___REPORT ON THE ACTIVITY OF THE 1956 INSTITUTE IN 2000 [Beszámoló az 1956-os Intézet 2000. évi tevékenységéről]___Back

The Institute functioned in 2000 under more difficult conditions than previously, in several respects. No funding at all was received from central government and the public-collections grant of HUF 10 million received in 1999 from the Ministry of the National Cultural Heritage was not repeated. Although a sizeable sum (HUF 31 million) was received from competitive applications (above all from the Soros Foundation) and the City Government of Budapest supported the Institute’s work (HUF 15 million), the Institute’s reserves fell during the year by about 40 per cent. Financing the Institute has become progressively more difficult. The crisis that blew up when government funding was withdrawn at the turn of 1998 and 1999 no longer has news value, so that the inclination to donate to the Institute and the potential circle of donors have decreased. Nonetheless, the Institute did not face payment difficulties during the year and it has no outstanding debts. With the experience gained with funding applications during these two very difficult years and with the modest reserves possessed (about HUF 20 million on January 1, 2001), it is concluded that the Institute has the basic resources for its work in 2001. However, if the present trends continue and the Institute has to operate under the present political and financial frameworks in 2002, it will probably be compelled to make essential structural and personnel changes in that year. The directors of the Institute have two goals: to preserve the present workshop and to avoid complete dependence on the state. They are aware, however, that these two goals are at variance with each other under present conditions.

The broadening of the research profile that began in 1997 (the conversion into a comprehensive research institute for contemporary history) continued in 2000. There was a continuation of researches begun in the previous year into the events and processes of the period leading up to 1956, the Kádár period and contemporary Hungarian history in general (1945–89). Special emphasis continued to be placed on researching the history of the 1956 Revolution and its antecedents and aftermath. Although many of the targets set a year previously were met, the unfavourable financial situation undoubtedly had the expected effects. The efficiency of the Institute as a whole declined somewhat. The atmosphere required for creative work was sometimes lacking and the creative output of some individuals declined. However, several individual and group projects began during the year. These are at the stage of amassing data and results from them can be expected in later years.

The number of permanent research fellows decreased by two during 2000, primarily because of performance problems. The staff increases by one research fellow (a Hungarian Academy of Sciences post) from January 1, 2001. The bookkeeper and secretary of the Institute left during the last quarter and were replaced by new colleagues, who experience so far suggests are more suitable.

The following major research projects on the history of the 1956 Revolution were in progress in 2000:

Almost all research fellows (Project Director Attila Szakolczai, with Tibor Beck, Pál Germuska, Katalin Somlai, Adrienne Molnár, László Eörsi and Tibor Valuch) collaborated on the two-volume 1956 Revolution in the Provinces, consisting of county studies, and preparations for an associated database of provincial participants in the revolution. The manuscript of the first volume was completed in 2000 and the second is due in 2001, a year later than originally envisaged.

A book by Adrienne Molnár and Zsuzsanna Kőrösi entitled I Lived with Secrets in My Soul appeared in June 2000 to critical and public acclaim. It forms part of the Oral History Archive project ‘The Second Generation of Fifty-Sixers’.

The research project ‘Civil Organizations in the 1956 Revolution’ began, under the direction of Éva Standeisky.

László Eörsi completed in manuscript his history of the armed groups in the Józsefváros district of Budapest.

Attila Szakolczai continued his researches for a biography of Attila Szigethy.

Compilation of a volume in English containing all the source materials on the history of the Hungarian Revolution continued in conjunction with the National Security Archive in Washington DC and the Cold War History Research Centre in Budapest, under the direction of Csaba Békés.

Attila Szakolczai prepared an 85,000-word manuscript entry in response to a Ministry of Education competition for a manual on 1956. (The results have not yet been announced.)

The following contemporary-history research projects with some degree of application to 1956 were in progress in 2000:

Csaba Békés continued work on a planned monograph (Hungary and the Great Powers, 1953–1963). He also began to prepare a volume in Hungarian and English on the proceedings of the conference ‘Change of System in Hungary, 1989–90’, held in June 1999 by the Institute, the Cold War History Research Centre, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the National Security Archive in Washington DC.

Researches continued on the history of the state-security organizations in the Kádár period, and on other subjects, making use of the state-security documents (János Kenedi, Éva Standeisky and János M. Rainer). The results during the year were reported in the Institute’s Yearbook for 2000.

János M. Rainer (in conjunction with Magdolna Baráth, department head at the Historical Office) edited for the press the documentation on the negotiations between Mikhail Gorbachev and Hungarian leaders in 1985–9. The volume of source materials appeared at the end of the year.

Tibor Valuch wrote a monograph entitled The Social History of Hungary in the Second Half of the 20th Century and continued his researches into the transformation of Hungarian agricultural society in 1945–63.

