The Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe: An Introduction

By Richard F. Staar | Go to book overview

Chapter 5 HUNGARY:
The Brave Rebel

DURING the "liberation" of Hungary, which lasted from October 1944 to April 1945, and under Soviet tutelage, a provisional government was organized in December 1944 at Budapest, while that capital was still occupied by the Germans. A temporary legislature came into being on the basis of five political parties, among which was a small, highly disciplined communist movement.1 The coalition was led by the Smallholders' party, a popular and moderate group. The Provisional Assembly, however, included a plurality of communists, and the police force was under communist direction. Real power, of course, was held by the Red Army occupation forces and specifically by the Soviet chairman ( Kliment Voroshilov) of the Allied Control Commission.

Although universal suffrage was adopted and the November 1945 elections for a regular government were to be unencumbered by direct U.S.S.R. pressure, the communists still felt that they would win a plurality. To their surprise, they received only 17 percent of the vote.2 During the ensuing struggle over allocation of ministries, Soviet influence was successful in placing a communist, Imre Nagy (and shortly afterward Laszlo Rajk) in the position of Interior minister. This gave Russian advisers control over the police.

By early 1948 the communists had penetrated every department of the government and actually dominated the Hungarian state apparatus.3 The

____________________
1
The five political groupings--Hungarian Workers' (communist), Social-Democratic, Citizens-Democratic, Smallholders', and People's Peasant--were organized into a National Independence Front. See G. V. Barabashev, Gosudarstvennyi stroi Vengerskoi Narodnoi Respubliki ( Moscow, 1961), p. 4.
2
Admitted by Dezhe Nemesh [Dezso Nemes], Vengriya: 1945-1961 ( Moscow, 1962), p. 36. The author further states that the communists increased this in the next election ( May 15, 1949) to only 23 percent.
3
Ernst C. Helmreich (ed.), Hungary ( New York, 1957), p. 81.

-109-

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