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Geza Losonczy

Geza Losonczy


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Geza Losonczy was born in Hungary in 1917. A journalist, he became a member of the Hungarian Communist Party. He was arrested when Matyas Rakosi gained power in 1947.

After his release from prison Losonczy edited the joyrnal Magyar Nemzet. The Hungarian Uprising began on 23rd October by a peaceful manifestation of students in Budapest. The students demanded an end to Soviet occupation and the implementation of "true socialism". The following day commissioned officers and soldiers joined the students on the streets of Budapest. Stalin's statue was brought down and the protesters chanted "Russians go home", "Away with Gero" and "Long Live Nagy".

On 25th October Soviet tanks opened fire on protesters in Parliament Square. One journalist at the scene saw 12 dead bodies and estimated that 170 had been wounded. Shocked by these events the Central Committee of the Communist Party forced Erno Gero to resign from office and replaced him with Janos Kadar.

Imre Nagy now went on Radio Kossuth and promised the "the far-reaching democratization of Hungarian public life, the realisation of a Hungarian road to socialism in accord with our own national characteristics, and the realisation of our lofty national aim: the radical improvement of the workers' living conditions."

On 3rd November, Nagy announced details of his coalition government. It included Lodonczy, Janos Kadar, George Lukacs, Anna Kethly, Zolton Tildy, Bela Kovacs, Istvan Szabo, Gyula Keleman, Joseph Fischer, Istvan Bibo and Ferenc Farkas. On 4th November 1956 Nikita Khrushchev sent the Red Army into Hungary and Nagy's government was overthrown.

Geza Losonczy was arrested and died in prison during a hunger strike in 1957.


HUNGARY EXHUMES BODIES, TRUTH

Plot 301 lies tucked into a distant corner of Budapest general cemetery, a weedy wasteland where zoo animals once were buried.

The group of men digging there last week unearthed more than the dead. They also were turning over a chapter of history that is among the most traumatic of the 20th Century.

The first coffin to be exhumed-a rudimentary box wrapped in tar paper and bound with wire-is believed to hold the remains of Imre Nagy, the former prime minister who in the autumn of 1956 led thousands of his countrymen in an almost suicidal rebellion against Soviet dominance of their homeland.

At least 7,000 people were killed in the Hungarian Revolution before it was smashed by Soviet tanks and troops ordered into Budapest by Nikita Khrushchev. Nagy himself was executed in 1958.

Like the building of the Berlin Wall five years later, Hungary`s blood-soaked uprising evokes some of the most powerful images of the Cold War:

workers hurling rocks at approaching Soviet tanks or dragging the head of a decapitated statue of Josef Stalin through the streets of Budapest.

Nagy`s reburial later this spring on the 31st anniversary of his execution could prove a significant milestone for the era of glasnost ushered in by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Nagy and four of his closest associates-Pal Maleter and Miklos Gimes, whose remains were believed to have been found Friday, and Jozsef Szilagyi and Geza Losonczy, whose bodies have yet to be located-will be interred formally in the same Plot 301 on June 16 at a public funeral expected to draw tens if not hundreds of thousands of people.

The ceremony will represent a virtual about-face for Hungary`s Communist Party leadership, which for 30 years condemned Nagy as a traitor and anti-Communist counterrevolutionary. Authorities were so contemptuous of the dead rebel leaders that their bodies were dumped in a remote, undeveloped part of the cemetery that old-timers say had been used to bury animals from the city zoo.

Now, less than a year after the ouster of Janos Kadar-the man Moscow installed to replace Nagy-Hungarian leaders have decided to allow the exhumations, forensic identifications, reburial and cleanup of the desolate cemetery plot that has been the unmarked grave of an estimated 300 people executed after the uprising.

Communist Party reformers, seizing the initiatve offered by glasnost, have used the reburial issue to reassess the last 40 years of party rule. A committee of historians appointed to study the question decided in January that the events of 1956-usually described as a ''counterrevolution''-had actually been a ''popular uprising'' against a leadership ''that had debased the nation.''

Concerned the reformers had gone too far, Kadar`s successor, Karoly Grosz, tried to backtrack and, after a stormy Politburo meeting in February, a face-saving compromise was reached. What happened in 1956, they agreed, had started out as a popular uprising but degenerated into an anti-Communist counterrevolution.

