Briefly about Aleksandra Kollontai’s fiction

Aleksandra Kollontai is most famous as a revolutionary, women’s liberation activist and a Soviet diplomat. However, she was also a writer of fiction. In this article I will briefly discuss her fiction writing. Unfortunately it is rather difficult to discuss without delving into the much broader topic of Soviet family policy and Kollontai’s career and theoretical development – something which is simply beyond the scope of this article and I’ll have to discuss later separately.

Kollontai’s fiction writing deals exclusively with issues of women’s rights, love, morality and relationships among revolutionaries in the old capitalist society and the new socialist society under construction. Kollontai described her novel Red Love in the following way: “This novel is… a purely psychological study of sex-relations in the post-war period.” (Preface to the English edition of Red Love, 1927)

Her fiction has received extremely mixed responses, for reasons that will become evident.

Red Love aka Vasilisa Malygina (1923) is Kollontai’s earliest novel. Without stating it openly, the novel actually discusses Kollontai’s love-affair with Pavel Dybenko, a Soviet soldier. As such, the novel is somewhat interesting from a historical point of view, although it does take liberties from real life. However, as a work of art the novel leaves a lot to be desired.

The protagonists are both revolutionaries and the story focuses entirely on their troubled relationship. They are both busy, exhausted, have differing political ideas, but unfortunately the story doesn’t rebut wrong political ideas effectively enough.

The character representing Dybenko, named Vladimir in the story, is described as holding anarchist ideas and being unable to follow discipline. This matches the real life Dybenko accurately*. In general the story is quite true to real life: the characters fall passionately in love, but are not compatible.

Vladimir is stupid, immature, cheats on Vasilisa constantly, and cannot take care of his own responsibilities. Vasilisa is responsible, ascetic, extremely hard working and busy, politically a romantic with ultra-left leanings (a true depiction of Kollontai at that point in her career).

Vladimir constantly complains that their life is not enjoyable, they work too hard, are too poor, cannot afford luxuries. He eventually becomes a director under the NEP. He accumulates money and begins to live lavishly, hangs out with black-marketeers and hires prostitutes. As a result he is constantly in trouble with the party and state control commissions, who accuse him of living a bourgeois life and breaking the law.

While that segment is motivated by Kollontai’s ultra-left attempt to oppose the NEP, her criticism against nepmen is basically legitimate and she correctly portrays the party’s negative attitude to abuses of the NEP.

Eventually Vasilisa and Vladimir separate, since Vasilisa cannot tolerate Vladimir’s affairs with other women. However, she also begins to sympathise with the bourgeois woman that Vladimir has an affair with. This part of the story develops the notion of “sisterhood” among women regardless of class. Kollontai struggled with this concept and it was found questionable by Soviet critics.

During war-communism Kollontai had advocated for the rapid abolition or withering away of private families and private homes. This was supposed to be entirely voluntary and facilitated by the creation of state institutions for raising of children (children’s villages etc.). However, this quite unrealistic and ultra-left idea was abandoned during the NEP because of practical problems, and in particular, problems with lack of funds. Kollontai discovered that the withering away of the family would take an entire historical epoch and would not be rapid.

Reflecting Kollontai’s ultra-collectivist anti-family views the story ends with Vasilisa realising she is pregnant with Vladimir’s child and deciding to raise it herself, or rather, without a man, collectively with other women:

“All by myself? The organization will bring it up. We’ll fix up a nursery. And I’ll bring you over to work there. You like children, too. Then it’ll be our baby. We’ll have it in common.”

The collection Love of Worker Bees (1924) contains the story “Sisters”, which explores the roots of sex-work and places the blame on men who hire such services, rather than on the sex-workers themselves.

The collection also contains the more famous (or rather infamous) story “The loves of three generations”. This story discusses the differences in moral attitudes among three generations of progressive women: Maria, a 19th century reformer with narodnik views, Maria’s daugther Olga, a middle-aged Soviet revolutionary, and Olga’s daugther Genia (sometimes translated Zhenia), a young communist radical.

