The 1956 counter-revolution in Hungary and the present-day anti-Communist Propaganda
Source: International Communist Review, Issue 2, 2014.
In the years of 1989-90 a bourgeois counter-revolution took place in Hungary. Opportunist and revisionist forces inside the leadership of the former Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (HSWP) made a bargain with capitalist circles of the USA and Germany and handed over the power to internal bourgeois counter-revolitionary forces. The Marxist wing inside the HSWP proved unable to defend the achievements of socialism. Later those who surrendered the socialism reorganised themselves into the Hungarian Socialist Party and joined the political system of capitalist Hungary. Neither can we neglect the role of the opportunist policy of the former leadership of the Soviet Union, that betrayed socialism.
The bourgeois forces which gained power in 1990 consider the 1956 their historical ideal. On this ideal is based the whole political and ideological system of capitalist Hungary. It also constitutes the main means of the present-day anti-communist propaganda.
DIRECTIONS OF THE ANTI-COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA
The modern Hungarian bourgeois elite regards the events of the 1956 as „revolution and war of independence”. The main aim of the anti-communist propaganda is to make people except such an interpretation of the 1956. The term revolution also means to them, that everything that was done in the socialist Hungary during the period from 1948 to 1956 is unacceptable and should to be thrown away.
The „war for independence” in bourgeois interpretation means that Hungarian people carried a heroic struggle against the Soviet Union and – as the present-day memorial plaques run – „here in Budapest heroic Hungarian patriots won a victory over the most powerful army of the world”. According to the argumentation of capitalist propaganda the Soviet troops began military operations against Hungary without declaration of war. 2652 Hungarian citizens were killed in battle and „heroic struggle for independence which lasted many days, suffered defeat as the country was left alone in the fight against a much more powerful enemy”.
One of the main tendencies of the anti-communist propaganda is an attempt to prove that communism was alien to the nature of the Hungarian people and that the socialist period could come only because it was imposed upon Hungary from outside.
From the above follows one of the most widespread directions of the anti-communist attack – they try to prove that in the 1956-58 years „communist regime” implemented savage reprisal against „heroes of the revolution and war for independence” and even against ordinary Hungarian people. According to the propaganda 400 people were executed, 21 668 were sentenced to imprisonment, 16-18 000 were interned for participating in the revolution. Actually there can be no doubt that it was a counter-revolution aimed against socialism. In October 1956 counter-revolutionary forces in Hungary started an attack on a young socialist state with the support of the international imperialism. The aim was to overthrow the socialist system and restore the bourgeois system which existed before 1945. Counter-revolutionary forces took advantage of the misconceptions and errors made by the ruling Hungarian Working People's Party with Mátyás Rákosi at its head in the period from 1948 to 1956. In 1985 János Kádár, who after 1956 led the party of Hungarian communists for 32 years, at the meeting with the then general secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachev spoke about the lessons of Hungarian history: „The revealing of the errors was not followed by their correction, and such a deep social crisis was formed that gradually turned into a counter-revolution”. The counter-revolution forces also had taken advantage of the situation in the communist party of the Soviet Union when after the death of Stalin Khrushchev came to power. Khrushchevite „denunciations” played into the hands of the anti-communist propaganda and instigation against Soviet Union.
It is also beyond doubt that the majority of Hungarian people nevertheless didn't want the restoration of capitalist past. Didn't want the return of the regime which from 1920 to 1945 was marked by the name of Miklós Horthy and which brought Hungary to the ravages of the WWII and Fascism. In spite of the difficulties, problems and errors of socialist construction the people preferred the socialist society.
In November 1956 the Soviet Union hastened to defend the Hungarian socialism. It prevented the United States and other imperialist countries from military intervention into the Hungarian events and at the same time allowed to suppress the armed resistance of counter-revolutionary forces.
On 4 November 1956 the Hungarian Revolutionary Worker-Peasant Government was formed with János Kádár at its head. The Kádár-led government treated those whose activity was directed against the state order according to the laws of the People’s Republic of Hungary.
