Home > BC: Hungary 1919-1945, In English > Permanent crisis, fascist hordes, war against us

Permanent crisis, fascist hordes, war against us

First of May: Not holiday but struggleday. Struggle for the red May, struggle for the new Hungarian Council Republic!

Due to the antagonism of capital and labour, the general crisis of capitalism manifests itself steadily in the form of different social upheavals. It’s true even if the bourgeoisie is able to find ephemeral solutions for certain partial problems. We know these „delectable salves” very well: unemployment, disguised or open war against us, etc. In 1929 a further symptom of the crisis of the capitalist system occurred, over and above very sharply. From the end of 1928 (and from 1929 still more) the main creditor of Europe, the US detained its credits. The liquid export of capital of which value in 1928 was more than one milliard dollars, decreased to 200 million dollars during 1929. It was dangerous even in itself since the indebted Central-, and East-European countries were able to pay their extinction mainly only from further credits. Thus the economy crashed. In this situation none of the capitalists wanted to start new investments, so the amounts applied to investments decreased materially world-wide. There were no orders for the industries producing capital goods, they stopped the production and fired great masses of workers. At the end of 1932 there were 15 million unemployed workers in Europe. Until 1932, when the crisis touched its bottom, the world-production of constructional trade, compared to the summit before the crisis, decreased with 40%. The world-production of coal-mining, of iron-, and steel industries decreased with 60%. The decrease of the employment decreased also the absorbing capacity of the market, so the crisis spread to the industries producing consumer goods. The demand decreased materially and this abated the prices. The prices of agricultural goods started to collapse, the price of the grain on the world-market decreased with 58% between 1929 and 1932. The agrarian working class was starving, the urban working class was living in penury. In 1933 there was general famine for instance in Ukraine, in the North-Caucasus, etc.

The effect of the general crisis of capitalist production spread to Hungary, too. Due to the decrease of the prices of agricultural goods in fact the Hungarian agricultural export broke down. The inflow of capital, which had been considerable during the prosperity, stopped. The western creditors of the Hungarian bourgeoisie suddenly reclaimed their money, thus the Hungarian bourgeoisie was running into debt more and more. They tried to solve this problem by increasing the expolitation of the working class. The wages in general decreased with 50-60%, the number of the unemployed workers increased from approximately 250000 to 600000. The poor peasants, owning small lands, were running into debt, lost their lands which were bought by the peasant proprietors. The set-back in the field of the industry occurred mainly in the iron industry and metallurgy, in mechanical engineering, building-trade as well as in food industry. Until 1932, when the crisis touched its bottom, the number of the workers employed in these industries decreased with 30%, the wages in general decreased with 25-30%. All these meant the pauperization, and in several cases, the real famine of the working class. In Hungary there was no unemployment benefit, thus the system of the so-called starvation work was established. It meant that in exchange for some kind of labour service a wageworker got as much money that he or she could creep home in order to sleep, and on the following day back to the workplace. In this period, due to the general misery, the movement of the unemployed workers strengthened, the incensed proletarians were demonstrating throughout the country.

At the end of 1929 and early in 1930 when winter came, the unemployed workers also arrived to the streets of Szeged, Debrecen, Miskolc, Hódmezovásárhely, Eger, Pécs, Nyíregyháza. In Szolnok the hungering demonstrators were attacked by the police and the scuffle ended with flatling. The hungering proletarians demonstrated in Szegeden, Gyula, Járokszállás, Hódmezovásárhely, Orosháza, Kiskundorozsma. They shouted as follows: „Here is the revolution, down with the masters, let’s go there where the food is!”, and attacked the police which scattered the mass by beating them with gun-stock. A lot of people were arrested. The actions, however, didn’t spread to other districts and because of their detachedness, afterwards everything was going in the same groove. In several cases it was the „calm” and pacifist, counter-revolutionary attitude of the social democratic party which prevented the masses from acting as real class-militants. To attain this, naturally, at the workers’ hand it was necessary to pin their faith upon the party. Above we wrote that the lef-wing parties of the bourgeoisie didn’t have a great influence on the argrarian working class. It was true in general, but they were able to put pressure on the working class when it was urgently required for the ruling class. The publications and the leaflets of the social democrats could suddenly appear in the critical areas to pour balm into the workers’ wounds. For this it was necessary that the hungering masses who were unable to organize themselves seriously, had democratic illusions and co-operated with the social democrats.

