RFE/RL Collection - Background Reports

  OSA / Digital archive / Background reports / Subjects / Browse / Search

The text below might contain errors as it was reproduced by OCR software from the digitized originals,
also available as Scanned original in PDF.

TITLE:             Probable Nagy Trial to Have Bloc-Wide Significance
BY:                P.C.
DATE:              1957-12-26
COUNTRY:           Hungary
ORIGINAL SUBJECT:  General Desk No.47
THEMATIC SUBJECTS: Hungary--1956-1965, Hungary--1956 Revolution, Political Persecution

--- Begin ---



Background Report
(General Desk No.47)


The question whether or not the former revolutionary Premier
of Hungary, Imre NAGY, would be called to account for his alleged
"counter-revolutionary" activities during the tragic Hungarian
national upheaval in October and November 1956 was partially
answered last week by the new Hungarian Envoy to the Court of St.
James, Pal FOLDES. The Hungarian diplomat announced December 19
at his first news conference that an investigation into the
activities of Imre NAGY during this period is now underway in BUDAPEST.

The official confirmation given to the speculation rife in the
West that such an investigation was taking place would seem to fit
in well with the new, sharp tone which the KADAK regime propaganda
and ideological spokesmen are using in connection with the
"counterrevolution" of last year. It is sufficient to cite the "hard" tone
of an important article in the Hungarian Socialist Workers
(Communist) Party's ideological journal, "Tarsadalmi Szemle" (December)
which reviews the "treacherous" activities of the Imre NAGY group
as regards the preparation of the October events and their
subsequent actions during the revolution. The author, Dezso NEMES, the
chief editor of the Party's daily "Nepszabadsag", also adds one
new element to the long list of "counter-revolutionary" activities
of NAGY. He claimed that NAGY in his "dissertation" which was
published abroad under the title "Imre NAGY on Communism", "slandered
the USSR by maintaining that the Soviet Union's policy of
coexistence is nothing but a tactical maneuver to fool the West - an
interim period between two wars."

Hardening of Regime Policy

As regards the above, an annual report given by the Supreme
Prosecutor, Geza SZENASI before the Hungarian National Assembly
(December 21) and an attack over Radio BUDAPEST on Georgy LUKACS
and Hungarian writers.(December 21) by the pre-revolutionary
editor-in-chief of "Tarsadalmi Szemle", Imre EOMOR, are recent
cases in point.

SZENASI informed the National Assembly that "every deed
violating or endangering the order, independence and security of
the Hungarian People's Republic must be consistently prosecuted."

[Page 2]


In this connection SZENASI made ominous references to the
activity of "hostile class elements" during the "counter-revolution",
the "hostile activity" of certain writers which help prepare the
"counter-revolution" and included the "traitorous Imre NAGY group"
among other "representatives of Horthy fascism". According to the
Supreme Prosecutor, "the destructive activity of this (NAGY's - Ed.
Note) hostile nationalist group, organized on an anti-popular basis,
cleared the way to the attack launched by the most reactionary
forces, and then putting itself, by open treason, at the lead of the
counter-revolution. launched an attack -- to overthrow the people's
democratic order of the State."

SZENASI stressed that the struggle against "counter-revolutionary"
elements in all spheres of Hungarian life (especially the
economic; peasants not excluded) would be energetically pursued by the
organs of prosecution in co-operation with the State security organs

(For further evidence of regime rigidity, Of. General Desk,
News Background No.43, "Control Bill Passed; NAGY Attacked Again."
According to this report a system of "Popular Control" is to be
used against persons in every sector of Hungarian life suspected of
opposing the KADAR regime. First Deputy Premier Ferenc MUNNTCH,
speaking on behalf of the bill before the Hungarian National Assembly
also attacked the "counter-revolutionary vampires in Communist
disguise who had wormed their way into our literature, our
intellectual life and indulged in incitement." In a vein similar to
SZENASI, MUNNICH contended that those "vampires" appointed
themselves the nation's leaders and gathered in a clique around Imre
NAGY... (and) proceeded to mislead a "section of the partisans of
socialism" by turning into "accomplices of MINDSZENTY, that pirate
leader of capitalist restoration").