It is also a historical fact that after 1956 in Hungary started a new period of socialist construction which made possible a considerable development of Hungarian industry and agriculture, fast and marked improvement of living standards, free health care and education, general provision of pensions. Today's Hungary is still living at the expense of resources accumulated in the years of socialism.
BOURGEOIS INTERPRETATION OF 1956
The first arrangement of the bourgeois forces, which came to power in the spring of 1990, was to secure legally the bourgeois interpretation of the 1956 events. The Act XXVIII of 1990 says, that in 1956 there was „revolution and war for independence”. A combination of these two expressions itself is aimed to manipulate peoples, as it uses the terms which early were applied only in regard to the Hungarian revolution and war of independence of 1848-49. The events of 1848-49 for all Hungarian nation mean the same and everybody considers its anniversary a National Day. The Act of 1990 declares political and spiritual continuity of 1948, 1956 and 1989. „These glorious events of the latest Hungarian history can be compared only to the revolution and war for independence of 1948-49. The Hungarian revolution in autumn of 1956 laid the foundation for hopes that it is possible to establish a democratic social system and no sacrifice is in vain for the sake of the independence of homeland. The reprisal, which followed the revolution, though it restored the former regime, was unable to extirpate the spirit of 1956 from the soul of Hungarian people. The Parliament declares, that according to the spirit of 1956 it will do everything in the interests of multi-party democracy, human rights and national independence».
As a matter of fact this law orders what one should think about the 1956. Obviously this law is directed against socialism, against communist forces. At the same time from the very beginning they are also using another method – anti-sovietism. From this time on the Soviet Union is represented as oppressor, exploiter and dictator. This approach is secured by the Act XVII of 2001 „On the significance of restoring independence and on the Day of Hungarian Independence”. The Act says: „On 19 March of 1944 our country was occupied by Germany, and as a result of that our homeland had been suffering the horrors of war and national-socialist and nyilashist rule. And though the victory of the allied powers brought an end to the German occupation and the dictatorship supported by it, the German occupation was changed by the soviet one and under the cover of the soviet arms it was made possible to establish communist dictatorship, four decades of which also brought immense suffering and damage. The influence of the 1956 revolution and war for independence contributed to the circumstances when the latest turn of our history once again gave to our nation precious freedom and our country restored its sovereignty. On June 19, 1991 the last soviet soldier left the territory of Republic of Hungary, and now the nation is the master of its fate, independent from every alien force and without any restriction.
Hungarian bourgeois parties, Fidesz (Alliance of Young Democrats) and MSZP (Hungarian Socialist Party) are united in regard to estimation of the place of the 1956 in the history of Hungary, both party consider the counter-revolution of 1989-90 as direct sequel to the 1956 and thus declare a historical continuity. Both political force insist that communism and fascism means the same and one must struggle against both. Their opinions agree upon the role of Soviet Union as occupant and dictator. They also fully agree, that such an approach should dominate in education, mass propaganda and mass media.
There are nevertheless significant differences too. MSZP underlines the role of Imre Nagy in the 1956 events and consider those events as the beginning of „democratic socialism”, which the MSZP is still representing today. As is generally known Imre Nagy after the death of Stalin in June of 1953 was made the prime-minister of Hungary on the recommendation of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In 1956 Nagy-led government decided to establish bourgeois multi-party system, to leave Warsaw Treaty, to form National Guards – the arms forces of counter-revolution. In 1958 Imre Nagy was sentenced to death and executed.
The MSZP while in government made this aspect the centre of anti-communist propaganda. Imre Nagy was presented as positive figure of democratic socialism. At the same time Janos Kadar was described as a politician who served the interests of Soviet Union and carried on „soft” dictatorship, and they tried to wipe out his memory from the national consciousness. The shameful part of this process was the desecration of Kadar's grave. It took place in the years of the MSZP government. The grave of Kadar was opened and part of his remains were stolen. The authorities closed the investigation in surprisingly short time.
