Research Center in Debrecen, Hungary

The Karl Barth Research Center at the Debrecen Reformed Theological University in Hungary opened on June 29, 2007. It is focusing on exploring the history of the impact and reception of Barth’s work in Hungary and Southeast Europe.

Karl Barth visited Hungary twice, in 1936 as well as in 1948.  His lectures, discussions and exchanges with professors, pastors and some of his former students in the Reformed Church of Hungary not only incited lively debate, but also marked the beginning of a history of reception and influence, which has yet to be researched and evaluated.

The 1930s were marked by a literal, but not always uncritical, reception of Barth’s theology in Hungary. Barth’s impact post-1948, however, was shadowed by the church policy developments of these years. Especially Barth’s second visit in 1948 marked in several respects a turning point in the history of reception of Karl Barth’s theology in Hungary. The new church leadership, which had been accepted by the communist regime, constantly referred to Barth’s “advice” and “open letter” to legitimize the way they have taken and their church-political decisions.

Karl Barth had several Hungarian students, including István Török, Barna Nagy, Tivadar Rózsai, Sándor Kálmán and Imre Bertalan. The Research Center in Debrecen aims to collect any books related to Karl Barth as well as all mementos related to him in Hungary such as photographs, anecdotes, and audio recordings.

You can get in touch with the Research Center in Debrecen via Dr. Árpád Ferencz: ferencza(at)drhe.hu

Karl Barth in Hungary

Karl Barth on his first visit to Hungary, autumn 1936. Third from the left is Barth's pupil Dr. Török, and second from the right Bela Vasady, the interpreter