Pál Germuska prepared the early chapters of his doctoral dissertation on The ‘Socialist Towns’ in the History of Hungarian Urbanization and continued his researches into the Kádár-period Workers’ Militia.

The translation into English was completed of the Internet ‘digital teaching materials’ on the 1953–63 period, consisting of a textual account, chronology, biographies and glossary, prepared originally for the Sulinet educational Web programme of the then Ministry of Education and Culture.

Work on a digital historical manual entitled ‘Hungary 1944–1953’ continued throughout the year (participants: Adrienne Molnár, Attila Szakolczai, Réka Sárközy, Tibor Valuch, László Győri, Pál Germuska and several outside contributors). The entire programme became accessible on the Institute website in December 2000. The CD–ROM on the 1944–56 period was nearing completion. Both projects were led by Zoltán Lux and János M. Rainer.

Compilation of the database continued in 2000 under the direction of Zoltán Lux, along with the technical work for the ‘Hungary 1944–1953’ digital historical manual and the ‘History of Hungary 1944–1956’ CD–ROM. The Institute website, launched in 1997, underwent renewal in 2000. Extracts from the 2000 Yearbook and several studies by research staff were made available on the Internet. Some 4000 photographs belonging to the collections of the Institute and other bodies (the Hungarian National Museum, the Institute of War History and the Budapest Collection of the Ervin Szabó Library) were placed in the photo-documentary database (Réka Sárközy). A series of 40 colour transparencies about 1956 was compiled for school use. The library continued to collect and process literature on 1956 and contemporary history and develop bibliographical and press databases. The stock increased by almost 500 volumes. There was a smaller increase in the Oral History Archive, which gained 15 further interviews. Research into the system of connections among fifty-sixers began, based mainly on the interviews. The early findings appear in the 2000 Yearbook. A start was also made on designing research and development projects based on the interviews in the Oral History Archive and on further projected interview programmes.

Several members of the staff undertook university teaching on a contract basis or as a second job. János M. Rainer taught in the Economic and Social History Faculty of Loránd Eötvös University in Budapest, György Litván and Tibor Valuch in the Sociological Institute of the same university, Éva Standeisky at Debrecen University and Attila Szakolczai at the Journalists’ Association György Bálint School of Journalism.

Fewer independent Institute publications appeared in 2000, altogether five. The book I Lived with Secrets in My Soul by Adrienne Molnár and Zsuzsanna Kőrösi appeared in June 2000. In October, Duna Television showed the documentary film ‘My Home Is Far, Far Away’, which had been commissioned by the Institute. (It was made by Flórián Góczán, Zsuzsa Méry, Réka Sárközy and Attila Szakolczai.) In December, two volumes appeared: Gorbachev’s Negotiations with Hungarian Leaders. Documents from the Archives of the former CPSU and HSWP, 1985–1991, edited by Magdolna Baráth and János M. Rainer, and the Institute’s Yearbook of 2000, edited by Zsuzsanna Kőrösi, Éva Standeisky and János M. Rainer. The latter includes a dossier on researches into the state-security organization of the Kádár period and the concluding studies of the workshop seminar based on the material. The new digital historical manual ‘Hungary 1944–1953’ on the Institute website (www.rev.hu/sulinet45/index.htm) was presented at the same time.

Several other volumes by members of the Institute staff were published during the year. In June, there was strong interest at a book launch in the Budapest Goethe Institute, for the volume Satelliten nach Stalins Tod. Der ‚Neue Kurs’. 17. Juni 1953 in der DDR. Ungarische Revolution 1956 (Berlin: Akademie Verlag), edited by András B. Hegedüs and Manfred Wilke, with Hegedüs and János M. Rainer among the contributors. Launched simultaneously in Berlin, the book attracted strong interest in Germany. A book of writings by András B. Hegedüs, On That Tuesday, was published in October and a book of studies by János Kenedi, K’s Interior Ministry Writing Assessment Report from the Castle in December (with a launch at the Institute).

Events at the Institute in 2000 included the Conference on the 9th Guideline Annual Report of the OKTK. The Institute was co-organizer of the 3rd National Conference on Contemporary History in Debrecen, where the chief organizer was Tibor Valuch. Staff members including András B. Hegedüs, Csaba Békés, Éva Standeisky, Pál Germuska, Zoltán Lux and János M. Rainer attended and contributed to numerous contemporary-history conferences in Hungary and abroad. Conspicuous were the conference ‘New Cold-War History: Historiography, Theory and Methodology’, held in Moscow in May (Csaba Békés), the International Association of Social Science Information Service and Technology conference in Chicago in June (Zoltán Lux), the World Conference of International Historians in Oslo in August (János M. Rainer), and the conference ‘Kommunismus—Utopie und Wirklichkeit’, held in Berlin in December (András B. Hegedüs).

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Copyright © 2000 National Széchényi Library 1956 Institute and Oral History Archive
Last updated:  Tuesday, 22-April-2008

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