B bábi, Tibor

Bolshevization Attempt of Hungary’s Culture

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Bolshevization Attempt of Hungary’s Culture – In 1948, schools came under direct state control, including all schools belonging to the churches. The evaluation system to grade student performance was altered to favor those who had the correct social status, i.e. their parents were “good cadres”. This meant that the parents were party members, peasants, or factory workers. This policy lowered the quality of education and conflicted with the students’ sense of justice by undermining their moral values. The children classified as “other” were not allowed to enter university, or even high school, during the worst period of Stalinism. Education became a tool in the class struggle. After 1948 the high quality of Hungarian education was debased by an emphasis on Communist ideology. At all places of work the day began with a compulsory study and discussion of the articles of the Communist Party’s official paper, the Free People (Szabad Nép). In this “Free People’s half hour” everyone, from university professor to the army private, office workers and research scientist, had to recite what they read in the paper. Everyone was obliged to participate in the Party’s or Trade Union’s political courses to study the ideology of the Communist Party. In the literary and theater life the Communist Party was determined to create a “proletarian hegemony”: in effect, a Soviet hegemony. In theaters the production of two famous Hungarian works, The Tragedy of Man (Az Ember Tragédiája) and Bánk bán were prohibited. The movie-theaters played mostly Soviet films. The suicides of two respected Hungarian actors: Gizi Bajor and Artur Somlay were a protest against the oppressive cultural policies of the regime that made Hungary a cultural colony of the Soviet Union. Third-rate Soviet writers, artists and scientists were sent to Hungary to instruct and lead their Hungarian counterparts in the emulation of the “superior” Soviet culture. Hungarian writers were obligated to produce works glorifying the Communist system and the Soviet way of life. The works of those unwilling to toe the party line could not be published. József (Joseph) Erdélyi, János (John) Kodolányi, László (Ladislas) Németh, István (Stephen) Sinka, Lőrinc (Lawrence) Szabó, Áron Tamási, Sándor (Alexander) Weöres, and other eminent writers withdrew into self-imposed intellectual quarantine. Their silence was only briefly tolerated and eventually they were forced to glorify the regime. Literary works full of clichés written in the tone of “socialist realism” that allowed only praises for the Communist system, flooded the book market. Copies of the Bible were only printed in drastically reduced numbers; at one time its printing was totally prohibited. The history of the Bolshevik Party of the Soviet Union and the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin were published in Hungarian in great numbers, but despite the large numbers prescribed also for public libraries, most of them were shredded. – B: 1075, 1020, T: 7665.→ Bajor, Gizi; Somlay, Artur; Erdélyi, József; Kodolányi, János; Németh, László; Sinka, István; Szabó, Lőrinc; Tamási, Áron; Weöres, Sándor.

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