2 / 2017

Marcin Bukała

Forged victory The Sejm elections in Rzeszów Voivodeship on 19th January 1947

The political situation was very tense in Poland in the summer of 1945. Communists had established a pseudo political pluralism already in 1944 when the Red Army occupied the country. In fact, the political life was bipolar after the world war. On the one hand there war the Polish Workers’ Party with its allies. They were less in number and in social influence but they enjoyed the support of Stalin. Therefore they could gain a greater part in the power and they controlled the key fields of the state.

On the other hand there was the Polish People’s Party with the leadership of Stanisław Mikołajczyk. This was the greatest group of the opposition, which promoted an independent, democratic and republican development and preferred the idea of self-government. Its network, which had its origin before the world war, was re-organized very quickly and the party became a mass party very soon.

They paradox of the parliamentary (Sejm) election of 19th January 1947 laid in the fact that it was the task of these two political camps to organize the election together.

István Orgoványi

Forbidden border crossings between 1950 and 1956

By the end of World War II, Hungary belonged to the loser countries and its sovereignty was strictly limited because of the Soviet occupation.

If a Hungarian citizen wanted to travel abroad, he/she had to hold a passport validated after 1st May 1945 and a permit signed by the Soviet authorities on behalf of the Allied Control Commission. The permission of passports was the exclusive right of the Minister of the Interior until the end of 1946, when it was put into the authority of the Police Superintendant of Budapest. From the beginning, the Communist power looked upon the possibility of travelling abroad as a political question and therefore it belonged to the state security authority.

The study analyses the measurements that were intended to forbid illegal border crossings and also shows some cases, which were characteristic due to chaotic post-war circumstances. Legal forms of border crossings seemed to be entirely ceased, therefore illegal solutions were put forward. Because of the strict border control there were some violent cases as well. We do not know their number, but the documents report numerous cases.

Csaba Kovács

The early years of Kossuth Club, 1955-1957

Kossuth Club, situated in 7. Múzeum str. in the palace district in Budapest, could boast of having a 70-year-old history, which is quite a unique phenomenon.

Kossuth Club Association “TIT”, which is nowadays the member of the Society for Dissemination of Scientific Knowledge (TIT), is the successor of the Budapest organization of the Society for Dissemination of Natural and Social Scientific Knowledge, which existed between 1953 and 1958. The study first introduces its building in Múzeum street, then analyses the history of the association between 1955 and 1956 with an outlook to 1957. One of the important landmarks in the history of the revolution of 1956 was when Petőfi Circle of communist youth association “Working Youth Association” (DISZ) held its founding session in Kossuth Club on 25th March, 1955. The study therefore put the history of the Petőfi Circle also into the history of the Kossuth Club.

Gábor Tabajdi

Synthesis at the Anniversary A book review about (Ed.) Mária Rita Kiss: Hungarian Christian Democrats and 1956 (Budapest, Barankovics István Alapítvány, 2017.)

The book contains four studies of three authors and a selection of 32 documents of the Christian democratic tradition regarding the revolution of 1956. According to the authors, the goal of the volume was to give a synthesis of the so far only fragmentarily explored subject and to show with what kind of “extra value” the Christian democratic political tradition contributed to the revolution.

The members of the research group, Mária Rita Kiss, Éva Petrás and Róbert Szabó, published a useful handbook for the public. The eminently edited book analyses the participation of the Christian Democrats in the revolution from different aspects and the selected documents serves with wide range of primary sources and data. This is a result of the decade long expertise of the researchers, but there are also some novelties among the documents, which are published first in this volume. The Christian democratic and Christian socialist political tradition is introduced through the biography of their politicians, thus even those readers who are not up-to-date in this sub-field may have a clear picture of their achievements and that of the real political strength of Christian policy.

Tibor Takács

After Lunch The proceedings against Elemér Hankiss and Tibor Rusvay in 1957

Who knows what Guy Turbet-Delof, the cultural attaché of the French embassy in Budapest had for lunch on 17th January 1957? And is it an important question at all? To tell the truth, we cannot be certain that he even had lunch if we do not know his habits. In this case we do know, however, that he had lunch on that day because he had some guests, too: Tibor Rusvay, a literary historian and Elemér Hankiss, who was the employee of the National Széchényi Library at that time. Both knew Turbet-Delof from Eötvös College, where he taught French and they were students earlier. They met again in 1955 and refresh their relationship.

We know about their lunch from a summary of the counter-intelligence department of the Hungarian state security, therefore its story was narrated from the perspective of the political police. This turned to be important because later their concept had a great influence on the life of the participants.

Szilvia Köbel

“It is primarily not about church political questions...” Islam and party state in the mirror of state security files

Balázs Mihálffy got into contact with Islam as an undergraduate of Gödöllő University and later as an engineer of agriculture. He took up Islamic faith on 22nd June 1983. He was the sheikh of the Hungarian Islam Community who elaborated on and handed in the organizational and operational rules for his denomination to the State Church Political Authority (ÁEH) for recognition. ÁEH declared the Hungarian Islam Community a legal denomination on 15th August 1988. The legal background of the decision, however, was different from the previous practices of legalization during the decades of state socialism.

In the document of recognition, ÁEH referred to law XLIII of 1895 on free practice of religion, which it usually did also in other cases, and provided law XVII of 1916 as the base of recognition, which law had already recognized Islam in Hungary, but there was no other indication of legal background, which happened in other cases. ÁEH omitted to mention law XXXIII of 1947, which was an important difference. The decision about the recognition was not published in Magyar Közlöny, as it had to be, which was also an exception.

The study analyses the unique features of the state and church relation in the case of Islam.

Péter Nagy

Hans Joachim Vergau, the commercial attaché of FRG in Hungary (an interview)

Vergau was a diplomat of West Germany’s commercial branch office in Budapest between 1967 and 1970. During his stay in Hungary he promoted also the cultural exchange between the two countries. He built an intensive network and gathered information for his country, too. After his service in Hungary he became a highly esteemed diplomat and his career was successful. His activity, however, was often almost illegal when in Hungary. The individuals, who came into contact with him, were controlled and sometimes even punished. The most famous case was the imprisonment of Mária Kerényi in July 1970. Vergau was considered guilty too, but because of his diplomatic state he was not arrested. His expulsion did not seem necessary because his mandate was almost over anyhow.

The author of the article made an interview with Vergau in English, which was translated into Hungarian. The memoirs are thematic and were dealing with Vergau’s activity in Hungary, sometimes reflecting also on state security files.