___CD–ROM Hungary 1944–56. [Magyarország 1944-1956]___Back
Hungary, 1944–1956. In the Centre of Europe—Hungary in the Present Period
The 1956 Institute Multimedia CD–ROM Series No. 2






This CD–ROM will resemble the multimedia CD–ROM 1956—Encyclopedia of the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Struggle devised in 1997–9, which was the first in the series. It will also bear a resemblance to the digital teaching material The History of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and Struggle for Freedom, prepared under the Sulinet educational Internet programme and available on the Institute website. The CD–ROM was due to appear in 2001.

Development of the CD–ROM was built on two pillars. On the one hand, it rests on Hungarian and foreign historical studies, above all the sources, data and treatments of political, economic and social history, most of which appeared after the mid-1980s, especially after 1989–90. Mention can be made of the great comprehensive work by Ignác Romsics (The History of Hungary in the 20th Century), of the great monograph on the economy and economic history by Iván Pető and Sándor Szakács (The History of Four Decades of This Country’s Economy, 1945–1985. Volume I. Reconstruction and the Period of the Command Economy, 1945–1968), and of works by Iván T. Berend, György Ránki, Sándor Orbán, Ferenc Donáth, László Varga, László Borhi and others. Few monographs have appeared so far summing up the change in political relations (Charles Gati’s Hungary in the Shadow of the Kremlin and works by Lajos Izsák, Sándor Szakács, Tibor Zinner, István Vida and others). However, several excellent comparative works on the region are available (François Fejtő: A History of the People’s Democracies, George Schöpflin: Politics in Eastern Europe, etc.) Several aspects of the period have been treated, for instance the histories of various political parties, although interestingly, that of the Hungarian Communist Party has been studied in least detail. The fullest account of the development of communist ideology can be found in Bálint Szabó: The 1950s, but it reflects the conditions and approach of party historians in the early 1980s. The main resolutions of the party in 1944–56 recently appeared (The Resolutions and Documents of the Hungarian Communist Party and The Resolutions and Documents of the Hungarian Workers’ Party). On Hungary’s international situation, Mihály Fülöp contributed a monograph on the history of the Treaty of Paris, while István Vida published source materials on the relations between the Soviet Union and Hungary, and György Gyarmati wrote a study on the transformation of state power and public administration. Several other important collections of source materials on the period have appeared, including Documents on the History of the Justice System (five volumes edited by Pál Solt et al.) and We Report to Moscow (edited by Lajos Izsák and Miklós Kun). The end of the Cold War enhanced Western and Russian interest in earlier events. Several new projects began, including research into international Cold War history by the Woodrow Wilson Center and Eastern and Central European projects of the Slavic and Baltic Studies Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences, notably two volumes of Russian archive documents for the period 1944–53. Contributions to this process have been made by the studies and source publications of the 1956 Institute, above all the volume The Years of the Turning Point, 1947–1949. Politics, Art and Architecture, as well as Show Trial to Shake Apart the Independent Smallholders’ Party by István Csicsery-Rónay and Géza Cserenyey, and the seven volumes of The Debates of the Petőfi Circle Based on Authentic Minutes, edited by András B. Hegedüs.

The period chosen is taken to have fundamental importance for the contemporary history of Hungary. The main issue in this can be taken to be socio-political modernization and the creation of an independent nation-state that provides an adequate framework for it. In this case, the 12 years following the Second World War can be seen as the history of a great experiment, full of hopes, of failures of similar dimensions, and of renewed experiments and blind alleys. There appeared, after the defeat of Germany, a fleeting moment in which the major efforts at reform between the wars might be realized, to bring into being a dynamic society and a democratic political structure. This hopeful interlude was terminated by Hungary’s incorporation into the Soviet imperial system and the outbreak of the Cold War. After what became known as the turning point, the development of Hungarian society and politics was determined by the Soviet pattern predominant in the region and the effort to impose socialism from above. The aftermath of the Stalin period placed its mark on the life of the country, its people’s thinking, its built environment etc. until the end of the 1980s, indeed in many respects up to the present day. Although efforts at integral development almost ceased at the end of the 1940s, they broke to the surface again at the first opportunity. They were apparent in Imre Nagy’s short-lived corrective experiment after 1953 and his later programme of reform, in the intellectual ferment that preceded the 1956 Revolution, and finally, in the mass movement that led up to the explosion.

The CD–ROM sets out to present the process outlined here in various ways, by following complementary, parallel paths. The backbone consists of a text of 200,000–300,000 characters that offers a chronological treatment of the 1944–56 period, concentrating on discussion of the main problems. Some of the systems tied to the text by several strands explain the text in more detail and personalize it, after the manner of an encyclopaedia, through concepts, events, protagonists and problems. Others offer wider options in the form of menus, and yet others use contemporary texts, later reminiscences, personal documents, pictures, films and sounds to place the history in context. In doing so, it makes the history more personal and immediate and adaptable to the approach and interests of each user, as far as the technology allows.

The obvious point of entry into the CD–ROM is the ‘story’ or text, from which the user can transfer to the ‘system’ or databases. However, it is possible to enter the ‘system’ through other gateways as well. The main sections of the databases form volumes of the great ‘encyclopaedia’. It is possible to switch from one chapter to another or use them all at once. The volumes are the following:


Dictionary (collection of concepts).

Portrait gallery (biographies).

Historical geography (collection of sketch maps).

Archives (selection of source materials).

Oral history (selected reminiscences).

Library (selected bibliography and extracts from studies and works of literature).

Database (figures to do with demography, the economy, the arts and politics).

Multimedia collection (contemporary sound recordings, popular songs and film newsreels).

Please send comments or suggestions.
Copyright © 2000 National Széchényi Library 1956 Institute and Oral History Archive
Last updated:  Wednesday, 27-September-2006

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