Political Readings of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution in Portugal

José Miguel Sardica
Catholic University of Portugal
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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 10 Issue 4  (2021):768-799 DOI 10.38145/2021.4.768

The 1956 Hungarian revolution had a resonant echo in Western Europe, gaining large attention and media coverage. This article explores how the small, peripheral Atlantic country of Portugal, on the other side of the European continent (Lisbon lies more than 3,000 kilometers from Budapest), which was under the rightwing conservative dictatorship of António de Oliveira Salazar’s New State at the time, became interested in the Hungarian events, allowing them to be written about in the most influential newspapers. The article begins with a discussion of the basic context of the Hungarian revolution of 1956 and of the Portuguese political context in the mid-1950s (the Salazarist regime and the bulk of the oppositional forces) and then offers an analysis of articles found in seven important Portuguese newspapers. Essentially, it presents a survey of the coverage of the Hungarian Revolution in the Portuguese press and explores how those events were interpreted and how they had an impact on the ideological readings and positions of the government, the moderate opposition, and the radical opposition of the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP).
The 1956 revolution merited extensive coverage in the Portuguese papers, with titles, pictures, and news boxes on the front pages sometimes continuing into the next pages of a given paper or on the last page. The stories were narrated, for most part, in a lively, fluid, sentimental, and apologetic language. The New State in particular, but also moderate publications which were oppositional to Salazar, endorsed the Budapest revolutionaries and criticized and denounced orthodox communism in the form of Soviet repression, either in the name of Christendom, national independence, and the Western European safeguard against communism (in the case of Salazarism), or in the name (and hope) of a democratic surge, which would usher in strident calls for civil liberties (in the case of oppositional voices). With the exception of the press organ which voiced the official position of the Portuguese Communist Party, supporting the Soviet response against the Hungarian insurgents (and thus was in sharp contrast with the larger share of public opinion), there was a rare convergence, despite nuances in the language, in the images, narratives, messages, and general tone of the articles in the various organs of the Portuguese press, which tended to show compassion and support for the insurgents in Budapest because their actions targeted communism and tended to decry the final bloody repression, which exposed the Soviet Union as a murderous regime.

Keywords: Portugal, New State, Salazar, Hungary, newspapers, public opinion, anti-communism, opposition, Portuguese Communist Party, Cold War, 1956

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Soldiers in the Revolution: Violence and Consolidation in 1918 in the Territory of the Disintegrating Kingdom of Hungary

Tamás Révész
Research Centre for the Humanities
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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 10 Issue 4  (2021):737-767 DOI 10.38145/2021.4.737

In November 1918, as in other countries in Central and Eastern Europe, a large wave of violence swept across the territory of the crumbling Kingdom of Hungary. Soldiers returning from the fronts played a key role in the acts of looting that were committed everywhere. At the same time, many of the soldiers joined the various paramilitary policing units that were being formed. In the traditional historiography, one finds essentially two attempts to explain the behavior of these soldiers. Left-leaning interpretations have tended to characterize the events as precursors to an early agrarian socialist revolution, while more nationalistic interpretations have seen them as the first steps in a national revolution. Drawing on archival sources which until now have remained unused, this essay discusses the background and motivations of the soldiers involved in the looting. It then analyses the circumstances surrounding the formation of law enforcement guard forces and the motivations of those who joined these forces.

Keywords: WWI veterans, green cadres, paramilitarism, brutalization, peasant violence, revolution

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A Small Town’s Quest for Modernity in the Shadow of the Big City: The Case of Senj and Fiume

Veronika Eszik
Research Centre for the Humanities
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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 10 Issue 4  (2021):706-736 DOI 10.38145/2021.4.706

Most of the theories concerning modernization and a number of trends in the historiography treat the big city as the most important arena of modernization, an arena which, thanks to our grasp of an array of social and economic transformations, can be made the ideal subject of studies on the processes and consequences of modernization. From this perspective, the small town becomes a kind of abstraction for backwardness, failed attempts to catch up, or a community that simply has remained unaffected by modernization. Thus, the study of the dynamics of modernization in smaller urban settlements from a new perspective which attributes genuine agency to them may well offer new findings and insights. In the historiography concerning the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the recent imperial turn has shown a perfectly natural interest in the peripheries of the empire, as it has striven to untangle the intertwining strands of local, regional, national, and imperial loyalties found there. The research on which this article is based, which focuses on Senj (Zengg), a small seaside Croatian city, is shaped by this dual interest. Senj’s resistance and adaptation to top-down initiatives of modernization can be captured through its conflict with the city of Fiume (today Rijeka, Croatia), which is not far from Senj and which before World War I belonged to Hungary. In this story, Fiume represents the “mainstream” manner of big-city modernization: it became the tenth most active port city in Europe over the course of a few decades. The area surrounding the city, however, was not able to keep up with this rapid pace of development. In this article, I present the distinctive program for modernization adopted by the elites of Senj, as well as their critique of modernization. Furthermore, the history of the city towards the end of the nineteenth century sheds light on the interdependencies among the cities of Austria–Hungary, interdependencies which were independent of legal or administrative borders. By analyzing relations between Senj and Fiume, I seek to offer a nuanced interpretation of the conflict between the two cities, which tends to be portrayed simply as a consequence of national antagonisms.