The story takes a rather neutral or “objectivist” stance, which was condemned by Soviet critics. The story does not put forward a marxist position, but simply presents the three women’s points of view, almost without comment. However, Kollontai was accused of sympathising with the young radical view, due to her other statements and writings.

Maria holds clearly bourgeois, conservative and sentimental views, Olga holds the modest and common place views that were mainstream among Soviet leaders, while Genia holds basically libertene, morally nihilist vulgar views.

In reality, Kollontai did not sympathise with Genia in full. Kollontai presents Genia as a possible representative of experimental revolutionary morality, as a possible representative of the new generation that would eventually discover what the morality and sex-relations of the future communist society are. Kollontai realised that Genia’s views are problematic and erroneous, but she did not critique them, partially because she did not know how.

As remarked by Lenin and Clara Zetkin, the so-called “glass of water theory” had gained some popularity among radicals in the 1920s. According to this view, love-relationships were basically meaningless and sex was a merely utilitarian act, a physical necessity such as drinking a glass of water. This lead to innumerable negative consequences, and those who disagreed with it were harassed as “bourgeois”. Kollontai was never explicitly identified with the supporters of this theory, her work was merely somewhere adjacent to it.

“This theory really gained popularity in the RSFSR in the early 20s, but Kollontai never promoted it.” (, Evgeny Antonyuk, Diplomat and sex revolutionary. The first Soviet feminist Alexandra Kollontai)

Lenin said:

“As a communist I have not the least sympathy for the glass of water theory, although it bears the fine title ‘satisfaction of love’. In any case, this liberation of love is neither new, nor communist. You will remember that about the middle of the last century it was preached as the ‘emancipation of the heart’ in romantic literature. In bourgeois practice it became the emancipation of the flesh. At that time the preaching was more talented than it is today, and as for the practice, I cannot judge. I don’t mean to preach asceticism by my criticism. Not in the least. Communism will not bring asceticism, but joy of life, power of life, and a satisfied love life will help to do that. But in my opinion the present widespread hypertrophy [extreme growth] in sexual matters does not give joy and force to life, but takes it away. In the age of revolution that is bad, very bad.

“Young people, particularly, need the joy and force of life. Healthy sport, swimming, racing, walking, bodily exercises of every kind, and many-sided intellectual interests. Learning, studying, inquiry, as far as possible in common. That will give young people more than eternal theories and discussions about sexual problems and the so-called ‘living to the full’. Healthy bodies, healthy minds. Neither monk nor Don Juan, nor the intermediate attitude of the German philistines.” (Zetkin, Lenin on the Women’s Question)

In reality Kollontai considered love to be extremely important, but she argued that lovers should not feel any jealousy, should not “possess” each other, should be entirely free in their actions as individuals. As Engels recognised “lovers feel that non-possession and separation are a great, if not the greatest, calamity” (Origin of the family, private property and the state). Kollontai constantly tormented herself due to her inability to not feel jealousy over the unfaithfulness of her partners – a tragic result of her somewhat misguided notion of what the “human of the future” should be: a crudely collectivist person who feels no exclusive right to her partner.

Kollontai actually advocated individualist views, and always felt threatened that her freedom would be limited. However, she more explicitly voiced ultra-collectivist views (which in fact, were also mere bourgeois-aristocratic individualist views turned upside down), as she frequently stressed the party and society were always more important than love. This had a certain similarity to the glass of water theory, which stated sex was a mere physical necessity.

Kollontai frequently expressed the view that revolutionaries do not have time for romantic relationships, and thus other, casual sex relationships are suitable. This was very close to the advocates of the glass of water theory. At the other extreme of the debate, revolutionary E. Yaroslavsky, the leader of the militant atheist league, ridiculed the libertenes and said that in prison he had been forced into complete celibacy for years, and “it hadn’t harmed him”.

