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Talking with Angels

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Talking with Angels
Hanna Dallos

Joseph Kreutzer
Gitta Mallasz

Lili Strausz
the witnesses




  Joseph the silent

The only man among the group of four, Joseph Kreutzer (1) was a quiet man, but his silence spoke a thousand words. Joseph was a self-contained man; his movements were measured and he was not given to rhetorical discussions. His presence alone eased tensions. In the close relationship he shared with Hanna Dallos who was quite outspoken, he was the calming presence.
He was witty, subtle and very observant. He put things into perspective with a dry sense of humour his wife particularly appreciated. One day, he suggested to the household the use of a “bad mood stick” (a large wooden spoon) that anyone can hold up to show that they were not in good spirits that day and might be irritable (SB, Ch. II,3).
But whenever he felt that Hanna and her girlfriends, who loved to make jokes, were going too far, he would retreat into his wood workshop and Hanna would comment: “That’s it, Joseph has gone to sulk in his cabin of silence” (SB, Ch II, 7).
Hanna Dallos et Joseph Kreutzer
Hanna Dallos and Joseph Kreutzer
(Courtesy Dr. Vera Dallos-Pinter)
From being a Jewish agnostic...

Behind this serene facade lay the deepest anxiety. Joseph was an agnostic Jew who was born into a poor family; his father was a struggling tailor from Pest. He was fifteen years old when the Hungarian Soviet Republic led by Bela Kun took power in 1919. His young age did not prevent him from enthusiastically joining this revolutionary movement and participating in many political and cultural meetings. But this regime, inspired by the Soviets, was soon swept away and replaced by Horthy’s dictatorship, leaving Joseph sceptical and disoriented. The rise of Nazism in Germany and anti-Semitism in Hungary in the 1930s made him fear the worst.
Joseph Kreutzer studied Fine Arts in Budapest and then in Munich where he met his cousin Hanna. The two young people fell in love and married despite their being cousins. Once they had finished their studies, they moved to Budapest to a beautiful studio overlooking the Danube. They offered all kinds of services in the field of applied arts, ranging from advertising posters to theatre sets, textiles and furniture design. Hanna did the designing while Joseph ran the projects. Hanna taught too.
Joseph looked on his wife’s sessions with Gitta Mallasz and Lili Strausz with tolerance, but enjoyed following their discussions when they dealt with major philosophical questions (SB, Ch II, 7) and sometimes even took part in them.

…to becoming a messenger from Heaven

When the messengers appeared in Budaliget, Joseph first viewed these encounters as old wives’ tales and kept away. Then he became accustomed: three months later, he decided to attend these sessions, because he understood that they were fulfilling. But, of course, he remained silent.
The angel called out to him:
What was a veil for you, was a wall for the ‘son’ :
the ancient wall which humans have built between
 themselves and the Creator
. (TA P.92)
The angel reminded Joseph of his materialistic past and his vocation as a builder. That would become the subject of many talks.
So, after Joseph’s hernia operation, the angel said to him:
I speak to the convalescent one :
the old lack has been filled.
The man of the past lifted more than he was able,
May the scar remind you of this, my son !
It is the image of a whole age ! But you are cured.
(TA, p.175)
In January 1944, while Joseph was very anxious as his father, seriously ill, was in hospital, his angel appeared to him, in all his splendour, bathed in an intense green light. All Joseph’s inhibitions were swept away and he exclaimed:
Speak to me!
He was told:
False shame is a sign of weakness.
The angel added:
Silence is my word.
And the angel invited him to speak:
I do not depart. (TA p.215-216)

