Hungary History – Towards the Communist Regime
The replacement, after the victory over Germany, of an expansive and ideological Pan-Germanic influence that ran from west to east, with a Communist and Pan-Slavic Soviet – from north to mid-greek – did not change for the better the situation of Hungary, which has not yet found itself at the point of intersection and contrast between these two forces. After failing to escape the bullying of the first, she necessarily had to bow her head also in front of the second, especially when in Yalta the Soviet Union was in fact recognized a pre-eminent directive in all of Eastern Europe.
Immediately, the social and structural problems that the Hungarian landowning ruling classes had not been able or wanted to solve, exasperated by the war, were suddenly resolved, opening the way to a phase of vast and profound social renewal.
According to agooddir.com, the Germans had not yet withdrawn, that already on March 15, 1945 the provisional government (composed of small owners, communists, socialists and national peasants) decided on the agrarian reform, with “the abolition of the system of large properties and the allocation of land to the agricultural population “allowing the possession of up to a maximum of 57 hectares. It has touched about one third of the country’s arable land, equal to about three million and 200,000 hectares, and has met the deep and secular aspirations of a rural proletariat that reaches 55% of the country’s total population. Naturally, the rupture of pre-existing economic-agrarian units paved the way for their reconstitution, in many places,
The agrarian reform was launched, which, in an agricultural country like Hungary, transformed its entire social structure, reducing or eliminating the weight of the landowner categories, which for centuries have dominated a country that, like all those of Eastern Europe, has a middle class at all. weak and of recent origin, the general political situation from 1945 to early 1949 is characterized: internally, by the progressive seizure of power by the communist minority; on the international level, from the correlative insertion of Hungary into the framework of the countries gravitating around the Soviet Union, and linked to it by precise collaboration agreements.
The Communist leaders, who had come as everywhere from Moscow, had found an entirely embryonic party organization, born around the Petőfi brigades, and, with the support of the occupation authorities (in the allied control commission, chaired at the beginning by Marshal Vorošilov, the Russians prevailed), they tried to reach key posts throughout the life of the country.
That this was anything but willing to accept the prevalence of Communists, was shown by the first elections, those of November 4, 1945, which were held freely (requested by the US and Great Britain as a condition for the recognition of Hungary) marked the overwhelming victory of the party of small owners (245 seats, against 70 for the communists, 69 for the socialists, 23 for the national peasants and 2 for the democrats). This victory was not so much due to the intrinsic strength of the party itself (which was also considerable and had actually grown as a result of the agrarian reform), as to the fact that the votes of those categories that had been most affected went to its lists. from the agrarian reform and from the whole revolutionary process in progress (aristocracy, landowners,
In the cabinet of December 15, 1945, the small owners went to the presidency (Z. Tildy) with the function of head of state, the Foreign Affairs (J. Győngyősy) and six other departments; to the communists the Interior, Communications and Assistance; three departments to the socialists; the three party leaders, M. Rákosy, communist, Á. Szakasits, a socialist, and I. Dózy, a small owner, held the position of ministers of state. On November 7, 1945, British recognition took place and December 5 that of the US
Shortly thereafter – for the third time in Hungarian history after 1848 and 1919 – on February 1, 1946, the National Assembly proclaimed the republic, with President Z. Tildy. On February 4, he commissioned Ferenc Nagy, also a small owner, to form a new cabinet which maintained the same physiognomy as the previous one. The visit made to Moscow in April by F. Nagy, Szakasits and Győngyősy, was aimed at defining the question of reparations, the repatriation of prisoners and, in connection with the work of the Council of Foreign Ministers, the problem was raised a revision of the borders.
However, Hungary continued to be the only country among those that entered the Soviet orbit that at the time did not show a clear predominance of the Communist Party, nor was the general situation seen to be moving in this direction. This was all the more worrying for the Communist leaders, as the conclusion of the peace treaty was imminent, with the end of the occupation regime by the Soviet troops. The largest organized force, with the strongest grip on the country’s structure was always the Party of small owners which in Hungary – as mentioned – had swelled with elements of other social origins, especially feudal aristocrats. This fact, determined by the electoral victory, however, it had marked the beginning of a serious crisis for the party (which also inserted itself as few in the peasant tradition common to the whole of Eastern Europe), defined by an inconsistent political line, in the face of the growing demands of the communists and allies socialists, who directed all their blows against it to undermine its foundations. In June 1946, following the defection of 20 deputies, the party lost an absolute majority in parliament, while increasingly lively disagreements opened up with the social-communists. And agitation and intolerance began in the country. Hence the burden of the political police, in the hands of the Communists. Anti-Semitism also returned, as hostility to Communists and Socialists, whose leaders were largely Israelites. At the end of December 1946, Some personalities of the small proprietors and the army were arrested, under accusation of conspiracy against the government. The arrests extended to deputies and members of the government. This “exaggerated conspiratorial psychosis”, as F. Nagy defined it, resulted on February 25, 1947 in the arrest of Béla Kovács, general secretary of the Party of Small Owners, by the Soviet authorities, as “organizer of an anti-Soviet terrorist group” and for “engaging in espionage against the Soviet army”. This was followed by other arrests, protests by the US and Great Britain, rejected by the gen. Sviridov, chairman of the allied commission. Attacks on the radio and in the press extended to President Nagy himself, the Foreign Minister Győngyősy and the President of the Varga assembly. Faced with this climate of intimidation, Nagy from Bern announced her resignation by telephone on May 30, 1947. Lajos Dinnyes replaced him. Other resignations in responsible positions at home and abroad followed, so that all internal developments took the form of a coup d’état brought to maturity by the Communist minority in the immediate elections. Hence Marshall’s protest in Moscow on June 11, accusing the USSR of “flagrant interference in Hungarian internal affairs”, and other Anglo-American notes and protests, without appreciable results.