“Kollontai’s critics reminded readers of her “Letters to Working Youth,” which offered the image of a commune where one could love more than one partner, and her “Liubov’ trekh pokolenii,” [Loves of three generations] which featured Zhenia, the “new woman” who had lovers but no time to fall in love…

Iaroslavskii… warned that it was for bourgeois not proletarian youth to flit from flower to flower indulging in Kollontai’s “love of the worker bees.” In fact, Iaroslavskii recalled, for eight or nine years he sat in prison and sexual abstinence had done him no harm” (Farnsworth, Aleksandra Kollontai: Socialism, Feminism and the Bolshevik Revolution, pp. 354-355)

The topic of Soviet family police is too broad and complicated to discuss here, and involves topics such as child raising, divorce, alimony etc. but we must explain where Kollontai’s views fit in the Soviet ideological landscape.

Although policy and emphasis changed during different periods (war-communism, NEP, socialist construction, post-wwii) the marxist-leninist view developed in the Soviet Union was that the family will continue to exist for a while, although in a qualitatively different form in socialism, that the family had an important function in raising children and upholding society, that in socialism relationships ought to be exclusively based on love and comradery, that women were equal to men and should become educated and get a job, should not be economically reliant on men, that there was no necessary antagonism between individuals and society.

There was universal agreement that women were oppressed by being shut inside the home. They needed to be given the opportunity to get educated, engage in politics and in social production. However, since private child rearing was not abolished and neither were private homes, and women still more often contributed more to maintaining the household, it was necessary to give women special support. Alongside private homes, collective child nurseries, laundromats and diners were established near homes and work places. Family members and spouses were obligated to support each other by law, and in the case of divorce men were ordered to pay substantial alimony. Since the 1940s the state created an insurance fund to support single mothers – an idea which Kollontai had advocated in a somewhat extremist form in the 1920s.

Kollontai had opposed the idea of alimony on grounds that it made women seem less respectable. However, other women revolutionaries did not agree. Vinogradovskaia responded to Kollontai on the alimony issue by accusing her of letting men off the hook, shouting “let them pay!”. Kollontai had wanted the fund to include all women, not only single mothers. She had also called for marriage economic contracts. It was deemed impossible to fund such a system in the 20s, especially without alimony. The economic contracts for marriage were also deemed totally impractical, because peasant women wouldn’t have the knowledge, and wouldn’t dare, to defend their rights adequately.

“Individual schemes for children’s homes and children’s towns varied. L. N. Sabsovich, who advocated separation of children from parents from the earliest years, derided as petty bourgeois those who, speaking of biological ties, did not love all children as their own. A radical pamphlet, probably written by Sabsovich, insisted that “one of the first results of the socialization of our education must be that children shall not live with their parents. From . . . birth they are to be in special children’s homes in order to remove them . . . from the harmful influence of parents and family. We ought to have special children’s towns.”

For the majority of Communists these were unwelcome fantasies. [Lenin’s wife, and revolutionary leader] Krupskaia pronounced the dominant reaction to such “leftist” ideas about the family. “Men and women workers are right to refuse to give their children to children’s towns. Socialist education must be organized so that parents and teachers both can take part in it.” There is reason to think that Lenin wished to see an end to individual housekeeping but not to the individual family. His famous conversation in 1920 with Clara Zetkin suggested as much. One Communist has insisted that Lenin, like Krupskaia… seizing upon Marx’s reference to a “higher form of the family,” inferred that the disappearance of the individual household meant not the end of marriage and the family but rather their transformation to a purified form free from [economic] considerations and patriarchal inequalities.” (Farnsworth, p. 155)

Kollontai eventually agreed with the prevailing Soviet position in the 1940s. Certain of her positions were adopted in modified form. In the 20s she had belonged to the opportunist “Worker Opposition”, despite her disagreements with some of its leaders. The said opposition had called for a “producer congress” which would organize the economy free from the party or state. This was condemned as syndicalism.