During the period of the crisis the ground-men easily left their non-existent workplaces, so the proletarians of the cities and of the neighbourhoods took part together in the demonstrations. On the 1st of September in 1930, when the proletariat was fighting on the streets of Budapest, hundreds of proletarians were demonstrating in other cities, for example in Gyula, Szentes, Szeged, Debrecen, etc., but the clashes didn’t form a great and strong insurrectional wave. The causes are well-known. There was bungling in every region, the lack of organization and the lack of pespective dominated everywhere. Many people thought – and they were absolutely wrong! – that the agrarian proletariat „was fighting with the feudal latifundia” and the urban proletariat opposed the world-bourgeoisie. Seemingly they were fighting against different enemies, but in reality there was not a shadow of difference between them. The smallholders and the day-wage men sought the sources of their problems near at hand, while the ruling class profited from their exploitation. So the agrarian workers could be manipulated easier by anti-Semitism and be instigated against the towns, because of the backwardness of the countryside, what we detailed above; the urban workers vegetated on higher living standards, thus the witch-hunt was successful. Today the Hungarian nationalism also uses the same methods: it’s enough if we look at the slogan of the revision of the frontiers which is very popular today, or at the very active Christian Churches interlocked with the far-right. On the other hand, it’s much cheaper for the Hungarian bourgeois to employ the workers of Romanian, Ukrainian origin, so they try to embrace this fact on the field of xenophobia. It’s the same problem like then: we are confined into different regions or isolated by the huge distances. There is no direct class-militant connection between the struggles of the Brazilian land-retakers and of the Polander miners, just like in the case of the rural-, and the urban proletariat then. The bourgeoisie is usually able to solve the „micro-problems” confined into regions from their point of view satisfactorily.

In spite of the manipulation, violent retorsion and the peaceful promises the proletarian actions were continuing in the thirties, too. „We are living in penury and starving. Count Teleki is jollifying and pay the costs from the blood pressed out from his landless peasants” – wrote a Bolshevik leaflet in the early thirties. Early in 1932 the masses demanded work and bread in Makó, Szeged, Mindszent, Nagymagócs, the ground-men were on strike in Battonya. In February a firm in Pesterzsébet called jobs, a few workers were accepted and the others, the unemployed workers attacked the office. In March the proletarians demostrated for work and bread in Debrecen, they joined battle with the police, 54 proletarians were arrested. There were demonstrations in Csongrád, Békéscsaba and in several other places. The government financed the social democratic party and the trade unions in order that they could control the discontented voices. In April, due to the pressure of the masses and of the left-wing inner opposition, the social democratic party went to the streets in order to demonstrate its existence for both sides. In Balmazújváros and in Nyírtura, however, the masses attacked the gendarmerie, they used stones and sticks, finally the gendarmerie opened fire on them. The streets were covered with proletarian blood, several proles were arrested and during the interrogation they were beaten. The organ of the party, the Népszava was banned for a short time. Both the MSZDP and Bolsheviks dealt a lot with the conditions in the countryside, so they „perceived” that „the question of the ground-men is firstly the question of the land”, thus the land reform has to be conquered on political field. During the period of the crisis the Bolsheviks, to some slight extent, also strengthened. At the end of 1932 the party center had connections with several cells (from Kecskemét to Gyor), but more and more activists were arrested (193 activists were put under arrest in 1933). The social democratic party was unable to organize among the agrarian workers securely and effectively. It didn’t know the local conditions well enough and sank into its electoral campaigns.