Only a few Dialogues are destined for Joseph, but they are powerful. He was even given a brutal lesson: on 24 February1944, the ceiling of the workshop collapsed while he was working. In the midst of the rubble, luckily, he was unharmed.
The next day, the angel explained to him:
If you and I are unable to speak,
then the stones speak to you :
the message was for you !
The stones fell to the earth
to show where your lack is
. (TA, p.263)
Gitta later explained that Joseph was the least “worldly” of the four of them. In order to counterbalance this tendency to be disengaged, “The One who Builds”, Joseph’s inner master (DV, p.27), used real events and often borrowed from a builder’s vocabulary: stones, construction, weight.
Although Joseph was the least visible of the “group of four”, his presence was not unimportant. He understood the meaning of the angels’ teachings better than anyone else. When, as a kind of rite of passage, the angels asked the four friends to reflect in writing on the following question: “What would you do in the New World for the New World?” (TA, p.256), Joseph was intuitively the only one to answer appropriately (TA, p.262). He was also the only one to see his “luminous exact likeness” who in turn named him a “messenger from heaven” (DV, p.27).
Joseph is “the son”. His father’s son certainly:
Do not let your father go – he can still live on!
(…) Your father is not yet ripe.
He misses something : that you also become father!
 (TA, p.216)
But Joseph did not have children. He did not want to have children, probably because of Hanna being his cousin and because of his sinister premonitions.
The angel continued:
The FATHER and your father are one.
Between them, the son.
The son is the link.
There is no death because the son is there.
(TA, p.215)
Did this elude to Jesus Christ, the son of God and his resurrection? We can’t answer that. Patrice Van Eersel believed that Joseph was “the very moving representative of a humble human Jesus Christ, friend of the poor and the needy, destitute himself, confessing his profound insignificance. Joseph was the one who, through his empathy and fears, might have enabled the talks to continue on the right path.” (SB, epilogue)


Three months later, Joseph left for the camps. He received a summons ordering him to go to Keleti station where the deportation trains were waiting. Everything was written down: the time, the platform number, the wagon number (SB, Ch. V,3). Joseph did not flee; he followed his destiny. The day before his departure the angels were very active. They spoke each in turn and then in chorus, and revealed their tasks’ meaning to the four friends. They then sealed their alliance with these verses:
Silence is the house of the shining Word in which love burns. (TA, p.338)
Joseph is “Silence”, Hanna is “the Word”, Gitta is “shining”, Lili is “in which love burns.”

On 3 June 1944, Gitta accompanied Joseph to the train station, as Hanna had collapsed and was unable to go. Gitta saw him disappear into the crowd. He was a very dignified figure wearing the obligatory yellow star, a small suitcase in his hand. The one whom Vera Székely, Hanna’s pupil (2), had described as  “adorable, very mature, very refined, very witty, with a very dry sense of humour” left, according to Gitta “without a glimmer of hesitation, sustained by the words that for eleven months he had heard through his wife.”  (SB, Ch. V,3)
Joseph was sent to a camp in Hungary from which he managed to escape. He was taken in by a family of farmers. But he feared reprisals against such a generous and brave family, so he decided to return to the camp after a few days. Then we lose track of him. We don’t know the exact circumstances of his death.
There had been the possibility of escape from the Nazi clutches in Budapest, but Joseph chose not to flee. He did not resist being taken to a destination he knew full well would end with his death. Hanna and Lili made the same decision five months later. Gitta was haunted by their sacrifice throughout her life. She spoke of a strange dream the couple had had when they were students in Germany on their way to the Dürer Festival in Nuremberg: “In Medieval Nuremberg, Hanna chased in desperation after a cart to which Joseph was bound as he was being led to his execution. Joseph dreamed the same dream of being bound to the cart and seeing Hanna chasing behind in desperation.” (TA, p.438).
A terrifying premonition they would not shrink from.

Françoise Maupin

(1) Kreuz means “cross” in German.

(2) Vera Székely, born Harsányi (1919-1994), was a Hungarian artist. She started as a swimmer and was trained by Gitta Mallasz until she took part in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. She then became Hanna’s student. It was through her that Pierre Székely - who was to be her husband – met Hanna and joined her workshop. Throughout the Budaliget talks, they lived in Hanna’s parents’ apartment in Budapest and were the first readers of what was to become Talking with Angels. They settled in France after the war.

  • (TA) Talking with Angels. Daimon, 2006
  • (DV) Gitta Mallasz with Françoise Maupin, Les Dialogues tels que je les ai vécus, Aubier, Paris, 1984
  • (SB) Patrice Van Eersel, La source blanche. L'étonnante histoire des Dialogues avec l'Ange, Grasset, Paris, 1996 and Livre de poche

Translated by Treharne Translations