Georgy LUKACS Attacked

KOMOR's commentary over Radio BUDAPEST claims to be a
beginning of a "critique" over the activity of Georgy LUKACS which
contributed to the "counter-revolution in Hungary. (Significantly,
the attacks on LUKACS have increased as the case of Imre NAGY
assumes bloc-wide importance as a classical example of how
"revisionism" "inevitably" leads to counter-revolution.) Two other
articles within the last two months have appeared in Party
ideological and political journals. The first full-scale attack on
LUKACS views and alleged pernicious influence to appear in Hungary
was curiously enough a reprint of an article by the East German
writer Hans KOCH which originally appeared in the July issue of
the DDR theoretical journal "Einheit". The latter article appeared
in the Hungarian radio review "Nemzetkozi Szemle" (November 1957).
The most recent article concerning the "revisionist" tendencies of
LUKACS is a long review of his past writings and attitude toward
the international Communist movement appearing in "Tarsadalmi
Szemle" (December 1957). The article in question was prepared by
Josef SZIGETI, one of the foremost ideological spokesmen for the
KADAR regime.

[Page 3]


Bloc-Wide Significance

The timing of the attacks on LUKACS and the marked increase
in intensity of the attacks on Imre NAGY would seem to parallel
the evolution of the concept of "revisionism" to its present
stature of the "main danger" currently facing Communist Parties
of the socialist camp as well as other Communist Parties of the
world. Indeed, it would appear from the events immediately
preceeding the meeting of the world Communist Parties in MOSCOW to
celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the October Revolution in Russia
and the subsequent communique at the end of the celebrations that
the case of Imre NAGY may no longer be considered an internal
affair of the Hungarian Party and government, but a case which
must be conclusively settled in the light of the necessity for
re-establishing the ideological unity of the socialist camp.


Hungarian domestic treatment of NAGY has to a large extent
been dictated by the force of circumstance occurring in the wake
of the "counter-revolution". First Secretary of the newly
established Hungarian Socialist Workers' (Communist) Party, Janos KADAR,
found himself in a particularly precarious position vis-a-vis his
relations with NAGY following the second Soviet intervention in
Hungary. Publicly associated in the nation's mind with the
revolutionary NAGY Government, KADAR was forced to ideological somersaults
in an effort to disassociate himself from the men he was later to
denounce as "traitors".

The Yugoslavs were one of the first to point out KADAR’s
ambiguity. Smarting under the sharp Soviet and Hungarian attacks
in connection with their attitude toward the October events in.
Hungary and feeling themselves betrayed by KADAR and the Soviets
after the kidnapping of NAGY on his departure from the Yugoslav
Embassy where he had sought political asylum, "Borba" (3 December
1956) scathingly reviewed KADAR's attitude -toward the national 
uprising and Imre NAGY. (Cf. News Background, General Desk, "Yugo
Paper on KADAR's Erratic Mind", December 5 1956).

During November 1956 KADAR made one of his most personally
damaging statements concerning his faith in Imre NAGY as a "good
Communist." In a radio address [November 12) KADAR sharply rebuked
NAGY for a number of mistakes but added later in the broadcast:
"Having been a minister in the government of Imre NAGY, I must
express quite openly my personal conviction that neither NAGY nor
his political group were coriciously prepared to help the

But as NAGY was swept along by the elementary force of a
popular national uprising, so KADAR - confronted by a sullen and
hostile nation; saddled with a Communist Party ideologically rent
as under by strife and contention concerning the interpretation of
the Party's role in the life of the nation since 1948; able to
rule only by the grace of Soviet bayonets and haunted by his own
actions during the uprising - was forced by the cold facts of
post-October Soviet reality to relinquish his relatively benevolent

[Page 4]


view of "NAGY and his group" and openly label them as "traitors".
(Cf. General Desk, Background Report, "Tactical and Policy
Statements of the HSWP, January-February 1957, 6 March 1957, and
General Desk, News Background, "BULGANIN, KADAR on Hungarian
Revolution, Imre NAGY", 28 March 1957).

MOSCOW Assumes Control...