Istvan Eorsi, a blacklisted Hungarian writer whose work only recently has been published in official journals, says it was as a committed Communist that he fought in the revolution, only to end up spending nearly four years in prison for his association with Nagy.

Eorsi, now active in opposition activities, believes the authorities`

decision to rewrite official history was inevitable, if long overdue.

''If the leadership wants to make real changes here, they have to make the major concession on Nagy because everything was based on this lie,'' he said. The lie was that Nagy, a committed Communist, had turned against the party, Eorsi said in an interview in his book-cluttered apartment overlooking the Danube.

''If Imre Nagy is reburied and if hundreds of thousands watch, the authorities have two choices-they can either try to stop the demonstration or finally say the execution of Nagy was murder,'' Eorsi said.

Eorsi, whose best friend, Istvan Angyal, lies buried in the plot with Nagy, helped write the founding documents of the Committee for Historical Justice, a group of relatives and participants in the revolt who are attending the exhumations. His recollections of the uprising and its aftermath remain vivid.

''The executions occurred three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays,'' he said. ''Family members who knew their relatives might be executed used to look through the cracks in the cemetery walls to watch the burials. Then they would bribe the guards to tell them who was buried where.

''Until the late `60s you couldn`t even bring flowers,'' he said. ''The police would ride their horses on the plot to trample anything that was left. Even in the mid-`70s you were photographed by the police if you went there.

''Two or three years ago I was stopped there and asked why I was coming. I told them, `Because my friends are here.` ''

Eorsi indicated the exhumations and reburial will provide comfort not only to the families but an entire nation, a nation he said has lived with a bad conscience for 30 years. But Eorsi said he was disgusted at the way the official Hungarian press ''is now making a sensation out of what everybody always knew''-that the revolution was a national uprising against Kremlin domination from abroad and Stalinism at home, and that Nagy was no traitor.

Traitor, patriot, martyr, misled fool or something in between, the authorities have not yet settled on any specific title.

To date, they insist that the funeral, despite the public expenditure of funds, does not amount to political rehabiliation for Nagy and his associates. At least not yet.

Gyula Borics, secretary of state for the ministry of justice, and Janos Berecz, the party`s ideology chief, are making it clear that no final decisions have been taken.

Asked if the authorities` decision to rebury Nagy in a public funeral did not amount to de facto rehabilitation, their answer is the same: the funeral is the beginning of the rehabilitation.

At the moment, the funeral is described as ''public,'' not ''official.''

At the moment, the cost of the memorial stone will be borne, not by the government but by family and friends.

But Borics, who says he personally believes Nagy should not have been executed, said all this could change in the near future, perhaps even by the time of the funeral. Leaders have received the suport it needs from Gorbachev to help finesse such flip-flops.

During Grosz`s recent trip to Moscow, Gorbachev offered access to Soviet archives on the uprising. More importantly, according to Borics, Grosz also was given Gorbachev`s assurance ''that anything that happens in Hungary, they (the Soviets) wouldn`t intervene, not politically nor militarily.

The whole issue can be viewed as the ultimate litmus test of the Hungarian Communist Party`s commitment to glasnost since it places the tiny nation of 10.6 million in the awkward position of challenging Moscow.

For if Nagy was a patriot aiming at reforming rather than destroying communism, then how can the Soviet troops who crossed the Hungarian borders be portrayed as anything but invaders.

It is not a question that any Soviet satellite might have posed before Gorbachev.


Géza Losonczy

Géza Losonczy (5 May 1917, Érsekcsanád – 21 December 1957) was a Hungarian journalist and politician. He was associated with the reformist faction of the Hungarian communist party.

During the 1956 Hungarian revolution, he joined the Imre Nagy government as minister of press and propaganda affairs. He and Zoltán Tildy held the government's last press conference on November 3. On November 4, as the Soviet army poured into Budapest, he took refuge in the Yugoslavia Embassy, and on November 22, he and the other members of the Imre Nagy group were arrested and transported to Romania. He was brought back to Budapest in mid-April 1957. While in captivity, awaiting trial for treason, Losonczy went on hunger strike. He was scheduled to stand trial as the second accused in the trial of Imre Nagy and his government, but he died while on a hunger strike in prison awaiting trial when his jailers "carelessly pushed a feeding tube down his windpipe."

