3 / 2015

Tibor Takács

Changes in Kecskemét, black and white A book review about Róbert Rigó: The decades of the changing of elites in Kecskemét (1938–1948) ÁBTL-Kronosz, Budapest-Pécs, 2014.

The monograph of Róbert Rigó analyses the decades of the changing of elites in Kecskemét, based on rich primary sources (archival material, memoirs, etc.). The author emphasizes the significance of the changes of 1945 and deals less with the period before 1944, which appears in the monograph only as preliminaries.

Rigó introduces the changes of the elites as a homogeneous story, but the reviewer, Tibor Takács doubts the validity of such an approach because of the heterogeneous local contexts and the significant local differences shown in the changes. Rigó stays at fault for defining what local elite exactly mean, a definition, which could have been the basis of investigation in the direction of both before and after 1945. The monograph therefore could be considered as focusing on the transitional period of Kecskemét and introducing mainly the atrocities against mostly the middle classes of Kecskemét after 1944. In this regard, the typical attitude of the author is to idealize the history before 1944 and criminalize the period after 1945.

One basic element of idealization of Horthy era is to claim that there was not significant anti-Semitism in Kecskemét. The reviewer, however, reveals that Rigó fails to prove this in his book. Certainly, the book deserves acknowledgement in putting into question the hot issue of the Jewish participation in the communist political police after 1945. Unfortunately, this issue was not circumscribed with due cautiousness therefore putting the communist political police’s brutality into the relation of “Jewish” and “Hungarian” context only feeds the myth of the “Jewish revenge”. It is a general characteristic of the book that the author lacks a historian’s reflection, which results in the lack of due source criticism and their objective analyses. Rigó hides himself behind tables and statistical data and behind long, moral quotations, but unfortunately this does not substitute his own interpretation, which in fact makes a historical work that of a scientifically based piece of historiography.

István Gergely Szűts

The nationalization of Herend Porcelain Manufactory Inc.

The Herend Porcelain Manufactory Inc. was nationalized under the Act XXV. of 26th March, 1948, but the preparations for it and the control of the private company had started years before. Already in 1945 a local factory committee was established, officially with the aim of “defending the rights of the employees”, but practically with the intention of controlling the factory leadership. The influence of the factory committee increased during the subsequent years.

The business marketing, the financial transactions and the price calculation of the export-oriented incorporation was controlled since 1946. In 1947, possibly due to an impeachment of the factory committee, the Economic Police started an investigation against the company leadership and conclusively arrested Andor Hubay Cebrián, the managing director. Hubay and the majority shareholder Gyula Gulden, who at that moment stayed in Switzerland, were accused of trafficking in foreign currencies and profiteering. As a part of the case, just one month before the nationalization, a new investigation started, but finally Gulden could not be brought to Hungary, while Hubay immigrated to Norway. After the nationalization, the company leadership did not change right away, because the new leadership needed their experiences and international contacts. However, it was only the question of time.

The history of the nationalization of the Hungarian private companies should be examined as parts of a process, which had its start in the spring, 1945 and its (unofficial) end changed due to each, local development.

Judit Tóth

“Further on I report…” The Life of kulaks during the consolidation of their holdings in County Pest in 1950 as it is reflected in the reports of the State Security Authority on general public sentiment

The reports of the State Security Authority on general public sentiment informed the party leadership regularly, sometimes even daily, about what happened in the given settlements of a county, what the dominant public opinion in a certain question was and how the local society reacted to them. Those reports, which dealt with the impact of the most significant political steps of the state counted the most valuable sources for the party. The hottest issues were the subscription to arbitrary state loan, the compulsory delivery of agricultural goods, the state of harvest, threshing and other works, the consolidation of agricultural holdings and in connection with it, the organization of co-operative farms.

As an important segment of these reports, daily reports covered the consolidation of 1950, which forms the basis of the present study. By using these reports we can get a differentiated picture how agricultural consolidation took place in Pest County, how certain groups of the peasantry took the nationalization of their lands on the pretext of consolidation. Certainly, researchers should apply a serious source criticism when using these sources.

Eszter Balogh

Contributions to the history of state security observation of the churches in Somogy County 1948-1956

The published sources present a cut of the state and church relations between 1948 and 1956. After World War II the political situation changed, which caused fundamental changes in the lives of the churches. The state party, which was brought to existence in 1948, saw a political and ideological enemy in the churches and took it as one of its most important aims to pushing them into the background. The ideological background behind this aim was “the struggle against clerical reaction”, which in practice meant the restriction of the churches, which was realized by the cooperation of the State Office of Church Affairs (ÁEH) and State Security Authority (ÁVH).