The group’s other demands included universal suffrage in party organizations, for ending the NEP, for ousting bourgeois specialists, for proletarization of the party etc. These positions were ultra-left in the conditions of 1921, but Kollontai was satisfied when, under Stalin’s leadership, universal voting rights in the party were established in 1935, NEP was ended in 1928 and bourgeois specialists ousted, and the party proletarianized. For a more detailed discussion of these issues, a separate article is required.

The reason why “The loves of three generations” was attacked by critics is that it seemed to advocate complete moral nihilism, or at least did not denounce behavior that the entire Soviet establishment saw as deeply societally harmful. In the most infamous scene of the story Genia explains that she is having sex with her mother’s boyfriend Andrei. Genia considers this completely justifiable, feels absolutely no regret, feels absolutely no love or attachment towards Andrei either and sees it simply as a physical act:

“”But did you never think of me?” Olga Sergejewna had asked her. “You never thought of what I might think of your relations with Andrei?”

“‘But why should that make any difference? You wanted us to be friends. You were happy when you saw that I liked him and he liked me. Where is the border-line of friendship? Why should we be allowed to live together, to have good times together, and not to kiss one another? We have taken nothing that belongs to you. Andrei worships you as he always worshiped you. I have not taken a single spark of the feeling he has for you. That I kissed him…? Have you time for him,? Mother, surely you do not want to chain Andrei so firmly to yourself that he may not enjoy life while you are away! That is not love. That is a selfish desire for possession. Grandmother’s bourgeois training speaks in you there. That is unjust.””

Kollontai’s last fiction work was the novel A great love (1927), which actually tells about her affair with the menshevik economist Maslov in the early 1900s. Maslov was married while this took place. This is quite a depressive story with very little artistic merit. The story is fairly accurate of what really took place. Maslov, according to Kollontai, basically held misogynist and conservative views. In general Kollontai’s work is overly personal and seems rather more therapeutic for her, than art for the masses.

A rather strange myth has developed out of this story, however: “The story “A Great Love”… is often thought to be a depiction of the supposed relationship between Lenin and Inessa Armand, but it is actually a reflection on Kollontai’s own relationship with the Menshevik ideologue Maslov.” (Soma Marik, The Love of Worker Bees in Historical Context, p. 12)

The Merits of Kollontai’s Fiction

Kollontai’s fiction is extremely mixed. While the works (almost without exception) advocate for Soviet socialism and revolution, and can appeal to a certain section of the population, they cannot be considered socialist realism.

“Already in the Literary Encyclopedia, published in 1931, it was said about Kollontai: “K. builds a naive sociology of love of previous social formations, eventually establishing a “proletarian morality” … Essentially, K.’s ethical theories have nothing to do with proletarian morality. As an artist, K. is of no interest”.” (Antonyuk, Ibid.)

Kollontai’s fiction works became quite popular in pre-revolutionary China and other countries, shaking the pillars of bourgeois morality and bourgeois society. While this did not have an unambiguously positive effect, they did stimulate the intellectual revolt of those times, at least in limited intelligentsia circles.

The works are not entirely without value even today, but they have glaring problems, on top of not forming a substantial artistic corpus, but only a relatively small number of works by someone who was primarily not a fiction writer. The works were published largely in the 20s, but also re-published or even re-translated in the west by bourgeois anti-communists, with slanderous introductions added to the texts in an attempt to turn Kollontai into an anti-marxist and anti-Soviet “dissident”.

Despite the criticisms of Kollontai’s fiction and some of her theories, she was a dedicated and heroic revolutionary, a theoretician with a long career, not free from errors but also rich in successes, a legendary diplomat and fighter for peace and women’s liberation, awarded with the Order of Lenin in 1933 and Order of the Red Banner of Labour in 1945.

Kollontai in 1952


*Dybenko was expelled from the party in the Lenin era and charged with treason and to be court martialed, due to his sabotage of the Brest-Litovsk treaty, but the charge was dropped and he was accepted back during the civil war. He was later expelled again and charged with treason again, this time for real, and executed.


