Alexandru Nicolaescu

Written propaganda dedicated to the Romanian peasants. Case study of the “Ploughmen Front” official newspaper (1944-1953)

After 1945, the press played a major role in the establishment of communist regimes in Eastern Europe, becoming the main propaganda tool used by the Communist and Soviet political parties. Our study aims to bring to the attention of the researchers one of the most important vehicles for the transmission of communist propaganda messages in the rural world: the “Ploughman Front” newspaper. Founded on February 1st, 1945, the paper, entitled the same as the political group headed by Dr. Petru Groza, The Ploughman Front, was published daily until May 1950, after that it appeared weekly. The newspaper ceased to appear starting March 22nd, 1953, shortly after the “self-dissolution” of the peasant organization. Our approach will focus on the organization of the promoted propaganda discourse, highlighting the major themes of the Ploughman’s Front propaganda promoted in the rural world. The research is based on the analysis of the “Ploughman Front” newspaper, the exploitation of archival documents and of the specialized literature.

Marcin Bukała

Deprived of „ The Leader of the Nations”. Reaction of the communist authorities and society of the Rzeszów Province (Poland) to the death of Joseph Stalin.

A meaningful and important event for the political situation in the middle eastern part of Europe dominated by CCCP was the death of Joseph Stalin. It is considered to be a starting point of the „thaw” in Poland.

The text of the proposed article will deal with the reaction of the communist authorities and society in connection with the death of Stalin in one of the 17 provinces in Poland – in Rzeszów Province (Located in the south eastern part of Poland, with population of about 1,5 million people from which 80 percent lived at the countryside). Local political party’s structures (Polish United Workers Party, United People’s Party, Alliance of Democrats), administrative government bodies, and social organizations has mobilised citizens living in that region to organise the mourning and commemoration of Stalin. Communistic authorities tried to use this exceptional situation to mobilise people to do more economic actions for the benefit of the state.

The frightened society of the Rzeszów province fulfilled the expectations of the authorities. Crowds of people have appeared at the funeral ceremonies. Only a few didn’t follow the official propaganda, they were critical about Stalin or they disrupted the ceremony. The officers of the Province Public Security Office in Rzeszów (secret political police) determined 282 such cases.

The death of Stalin did not cause an immediate changes in the authority apparatus. In some areas of socio-economic life in 1953, Stalin’s death caused even more repressions towards the public in this particular Province. Examples could be especially found in agriculture, particularly during setting up of new production cooperatives.

Varsányi Erika

A life among the many ones…
The social democrat János Kovács’ calvary

The Social Democrat Party (SDP) was under huge political pressure after the World War II. In 1948 it was united with the Hungarian Communist Party (HCP), but this event was not happened voluntarily, it was coercion. Some of the leading politicians of SDP were arrested, were sent into internation camps or prisons, or were sentenced to death. This study brings into focus a relatively unknown social democrat politician, János Kovács. He was born in 1895, and participated actively in building-industry workers’ movement. In 1944 he became member of the parliament and he remained there until 1949. He was mason originally, so he kept different positions in the Ministry of Building-Industry. In 1950 he was arrested by false accucations and was transferred to the infamous intern-camp, Kistarcsa. He was released in 1953 and after this he tried to came back to the official workers’ movement. His political carrier summarizes every special contradictions of the Hungarian social democrat movement. He supported the collaboration with the HCP, but he had almost same fate as his political opposers within his party.

Gregor Jenuš

Imaginary freedom. Life at the Iron Curtain and the apparent opening
of Yugoslavia’s borders to the west.

By the end of the Second World War Yugoslavia had to take care of an enormous border. It had to maintain borders with seven countries: Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Free Territory of Trieste, Romania and an almost endless border on the Adriatic coast. To facilitate the control of this large border, the border was divided into 5 sections and those were then entrusted to the local State security administrations in Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro. The State security administration has been created in 1946 when the Department of the People’s Protection, which existed as a security agency between 1944 and 1946, has been divided between the State security administration, which was responsible for the state security and the military Counterintelligence service. Until the beginning of the Stalin-Tito dispute in 1948 (Inform-biro period) Yugoslavia devoted most of its attention to the northern and southern border since the borders to the allied Soviet satellite states were considered to be safe. That changed drastically in after 1948. Especially during the dispute with Stalin and the Eastern Bloc States, the Yugoslav one-party regime lived in a constant fear that the Soviet Union and/or its satellite states could launch an attack over the eastern borders. On the other hand, at the same time the borders to Austria and Italy became the main interests of the former Yugoslav secret police. For many people in Yugoslavia those two countries represented a shining beacon of hope for a better life. Not only because of the allegedly limitless supplies of goods, but mainly because of its democratic government regulations and protection of human rights and freedoms. After years of occupation and suffering during the Second World War people wished to live in freedom. However, their wishes did not come true. Repression, imprisonment and the disappearance of opponents of the one-party regime forced many to risk their lives by trying to escape over these borders. In order to prevent that the Yugoslav one-party regime transformed the border regions in to a ‘fortress’. Scattered across border post were thousands of soldiers, agents and militiamen that had the order to capture or kill everyone that tried to escape out of Yugoslavia. In the decades after the Second World War, tens of thousands of Yugoslavs tried to flee and thousands of them ended up in the hands of the repressive authorities.