Another bourgeois party, Fidesz, on the contrary does not acknowledge democratic socialism, does not acknowledge Imre Nagy and consider acceptable only the ideas of bourgeois restoration, bourgeois counter-revolution.
THE LAW AT THE SERVICE OF ANTI-COMMUNISM
Bourgeois power in the struggle against communist forces uses a number of juridical measures. In 1993 Parliament modified the first paragraph of the 269/B Section of Criminal Code, according to which „Whomever a) distributes; b) uses very openly; c) exhibits in public the swastika, SS symbol, arrow cross, hammer and sickle, five-armed red star or representational symbols and does not commit any greater crime, will be charged and fined”. This law was the example for other countries, and despite of all protests it is still in force. It secures legal justification for propaganda war against communist symbols.
In 2000 there was established the celebration of “Memorial day for victims of communist dictatorships». The Parliament accepted the resolution number 58/2000 (VI.16), according to which every year on February 25 in all secondary schools of Hungary should be celebrated the Memorial day for victims of communism to commemorate that in this day in 1947 Bela Kovacs, the general secretary of the Independent Smallholders' Party, was arrested and transported to the Soviet Union. As a matter of fact this decision brought anti-communist propaganda into schools.
Fidesz, which came to power in April 2010, among the most urgent measures amended the Section 269/C of the Criminal Code as follows: “Denial in public the crimes of national socialist and communist systems. Whomever before great publicity denies, doubts or presents as negligible the fact of the genocide and other crimes against humanity, committed by national-socialist and communist systems, commits misdemeanour and shall be punishable with imprisonment of up to three years.”
The new law is one of the most effective instruments of anti-communist propaganda, as from the very beginning it excludes legal possibility for discussion and presentation of contrary opinions. Thus the historical place of 1956 is not and can be not the subject of public debates or contrary opinions. Only works which conform to official interpretation can be published.
Bourgeois political elite nevertheless understands that juridical measures only are not enough to change consciousness of the masses. In reality juridical bans affect older generations, whose own life experience induces to see the 1956 differently from the official policy. In respect of younger generations which are seeking new answers they use more profound, scientific and modern means of propaganda
SCIENCE AT THE SERVICE OF ANTI-COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA
During the last twenty years very much efforts were made and serious money was spent to create scientific research institutes serving the aims of anti-communist propaganda.
One of the first was the Documentation and Research Institute for the History of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution (the 1956 Institute), which was founded already in summer of 1989 and which has got substantial material and professional support. Up to now this institute is the centre of research work, connected with the 1956. Besides numerous other publications they published in Internet 1200 pages of period documents of the 1956 counter-revolution. The most of it was published for the first time
There was created an institute named Historical Archives of State Security Services, direct task of which was to publish documents of the internal political intelligence service from 1957 up to 1989, special attention being paid to the lists of the state security officers and recruited agents. Based on the data of this Archives hundreds of publications have appeared, trying to „denounce” communist dictatorship, events of the period after 1956. The aim was to prove that all those who cooperated with socialist system were either traitors or agents.
In the last years, especially in connection with the 50-th anniversary of the 1956 events, to the anti-communist propaganda were attached the most well-known Hungarian libraries. For example today you can find even in Internet the leaflet and poster funds of the National Library, that is the National Széchényi Library and the Budapest Ervin Szabo Library.
Helped by the Hungarian government Hungarian research institutes are developing effective cooperation with archives of the Russian Federation. As result they have brought numerous old soviet documents, up today unpublished, that allegedly denounce communist forces, saying that Kadar was trained by Russians and served only the soviet great-power interests against the interest of Hungarian people.
FILMS AND BOOKS ON THE COUNTER-REVOLUTION
In the last years there were published documents of the counter-revolution, memoirs of those who took part in it, materials connected with foreign countries. Up to 2010 about 400 books on 1956 were published and 100 conferences were held.
In 2002 in Budapest was open a „museum”, named the House of Terror. (http://www.terrorhaza.hu). Its aim – with the help of the most modern means make people to believe that the communist dictatorship and the fascist dictatorship are one and the same, more than that – the communist is even worse. In 2009 in provincial town Hodmezõvásárhely the local division of the House of Terror was opened. They plan to open new local divisions.