In the state of the general upheaval the want for pacification strengthened among the bourgeoisie. It led to the reinforcement of the government’s far-right opposition. Bethlen resigned and after Gyula Károlyi’s prime ministership, in 1932 Gyula Gömbös became prime minister. Thus the fascist orientation, revisionism and anti-Semitism strengthened and Gömbös, in long-term, was working on the formation of a dictatorship similar to the Italian one. By this time, however, the total building-up of the fascist system didn’t came about yet. Since the yeasty promises, demagogism (new workplaces, reformation of capitalism under the aegis of romantic anti-capitalism, anti-Semitism), and the fictitious decrees (benefit for the medium-holders, taking over of one part of the smallholders’ debt by the state, etc.) were enough to abate the discontent of the working class. Hordes shouting anti-Semite slogans were on the hike throughout the country and influenced easily certain groups of the unconscious workers who wanted land, work and better living conditions. In 1937 the Kaszáskeresztes Párt (‘Scythe-Cross Party’) tried to organize an army from the most exploited workers of the villages, which would have attacked Budapest in order to capture the power and form a government (in the event of victory, the party promised 20 acres land per head for all the members of the army). The racialist groups reached also the world of the homesteads in the southern Alföld, the agitators of the Nemzeti Szocialista Magyar Munkáspárt (‘National Socialist Hungarian Workers’ Party’), of the Nemzeti Radikális Párt (‘National Radical Party’), of the Nyilaskeresztes Párt (‘Arrowed-Cross Party’), of the Alföldi Brigád (‘Brigade of Alföld’), of the Kettoskereszt Vérszövetség (‘Double Cross Blood-Alliance’) were present there. Moreover, several journals like the Nemzetor (‘Militiaman’), Nyilas roham (‘Arrowed Assault’), Nyilas harc (‘Arrowed Struggle’) and different brochures propagated the racialist thoughts, dulled the workers. After the occupation of Austria by the Germans in 1938, this course intensifyed, since due to this the Arrowed movement strengthened. Gömbös, however, didn’t have a unitary fascist mass-movement, and the buliding-up of such movement was contradictory both to the interests of the capitalists and that of the great landlords. After the first period of the pacification, the ruling class didn’t need an omnipotent leader. Now Gömbös tried to enlarge the power of his government upon the economy and with his permanent social demagogy was instigating the agrarian workers against the great landlords. Both the groups of the capitalists and of the great landlords disapproved of this, so they tried to push the fascist groups back.

The bourgeoisie was still unable to restore order, in the midst of the inner struggles of the ruling class the proletarians continued the organization. In summer, 1934 there was a demonstration in Sarkad and others followed it in December, in Debrecen and in Nyíregyháza. In Korösladány the proles marched to the town-hall and shouted as follows: „We are dying of hunger!”. In 1936 the harvestmen went on strike in the Pallavici manor. In several cases the isolated communists and the Bolsheviks also took part in the organization and launching of the strikes, but without the support of the masses their activity was not very effective. It was also added to the strike movement which livened up in the late thirties that the urban proletarians, who were in direct connection with the countryside, also fought for higher wages and as casual workers took part in several cases in the demonstrations of the agrarian proletariat. Due to the effect of the industrial proletariat’s movement the workers went on strike at the sugarworks in Mezohegyes, the platelayers went on strike in Kisbér, the textile workers in Szony, etc. From the pieces of news they got several agrarian workers felt a kindly interest toward the Spanish proletarian revolution. The farm-hands blustered at their landlords as follows: „Take care what you do, because we are going to make it warm for you, like the Spanish peasants made with their landlords and priests in Madrid”

Meanwhile the government started to reorganize the economy in order to stabilize its position. To get through the crisis they decreased the state costs, increased the taxes and took up loans. They encouraged financially the agricultural export, so they ameliorated the competitiveness of the Hungarian products. Moreover, thanks to the political-economic orientation towards Italy, Germany and Austria there were new markets for the increasing export. The government succeeded in decreasing unemployment by encouraging the elekctricity supply and the aluminium production. Gömbös planned to establish an obligatory corporate system which would have been very similar to the Italian corporative system. He wanted to eliminate the strikes and demonstrations in this way, that is, to solve the „workers’ question”. Gömbös, however, mobilized the fascist groups to no avail, he failed to take over the helm against the rival bourgeois groups. They were against the exaggerated control of the state over the economy and the instigation against the great landlords, as well as against the quick political-economic orientation towards Germany, since in long-term they were afraid of the loss of their autonomy. Thus, due to the opposition of the capitalists and of the great landlords, Gömbös was not able to entirely practise his social demagogy and without an adequate mass-movement he didn’t succeed in carrying his plan into execution even till 1938.