The elections of 31 August 1947 brought to the chamber: the government coalition, 100 communists, 68 small owners, 67 socialists, 36 national peasants (total 271); of the opposition, 60 popular democrats, 49 separatists, 18 democrats and other minors (total 140). While the opposition got significantly 40% of the vote, the Communists this time presented themselves in parliament as the strongest party. The new government, chaired by the small owner Dinnyes, with the communist M. Rákosi and the socialist Szakasits as vice presidents, had 4 communist ministers; 4 socialists, 4 small owners and 2 national farmers. On 10 February 1947 Győngyősy had signed in Paris, in protest, the peace treaty which sanctioned the return to the pre-war borders. On 16 September – after elections and internal upheaval – with the entry into force of the peace treaty the occupation regime ceased and, ten days later, the withdrawal of Soviet troops began. The new internal Hungarian regime could not give any concern to the USSR.
Moreover, from the end of the war onwards, Hungary had been included in the process of political and economic unification and coordination under the supreme Soviet directive. It is estimated that in 1946 Soviet participation in Hungarian foreign trade reached 45% of exports and 49% of imports. Even in the economy, the USSR had simply replaced Germany, all the more so as under the Potsdam agreements the attribution of German activities to Hungary involved the transfer of ownership of 200 factories; the formation of mixed Hungarian-Soviet companies was reached with the stipulation of agreements of close economic cooperation, both with the USSR and with the other countries of the Soviet group. They came to be part of the so-called Molotov plan which would tend to the formation of an economic “Grossraum” in Central and Eastern Europe. This directive was ratified on January 25, 1949 with the creation of a Council for mutual economic assistance between the countries of Eastern Europe, of which Hungary is also a member.
On the political level, Hungary is present in the chain of friendship and alliance agreements that binds the countries of Eastern Europe with each other and with the USSR: treaty of friendship and assistance with Yugoslavia, of December 19, 1947 (now relations are tense, due to the break between Tito and the Kominform); with Romania, of 24 January 1948; with the Soviet Union, of February 18, 1948; with Czechoslovakia, of April 16, 1949.
The Communist preponderance affirmed, the struggle for power came to an end and it was replaced by a fierce resistance to the new regime that has imposed itself, in which a very exposed position is held by the Hungarian Catholic Church. It was the largest landowner in Hungary (about 570,000 hectares) of which about 456,000 were expropriated by the agrarian reform. Even if every parish was guaranteed the possibility of sustenance, as the reform did not affect properties of less than 57 hectares, the primate card. Giuseppe Mindszenty repeatedly denounced the stripping criterion. The most open break with the communist regime, however, occurred with regard to school teaching, when in the spring of 1948 the primate – who had never made an act of recognition of the republic – clearly opposed the project of statization of all schools, half of which – from elementary school to Pázmány University – were run by Catholic clergymen. The conflict reached tones of particular bitterness and, at Pentecost, the primate had a severe pastoral read from the pulpit, calling for excommunication to the authors and executors of the project. In August, Tildy replaced the presidency of the republic with the former socialist Szakasits (the socialist party, expelled the right, on June 15, 1948, had merged with the communists), press campaigns, rallies, etc. were organized against the primate. In December, the new Prime Minister István Dobi, who succeeded Dinnyes on the 10th, attacked the primate openly before the assembly. On 26 December he was arrested and on 8 February 1949 he was sentenced to life imprisonment; his co-defendants had less penalties. The trial and sentence sparked lively protests in Western countries.
Meanwhile, on February 1, the coalition that has ruled the country since the end of the war (the workers’ party – which emerged from the merger of communists and socialists – of small owners and national peasants) together with various mass trade unions formed the Independence Front. One of the first requests was to proceed further in the statization of agriculture. On April 7, the government decided to hold new elections for a constituent assembly by mid-May.