. According to his data, 25,000 Hungarian laborers are at the fort. Half of Forbáth's division of 298 men build a road at Pod Masurani while the other half works at Makara Garai. The soldiers' pay is 16 fillér per day. The civilians are overpayed for their work. There are 9,200 sick. Due to the harsh winter weather and the lack of food, the men become ill at work. Many freeze to death. At the end of 1914, Archduke Karl, heir to the throne, visits the front. He refuses to allow the surrender of the fort. An order forbids keeping records in writing as of January 7, 1915. The Austro-Hungarian troops sent to relieve Przemysl attack on January 23, 1915. They are defeated on March 20. Meanwhile, Na Gorach has fallen. The fort at Przemysl has been surrounded for four months and all the food has been used up. The fort is famously impregnable to military attack, so the men are willing to endure to the limit of their resources. The smallest portions are served. The horses are slaughtered, so there is meat, but nothing else; all other food, including bread and salt, is gone. On March 22, the Austro-Hungarians decide to surrender the fort. They blow up their cannons, weapons, and vehicles and await the fort's new rulers. Forbáth's entries stop here, but we know that the soldiers surrender and are sent to Siberia as prisoners of war. The Hungarian soldiers endured so much because they knew that the fort at Przemysl was the gateway to Hungary for the invading Russians. Their heroism became legendary.

The second half of this diary, September 5, 1915 to October 20, 1915, is written in German and in stenography. Forbáth writes on top of his earlier entries, reversed, and starting from the back.


Box 1 Journal 8:, April 13, 1916 - August 12, 1916

Description: The diary is written in German stenography and is not deciphered


Box 1 Journal 9:, June 3, 1919 - July 24, 1920

No journals survive from the three preceding years. We can reconstruct the events of this period from recollections spread throughout Forbáth's later journals. The prisoners of war from Przemysl were first taken to Tobol'sk in Siberia, then to the city of Petropavlovsk. Forbáth escapes (according to the March 6, 1920 journal entry). His friend, Beck, escapes in the same way. Eight months after the Bolshevik Revolution, Forbáth is still living in Moscow. The story of his captivity is written in German stenography in journal 8. He translates it into Hungarian, adds the story of his escape, binds it together with a Bible and photographs, and presents it to his son, Tamás, as a gift in 1928. He writes it out again in 1936 with the title "Diary of a prisoner of war," hoping to publish it in England with the help of Samuel Hoare. Hoare has to deal with an unexpected political development, preventing him from meeting Forbáth.

In this journal, Forbáth reports that his fellow prisoners Epstein and Tivadar Krause are still in Russia. He discovers that a box of his writings was left in a house at Upranskaja Ulica 64 in Petropavlovsk by A. G. Benzion, under the name F. Dezso.

Imre Forbáth arrives back in Hungary from captivity just as war veterans are being called back to service. Forbáth is asked to perform office work. He feels no sense of belonging to either of the two sides, right or left. He draws up a plan to change the peace treaty in Hungary's favor, with regards to the Danube as a natural boundary.

The Fifth District Military Soviet wants Forbáth's engineering office. They put strangers into every room of the family's apartment. He has no work. Due to the administrative chaos, nobody pays for his previous work. He is still a member of the Community Work Committee, but he stops attending meetings during the Soviet period.

On November 2, 1919, Forbáth's second daughter, Zsuzsi, is born.

On July 14, 1920, the Siberian prisoners of war return to Hungary; many thousands of people await them at the Eastern Train Station.Világmagazine interviews Imre Forbáth about the port of Csepel. In Közlöny, Forbáth's very sick younger brother publishes an article "On responsibility for the money distributed during the Soviet republic." Forbáth's family has to turn to the American Relief Administration for help buying food. A family member who owns a textile factory in Kispest takes him on as a director.

The journal has many references to "secret armed forces that attack Jews." The attackers force Jews to take an oath to leave their house, city, and country, and never come back.



Box 2 Journal 10:, July 25, 1920 - May 7, 1922

Forbáth still writes about atrocities committed against the Jews. The Soviet republic's leaders are executed. Jenő Lipocz becomes prime minister. Vilmos Hilbert recommends a census of the Jewish population. The Christian national parties come to power, led by Ottokár Prohászka.

Forbáth does not want to take part in political life ever again. Unable to get work, he has to sell off his shares. His private practice has been closed for seven years. In the Gresham coffee house, the Saturday Engineering Community meets regularly.