On October 30, Imre Nagy appointed Géza Losonczy's government minister in his speech in which he announced the abolition of the one-party system.


English HTML

Today we participated for more than three hours in a Politburo meeting, where we discussed government appointments and the present situation. [Antal] Apro was chosen to be the deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers and, in actuality, he will be the first chairman because all the rest of the deputies are "non-party people" and less strong. Apro was a member of the Directory, a member of the Military Commission, and has behaved himself very well these past few days.

The candidacy of [Iosef] Siladi for the post of Minister of Internal Affairs was turned down, because politically he was not very reliable, and Munnich was chosen instead. For the post of Minister of Defense the former deputy minister of rear units Janza Karoi was chosen. He is a communist, reliable, and a worker.

The candidacy of Laszlo Kardas for the post of Minister of Culture was also turned down. Chosen instead was [Gyorgy] Lukacs, who is a famous philosopher, and although he makes a lot of mistakes in philosophy, is very reliable politically and authoritative among the intelligentsia.

In order to strengthen the government from anti-party elements, Zoltan Tildy was chosen to be Minister without Portfolio. Zoltan is a famous public leader. Comrade Imre Nagy suggested that Zoltan Tildy not be selected because he doesn't get along well with Bela Kovacs. However, that was not acceptable.

Characteristically, at night there appeared proclamations in the city, in which Nagy was declared the chairman and Bela Kovacs was recommended as Premier. There was a summon to hold a demonstration in their honor.

As instructed by the Central Committee, Nagy called Bela Kovacs who lives outside the city, and asked him: would he join the government? Kovacs accepted, and said that he was invited to the meeting, but if he attended, he would speak out against the demonstrators for the government.

The Minister of State Farms is the non-party specialist Ryabinskii.

Characteristically all of these candidates were voted on unanimously and Nagy did not object to the replacement of individual candidates.

The Hungarian comrades in conversations with us declared, that they consider the new government appropriate and politically capable of working. Imre Nagy especially emphasized this.

The formation of this government was announced on local radio at 12 noon Hungarian time.

We had the impression that as a whole the new government is reliable and in the social sense more authoritative.

Comrade [Antal] Apro gave a paper about the military situation in assured tones. He in-formed everyone, by the way, that in the hospital are about three thousand injured Hungarians, and of those 250 people died. The figure of others killed or wounded is unknown.

In connection to the unpeaceful situation in the provinces, comrade Kadar asked the question: can we increase the number of Soviet troops?

We declared that we had reserves, and however many troops were needed, we would provide them. The Hungarian comrades were very glad to hear this.

Apro suggested taking a number of actions in order to organize the further struggle and for bringing the city back to order. Apro informed us, that a significant "surrender" of weapons had begun "700 rifles have been accepted." Apro also informed us that on the periphery, the situation was already stabilizing, but Kadar and Hegedus looked skeptical.
The Hungarian comrades started to arm the party core [aktiv]. It was decided to draw the armed party members into the staff of the city police. It was also decided to assign the military censors to the radios and newspapers. It was suggested to the ministers that they ensure that the ministries and enterprises function smoothly.

Comrade Kadar informed us that the new candidate to the Politburo [Geza] Losonczy and the new secretary to the Central Committee, [Ferenc] Donath, who spoke yesterday in a capitulationist manner at the Politburo meeting, announced his disagreement with the Central Committee's policies and announced his resignation. Several members of the Central Committee [CC] called Donath a traitor of the working class.

Imre Nagy was not at this meeting, because he was busy with negotiations with the assigned ministers, and also because of "acute overexertion" he had a heart attack. Nagy was in a faint state in his office, and the Hungarian doctor didn't know what to do, so Suslov gave him medicine ["validol"] which brought Nagy back to normal. Nagy thanked him.

Considering that Losonczy and Donath were closely associated with Nagy, and since Nagy was not at the meeting, the Politburo decided to post-pone making a final decision, and for the time being move on to work outside of the CC.

We invited Kadar and Nagy to have a heart-to-heart talk with us this evening in an unofficial capacity.


Losonczy Géza

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Géza Losonczy

Géza Losonczy (1917-1957) was a Hungarian journalist and politician. He was associated with the reformist faction of the Hungarian communist party.

