Stalinism Revisited: The Establishment of Communist Regimes in East-Central Europe

By Vladimir Tismaneanu | Go to book overview

JÁNOS RAINER


Revisiting Hungarian Stalinism

The concept of Stalinism is no longer a subject of wide debate in Hungary. There is still a lot of interest in the Stalinist period of Hungarian history, but less than there was, say, during the change of system, 15 or 20 years ago. Though Stalinism and its period form a common subject of discussion, the discourse takes a declarative, rather than interrogative form. Stalinism is understood and evaluated differently in Hungary today than 15 or 20 years ago, and differently again from 30 or even 50 years ago, when the concept first appeared in Hungarian parlance.

I will begin by clarifying the meaning of two concepts in the context of this study: of Stalinism and of Hungarian Stalinism. This calls for brief consideration of the history of this concept in Hungary. Then I will present three periods in the historiography of Hungarian Stalinism. The third part sets out to pinpoint the main historical problems raised by Hungarian Stalinism. It is intended also to respond to the question of what features are specific to Hungarian Stalinism. What is the aim and sense of revisiting Hungarian Stalinism? Does revisiting also imply revising, and is such a revision necessary and feasible? For my part, I would like to contribute to the consideration of one problem by offering an outline of the political history of how the Soviet-type system was introduced.


A Historical Outline of the Concept

The concept of Stalinism appeared in Hungary quite early and under curious circumstances. It was used by Imre Nagy, Hungary's prime minister in 1953-55. Nagy was among the first to attempt to correct

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