10 worst mass killers, regimes and dictators

Naturally this list is subjective to an extent, and probably contains some mistakes and things that I missed. However, I think the top 3 are somewhat obvious and its no great surprise why I chose the regimes and dictators that I did. My criteria was their death toll, their reactionary power and influence, and also their plans and the resulting death toll, even if some of those plans were not fulfilled.

10. Mussolini

The fascist dictator of Italy. He came to power in a coup in 1922 supported by the large capitalist companies, the monarchy and the Vatican. His supporters assassinated the socialist leader Matteotti* and he launched a reign of unmitigated terror. Mussolini suppressed all democratic strivings and used relentless demagogy to try to fool the masses into believing that his fascist system was a “classless society” where workers and capitalist billionaires both work together as equals. Needless to say, the capitalists were in power and got all the profits, while the workers suffered oppression.

*A reformist, but exceptionally a firm anti-fascist

On behalf of the imperialist capitalist class of Italy, Mussolini launched the rapid militarization of the economy. Politics became dominated by nationalist and expansionist rhetoric and goals. Italy intervened in Spain in 1936-38, invaded and conquered Ethiopia in 1936 and Albania in 1939, to turn them into Italian colonies and to enslave their peoples. Communists and other national liberation fighters waged a resistance struggle against fascist colonialism.

The outstanding Italian communist Antonio Gramsci died in Mussolini’s prison.

Mussolini joined the anti-comintern pact with Nazi Germany and joined Hitler’s invasion of the USSR. Mussolini was finally overthrown in 1943. He escaped to the Nazi puppet territory of Saló, but was captured by anti-fascist Partisans and executed by military tribunal in 1944.

9. Syngman Rhee and his successors

Son of an aristocrat, related to Korean royalty. Rhee studied first in an American school setup by Christian missionaries. He then received an elite education in the USA (with degrees from George Washington University, Harvard, and Princeton).

After Korea was liberated from Japanese colonialism by the Korean national liberation movement and the Soviet army, two rival Korean governments emerged: the legitimate people’s government, which included communists and other democratic and patriotic liberation fighters, and the American puppet government.

Originally the USA banned the people’s government in southern Korea, confining it to northern Korea, and established the American military occupation government which lasted from 1945-48. After this the USA created the South Korean puppet government, headed by Syngman Rhee as dictator.

The puppet government was deeply unpopular, being merely a veiled form of foreign American occupation. The Korean people desired unification of their country. The puppet government utilized Japanese colonial officials, supported feudal economic relations and was not in touch with the people.

Syngman Rhee’s government constantly sent invasion forces to attack villages in North Korea and provoked the Korean War. However, his government began collapsing immediately when the war started, due to its unpopular corrupt nature. His fascist dictatorship was only saved by American invasion troops. To enslave the population, Syngman Rhee’s forces and American troops conducted mass killings where hundreds of thousands of suspected communist and national liberation sympathisers were killed. Huge crowds of civillians were killed with machine guns.

In the Jeju uprising against Syngman Rhee and the following persecution by the fascists, 10% of the local population died. In the notorious Bodo League Massacre, Americans and Korean fascists killed 200,000 civilians. Millions of Koreans died in the Korean War and Northern Korea was bombed to complete ruins. All this only to protect Rhee’s fascist puppet government, to protect capitalism and American imperialism.

Rhee’s government was forced to resign by a popular movement in 1960, but it didn’t overthrow South Korea’s fascism. Leftist, communist and pro-unification parties continue to be illegal in South Korea. Leftist and pro-unification propaganda continue to be illegal. After his overthrow Rhee fled to the United States.

8. Suharto and the CIA’s anti-communist massacres in Indonesia

Suharto is on this list for his participationg with the CIA, in the killing of up to a million communists in Indonesia in order to prevent a revolution and liberation of the people. Other leftists, ethnic minorities and atheists were also targeted. The killings were carried out by the army and paramilitaries.

The killers had been to a large extent trained by the CIA. According to declassified documents the CIA knew about the mass killings, had its own plan to “liquidate” the leftist president Sukarno who had communist sympathies.