During the 1956 Hungarian revolution, he joined the Imre Nagy government as minister of press and propaganda affairs. He and Zoltán Tildy held the government's last press conference on November 3. On November 4th, as the Soviet army poured into Budapest, he took refuge in the Yugoslavia Embassy, and on November 22, he and the other members of the Imre Nagy group were arrested and transported to Romania. He was brought back to Budapest in mid-April 1957. While in captivity, awaiting trial for treason, Losonczy went on hunger strike. He was schedule to stand trial as the second accused in the trial of Imre Nagy and his government, but he died in unexplained circumstances in custody, before the trial began.

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Geza Losonczy - History

Although it is too soon properly to evaluate the new era in Hungary which began with the resignation of Rakosi, a number of characteristics of this period seem to be evident:

[Page 232] 1. There has been no personality cult built up around Gero. 2. The influence of Kadar seems to be considerable. 3. An effort is being made to gain support from the Nagy element of the Party and from non-Communist parties. 4. The attitude toward intellectuals has definitely changed since the meeting of the Central Leadership in July. 5. A number of modest concessions have been made toward the general population. 6. A general review of economic policy may be under way. 7. The regime has adorned itself with a new halo of democracy, progressiveness and freedom. 8. There is some reason to believe that relations with the United States will gradually improve.

An examination of these characteristics leads toward the conclusion that events have moved faster and more favorably than most observers anticipated. While it is true that many steps which have been taken must be labelled as concessions made desirable because of the strength of the opposition and designed to head it off and while it is also true that the basic conflict continues between those wishing to cushion the effect of the 20th Congress in Hungary and those willing or wishing to permit a more natural development of ideological thought and political practice (within limits) nevertheless the arena of political conflict, and perhaps of economic, appears to be further to the right than six weeks ago, and in many cases further to the right than under Nagy during 1953–54. There is reason to believe it will move still further in this direction in the next few months.

What was possibly the first overt Soviet intrusion into the domestic scene since Rakosi’s resignation took place recently whether or not this interpretation is the correct one, there is little doubt that such an intrusion will occur if developments in Hungary move too fast. Whether it could now be resisted more successfully than in the past, and the effect of Soviet intervention on Hungarian political developments, are very important questions for the future.

The reference despatch reviewed certain of the events which preceded and led up to the removal of Rakosi from his pre-eminent position in this country. His removal, although properly referred to as the ending of the Stalinist era, may also be called the beginning of a new era in Hungary which so far cannot be adequately designated. [Page 233] While it is true that many events and developments which have become evident since Rakosi’s demission had their origin long before July 18, the changes that have occurred recently and are still continuing have already resulted, as the Hungarian regime has been the first and loudest to claim, in a noticeably different atmosphere here.

Although it is still far too soon after Rakosi’s dismissal to describe, and particularly to evaluate accurately, the era now beginning, it is not too early to set down certain of its highlights and characteristics as they have become evident since July 18. The following appear worthy of note: 1.

There has been no personality cult built up around Gero. While his name has appeared regularly in the press since the end of Parliament, he has made no public speeches (despite many opportunities) and has been referred to only casually (although favorably) by other speakers. His principal public statement was made in a Pravda article dated August 26, reprinted in Szabad Nep on August 28. This Pravda support is of course significant in itself but would in our opinion be much more so were Gero playing a more active role in public life and were there more marked differences in viewpoint between Gero and others.

Rumors about Gero’s health have been conflicting: It is known that some time ago he was in poor health (ulcers), yet in Parliament July 30 he appeared brown and healthy, and he gave that same impression to New York Times correspondent John MacCormac on August 14. A later unconfirmed report was received, however, to the effect that his general health is still very poor and in fact that he uses facial make-up in order to conceal his pallor and poor appearance.

The influence of Kadar seems to be considerable. This judgment is admittedly based largely on his speech at Salgotarjan on August 12, which was reported in detailed summary in Szabad Nep and almost completely in the Nograd County paper. The Legation considers it certainly interesting and probably significant that Kadar was the first and is still the only top figure except Gero to devote himself primarily to internal political matters, or at least the only top figure prominently covered in Szabad Nep as so doing. Exceptions to this might be Marton Horvath in his editorial of August 12, and Marosan’s article of August 19, but both of the latter statements were obviously directed toward [Page 234] particular goals. Other spokesmen have devoted themselves largely to economic problems or to special topics, such as relations with Yugoslavia.