Due to the war preparations of the fascist powers, which were gaining ground and livening up from the mid thirties, the Hungarian industrial-, and agricultural exportation to these countries increased. The economic-political bonds strengthened more and more so these supported the strengthening of the Hungarian fascist forces. As natural continuation of the always stressed revisionism, Hungary also began to war preparations in 1939, which, thanks to the considerable capital investement and to the development of heavy industry, gave a new impulse to the economy. The formerly huge unemployment decreased, the wages which had been previously minimized, icreased (mostly in the heavy industry), the living standards of the working class, compared to the former years, changed for the better. The agricultural production also livened up due to the increasing inner consumption and broadening export. At the same time the government tried to gain direct control over the economy. Several factories were pronounced to ordnance factories and were put under military leadership. The government could control the production and the operation of the factories, thus it centrally increased the labour-time and the intensity of labour. The men between the age of 14 and 70 as well as the adult women could be called up for work of home-defense at any time. So, the exploitation of the working class was intensifyed already from this time. In this period the government introduced the so-called Jewish-laws which defined the maximum percentage of people of Jewish origin in certain ways of business, so the bourgeoisie hastened to discard the workers of Jewish origin and fired them in great quantities. When they became unemployed the police interned them soon after under the pretext of that they were labour deserters, thus they made a living certainly with illegal means.

In 1941 Hungary joined the „World War II”, thus the functioning of the war economy and the extension of war altered the conditions of the working class for the worse. Due to war prosperity the unemployment mended, but with the increment of the wages there was a huge increase in prices (until 1943 the prices increased more than 300% compared to the pre-war price-level) and because of the shop-shortage a lot of basic goods were non-available or were much more expensive than usually. The state tried the decrease the wages and the home consumption by means of adjusting prices and wages, and afterwards both rationing and obligatory surrender of agricultural goods were introduced. Due to that Hungary gradually became ancillary to the German war machine the deficit of the state estimate increased materially. This problem was solved by inflation of the currency and continuous extension of labour-time, so the living standars of the working class were continously decreasing. In addition the bourgeoisie tried to liquidate all forms of resistance and organizational efforts. In September 1943 – for instance – 5000 workers went on strike at the Weiss Manfréd factory demanding 40% wage increase, but the army intervened and crushed the strike. The state repression, the police control were intensifyed at the workplaces in order to maintain the uninterrupted production: in case of absenteeism the workers were fined, sent to the front or were interned. Meanwhile the army was mobilized tens of thousands of workers were sent to the front in order that they would fight and die for bourgeois interests. So the bourgeois war against us was becoming total more and more on all sides.

