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Falk, Miksa

(1828–1908), Hungarian journalist, publisher, and member of parliament. Born into an impoverished merchant family in Pest, Miksa Falk began writing articles for both German- and Hungarian-language newspapers as early as age 14. In the wave of conversions during the 1840s, he and his brother Zsigmond became Christian. Of all of Falk’s associates, he alone retained a tenuous connection to Judaism. In 1847, he received a Ph.D. from the University of Pest and later continued his studies at the Vienna Polytechnic. In 1848, he returned to Pest, where he became an editor of the German-language newspaper Ungar during the first few months of the revolution. In September 1848, Falk returned to Vienna and lived there until 1867, writing political articles for several newspapers.

Falk was one of the earliest practitioners of modern journalism in Hungary. His vivid, thoughtful articles signed “FK” caught the attention of leading Hungarian political figures, including Ferenc Deák and Zsigmond Kemény. While keeping implicit both his criticism of the absolutist system of the 1850s and his support for national resistance, Falk gained great popularity as a journalist and was favored by Count István Széchenyi, who was living in the Viennese suburb of Döbling. Falk became Széchenyi’s trusted coworker between 1858 and 1860. On Deák’s recommendation, Falk was elected associate member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1861. In the wake of an article he wrote urging the restoration of Hungary’s constitution, he was tried and sentenced to a brief prison term in the same year.

In 1866, Falk became Queen Elisabeth’s Hungarian-language teacher. He played a significant role in laying the groundwork and forming a mutual understanding for the 1867 Compromise with Austria. Subsequently, on the recommendation of the banker Mór Wahrmann (a former schoolmate) and Prime Minister Gyula Andrássy, Falk was invited to edit and publish the recently founded German-language Pester Lloyd, a paper representing the interests of the Hungarian industrial and commercial bourgeoisie. In time, Pester Lloyd became the official newspaper of the government, the Catholic clergy, the military, and the Jewish upper bourgeoisie. Falk retained control of the paper until his death, thus becoming the most influential and wealthiest editor and publisher in Hungary.

Falk served as a member of parliament for various constituencies. He was elected representative of the Deák Party of Köszeg (1869), the liberal party of Keszthely (1875), Arad and Nagykanizsa (1884), and from 1892, the First Voter District of Budapest. He was awarded numerous decorations and honors, among them doctorates from the University of Budapest and Kolozsvár. He wrote several textbooks on history and geography and also translated Hungarian and French works into German. Though he published many of his political speeches, his most significant writings were journalism. His correspondence with his colleague Aurél Kecskeméthy, published in 1925, continues to be an important primary source for researchers of the neoabsolutist era of the 1850s.

Suggested Reading

Dávid Angyal, “Bevezetés,” in Falk Miksa és Kecskeméthy Aurél elkobzott levelezése, pp. 1–222 (Budapest, 1925); Jenő Gaál, “Emlékbeszéd Falk Miksa levelező tag felett,” MTA Emlékbeszédek 14 (1909); Mária Rózsa, “Falk Miksa és a német nyelvû sajtó,” Hungarológia 7 (1995): 118–129; Hedvig Ujvári, “Die Geschichte des Pester Lloyd zwischen 1854–1875,” Magyar Könyvszemle 117.2 (2001): 189–203, 117.3 (2001): 318–331.



Translated from Hungarian by Veronika Szabó