The Legation’s first impression of the Kadar speech, as reported in Legtel 70 3 and based on the Szabad Nep summary, was that it was rather moderate in tone. We were also impressed by Kadar ’s reversal of the usual order of Rakosi’s shortcomings, and by his implication that the errors of rightist deviation were due in part to the earlier errors of the Stalinist period, i.e., blaming Rakosi for anything Nagy may have done. Based on the full version of the speech, the moderateness of Kadar ’s tone is not nearly so obvious. In fact the main difference between Kadar and Gero’s speech of July 18 to the Central Leadership appears to the Legation to be the difference in approach to the People’s Political Front (see Paragraph 3d below).

As an aside on the question of Kadar ’s present role, a recent remark of the Soviet Ambassador to the Belgian Minister should be mentioned: Mr. Andropov said that he liked Mr. Kadar very much, placing particular emphasis on the “very”. On the other hand, reports have been received that would indicate that Kadar is not very highly regarded in non-Communist circles, being considered neither extremely intelligent nor very strong.

The fact that relations with Yugoslavia have continued to develop favorably, both economically and politically (Yugoslavia is to send a Parliamentary delegation to Budapest before the end of the year, and both countries’ missions are to be raised to Embassy level) may possibly throw light on the Yugoslav reaction to Kadar . Since the Yugoslavs can hardly view Gero with great affection, and since they have long been rumored as supporters of Kadar , present Yugoslav-Hungarian relations, if they show anything , probably also point to Kadar ’s significance in the regime.

An effort is under way to gain support from the Nagy faction of the Party and from non-Communist parties. This development, of which there was little sign prior to the removal of Rakosi, may represent one of the most significant characteristics of the new regime. There has been considerable evidence to support the conclusion that this effort is under way and that it is a strong one: [Page 235] a) The constant rumors, supported by a number of public statements, that Nagy can return to the Party the day he accepts certain conditions (which are reported to be only the briefest admission of error—an admission which Nagy has so far not felt free to make). Kadar ’s statement referred to above, that Nagy’s errors were the fault of Rakosi, may even mean that he will not have to make this confession, and, as reported in Legtel 70, the issue of Nagy’s return to some official position may easily be hanging fire over the amount of influence he would be allowed to exert. b) The public statements of Marosan and Szakasitz (Weeka 34), 4 which emphasized the unity of the international laboring classes. c) The overtures to non-Communist Party leaders (Legation despatches 52 and 68 5 —Secret). d) The changed attitude toward the People’s Patriotic Front. In discussing the PPF , Kadar on August 12 did not place such emphasis on the leading role of the Party within the PPF as was the case before July 18, or even the case in Gero’s closing speech to the Central Leadership, but rather on the definition of the PPF as the “joint political movement of Communists and non-Communists for common goals in which they agree . . .” and he added “There are (many such goals) in which honest patriots, Party and non-Party workers are of the same opinion. . . .” Gero, on the other hand, said on July 18 that “we must see to it that the People’s Front should actually be led by the Party . . .”, 6 although he did not feel that Communists should constitute a majority “everywhere and in each organ.”

The significance of Gero’s statement is emphasized by his remarks in the Pravda article of August 26: “The PPF comprises the broadest strata of our people: workers, peasants, and intellectuals, working small people, all patriots who love the people, and everyone who wants a lasting peace and supports the easing of international tension. The role of the Patriotic People’s Front became somewhat dimmed recently. This was also due to the efforts of certain rightist elements to deny the right of Party leadership in the Patriotic People’s Front and to place the Patriotic People’s Front in a certain respect above the Party, which would have practically meant bringing the Party into opposition to the Patriotic People’s Front. On the other hand, there asserted [Page 236] themselves also sectarian views as a result of which the People’s Front, as a broad mass movement, was underrated. This fault was remedied by the July resolution of our Central Leadership.”

In this connection, it has been rumored that a new pro-Nagy publication (possibly edited by Ivan Boldiszar—see Legdes 73) 7 is to be started, and that the “Party man” on Magyar Nemzet , Imre Komor, is to be removed and replaced by Geza Losonczy, who is definitely pro-Nagy. It is possible, in fact that Magyar Nemzet might become a “pro-Nagy” organ if Losonczy becomes its real chief.