The Foresta Corporation hires Forbáth to work in its operations cutting down forests in Romania. Later, the Nitrogen Company in Diciosanmartin asks him to take over its factory and save it from liquidation. In March 1921, the bankrupt factory's chief director, Károly Koch, resigns. Forbáth takes his position. The next 17 years of his life are spent saving and consolidating the factory, raising it to the international level. Originally within the borders of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, the factory had a contract with the monarchy's Ministry of War. Following the Treaty of Trianon, Diciosanmartin has become part of Romania, and the Romanian Ministry of War wants to take over the factory. It is far larger than any similar operation in Romania, and the Romanians are convinced that the Hungarian government must be in control behind the scenes. Imre Forbáth, a citizen of Hungary, has to find a way to run a factory in Romania. He has to defend himself against the Romanian government, which targets him from the beginning. The case between the Nitrogen Company and the Romanian Ministry of War drags on for years.

Imre Forbáth does business with Baron Willman and Dr. Freud (Austrian Minister of National Affairs), selling them nitrogen. He travels to Dresden, Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Rotterdam, London, Belgrade, Sofia, Paris, Nagyszeben, Fogaras, Brasso, and Prague. Soderberg electrodes are used in the Nitrogen Factory.

In September 1921, he has a reunion with his fellow ex-prisoners of war in the Bristol Restaurant.

Edgar Milhaud, founder ofLes Annales de la Régie Directe,sends Forbáth a letter from Geneva, asking him to be the Hungarian correspondent for the paper. Forbáth declines, giving the opportunity to one of his friends.

The Regulation Plans of the Danube at Belgrade won second place.

On November 25, 1921, his son, Tamás Forbáth is born.


Box 2 Journal 11:, July 10, 1922 - November 4, 1924

In 1922, the board of directors of the Nitrogen Factory of Diciosanmartin resigns. The new board consists of Baron Paul Kornfeld and Kovács from Pest; Stein and Buchler on behalf of the Commerce Bank in Budapest; Goldfinger and Forbáth on behalf of the factory; two Dutchmen; four Romanians (one of them Dr. Joseph Boila); and one German (Alfred Herzfeld). The same year, they start a new chlorine factory and later, an ammonium sulfate factory.

Outlets for the sale of the company's carbamids are found in London, Hagen, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Brussels, Bucharest, and Budapest.

Imre Forbáth's partners are: Acetylea, Vienna; Nitrogen Fertilizer Company, Belgium; Bayer Stickstoffwerke, Berlin; Thorn & Hadick Company, London; Bohm & Company, Berlin; Hirsh Kupfer and Metall AG, Berlin; Camindo, Berlin; Krauss Pachmann AG, Cologne; Kochler, Leipzig; Williem H. Miler, Hagen; Hamer & Les Pelzenburg, Amsterdam, Brussels; Klaber, Budapest; Hungaria Műtrágyagyár, Budapest.

A trial takes place concerning the Nitrogen Factory's fertilizer. A Belgian company claims that Forbáth's company cannot sell cyanide because it does not have a patent for it. In fact, Forbáth has purchased rights from the patent's owner, who lives in Cologne. He countersues the Belgian company.

To become independent of currency fluctuations, Forbáth makes a deal with the Hungarian sugar industry that provides him with a steady supply of Dutch guilders. He negotiates with banks for the best rates on loans. For banks, the greatest risk factor is that the factory is in Romania.

In 1924, all the factory directors in Europe meet to found a Carbide Syndicate. Dr. Wicklein performs an experiment, attempting to replace calcium chloride with nitrogen chloride. The case between Romania and Forbáth is still going on. The Romanian government wants a 200 million lei share and a 60-40 percent ratio in its favor. Until they reach an agreement, every government benefit, such as tax breaks, will be withheld. Forbáth has to prove that this request by the Romanian government is unlawful and exaggerated, and that the Hungarian government was never a shareholder of the Nitrogen Company.


Box 2 Journal 12:, November 7, 1924 to May 17, 1927

The Nitrogen Company's attempt to fight nationalization continues. Imre Forbáth seeks loans and hopes to improve the credit rating of the company. He does business with the Creditul Industrial of Bucharest. The Nitrogen Factory is working at 50% capacity, which means that one wagon of carbide and four wagons of nitrogen are produced daily. The Romanian Industrial Ministry agrees to the contract that Forbáth made two years previously with Matos. In Diciosanmartin, an International Chemical Congress is organized.

