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148 GÁRDOS, Mária (Mariska Gárdos, Mrs György Pintér, likely born M. Grünfeld) (1885–1973) Leader of the social democratic women’s movement in Hungary before World War I; active in social democratic organizations as an émigré in Vienna (after 1919) and in Budapest (from 1945); member of the Communist Party; women’s activist; appointed Permanent Member (1971) of the Magyar Nők Országos Tanácsa (Hungarian Women’s National Council). Mariska Gárdos, 1965, sitting (right) with close friend and famous Hungarian poet, Zseni Várnai (1890–1981) (left) at the Congress of the Magyar Nők Országos Tanácsa, where Gárdos was made a Permanent Member of the organization. Mariska Gárdos was born on 1 May 1885 (one source claims 1 October 1884), in Nagyberény, Hungary, south of Lake Balaton. She was one of many children, yet only three of her siblings reached adulthood: her much younger sister Frida (born mid1890s —died in a Soviet prison around 1926) and her elder sister and brother Giza and Sándor (data unknown). Her father, originally a tailor’s assistant, moved to Budapest with his family in 1886, where he became a casual worker and canvas repairer in the Óbuda Dockyard Factory. Mariska’s mother worked hard to maintain her large family. In the interwar period, she and her husband died relatively young, at the ages of 54 and 60 respectively. Mariska, having finished lower-level secondary school, success- 149 fully concluded a preparation course for trade employees. However, she found her (short-lived) experiences of positions available to women of her social class sexually humiliating. In 1905/1906, she moved to Kolozsvár (Cluj, today Cluj-Napoca, Romania ), where, with the help of leftist intellectuals and social democratic comrades, she built up a career as a professional journalist. Back in Budapest after a few years, possibly in 1908, she also accepted a part-time position as an employee in the lawyer’s office of a socialist comrade. After her emigration years (1919–1932), Gárdos lived from her activities as a party educator and journalist; in the 1930s, she also wrote novels and did translation work. In 1909, Gárdos married the socialist journalist Ernő Bresztovszky (1882–1922). Not long after the death of their child Márta, who did not live to see her first birthday, the couple divorced. In 1913, Gárdos remarried and, years later, had a second child (Marianne, born 1922) with her second husband, György Pintér, also a socialist and white-collar worker. She lived with Pintér until his death in 1941. Gárdos, who was of Jewish origin, belonged to the Lutheran confession in the interwar period and had her daughter baptized a few days after the birth. Mariska Gárdos’s relationship to the social democratic workers’ movement reached back to her childhood years, when she became acquainted with the organized workers’ milieu through her father and her brother Sándor. Mariska became a member of the party as a teenager in 1900 and, soon after, we find her a founding member and public activist of the Kereskedelmi Alkalmazottak Szakegylete (Union of Trade Employees). In these early years, Mariska’s comrade Sándor Garbai wrote to her: “As I look around ... I ask: where are the women? But I do see one woman, you, who possesses the power and the talent to awaken millions of your sex. Therefore set out for the battlefield, to the great task!” (Kende 1985, 9). These lines indicate two crucial points of departure for Mariska Gárdos’s involvement in organizing women within the workers’ movement : one was the masculinism of the party, the identification of the real worker with the male worker and of the interests of the working class exclusively with those of male workers; the other was the sexualized and marginalizing labor and social relations into which working women were systematically drawn. Gárdos’s earliest monograph , Az igazság az élet (Justice is life, 1906), a letter-novel addressed to her younger sister, is a masterly elaboration of her radically critical attitude towards the latter experiences . From 1902, Gárdos worked—initially in close cooperation with representatives of the unfolding non-socialist feminist movement—for the foundation of a woman workers’ association which, in 1904, was formally established as the Magyarországi Munkásnők Országos Egyesülete (MME, National Association of Woman Workers in Hungary). The MME very soon...


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