Prior to the Pravda article, the Legation viewed the efforts mentioned above under (a), (b) and (c), as well as Kadar ’s change in emphasis concerning the PPF and the rumored pro-Nagy paper or periodical, as directed primarily at gaining broader non-Party but still political (as opposed to popular) support. This policy, it was thought, stemmed basically from the increasing realization within the Party that its political support (that is, its support among “political” circles) as well as its popular support, is so small. Kadar seemed to be saying that the Party has shut itself off from the rest of the country when he said “You must not be afraid of listening to the opinions expressed by non-Party workers in the PPF and of hearing time and again views which are neither Marxist nor Communist.” He seemed to mean that the basic purpose of this admonition is to “consolidate unity” between the Party and other groups, and he pleaded with both Party members and working masses to have confidence in the Central Leadership. He went on to say that “of course no one can work miracles and neither can the Central Leadership of the Party. At present the situation is, however, such that the Central Leadership can guarantee an unwavering, consistent and unequivocal leadership and conscientious careful dealings with the cause of the state, the working masses and the people. The Central Leadership is determined . . . to submit to the arty membership, the working masses and the people, in the spirit of confidence, the most important problems even if these problems are grave and difficult ones. We assume that our Party membership, our worker’s class and all our working people have learned a great deal and have developed politically in recent times.”

This statement certainly does not sound as though there were great discord today within the Central Committee of the Party although it is true that the latter has always attempted to present a monolithic surface to the public, even when the Committee was almost rent asunder by dissension (witness the October 1954 and March 1955 resolutions).

Yet the different emphasis regarding the PPF as between Gero (in his July speech and his Pravda article) and Kadar seems to signify at least a difference in approach and perhaps a conflict between the two [Page 237] views. Even though Gero stated that the fault of underrating the Party role in the PPF had been corrected by the July Central Committee Resolution, Kadar spoke after that resolution. Perhaps the Gero article constitutes a warning, the first public warning thus far noted, that the Soviets are concerned lest the effort to broaden the political base of the Party might weaken Party control. On the other hand, it may mean only a slightly different emphasis given for publication in Moscow.

The attitude toward intellectuals has definitely changed since the meeting of the Central Leadership in July. (See Legdes 78.) 8 Inter alia, a number of developments are evident: The sharp criticism of the Petofi Club excesses have died out Marton Horvath in an important article on August 12 implied that the leaders of the opposition were not really to blame, which seems to indicate that they may be readmitted to the Party—as in fact rumor already has them the regime appears to be moving to liberalize its treatment of intellectuals’ children (although its discrimination against such children did not apply to leading Party intellectuals) and literary magazines are already beginning to speak out about the special privileges enjoyed by the top Party hierarchy.

The changes in this field were formalized in a recent Central Committee resolution which was probably designed to anticipate future demands from the intellectual groups, as well as to define the limitations within which intellectual freedom will be free to move. The most revealing reaction to this resolution was an article by pro-Nagyist Geza Losonczy in Muvelt Nep of Sept. 2. Losonczy welcomed the words of the resolution, at least as a partial statement of the requirements of the intelligentsia, but pointed out that their fulfillment could be realized only by means of struggle. Losonczy referred to the June 30 resolution of the Central Leadership, which cracked down on the Petofi Club, as an example of the kind of mistrust with which the intellectuals have had to contend down to the present. The article seemed to augur that the regime could hope to win the fight for the mind of the intellectual only by vying with a vocal rightist element.