The increased emphasis on the "treasonable activities" of
NAGY and his group" paralleled also the decrease of the domestic
stress on the "errors" of the "RAKOSI and GERO clique". This
change of emphasis was classically illustrated by two events, one
at the end of February and the other at the beginning of March
1957. In February, the regime withdrew from Hungarian bookshops
an officially sponsored. "history" of the October events; "What
Happened in Hungary Between October 23 and November?" by Martin
LOVAS. The book was commissioned when it was orthodox policy to
acknowledge past mistakes, but when it was published in February
1957, the line was changing. Shortly afterwards, a strong attack
on the "history" appeared in "Nepszabadsag" (March 9).

If the supression of LOVAS' book was an indication that a
major policy change in connection with the Hungarian regime's
interpretation of the revolution and its leading figure - Imre
NAGY was in the offing, the reappearance of Josef REVAI, RAKOSI's
former ideological spokesman, in the columns of the Party organ
confirmed the trend.

In one of the clearest formulations of ideological Stalinism
since the 20th Party Congress, RSVAI dismissed the misdeeds of
RAKOSI and GERO as mere "errors" and baldly defined the actions of
"Imre NAGY and his group" during the national uprising as
"counterrevolution". (Cf. General Desk, News Background, "analysis of
RSVAI Article", 16 March 1957). Although a rather synthetic
debate in the Hungarian press followed the publishing of the REVAI
article (republished in "Pravda"), subsequent Hungarian statements
concerning NAGY never seriously deviated from REVAI's (which is
identical with the official Soviet interpretation) analysis of
the October revolution.

... and Shows the Way...

The most recent signal for an intensification of the attacks
on NAGY may be traced to Soviet agit-prop discussions on the "40th
Anniversary Theses". In a Radio MOSCOW discussion of "revisionism",
an agit-prop lecturer, I.N.DVORKIN, sharply attacked contemporary
"revisionism" in the socialist camp and in other Communist Parties,
specifically citing the October events in Hungary as a example
where "revisionism" leads. He stated that "it was precisely under
the banner of revisionism that the traitor group of NAGY-LOSONCZY
emerged... the slogans of the national Communists and the
revisionists which demanded a liberalization of the dictatorship of
the proletariat... quickly landed in the mire of bourgeois
counterrevolution. "

[Page 5]


DVORKIN also established an ideological and historical
continuity between the present-day revisionists and the revisionists
of 50 years ago - Bernstein in Germany and the Mensheviks in
Russia among others. (The latter formulation and analogy was
later to be used by the Polish regime in its polemics with alleged
ideological and economic revisionists following the MOSCOW
anniversary meeting of Communist leaders.)

The DVORKIN lecture on the dangers inherent in revisionism
was followed in Hungary by an increase in intensity of the attacks
on NAGY. During the month of October, at least two prominent
Party officials and members of the KADAR government launched
detailed attacks on NAGY's role in the October events.
(Cf. Hungarian Monitoring, Antal APRO 21 October and F.MUNNICH, 25
October). Antal APRO's speech before the People's Patriotic Front
scored NAGY for almost every possible ideological issue which
could be attributed. to him both before and during the revolution.

The main thesis of the agit-prop lecture over Radio MOSCOW
(Cf. General Desk, News Background, "Attack on Revisionism",
September 21 1957) was fully confirmed at the November 40th Anniversary
celebrations and in the final communiqué of the "12 Ruling Parties"
of 22 November. Although the communiqué paid pale lip-service to
the evils of "sectarianism" and "conservatism", the document flatly
stated that "revisionism" in all its form was the "main danger"
confronting Communist Parties at the present time.

... for the Hungarian Communist Party

There are many other indications pointing to the probability
of a trial of "Imre NAGY and his group". The official confirmation
of the trial and sentencing of three prominent writers (DERY, HAY
and ZELK) plus similar announcements of action taken against lesser
revolutionary figures and persistent rumors that major military
leaders of the revolution are going to be tried are cases in point.
In this context, the statement of the Hungarian Supreme Prosecutor
before the National Assembly takes on additional significance:...
"Every deed ... endangering the order... must be consistently

Thus, there will be no exceptions to the "law" (sic)...



  OSA / Digital archive / Background reports / Subjects / Browse / Search