The introductory text to the published sources summarizes the series of the actions against the churches and touches upon the changes that happened during the Prime Ministry of Imre Nagy, then the short hard line restoration period after 1955. The sources reveal the activity of “the clerical reaction” in Somogy County, but through them we are introduced also to the religious activity of the age, to the party resolutions on church matters and their influence on the churches in Somogy. The sources also touch the trespasses of the county party leadership against the churches.

That’s why, when analyzing them, a critical approach have to be taken up.

Péter Norbert Kiss

Reports of the State Security Authority about the conditions of co-operatives in Somogy County 1953-1956

The study aims at analysing under what circumstances the (re-)organization and improvement of the co-operatives and co-operatives groups happened by using the reports of the regional section of the State Security Authority in Somogy county between October, 1953 and March, 1956. The reports showed a realistic, but in many cases paranoid picture about the processes in Somogy County in the middle of the 1950s in connection with the (re-)organization and improvement of the co-operatives. They analysed the status of agricultural work, evaluated in percentage the activity of certain districts, and touched upon other professional questions, including the activity of “class enemies”. The reports dealt with the tendency of quitting the co-operative membership, but their analyses in most cases stops at the surface, because they could not criticize the regime. There are only 25 reports from the period 1953-1956, but their value is enormous regarding the social, economic and political history of Somogy County, and that of the history of the co-operatives as well.

Gyöngyi Farkas

„…I will tell you how to behave yourself when coming to us to make your program…” Anonymous letters to the organizers of co-operatives in Rákóczifalva

After the forced collectivization of agriculture there were no legal means of safeguarding the interest of the peasants in the long 1950s. The farmers mainly used the forms of hidden resistance to save both their lands and their independence. One of these means was to send threatening anonymous letters to the leaders of the collectivization. The study analyses the anonymous letters sent to the Rákóczifalva collectivization committee and investigates who the senders could be, what kind of motifs they had and how they interpreted the events happening in their village.

The senders wrote in the name of the collective of the peasants who were in similar situation as themselves. However, their aim was not only to influence or to threaten the collectivization committee or their leaders (president of the local councils, local party functionaries). A very important motif was to clear the situation and to unmask the false game, which characterized the situation, to say the “truth” which served to preserve the human dignity of the humiliated farmers.

István Papp

The pub of the co-operative and the office of the women’s council – flats for meeting in a village in Békés County

The most important places for the secret operations of the political police were those flats where the liaison officers and agents could meet. In these flats the education of the agents and the verbal or written reports could also be made. In state security jargon these flats were called “M(eeting)-flats”. These flats were put at the disposal of the political police as a result of verbal or written agreement with the owners. These casual meeting places were important also in the work of the state security organs in the country. They were used mainly during certain campaigns, as for example the collectivization wave between 1959 and 1961. At that time the counter-sabotage operations had to be re-organized and numerous agents were enlisted, therefore there was a great need for M-flats to arrange meetings.

The documents published in this article refer to two M-flats in Csorvás, in Békés County. In each cases there was proposals for the exclusion of the owners of the flats. The owners were also recorded as other members of the network. They had a registry card and had to sign a declaration of cooperation and that of secrecy. The significance of the two sources published here is that they summarize well those problems, which occurred in connection with the country M-flats and agricultural counter-sabotage operations in general.

Zsuzsanna Varga

Peasant resistance strategies after the end of collectivization

The collectivization was officially finished in 1961 in Hungary. The party leadership, however, could not feel relief, because signs of serious crises appeared in the established collective agricultural estates. The most significant of them was that the peasants having been forced to join the co-operatives did not want to be involved into the organization of work. Their previous attitude of refusal did not disappear in the moment of signing the enrolment form. The study, using the concept of James C. Scott on the forms of everyday resistance, examines the resistance strategies after the collectivization as they appeared in state security sources. These strategies can be reconstructed with the help of those documents, which were written by the local and central agricultural counter-sabotage organs. They recorded such resistance activities as for example the denial of work, bad quality work, theft, resign without permission, etc. The study also analyses the process how due to the peasant resistance and active accommodation the party leadership finally admitted the fact that most of the co-operative members were not willing to work in the framework of co-operatives. Due to the negotiations of the agrarian lobby, the state first only tolerated, later supported and finally legalized in 1967 the extra-payment system for the collective of co-operatives and their more independent working organization model.

English