5. A number of modest concessions have been made toward the general population. These were described in more detail in Legdes 56, [Page 238] August 17, 9 and included primarily improvements in the judicial field (control of secret police and abolition of special courts, improved “socialist legality”, economic concessions and removal of hindrances to religious instruction). 6. A general review of economic policy may be under way. Although this statement cannot be confirmed, there is the following evidence to support it: a) The fact that the second five-year plan is to be presented to Parliament only in December, after one full year of the period is over. Parliament is also to meet in October. After the “full country-wide discussion” of the plan which took place in early summer, there would seem to be no obvious reason why Parliamentary examination of the plan should wait until December (although it can also be argued that if there is then no major change in the plan this fact would demonstrate the unimportant role of Parliament, since the plan would have been accepted as a fait accompli long before Parliament had a chance to examine it). b) The logic of the situation. One would expect Hungary to make modifications in the plan, largely imposed upon it by the USSR, as soon as its relations with that country permitted. While we do not know that things have gone so far, some changes within certain limits might be assayed if they were felt warranted by other developments. c) The economic situation, which has not improved. Since the goals under the new plan were to be attained primarily from an increase in productivity, continuing difficulties in this regard and with production costs should make the initial goals less attainable. d) The reports that Nagy wishes to make changes in economic policy (Legtel 70). e) The change in priority in the speech of Marton Horvath at Pecs (about August 18—see Hungarian Press Summary No. 193), 10 when he reversed the usual order and referred to the need to insure a higher living standard even if other goals had to be adjusted. 7. The regime has adorned itself with a new halo of democracy, progressiveness and freedom. This was most evident in Parliament (Legdes 56), but has not been limited to that short period. Nor in fact has the placing of this halo been limited to any one intentional act carried out by the Hungarian regime. The fact that the average individual has felt an improvement in his personal security, and even greater freedom to contact Westerners has been attested to in Budapest by small events: an obviously greater willingness on the part of Hungarian individuals to have contact with even that blackest of bete noires in Hungary, a member of the U.S. Legation two personal visits to the Legation in the last few days to ask for a collection of modern American literature (Legtel 80) 11 and material on medical schools (Legdes 76) 12 etc. 8. There is some reason to believe that relations with the United States will gradually improve (Legdes 66). 13 While it is too soon to make a conclusive judgment in this regard, a number of steps have been taken recently which appear to indicate that a slow improvement in relations with the United States is desired by the Hungarian Government.

An observer’s interpretation of the above developments will of course depend on a number of factors, including whether the developments turn out to be real ones, the reaction of the Hungarian population, and the extent to which the observer himself, or in this case the [Page 240] American Legation, is also being wooed. The Legation’s reaction has been to interpret the recent changes, including Rakosi’s ouster, as conciliatory steps made desirable by the strength of the opposition to the Stalinist faction, first represented by Rakosi and now by Gero, and concurred in by the Soviets. The steps have been interpreted as designed to head off this opposition and to permit the present regime to bridle the opposing forces, who have become more unruly due to the Twentieth Congress, for as long as possible. Further concessions will be made as and if they become necessary in the eyes of the regime or on the other hand, some already placed before the altar of the public may be withdrawn when the regime has attained sufficient strength. The basic forces here might be described as: 1) the relatively pro-Soviet forces which are anxious to cushion the shock of the Twentieth Congress within Hungary and 2) the more liberal groups which are attempting, at least for the moment, to permit a natural development of political and intellectual endeavor, albeit within certain limits. These more liberal groups of course include a wide range, united in the past primarily in their opposition to the “doctrinaires”. Both groups are also motivated by the necessity of bringing about economic improvement within the country, although they would follow different roads towards this goal.

It may not be correct, however, to polarize the two groups so clearly into opposing forces or rather, it may not be correct to characterize them today as the old pro-Rakosi-ites on the one hand and everyone else on the other. This period is one of flux, when because of the ideological effect of the Twentieth Congress and because of the personal effect of the removal of Rakosi, new ideological and personal relationships, and new limits to the freedom within which individuals and groups can act, are being worked out. Although these limitations still remain, present “policy” (while ostensibly under the control of Gero) is considerably more liberal—or promises to be—in many respects (religious instruction, control of secret police, freedom of discussion, Parliamentary behavior) than previously under Nagy. Presumably, Nagy has in the meantime moved somewhat further to the right. Therefore the eventual resting point of Hungarian policy cannot yet be foreseen, because the liberalizing factors which have been set in motion are still at work and will be for some time to come.

At this time, the reporting officer believes that there are strong liberalizing forces in Hungary which are now freer to operate than in the past, and that the full effect of their activity has not yet come about. At the same time, restraining forces continue to be voiced and felt, as they will in the future. And on the whole the present political line, or arena of conflict, dividing these two forces, and perhaps also the economic line, is to the right of its position before July 18.

