2 / 2020

Tibor Takács

The revolution as monument and history: 21 March 1972

On 21 March 1972, the 53rd anniversary of the proclamation of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, far-leftist (“Maoist”) law students who opposed to the Communist regime wanted to commemorate the Soviet Republic outside the official ceremony in Budapest. The action was intended as a reaction to the unlicensed, spontaneous demonstrations held on 15 March 1972, the Memorial Day of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, considered as counter-revolutionary and nationalist by the leftist students. Although an alternative commemoration on 21 March was eventually not held, state security launched an investigation against the main organizers, and the communist leadership of the university initiated disciplinary proceedings against them. This shows that the authorities interpreted the initiative as an attack on the regime, even if it wanted to stand up for the ideas voiced by the Communist power (communism, internationalism, friendship with the Soviet Union, etc.). The case can also be interpreted as a manifestation of the tension between the conservative “Marxism” of the regime and the revolutionary Marxism of the youth. At the same time, the two had one thing in common: 1919 was not a relevant past for either the power or the leftist youth. The article researches the reasons for this situation: how the memory of the Soviet Republic of 1919 developed in the Kádár era.

Konstantin Medgyesi

“The doctor says that my problem is that I keep thinking of my own responsibility”

Kádár’s angry and frightened look and the foreboding of his fall

In his parliamentary speech on 25 June 1987, Member of Parliament Zoltán Király raised the question of who was responsible for the difficult situation in the country. János Kádár had been the head of Hungary for 31 years so this situation could affect the Secretary General quite sensitively, as Király spoke about the investigation of the mistakes made and called for an “in-depth” analysis of recent processes and an “accurate” identification of responsibility. It was clear to everyone that once the issue of responsibility was included in the agenda, the idea could push János Kádár on a forced path. Kádár was affected by Király's line of thought: the responsibility raised by the MP was also acknowledged by the aged Secretary General on 16 September, in his last parliamentary speech. The paper explores these historical and human processes.

Péter Antal Polgár

Was Lajos Freimann a button seller or a KGB agent?

Data to history of Gáti-cause of Miskolc

The “building protection” volley which was fired outside the County Department of the Police on 26 October 1956 took the lives of 16 citizens in Miskolc. The demonstrators replied to brutality with brutality: the unarmed crowd dispersed and then soon returned, now armed, and lynched several members of the police and the state security who had surrendered in the building. One of the victims was a civilian whom no one actually knew but everybody thought that he was one of those responsible for firing into the crowd, a Jewish ÁVH-man, and he became a victim of public wrath because of this and not just by accident. The person of Lajos Freimann – if it was his name at all – has been a disputed topic among historians and those interested in the topic for decades. The official documents which mention his name, police reports, witnesses’ statements, autopsy reports and the documents of criminal cases against the executors of the lynching often recorded his name wrongly, and his corpse – either accidentally or perhaps intentionally? – was exchanged with that of another victim. Various answers have been proposed about his identity and his role in the events, but none of these has been confirmed: Was he really a simple button-maker, a genuine civilian, or was he present in Miskolc on that tragic day as a member of the state authority, perhaps an agent of the Soviet intelligence gathering information? The answer can actually be found in the contemporary documents, one only has to find them. This is what this article endeavours to do – hopefully with success.

Attila Novák

“The preconditions for a single Jewish folk culture have developed…”

Zoltán Kodály’s visit in Israel

In August 1963, four years before his death, Zoltán Kodály, the world-renowned Hungarian composer and folklorist visited Israel for an important international music conference. In addition to the rare cultural diplomatic significance of the event, it was also important because it proved that in the decades of existing socialism, official diplomacy often did not serve a real rapprochement between the countries of the West and the East, but some eminent intellectuals were more efficient in doing so. The diplomatic report published here proves this assumption. During his visit in Israel, Kodály was welcomed with great interest, and was also warmly received by politicians, municipal leaders and (of course) his former students who lived in the country. Kodály noticed that the cultural concept based on folk music tradition which he himself professed was accepted and represented in Israel as well. In this respect, it can also be argued that Israel was a model country for Kodály’s cultural concept at this time: based on folk traditions and imbued with the spirit of the people.

Malgorzata Dajnowicz

The Liga Kobiet (League of Women) - the activities of the organization in the reality of the Polish People’s Republic (1945-1989)

The League of Women (known under the name of the Social-Civic League of Women till 1949) was a women’s mass organization in the Polish People’s Republic. Throughout the whole period of its activities, the organization’s priority was to build the mass character of the League and expand its services to reach women from different walks of life, which corresponded with the general policy of the country aiming at implementing the so-called communist order. The members of the League of Women were at the same time the members of the Polish United Workers’ Party. The League, apart from being a very effective propaganda tool, tried to play a real supportive role, offering women practical help. Yet, it seems that although the organization focused on expanding the range of its services and attracting a growing number of members, it did not achieve the expected results.

István Bandi

Analysis of the topic of Hungarian intervention in the Romanian 1989 revolution

This study is an analysis of the topic of Hungarian intervention in the Romanian revolutionary events of 1989. The issue of intervention is analyzed using Romanian and Hungarian historical and archival sources. Based on these, it was revealed that taking advantage of Ceausescu’s decisions, political, military and professional interest groups used a disinformation strategy to gain power.
Although Ceausescu disappeared in December 1989, violent incidents continued and the political, military and intelligence actors who participated in this consciously shifted responsibility to the external enemy. Part of this strategy was the intervention of Hungarian forces in the events in Romania.
Ceauşescu’s political system collapsed in December 1989 as a result of violent events, and historians break down the myth of the intervention, but the political, military, and intelligence actors who controlled the bloody historical events in Romania in 1989 have not disappeared to this day.

Péter Kis

A revolution of humanities students

Zsebők Csaba: Tiszta szívvel 1956-ban. A „Kolhoz Kör” a forradalom (egyik) szellemi előkészítője. [With Pure Heart: The „Kolkhoz Circle” as an intellectual antecedents of the revolution] Oikosz Alapítvány, 2019. 137 o.

The book tells the story of one of the micro-groups which has been paid little attention in the remembrance of the revolution and war of independence of 1956. The Kolkhoz Circle was established by some lecturers and students at the history department of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest in the era of political fermentation which began in the summer of 1953. All of the group of 15 to 20 members came from rural background and they had not compromised themselves with supporting Stalinism. It was mainly students of this circle who edited the periodical Tiszta szívvel (With Pure Heart), which had only a single issue about two weeks before the outbreak of the revolution on 23 October, containing articles that demanded definite political changes. The circle and the periodical had a major role in forming the radical attitude of university students. One of the members provenly contributed to the foundation of the Association of Hungarian Universities and Colleges (Szeged, 16 October), which played a very important role in the revolution. The book, which mainly relies on memoirs and the results of relevant literature, discusses the political views of the persons associated with the Kolkhoz Circle and Tiszta Szívvel, which placed them in confrontation with reform communism and the Petőfi Circle. Some members did not only take part in the preparations for the revolution but also the revolutionary events. One of them, Dean Zoltán I. Tóth was killed in the volley fired at the crowd outside the Parliament building on 25 October.