Hungary in Revolution, 1918-19: Nine Essays

By Iván Völgyes | Go to book overview

Preface

Revolutions, born out of man's disaffection with his environment, out of his impatience with intolerable conditions, and out of a conviction that the future possesses unexploited possibilities, are the proper study of all those concerned with man and his society. Historians have attempted to mark the course of revolutions, charting the great sweep of events leading up to them and recording the myriads of detail associated with them. Social scientists have developed theories about revolutions, have built models to explain how social change takes place, and have analyzed the revolutions of the past. This volume is another attempt at recording and analyzing a series of revolutionary changes. The events with which the essays are concerned took place after the end of World War I in Hungary, in a country where revolts and revolutions have occurred with relative frequency.

Hungary in Revolution, 1918-19 seeks a partial, probing answer to the questions posed by two of the revolutions of Hungary. Looking from the vantage point of well over fifty years, nine specialists on Hungarian history and politics dissect the series of events which occurred in Hungary during the second decade of the twentieth century. It is difficult to determine from a reading of these pages whether the contributors are historians, political scientists, or economists, for a deliberately broad range of expertise is represented by each of the authors. They were chosen for their expert knowledge; only scholars who had previously done research in the area were invited to write articles. It is hoped that the participation in this project by Zsuzsa L. Nagy of the Historical Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Science, whose essay was translated by the editor, will open the way for further joint efforts between American and Hungarian scholars.

These essays, the result of nearly three years of labor, reflect a wide variety of political belief. Their conclusions, tentative and sometimes hypothetical, are based on the best available information. While each essay is complete in itself, taken together they comprise the first comprehensive volume dealing with the subject of the two Hungarian revolutions of 1918 and 1919.

Focused on the history of the turbulent era prior to and immediately after World War I, Hungary in Revolution chronologically examines the background and causes of the upheaval. The first two articles by Held and Deák trace the development of the country and consider the contributions of modernization and defeat in the war to the rise of the revolutionary movements. The failure of the liberal bourgeois regime -- the first of the revolutionary take-overs -- to establish a democratic republic which in turn led to the nonviolent succession of the Communists to power is discussed by Vermes. The internal and external policies of the Hungarian Soviet Republic are treated in

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