Keywords: anti-modernism, scaling urban modernity, urban history, Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Fiume, Senj

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The Making of a Catholic Parish in Eighteenth-Century Hungary: Competing Interests, Integration, and Interference

Béla Vilmos Mihalik
Research Centre for the Humanities
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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 10 Issue 4  (2021):675-705 DOI 10.38145/2021.4.675

In this essay the potentials for political interaction among local communities will be examined through parish organization in the century following the expulsion of the Ottomans from the territory of Hungary, i.e. the period referred to as late confessionalization (1681–1781). Roughly 150 years of Ottoman occupation had wreaked havoc on the parish network, which was reorganized over the course of the eighteenth century. Village communities took the initiative to establish parishes, but as they did so, the clashing interests of the Catholic Church, the landlords, and the state had to be addressed and negotiated. The dynamics of this process and the ways in which the local communities were able to assert their specific needs should therefore be discussed. The complexity of often divergent interests and aims compelled the communities to devise cautious means of communicating with the competing groups, and it also helped further the internal integration of the local societies and the integration of these communities into church and secular structures. However, growing state influence made abundantly clear that the roles of the church administration and the parishes would soon undergo slow but meaningful change.

Keywords: late confessionalization, parishes, local communities, community politics, integration

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Faith, Scripture, and Reason: The Debate between Transylvanian Sabbatarians and Christian Francken

Réka Újlaki-Nagy
Research Centre for the Humanities
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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 10 Issue 4  (2021):653-674 DOI 10.38145/2021.4.653

In this study, I present two Sabbatarian texts which were written in response to texts by Christian Francken. Based on the argumentation in the Sabbatarian texts, I try to clarify which writings by the German philosopher they were responding to. I offer an explanation of the ferocity of the Sabbatarian response, and I clarify the reasons why the Sabbatarians found it so important to respond to Francken’s ideas. My analysis of the Sabbatarian texts shows persuasively that Francken’s attacks were related to the basic and specific teachings of the Sabbatarians. The challenge presented by fashionable philosophical trends at the time compelled the Sabbatarians to face not only the benefits but also the dangers of following the ratio in the interpretation of Scripture. Sabbatarian texts arrived at a solution (by drawing a distinction between the concepts of ratio and philosophy) which, although formulated earlier in the established churches, was still undeveloped in the Transylvanian Antitrinitarian movement out of which Sabbatarianism grew.

Keywords: Sabbatarianism, philosophical skepticism, early modern atheism, ratio

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Multiple Loyalties in Habsburg-Hungarian Relations at the Turn of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Century

Bence Péterfi
Research Centre for the Humanities
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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 10 Issue 4  (2021):556-580 DOI 10.38145/2021.4.621

In this essay, I examine how people with business and political interest on both sides of Austrian–Hungarian border, sometimes even in royal courts, could survive in spite of the rather capricious relationship between Hungarian kings and Habsburg rulers in the second half of the fifteenth century and the early sixteenth century. Most of them sought a solution that would enable them to keep the estates and the positions they had already acquired. This “double loyalty” was practically impossible in the midst of the war between Matthias Corvinus and Frederick III, Holy Roman emperor: very few of the figures in question managed to maintain attachments to both sides. A window of opportunity opened with the Peace of Pressburg in 1491, when the two parties recognized the possibility of service in the neighboring ruler’s service. Although the peace treaty did not alter the significant shrinking of the camp supporting the Habsburg claim to the throne, which had been relatively large in the time of the 1490–91 Austro-Hungarian War, from the 1490s on and in strikingly large numbers from the mid-1510s, more and more people could be found whose activities made plainly clear that they were not exclusive in their loyalties: they were quite able to serve two masters at the same time.

Keywords: multiple loyalties, late Middle Ages, Hungarian Kingdom, Habsburg dynastic politics, cross border contacts


“To Work–To Sacrifice–To Die”: The Cult of Military Martyrs and its Manifestation in Slovakia during the years 1938–1945

Patricia Fogelova
Slovak Academy of Sciences, Institute of Social Sciences of Centre of Social and Psychological Sciences
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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 11 Issue 1  (2022):205-234 DOI 10.38145/2022.1.205

The Slovak Republic of 1939–1945 was established on the doorstep of the deadliest war in history. It almost immediately became an active participant in the war as an ally of Nazi Germany. Moreover, already in March 1939, Slovakia, just after its foundation, found itself in a military conflict with Hungary. These facts were naturally reflected in all spheres of society, including urban spaces. This study aims to analyze interventions in the public spaces of Slovak towns related to a cult of martyrs. There was strong need to justify the new Slovak Republic’s participation in the war. This need became increasingly pressing, especially after the invasion of the Soviet Union, which met with the disapproval of the majority of the population. I therefore ask how the regime responded to this. I am especially interested in following questions: how were public spaces transformed change in an effort to build a martyr cult before and after the attack on the Soviet Union? Were there significant interventions in connection with this event (the declaration of war against the USSR)? Had the symbol of a martyr or a soldier changed, and if so, how? The study is organized chronologically. I analyze interventions in public spaces during the so-called Little War in March 1939, at the moment of entry into the war against Poland in September 1939, and at the moment of entry into the war against the USSR in June 1941. I examine interventions on architecture-material level which involved the renaming streets and the creation of memorials. I also focus on perceptions of the street as a “stage” for military parades or ceremonies in the course of which soldiers were awarded decorations.

Keywords: interventions, military, nation, politics, public space, Slovak Republic 1939–1945

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