Dieter Bacher

Red bogey of fright” or realism? Estimations on Soviet and “communist” influence in Austria by British intelligence, 1945 to 1951

After the end of the Second World War in April/May 1945, Austria, occupied by Great Britain, USA, France and the Soviet Union, became a country between the Western Allies and
the Soviet Bloc in the intensifying Cold War. Due to its geographical position on the later “Iron Curtain” and its yet unclear political future, for Allied intelligence it was also a point of interest and a place of strategic value for their planning and actions.

For British intelligence, it became an important question to what extend the Soviet Union and communism would influence the buildup of the Austrian government, state, state institutions and police forces. Especially the intelligence department of the British Element, the “Intelligence Organization” (Intorg), and its sub-departments became suspicious about a possible “communist threat” and political actions in Austria. This led to several investigations against suspected interferences from the Soviet side.

This paper wants to give an impression of British estimations on Soviet and “communist” activities in Austria, based on situation and analysis reports of the British Intorg, such as the “Joint Fortnightly Intelligence Summaries” and the “German and Austrian Intelligence Weekly Background Notes”. It will analyze to what extend British intelligence saw a “communist takeover” in Austria as a real threat, which activities were monitored and how they were interpreted. The paper will also show how suspicion of this “threat” often turned easily into some kind of a “system-immanent paranoia”, as British counterintelligence suspected many threats in this context, but had to learn in many cases that they had followed a
phantom soon afterwards, with many investigations becoming a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

Spišák Monika

Centralisation vs. autonomy
Czech-Slovak relations in the shadow of the communist takeover of power (1945–1948)

The status of Slovakia was the main question for Slovaks during the 20th Century. Afetr the WWII in newly liberated and reconstructed republic this has become one of the crucial questions. The division of powers between the central government and Slovak National Council (which was the main organization of the Slovak National Uprising) was not clear even after the wiping of the so-called Košice government program on 5th April 1945. This program denominated the Slovaks nationally sovereign nation. The idea of Democratic Party (the strongest non-communist political subject) was the federal state. The Communist Party of Slovakia also called for a national and economic equality between Czech and Slovak, but he slovak communist leadership later gradually subjected themselves tot he will of the central government.In 1945 the first Prague Agreement declared, that the national organ in Slovakia is the Slovak National Counts, but after the election in 1946, whereby the Democratic Party in Slovakia earned a clear majority and, in Czech land the communist obtained 41% of votes, main goal of the central government as well as the Slovak Communist Party became the limitation of Slovak autonomous rights. Finally the Second and the Third Pargue Agreement reducted slovac institutions to regional administrative unit.

Ablonczy Balázs

The smell of the shaving-soap. János Rainer M.: Századosok [Captains] Bp., Osiris, 2018.

The author’s aim was to analyse and illuminate János Rainer M.’s book, which is an interesting and multi-focal study. The Századosok was written in a hybrid-manner, because it consists of different genres: it is social-history, prosopography, collective biography, family-history and a crime finction at the same time. The leading characters were the soldiers who were commissioned at Ludovika Akadémia in 1939. They were officers of the Hungarian Royal Army during World War II. The 160 men had a common experience in 1945, when they became loosers of the new political regime and they had to start again their life, mainly after 1948. The author told the soldier-wives’ stories as well, women who were perhaps in the shadow of their husbands, but they had got crucial life experiences, too. The immigration, political trials (although these cases happened strangely and selectively, for example Gusztáv Korompay’s story, who was a brutal protagonist of the massacre in winter, 1942 in Újvidék/Novi Sad, and who did not have to stand in front of the jury), the surveillence of the political police. Rainer M.’ book is an exciting family-story as well, the searching of a prematurely died father, who disappeared from his son’s memory.