In 1944, the two foreign occupations of the country destroyed the political system and the political class that had presided over the rise of modern Hungary. In March, Nazi Germany carried out a swift military occupation and after Admiral Horthy's botched attempt at surrender in October, the Arrow Cross (Hungarian Nazis) took over. This coincided with the offensive of the Red Army, but it was not until 4 April 1945 that the whole of Hungary's territory was liberated. Damage, particularly in the capital, was extensive, but the collapse of the administration and the anti-Semitic pogroms had also left a lasting impression on morale. This was intensified by the fact that, by 1944, few people in Hungary felt that they had much stake in continued belligerency and regarded the fighting almost as the activity of two alien armies which did not concern Hungary.
But parallel with this disenchantment, there was a widespread desire for change. The interwar period had already seen an upsurge of political pressure for reform -- in this instance it expressed itself in a right-wing ideology -- and the collapse was seen as an opportunity for a thorough reconstruction of the social and political order. The desire for change affected every social class and it was accepted as inevitable by the now discredited former ruling class, at least in the immediate aftermath of the collapse.
The political forces which emerged in the wake of the liberation were all committed to change, although the question of how far the country was to be transformed and by what means quickly polarised the political scene. A temporary four-party coalition government was established at Debrecen as the Red Army pressed westwards. It consisted of the Communists ( M.K.P.) the Smallholders ( K.G.P.), the Social Democrats ( S.D.P.) and National Peasant Party (N.P.P.), as well as a number of non-party figures from the old regime.
The M.K.P. (Magyar Kommunista Párt) had been illegal since 1919, had a minuscule membership consisting mostly of home Communists and a number of Muscovites, and it carried the burden of the failed revolution of 1919.1 Its membership at the end of 1944 may have been minuscule, but it