An important part is assigned to the films. 20 full-length documentary films were released on the 1956, in those films were used authentic documents and the latest manipulative technologies.
They have started art handling of the 1956 in bourgeois spirit. In 2006 was released movie-picture „Freedom, love”, directed by one of the best contemporary Hungarian filmmakers Krisztina Goda, who learned in England and USA. The state financed the producing of 15 more movie-pictures on the different aspects of the 1956 events.
COUNTER-PROPAGANDA OF THE HUNGARIAN COMMUNIST WORKERS’ PARTY
The position of the HCWP on the 1956 events is clear and straightforward. In the opinion of HCWP in 1956 there was a counter-revolution regardless of intentions of those who took part in it and complexity of events. This estimation is not new, in the Hungarian communist movement this viewpoint is generally accepted from 1956.
The Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party organised scientific conference on the 1956 counter-revolution. In 2006 the party Central Committee had formulated the political position of the party. HCWP in principle is guided by the estimation made by HSWP in 1957, according to which the counter-revolution was caused by four factors: first, dogmatism and errors of the leadership with Rakosi at its head made in the cause of socialist construction; second, treachery of the revisionist wing, united around Imre Nagy; third, activity of international imperialism; fourth, conspiracy of internal counter-revolutionary forces.
HWCP revised the role of the Soviet Union and the CPSU. It underlined that the soviet leadership bore direct responsibility for Imre Nagy’s accession to power. It was the result of Khrushchevite revisionism, which later had led to serious problems in the Soviet Union and in the international communist movement.
That is how the HWCP defines the connection between the 1956 events and the events of the 1989. In the history of Hungarian communist movement the HCWP was first to say that the leadership of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party and personally Janos Kadar was responsible for neglecting class struggle, for compromises with international bourgeoisie and internal opposition, which later led to collapse of socialist system.
The HCWP thinks that another error of the former HSWP was its excessive accommodation to the wishes of the CPSU, its efforts to act the way Moscow awaited, its neglecting the experiences of socialist construction in China, Yugoslavia, Cuba, Vietnam, and also the conclusions of the international communist movement.
In our struggle against the anti-communist propaganda connected with the events of the 1956 we also come across many difficulties. Arguments of the HCWP are based mainly on books and articles published in the period of socialism according to the standards and traditions of those times. Today it is already not enough and these materials are not always appropriate. We need to analyse facts and documents of the 1956 from the Marxist position. In this work significant help means the fact that the State Archives published in Internet the documents of the HSWP from the period of 1956-1989. (http://www.digitarchiv.hu).
The HCWP put into electronic form and published in Internet 900 Marxist works, which now are already inaccessible. These works were met with great interest. (http://sala.uw.hu). We are gradually developing this site.
For the HCWP it is also difficult in its counter-propaganda work to overcome those clichés and prejudices of thinking, which had been formed during the period of socialism and are still remaining among older members of the party. Neither is it easy to work with younger generations, already gone through the bourgeois „brainwashing” and gradually being the target of the anti-communist propaganda.
The fact that we practically have no access to the documents published in other countries hinders our work too. We have no possibility to research and interprete those documents.
The cooperation of communist and workers’ parties could play important role in the struggle against anti-communist propaganda on the 1956. It would be expedient to organise professional and political exchange of opinions about the 1956 and its interpretation. We regard the discussion about socialism initiated by the Communist Party of Greece as example of such work.
It would be important to research early and late documents of fraternal parties, in some way connected with the 1956. It would be great help if fraternal parties could keep up with documents published in their countries, particularly important would be the help of comrades from Russia, China, Germany and Great Britain. We step forward in our struggle against anti-communist propaganda if we could by the 55-th anniversary of the events, by autumn of 2011 compile joint research collection, and it would be still better to publish general collection of documents and its up-to-date Marxist comments by the 60-the anniversary, by 2016.