Horthy and his associates seeing the German military defeats, however, tried to withdraw from the war. In reply to this, at the same time with the occupation of Hungary by the Germans, fascists assumed power with the collaboration of the Sztójay government on 19th of March, 1944. The Gestapo was more effective in repressing the workers than the former military powers were, more and more labour camps were established for the refractory proletarians. The ghettoization, deportation and sending of workers of Jewish origin to the front was started soon after, and these were enthusiastically carried on by the Arrowed movement (when we are writing these their successor organization – the Magyar Gárda [Hungarian Guard] – is just being established in Hungary) after their rise to power in October, 1944. Hundreds of thousands of workers of Roma-, and of Jewish origin, communists and those who were condemned as „lumpen persons” were killed. The Bolsheviks and the left-wing social democrats made common cause with the Soviet Union and gathered into an antifascist front against Hitler in order to fight back: they put forward the slogan of „independent, free, democratic Hungary”. The popular front organized the antifascist resistance, they demanded wage-rise, better alimentation and the decrease of labour-time. In 1944 in Pécs the workers in the coal-mines celebrated May Day with work stoppage, on 10th of July in Békéscsaba leaflets („Let’s sabotage! Join the partisans! Don’t join the army! Down with the war! Beat those who hold with the Germans!”) were spread by unidentified persons. In September about 2000 workers from the Diósgyor ironworks marched to the management’s office and demanded the withdrawal from the war. In October Gömbös’s statue on Döbrentei square and afterwards a bookshop maintained by the Arrowed movement were exploded by partisans from Marót group. There were also sabotages, the Demény group and the Deák-Mayer group spread leaflets in Sashalom, Kispest, Soroksár, etc. and they organized attempts against the Arrowed movement, but kept closely in the shade of the Soviet Union. The popular front established its bases also in the countryside, the Bolshevik party tried to act the role of the great leader but it walked into a rival organization, the Parasztszövetség (‘Peasants’ Alliance’) which was founded in 1941. There were antifascist demonstrations and assemblies for independence, a few corps joined the Soviet army or the partisans in order to fight by the side of Bolshevism. The revolutionary traditions of the proletariat did not appear on the scene, in this region there was no opposition to the common insanity of triunity of fascism, nationalism and Bolshevism.

In June, 1944 a group, calling itself anarchist, gave a sign of life during its action in a small town in North-Hungary. They had entered into a totally false (self-liquidating) alliance with the Bolshevik partisans already from the beginning, but afterwards they had a row with the Stalinists who wanted to direct the events more and more, and who finally delated them for the fascists. Those members of the group who survived, split into fractions, some of them joined the Bolshevik party, the others performed direct actions. They attacked two warships from the Hungarian river fleet and afterwards exploded a fuel depot in the Buda Castle. Members of the third part of this movement were shot dead when they attacked a nazi residency. When Budapest stood a siege they organized sabotages, 200 activists of them were killed. After this they decided, except Korsakin who didn’t agree with his fellows, to stop their activity till Hungary became part of the Soviet zone and would see what is to be done later. Till that time they were working in work detachments and in hospitals. In June, 1945 the movement held a meeting where the representatives of all the three wings were present. One of the wings, signed with P. M. monogram (he was a student), wanted to co-operate with the Bolsheviks and hoped that after finishing with the bourgeoisie they would finish also with the Bolsheviks. The other wing led by Torockói wanted to make the movement legal, while Korsakin’s group aimed at continuing the struggle against the state and the Russian troops. They decided this question democratically and all of them stressed the they would accept the decision taken by the majority. The majority was on Torockói’s side so the movement became legal, they established a printery and started their propaganda activity. Then the movement consisted of 500 active members. Afterwards they had a conflict with the Bolsheviks again, who eliminated the hostile group when they got an opportunity (it happened under the Stalinist era when there was a strike in a factory in Csepel). So their inorganization, democratism, the lack of a clear common program doomed to self-liquidation their far-leftist, popular frontist, class collaborationist attempt. Finally the so much wished Red Army arrived and continued the exenteration of the working class just as the Arrowed movement did it before. They broke everything, looted the flats of the workers, raped the women and girls who came their way, those who tried to resist were shooted down. The soldiers captured by them were deported, executed, a lot of workers became „guest” of the Gulag for long decades. From the entire population which consisted of 14,6 million people approximately 340000-360000 soldiers and 600000 civilians (mostly workers) were killed during the triumphant campaign of the bourgeoisie. The „new era” meant nothing positive for the working class, when it came out from the shelters only got the future of misery and exploitation within different bourgeois framework. The next chain-link of capitalism was the bolshevization, then the original version of monopol capitalism was renewed. We, however, still have only one task which is not easy: to liquidate the class society in order that we could sit down to drink a beer in such a way that we didn’t need to look at the prices and at the time. There is the cold beer… can you see it?

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