“The US also provided covert material support for the killings. Telegrams released by the US State Department in 2001 revealed that in October 1965, the US had supplied telecommunications equipment to the military to facilitate its attack, while in December it transferred Rp 50 million to the military-sponsored Kap-Gestapu death squad.”

“US officials co-opted media outlets to actively spread military propaganda accounts of the killings both inside and outside Indonesia. This propaganda account described the killings as the result of a spontaneous uprising by “the people””

7. Churchill

Son of a Lord and a descendent of Dukes, Churchill served early in his career as a colonial official for the British empire and later as a leader of the conservatives. In his early career he wrote vitriolic attacks against communism and made anti-semitic remarks towards them. During this period he also voiced admiration for Mussolini’s fascism.

Churchill was a consistent supporter of the British empire. This is why he eventually started to oppose the policy to appease Hitler. He saw Hitler as a dangerous rival and realized Hitler couldn’t be stopped without the Soviet Union. Churchill still held secret negotiations with the Nazis. He delayed the opening of the 2nd front in WWII which would’ve helped the Soviets. Only when the Soviets were starting to win even without a 2nd front, did Churchill’s government support opening it.

Churchill made positive remarks about the Soviet Union during the war, but they all proved to be cynical and dishonest. He deserves a spot on this list because he was a forceful supporter of the bloodiest British colonialism. He considered Indian people to be animals without rights, he instigated the terrible famine in Bengal which killed millions by taking food from the locals to feed Great Britain. He launched the Cold War with his slanderous and demagogic speech in Fulton.

Churchill had wanted to invade the Balkans in WWII but the rapid advance of the Soviets and anti-fascist liberation struggles prevented it. He still desired world conquest. He came up with a plan to launch world war III, by re-arming Nazi soldiers and uniting with all the Western capitalist countries to invade the Soviet Union. Luckily the bloodthirsty plan of this maniac was not carried out.

6. Leopold II of Belgium

Leopold II, the king of Belgium is notorious for his colonialist policies. In the Belgian colony of Congo, he ruthlessly exploited the population for profits. The population was forced to cultivate rubber and those who failed to deliver, were beaten, tortured, had their limbs cut off, or were killed. As many as 10 million natives were killed in this way.

A few (dis)honorable mentions:

Nicholas II of Russia: the Tsar of Russia, also known as “Nick the bloody”. He kept the people in total darkness and oppression, tried to suppress all democratic, progressive and scientific strivings, banned all workers parties and their publications. His rule was characterized by decay and stagnation. He waged many failed wars to enlarge his empire: the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, WWI etc.

His soldiers carried out countless massacres of workers, most famous being the Lena gold field massacre, where hundreds of striking workers were killed, and the Bloody Sunday Massacre of 1905, which sparked the 1905 revolution by firing and using swords on unarmed demonstrators. He sponsored the anti-semitic far-right thugs, the “black hundreds”, who terrorized workers and minorities.

Augusto Pinochet: Fascist dictator of Chile. He overthrew the socialist president Allende in a violent coup, and launched a campaign of terror. This was done in collaboration with the CIA and American imperialism. He launched a free-market restoration in Chile which caused mass misery, and was praised by American and British leaders. Pinochet’s torturers are notorious for their gruesome methods.

C. G. Mannerheim: Finnish white guard leader. He served the Tsar as an officer and had monarchist views. In 1918 he led the whites in the Finnish civil war, committing countless mass killings. Mass graves of his victims exist in nearly every Finnish town, even small towns. Out of the 80,000 reds imprisoned in the white terror, almost half died, either due to mass executions or due to terrible prison conditions, such as deliberate starvation. In WWII he collaborated with Hitler.

Stepan Bandera: Ukrainian fascist leader who committed mass killings against Jews and other ethnicities. He is revered by the government of modern day Ukraine as a hero.

5. Chiang Kai-shek

Fascist dictator and leader of the nationalist Kuomingtang (KMT) party. The KMT was originally a leftist, democratic revolutionary party led by dr. Sun Yat-sen, but Chiang turned it into a far-right fascist party of rich capitalists and landlords.