The Nitrogen Factory contacts the Zurich company Nitrum AG about building a sodium nitride factory, which would use a common method in which aluminum and ammonia are derived from ammonium nitride, and about the recycling of brown coal and tar. Delegates from Hagen, Amsterdam, and Vienna push for a world trade treaty on cyanide, which would keep American companies out of the European market. This is unsuccessful because the Americans are already behind the Bavarian company. The American Cyanide Company is a growing force in Europe.

In 1925, the world's leading companies come together in the courtroom of the Bayerische Stickstoff Werke. They are already discussing the idea of cooperating with the Americans. The Americans want to buy Forbáth's Belgian operation.

The Carbamide Syndicate in Vienna talks about the Egyptian market. The world's companies agree to establish the Fertilizer Sales Company, located in London. In half a year, a world organization is formed, originally established to fight the Americans, but in the end unable to do without American funds. The Cartel opens a common sales office in Rotterdam.

Forbáth's business is a success; the Nitrogen Factory has been consolidated, and half of all the production for the next five years has been sold. In addition to the Syndicate, the company makes Romanian, Hungarian, Czechoslovak, Italian, and Greek sales.

Forbáth's other great business success is the sale of the Szurdics brick factory. He wants to start a new private engineering practice again, so he applies to the Engineers' Chamber. He is asked to take on the directorship of the Hungarian Commerce Bank, but he turns it down.

He talks with O'Daniel and Strowell about an American loan and cooperation with the New York cyanide factory. He is thinking about selling shares.


Box 2 Journal 13:, May 18, 1927 - February 29, 1929

The international nitrogen market is in depression. The Bayerische Stickstoffwerke and the Aluminium Company leave the Cartel. Imre Forbáth renews the Nitrogen Factory's contract with the Fertilizer Sale Company in Paris for an additional ten years, with new conditions. The Nitrogen Factory itself will no longer export, except to Hungary, Romania, and Czechoslovakia. In Trieste, the Sulfide's director wants to buy the new electrode method used in Diciosanmartin. The factory's engineer, Andor Leopold, asserts that the method is his property, and licenses it in his own name. The factory signs a contract with him. Ferdinand, King of Romania, dies. A series of changes occurs in the Romanian government. Manoilescu is tried on charges of intriguing for Prince Carol to become king, but is acquitted. The Romanian ministry demands money from the Nitrogen Factory, but Forbáth proves, using old records, that the previous Romanian government actually owed money to the Company. He collects the money from the new Ministry of War. Two Dutch creditors take over the Szurdics Factory. A new idea arises: licensing the Nitrogen Factory as a Hungarian-Romanian joint company, with the Romanian half under the control of the Ministry of War. In 1927, there are widespread strikes in Vienna to protest the verdict in the Schattendorf trial. Forbáth is in Vienna at the time street violence breaks out.

In 1928, Lajos Hatvany returns to Hungary from exile by his own choice. He is put on trial for articles he wrote from 1920 to 1922, published in the Jövő in Vienna. He receives seven years imprisonment, and a 50,000 pengő fine.

Imre Forbáth finds aMátyás Codexminiature in a library in Brussels. He writes a letter to Petropavlovsk, where his fellow ex-prisoners of war left his papers. In 1928, he writes the story of his Siberian captivity, and binds it with a few photographs and a Bible from Siberia. He gives it to his son, Tamás, as a present.



Box 3 Journal 14:, February 15, 1929 - October 27, 1930

In the nationalization trial, the Nitrogen Company of Diciosanmartin stands against the Romanian Ministry of Interior Affairs. The question in dispute is whether there is a successor to the Austro-Hungarian Ministry of War. Forbáth learns that the Austro-Hungarian Ministry of War still exists in Vienna as a liquidation authority; therefore, there is no successor. The defense bases its case on this fact. The trial takes much time and energy, but on the first degree, the court decides in Forbáth's favor. Manoilescu wants to get rid of all the Hungarian owners. The concerned parties begin to discuss the possibility of Romania buying out the Hungarians' shares in the company.

The structure of the company, including its liaison with the Romanian government, is so efficient that Imre Forbáth is able to direct affairs from his office in Budapest. Forbáth continues to be the international representative of the Nitrogen Factory. He goes to international Cartel and Syndicate meetings in Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Dortmund, Paris, Strasbourg, Vienna, and Bucharest. The Nitrogen Pact of August 1930 is the biggest industrial pact ever at the time

The Romanian and Russian gas industries are beginning to advance greatly.

