Dictionary of East European History since 1945

By Joseph Held | Go to book overview
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Above all, works critical of the Soviet Union were tabu. In addition, writers who knew better, left subjects dealing with the Communist party severely alone.

Gyorgy Aczel (see Aczel, Gyorgy), the successor to Jozsef Revai (see Revai, Jozsef), let it be known that there were three kinds of subjects; those supported by the party, those that were tolerated and those that were forbidden. Subsidies went invariably to those who published in the first category; those whose work were in the second category, were sold in large quantities to an eager reading public.

Hungarian intellectuals eventually made their own deal with the Kadar regime. They wrote socialist realist books and refrained from discussing subjects in the third category. In turn, the cultural policies of the Hungarian party became the most relaxed in the Soviet Bloc. Aczel was less dogmatic than was Revai, and he treated intellectuals less brutally; however, this did not mean that the few creative people who went beyond the permissible were treated kindly.

In the early 1980s, a group of sociologists began discussing Marxism in a critical way, and the party came down hard on them. Andras Hegedus, a former prime minister-turned-scholar, head of the Sociology Institute, Mihaly Vajda, Janos Kis, Agnes Heller, and others were dismissed from their jobs, and their works were banned by Aczel. Ivan Szelenyi, and Gyorgy Konrad, who discussed the road of the intellectuals to a compromise with the regime, and Istvan Kemeny, who examined the real situation of industrial workers in the dictatorship of the proletariat, were advised to leave Hungary. Their works were banned. For a considerable time after that, most intellectuals submitted to the demands of the Kadar regime. In exchange, they received honors and prizes not to speak of considerably more money than outstanding engineers or professors. Not surprisingly, dissidence had less importance in Hungary than in other East European states.


Aczel Tamas, and Meray Tibor, The Revolt of the Mind ( London, 1961); Held Joseph, "Cultural Developments," in Stephen Fischer-Galati, ed. Eastern Europe in the 1980s ( Boulder, CO, 1981; Konrad Gyorgy, and Szelenyi Ivan, The Intellectuals on the Road to Class Power ( New York, 1979); Revai Jozsef, "On the Character of Our People's Democracy," Foreign Affairs 28 ( 1949), pp. 143-152.

Demeny, Pal (1901-1990). Demeny was a writer who became involved in left-wing causes. He was among the illegal communists in Hungary who succeeded in evading the police. But he and his organization were independent from the COMINTERN. In fact, Demeny and his faction separated themselves from the illegal Hungarian Communist party in the 1930s, and severely criticized it for its mistaken policies and its subordination to the Soviet Communist party and Soviet national interests. Demeny was among the first communists to be arrested by his communist rivals in 1945. He was subjected to a show trial and sentenced to prison. In 1957, he was freed and made his living as a translator. In 1990, he joined the newly formed Hungarian Socialist party and was elected to parliament on the party's ticket.


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Dictionary of East European History since 1945
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