In 1927 Chiang carried out a coup and established his fascist dictatorship, which lasted for more than 20 years. The KMT had been allies of the communists in the national independence revolution and against feudal warlords, but Chiang betrayed the alliance, carrying out huge massacres against communists and all progressive people.

During the ensuing Chinese civil war, Chiang launched five extermination drives against the communists. His actions, including total blockade of the communist territories, terror, and even deliberate flooding of large regions, killed tens of millions of people.

When Japan invaded China, Chiang refused to effectively resist Japan. He persecuted patriotic anti-Japanese activists. Even after he was forced (almost at gun point) to join with the communists in resisting the Japanese invaders, he did so reluctantly, still continuing to blockade communist territories and betraying them at every turn.

Chiang’s KMT prevented land reform and allied with feudalists everywhere. He also started forming close ties with American imperialism. After Japan’s defeat he restarted the civil war, but lost due to the overwhelming unpopularity of his regime. He had killed tens of millions, prevented the economic and cultural development of his country, betrayed his country to the invading Japanese, became a puppet of US imperialism and supported everything reactionary from fascism to corrupt warlords who kept peasants virtually as serfs or slaves.

After his total defeat in 1949 Chiang fled with his remaining troops to Taiwan, where he established himself with the military and financial support of the USA.

4. Hirohito and militarist Japan

In Japan feudalism was replaced by semi-feudal militarist-fascist capitalism. The Japanese imperialist capitalist class launched a rapid militarization of the economy, so that they could fund their economic development by plundering and conquering other nations, and establish an empire.

“Imperialist Japan’s further aggressive designs were set forth in blunt terms in a memorandum drawn up by the head of the Japanese cabinet, General Tanaka, in 1927. “To conquer China,” the memorandum stated, “we must first conquer Manchuria and Mongolia. To conquer the world, we must first conquer China. If we are able to conquer China, India and also the South Seas countries will fear us and capitulate before us. The world will then understand that East Asia is ours and will not dare to dispute our rights…. Having gained possession of all of China’s resources, we shall proceed to the conquest of India and the South Seas countries, then to the conquest of Central Asia, and, lastly, Europe.” (Liberation Mission of the Soviet Armed Forces in the Second World War by A. A. Grechko, p. 371)

With the advent of militarist-fascism even the limited bourgeois democratic rights were abolished. All political parties were dissolved in 1940. Ruthless terror was waged against communists and all democratic and progressive forces. People were kept in semi-feudal exploitation.

The Japanese militarists invaded Manchuria and rest of China in the 1930s, attacked the Soviet Union in 1938 and had plans to conquer territories from it. They also joined the anti-comintern pact with fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Besides Manchuria, the Japanese militarists also imposed colonial exploitation on Koreans and many other peoples. They advocated racist theories about Japanese racial superiority and treated other nations as cattle, killing them in cruel ways such as using them as practice targets, burying or burning them alive. Japanese militarists were even extremely cruel against their own wounded soldiers.

The Japanese militarists are notorious for their huge massacres, war crimes and acts of genocide, such as the rape of Nanking. They took hundreds of thousands of males for slavery and women for sex slavery. The Japanese secret unit 731 conducted experiments to develop biological weapons, including weaponised bubonic plague. They carried out lethal and grotesque experiments on unwilling prisoners. Heroic soviet scientist Magdalena Petrovna Pokrovskaya created the worlds first truly effective anti-plague vaccine in 1934, and against direct orders she tested it on herself in order to speed up the development of the drug. She did this, because she suspected the Japanese were attempting to weaponise the plague.

Japanese militarist-fascism came to an end due to the crushing blows dealt to it by the national resistance in China, Korea, Vietnam and elsewhere, its losses to the USA, and its land army being crushed in Manchuria by the Soviet forces. The Japanese Empire at its height had included the southern half of Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, the Pescadores, Korea, the Bonin Islands, the Kwantung protectorate in Manchuria, and the island groups held as mandates from the League of Nations (the Caroline Islands, Marshall Islands, and Mariana Islands. In the early years of the war, Japan had conquered vast new territories, including a large part of China, South-East Asia, the Philippines, and the Dutch East Indies.