Zeppelins land in Budapest. The International Building Conference and Fair, the Nurnberg Fair, and the Poster Fair open in Budapest. A competition is announced for the planning of Erzsébet Boulevard and for the statue of István Tisza. On Saint Imre Day, the Ecclesiastical History Show opens. After the ceremony, large numbers of people want to protest against unemployment, but the government prohibits the demonstration by the time the workers arrive on the streets. The Social-Democratic leadership demonstrates its power.

The Hungarian nitrogen market drops fifty percent due to the hardships of Hungarian agriculture. The Nitrogen Factory hands over Hungarian sales to the Szuperfoszfat Company, which is now under the direction of Krapner, also a director of the Nitrogen Factory. There is a discussion with a Swiss group about the possibility of selling the Nitrogen Factory.

Forbáth's construction plans for Bratislava win an international prize. All the newspapers write about Imre Forbáth winning his eighth international prize. Dr. Antal Szego wants to publish the biographies of the three hundred most important Hungarian Jews in the fiftieth edition of the magazineEgyenloseg.Imre Forbáth would be one of them.


Box 3 Journal 15:, October 29, 1930 - May 30, 1932

The Swiss group steps back from the purchase of the Nitrogen Factory due to the failure of Creditanstalt. After the Nitrogen Factory trial, the Mironescu government falls.

Nitrogen prices fall in the worldwide market. The International Nitrogen Agreement ends, as does the collective office in London, European Export Company. The Carbide Syndicate survives. The contract with Solvay is renewed.

The Nitrogen Factory begins to provide electricity to Seta. Imre Forbáth continues to meet with Dr. Hiller and to discuss the possibility of producing bauxite. Forbáth travels to Paris, Munich, Vienna, Zurich, Berlin, and Bucharest.

Two-thirds of the workers are discharged from the Hungarian office due to the economic crisis. In 1931, the Baustellung Berlin Exhibition invites Forbáth to exhibit his city plans. He prepares plans for Antwerp, Brasso, Zamardi, Belgrade, Birmingham, and Bratislava. The German publicationDeutscher Gelehrter Kalenderwrites about Imre Forbáth in its third edition (1931).

In 1931, he begins to rewrite the diary he wrote in Russia while prisoner of war. That diary was written in German and in stenography, so it cannot be decoded except by him. The diary in stenography is the eighth diary in the collection.


Box 3 Journal 16:, May 30, 1932 - March 5, 1934

There are great expectations before the Economic Conference in Lausanne, but it does little to improve the situation. It is impossible to escape the economic depression without the cooperation of all European states. Workers have been let go and wages have been cut in Diciosanmartin and at the Budapest office. Sales of calcium cyanamide fertilizers, which have accounted for most sales for the past four to five years, are decreasing. Romanian sales have completely stopped, and Hungarian sales are minimal. The reason for this, besides the bad Hungarian agricultural situation, is the opening of the Fertilizer Factory in Pet, Hungary. On the other hand, sales of calcium carbamide, caustic potash, and electricity have increased. New profitable products include trichloroethylene, tetrachloride, chromates, hydrochloric acid, borax, ultramarine, and nitric acid. The Ministry of War is the biggest customer for nitric acid. Kerbs, a factory owner from Oslo, discusses the production of hydrogen-superoxide with Forbáth. There are also plans to manufacture gas. The Romanian Minister, Citatiune, countersues Forbáth for 1.5 million lei, which Romania has paid to the Nitrogen Factory in the form of coverage for losses.

The second degree verdict, in favor of Imre Forbáth, declares that Romania is not the successor of the Austro-Hungarian War Ministry. The lawyer defending Romania is Rosenthal; Forbáth's lawyers are Elias and Juniau. The Factory has to go through another trial, against its delegate, Marcu. There are conferences in Berlin about the rebirth of the Carbide Cartel, and in Paris, about the rebirth of the Calcium Cyanamide Cartel. In Hungary, there are restrictions on Romanian foreign exchange and imports. The office of international common sales, Super Export, is closing. Forbáth's office in Budapest is moving from 1 Jozsef Square to 7 Dorottya Street. In 1933, the first ever telephone conversation takes place between the Budapest office and Diciosanmartin.

The Przemysl Monument is unveiled in a square on the Buda side of the Margit Bridge, in memory of the prisoners of war from Przemysl who died in Russian captivity. The statue was given to the capital by Captain Tamássy, and accepted by Vice-Major Liber. The veterans, with General Domokos Lazar, parade in lines of four in front of the monument. The Hungarians advertise a competition for the anthem of Balaton.