It is to be expected that the “line” would change less rapidly in the case of foreign affairs than in the case of internal, as has been the case. To adopt a very different foreign policy line would mean a clear break with the Soviet Union, which even a much more liberal internal policy would not, at least to the same extent, imply. Furthermore, foreign policy is more a matter of propaganda in many fields than a matter of day-by-day existence, and there is consequently not so much pressure for an immediate change. In addition, as already pointed out, there is some evidence that foreign policy is changing, although very slowly and not yet very significantly.

Events in Hungary have moved faster and farther since the removal of Rakosi than was anticipated by many at the time. While much that has reportedly taken place has not yet been fully confirmed, and while many promises have not yet been fulfilled, there is without doubt a new atmosphere in the country. The main question at the moment is not so much “What is present policy?” as it is “What will happen in the next six months?” There has so far been little evidence of the Soviet brake being reapplied (although the Gero article in Pravda may possibly be the first), but if developments move too fast there is no doubt that an effort will be made to use this brake. Whether, as in July, Soviet influence will be considerable, or whether the Hungarians can emulate what their Polish brethren are apparently doing and reduce Soviet influence remains to be seen.

Distribution: The Department is requested to forward processed copies of this despatch to USIA , MRC Munich, PAD Vienna, other Iron Curtain Missions, AmEmbassy Belgrade, and one processed copy to this Legation.


In the summer of 1956, relations between Hungary and the United States began to improve. At that time, the United States responded very favourably to Hungary's overtures about a possible expansion of bilateral trade relations. Hungary's desire for better relations was partly attributable to the country's catastrophic economic situation. Before any results could be achieved, however, the pace of negotiations was slowed by the Hungarian Ministry of Internal Affairs, which feared that better relations with the West might weaken Communist rule in Hungary.

After Khrushchev's "secret speech" of February 1956, which denounced Stalin and his protégés, Rákosi was deposed as General Secretary of the Party and replaced by Ernő Gerő on 18 July 1956.


Hungary’s cabinet renounces the Warsaw Pact (1956)

On November 1st 1956, with Soviet troops entering Hungary and making their way to Budapest, the government of Imre Nagy met to plan a course of action. Their response was to declare Hungary’s neutrality and withdraw from the Warsaw Pact treaty:

[Present: Imre Nagy, Zoltán Tildy, János Kádár, Ferenc Erdei, Géza Losonczy, István Dobi.

“The Cabinet commissions Deputy Prime Minister József Bognár to temporarily supervise financial affairs and make sure that all financial institutions are working and properly directed. In the case of general economic measures, he should involve Zoltán Vas in the decision-making.

The Ambassador of the Soviet Union in Budapest, Andropov, could not satisfactorily answer the questions of the national government regarding the entering of further Soviet troops at the eastern border. Consequently, Kovács, chief of the General Staff, had to reveal to the ambassador in the presence of the members of the Cabinet details of Hungarian military observations about military movements, which undoubtedly prove that major Soviet military forces had crossed the border and are making their way towards Budapest. Considering this situation, the Cabinet makes the following decisions:

1. It immediately issues a declaration of neutrality.

2. The Hungarian government immediately renounces the Warsaw Treaty and declares Hungary’s neutrality, at the same time seeking recourse to the United Nations, asking the four great powers for help in defending the country’s neutrality. The Hungarian government asked the UN Secretary General in a telegram to put the issue on the agenda with special dispatch.

3. The heads of diplomatic missions resident in Budapest will be informed of the above decisions.

4. Finally, the decisions will be publicly announced partly through a radio speech by Imre Nagy and partly through a government statement on the radio and in the press.

5. At the same time, the Hungarian National Government will take the opportunity for negotiations offered by the Soviet Union, and immediately appoint a committee, asking the Soviet government to set the time and place of negotiations as soon as possible.

6. Finally, the Cabinet told Ambassador Andropov if Soviet troops are withdrawn from Hungary in the shortest amount of time allowed by such a military operation, then they will annul their telegram to the United Nations.”


Geza Losonczy - History

A 2019-es év elején két izgalmas hírre kaphatta fel a fejét a magyarországi villamosenergia-termelés iránt érdeklődő szakember. Az egyik hír &hellip Read More

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Watch the video: Légy jó mindhalálig (June 2022).


Comments:

  1. Elija

    Interesting blog, added to rss reader

  2. Yozshulkree

    Just a kopeck!

  3. Walby

    yes, they came up with such a thing ...

  4. Berinhard

    Obviously, you were not mistaken



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