Aczel Tamas, and Meray Tibor, The Revolt of the Mind ( London, 1961); Ferenc Nagy, The Struggle behind the Iron Curtain ( New York, 1948).
Year of Great Change in Hungary, 1948. The year of 1948 was significant for Eastern Europe and for Hungary for more than one reason. This was the year of the Berlin Blockade, and the overthrow of the democratic government in Czechoslovakia. It was also the year in which the first signs of a rupture in Joseph Stalin's empire had appeared, in the dispute between Josip Broz Tito and Stalin.
In Hungary, this was the year in which the communists completed the conquest of power in every sphere of national life and when Stalinization began in earnest. The leaders of the opposition either were under arrest, or, like Ferenc Nagy (see Nagy, Ferenc), Dezso Sulyok, and Zoltan Pfeiffer, had been driven out of Hungary. The most forceful Smallholders leader, Bela Kovacs (see Kovacs, Bela), was carted off by the KGB to the Soviet Gulag.
Terror was institutionalized. Any citizen suspected of having the wrong attitude toward the Soviet Union and the Communist party could find himself in prison or in a concentration camp. The nationalization of industry was completed in 1948, and the Communist party began discussing forcible collectivization of land. The Social Democratic party and the Communist party merged in a Hungarian Workers party with Matyas Rakosi (see Rakosi, Matyas) having unquestioned authority over the new party. Hungary was forced into establishing a series of bilateral treaties with the Soviet Union, tying its economy to that of the Soviet state. Finally, this was also the year in which the Central Planning Office became the sole authority for directing the Hungarian economy.
The National Front policy was abandoned; the Communist party acquired a monopoly of power and would not permit any deviations from its policies. The oppositional political parties were dissolved. Only the communist stooge, the National Peasant party, survived in a nominal form, but its only independent-minded leader, Imre Kovacs (see Kovacs, Imre), was now in exile.
In January 1949, Hungary became a member of the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance ( KGST), the Soviet response to economic integration in Western Europe. Zoltan Vas (see Vas, Zoltan), a member of the Muscovite group of communists, was appointed head of the National Planning Office. By mid-1949, a new constitution was passed by a subservient parliament solidifying the communist gains; the last private industrial enterprises were nationalized, and Stalinist methods of production, the Stachanovite method, was being pushed on the workers. A "kulak list" was established in the villages to single out wealthier peasants for despoliation, and compulsory delivery of food at confiscatory prices was the law. The managers of companies owned by Western firms were arrested and put on trial for alleged sabotage, and relations with the Western democracies were frozen.
Nagy Ferenc, The Struggle Behind the Iron Curtain ( New York, 1948); Swain Nigel, Hungary: The Rise and Fall of Feasible Socialism ( London, 1992).