Box 3 Journal 17:, March 8, 1934 - February 5, 1936

The situation of the nitrogen market is improving in Romania; however, exports are still restricted. There are two new branches in the Nitrogen Factory, for the production of tiles and of synthetic ammonias and their derivatives. In the internal market, the demand for these products is so large that the factory plans to enlarge. The buildings surrounding the factory must also be expanded.

There are negotiations about the sale of the company to a group of buyers: Pager, Dragonieranu Buzescu, Constantinescu, Gigurtu, and Caramfil. Gigurtu is the Minister of Industry. This group buys the Nitrogen Factory on January 30, 1935. The contract is written by the lawyers Vajda and Domong. Though the Romanian Bank does not give permission for the transaction, negotiations go on. Because of the so called Incadrare Law, other problems arise around the factory. The law breaks up workers and administrators into seven groups. In each group, there can be a maximum of 205 foreigners, meaning Jews and Hungarians. In the group to which the Nitrogen Factory belongs, a ministerial committee has the right to fire anyone and appoint a new official. The ministry immediately fires and expels a Hungarian engineer. Imre Forbáth takes these trials calmly, while Romanian impatience with the Nitrogen Factory increases.

The case against the Ministry of War takes a new turn: in contrast to the last two verdicts, the highest court of cassation declares the Romanian War Office the successor of the Austro-Hungarian War Office. Forbáth appeals to the Tribunal Arbitral in Paris. Many trials and hearings follow.

There is a Carbide Cartel conference in Zurich and Rome and a Middle European Nitrogen meeting in Prague and Vienna. There is a Syndicate meeting in Paris. Forbáth sends a representative to the Berlin conference.

He is upset about the apathy of the world towards the persecution of the Jews. Forbáth is enthusiastic about Thomas Mann's letter on Nazi Germany, published in theZürcher Zeitung.Mussolini's speech is aired on the radio.

Forbáth visits the Hungarian Tile Factory. In Hungary, Horthy is chancellor and Gyula Gombos prime minister. Anti-Semitism is growing in the country.

After selling the Nitrogen Factory, Imre Forbáth wants to become a private engineer again. The National Association of Engineers elects him President of City Development in Budapest. He is also a delegate of the City Building Council to the Congress of Civil Engineering.



Box 4 Journal 18:, February 6, 1936 - December 21, 1937

At the beginning of 1937, the Diciosanmartin Factory is still run by Imre Forbáth from his office in Budapest. After the long controversy with the Romanian government, the Nitrogen Factory is sold to the Romanians. On December 14, 1935, the assembly declares that the company's seat is being moved to Bucharest. The Budapest office is eliminated on May 1, 1936. After the factory is given to Romania, 14 out of 16 Jewish officials of the factory are fired, and most of the Hungarians as well. Imre Forbáth takes responsibility for the fired officials, allowing them to retire formally, and pays them rewards in the name of the former owners of the factory. Forbáth assigns a Hungarian assistant to the new director appointed by the Romanians.

The first million lei from the sale of the Nitrogen Factory arrives at the Credit Bank, but the contract signed in 1935 expires without the completion of the purchase. A new contract must be drawn up with Gigortu. The Romanian National Bank takes a long time to approve it.

Forbáth continues to represent the factory at International Cartel meetings in London, Berlin, and Paris even after it is sold. Before his London trip, Forbáth writes a letter to Samuel Hoare, in which he congratulates him on his book, The Fourth Seal. He would like to arrange a meeting to discuss the possibility of publishing his diary written in Siberia as a prisoner of war. Hoare replies warmly and invites him to London. Imre Forbáth arrives in London at the moment when Hoare is named First Lord of Admiralty, so their meeting has to be postponed.

A competition is announced for plans for the exhibition and market area in Vienna. Forbáth draws up a plan with the engineers Deli and Farago. They take third place, the only foreign plan given an award.

A group from the Commerce Bank negotiates with the Hungarian Government about the rental of the Port Authority in Csepel, with Forbáth joining the discussions. He is a leading figure of the Chamber of Engineers and of the press, involved in providing medical care and insurance to engineers. He wants to go back to teaching at the newly reorganized Technological University in Budapest.


Box 4 Journal 19:, : December 21, 1937 - November 11, 1939

Imre Forbáth goes to Berlin for the first Carbide Cartel meeting. On the way back, he stops at Vienna, where he sees swastikas and Nazi banners everywhere. The synagogue is burned down and Jewish stores are vandalized and marked.

The Nitrogen Factory's February 15, 1938 meeting declares the factory's worth to be 11 million pengős. After the company is sold, the main office is relocated to Bucharest. Forbáth donates the factory's old plans to the Technical Museum of Budapest.

British Oxygen tries to dictate conditions for the carbide market. The second Cartel meeting ends in Paris. The meeting of the third Cartel is planned for Geneva on July 1, 1938. Imre Forbáth goes to this meeting with his seventeen-year-old son, Tamás. Afterwards, Imre goes to Paris while Tamás goes to London, where he takes an examination in English at the City of London College.

In the Technical University in Budapest, a National Drinking Water Conference is held and the National Common Health Institute is established. The World Fair opens, and an International Eucharistic Congress is held at the same time as the St. István Exhibition. Cardinal Pacelli leads the procession into Budapest, at the side of Horthy.

Keren Kajemeth's representative seeks out Forbáth to collect money for the purchase of Palestinian lands. Jewish refugees from Austria and Germany ask for Forbáth's help. Emigration from the country is more and more frequent.

In 1938, the First Jewish law comes into effect, restricting the number of Jews in the professions and in commercial enterprises to twenty percent. The Jews are being shut out of Hungarian society. Imrédi is forced to resign when it is found that one of his great-grandparents was Jewish. The new Prime Minister, Pál Teleki, pushes through the Second Jewish Law, even harsher and more restrictive than the First. He announces the return of Kárpátalja (Subcarpathia) to Hungary. Military conscription is re-introduced. Young Jews are leaving the country by the thousands. Imre Forbáth discusses these events with his son, Tamás, and wants to send him abroad. After finishing high school on July 12, 1939, Tamás leaves for the Royal College in London, where he prepares for the science examination in the summer. Many young British men have applied to the same college this year, because of conscription; a Royal College degree will automatically make them officers. Feeling he will have a better chance elsewhere, he transfers to the faculty of technology of the University of Manchester.

Forbath won a Third Place for the Plans for the Exhibition and Market Area in Vienna


Box 4 Journal 20:, November 12, 1939 - December 20, 1941

In 1939, Imre Forbáth obtains his parents' and grandparents' papers, which prove that the family has lived in Nyitra, Hungary since 1815. The entire Hungarian population is being compelled to produce similar proofs.

The Budapest office of the Nitrogen Factory is liquidated. Due to the war, the Cartel is abolished. The factory in Diciosanmartin continues its liquidation process. Forbáth and Dr. Vajda give the records of the Nitrogen Factory to Bucharest. There is an accidental explosion in the Chlorine Factory in Zernest, resulting in a large number of casualties.

At the end of September 1939, Washington announces the Sixteenth International Builders' Conference. Forbáth sends a contribution on the theme "The Relationship between Population Density and Buildings." He is invited to the conference but is unable to attend due to the war.


Box 4 Journal 21: December 21, 1941 - December 25, 1943

The Office of Land Registry takes away Forbáth's orchard in Bugyi; however, the family rents it back from the government. Imre Forbáth's membership in the Board of Engineers ends. He loses his voting rights. He must fill out a survey about how his home can be shared, and about his Jewish origins. It has been 25 years since he returned from Siberian captivity. Dr. Arthur Kovacs, a fellow former prisoner of war, holds a gathering to remember their time in the Nikolok Ussurisk prison camp.

At the suggestion of one of his professors, Tamás Forbáth leaves England and travels to America because of the war. In 1942, he earns a B. S. in Chemical Engineering at Columbia University in New York. He is able to communicate with his family only very rarely. In Hungary, the male members of the Forbáth family are drafted for labor service. Tamás's former high school classmates write to Imre Forbáth for support. They have been in labor service in Transylvania for two years. They work barefoot, without blankets, coats, or food. One of them was the national high school champion in mathematics. Forbáth sends them financial aid. The Pro-Palestine Association also asks Forbáth for donations. Imre Forbáth does not have work during the war. He takes care of his properties and he serves as an air raid warden in his community. He tries to build new shelters. Forbáth is thinking about death. He reads texts from the Old and New Testaments. He looks for reasons for the tragic fate of the Jews. He has faith that the worst will never happen in Hungary. He believes that the following year will be a year of wise decisions.


Inserts found in diaries


Box 4 Letter to Tamas, 11 November, 1941, Budapest (fragment, typescript), 11 November, 1941


Photographs


Box 4 Forbath, Imre, 1932


Box 4 Forbath, Imre with family, 1929


Box 4 Business card (with a holograph note)


Box 4 Book-Plate (with a holograph note on a back)