The death toll of Japanese militarism is in the tens of millions. After being occupied by the USA, Japan was turned into an American imperialist military base.

3. The British Empire

The British empire was the largest empire in history. Its development is linked with the development of capitalism. British colonialism created the conditions and speeded up the accumulation of capital for capitalism. This took place through huge theft of natural riches, massive taking of slaves, conquering and enslaving countless nations, and even exterminating or nearly exterminating entire nations.

The death toll of the British empire is well over a 100 millions. It conquered and suppressed the independence of nations all over the world, in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Americas and elsewhere. It created capitalist development in Europe, but hindered and distorted the development in conquered territories. The situation can only be remedied by national resistance struggles against imperialism in all the oppressed regions, and establishment of world socialism and communism.

Even in the 20th century Great Britain tried its best to suppress the national liberation of India, various nations in Africa and the Middle East, and has clung to Ireland tooth and nail. The Irish succeeded in freeing a portion of their country, but Great Britain has used extreme violence and continues to use terror and deception, to prevent the independence of Northern Ireland.

Such British atrocities in Ireland include the execution of the leaders of the 1916 independence struggle, the Bloody Sunday massacre in 1972 when paratroopers shot at protesters, the hunger strike in 1981, when political prisoners demanded their rights, and instead of accepting it the prison authorities and the government allowed 10 prisoners to starve to death, including Bobby Sands who was elected a parliament member during his imprisonment.

Although the British Empire is technically no more, as it lost most of its influence and colonies after WWII, Great Britain still continues to be a powerful imperialist country, which intervenes militarily into its old colonies, has attempted and somewhat succeeded in economically subjugating them, and takes part in crimes against humanity with other imperialist powers such as the USA.

2. Hitler and Nazi Germany

Supported by the biggest capitalists, bankers and weapons manufacturers Hitler’s Nazi party gained some electoral popularity. The party relied on deceptive demagogy, trying to get popularity both from nationalism, socialism and anti-semitism. After being made chancellor by Hindenburg, Hitler staged a coup and established a fascist terroristic regime.

Hitler immediately started the militarization of the economy and rapid preparations for wars of conquest. He did this on behalf of German capitalists. Germany had lost its colonies after WWI and needed new markets. The massive state contracts for armaments helped this problem temporarily, but long term the issue was supposed to be solved by colonialism. Hitler particularly wanted to enslave Russia. His plan also included extermination of entire nations, such as the Jews.

Western imperialist powers appeased Hitler and wanted him to attack the Soviet Union. They allowed him to conquer the Sudeten lands, Czechoslovakia, Austria and even attack Poland without doing anything. Only when Hitler invaded France and England to rid himself of rival imperialists did the Western powers begin fighting him.

The Soviet Union was the only world power that consistently opposed Hitler, fighting him in Spain, opposing the destruction of Czechoslovakia, opposing the conquest of Austria etc. Hitler created the anti-comintern pact specifically to destroy the USSR. However, the Nazi invasion of the USSR failed and Hitler’s regime collapsed under powerful blows from the Soviet army.

The Nazis carried out deliberate mass murder on an industrial scale. In the holocaust they killed at least 6 million Jews, and also millions of other minorities, communists and anti-fascists. The holocaust is considered probably the most notorious mass killing in history, and for good reason. However, Nazi crimes go beyond that. The invasions they started killed tens of millions.

In the Soviet Union alone, the Nazis killed more than 10 million soldiers and more than 15 million civillians. Countless villages were burnt and the population exterminated or taken into slavery. These actions were all done in order to turn the Soviet Union into a colony, and to get slaves for German capitalists. The Nazis also propped up murderous puppet dictators in numerous countries: Horthy and Szalasi, Tiso and Nedich, Bandera and Antonescu etc. etc.

Hitler’s death toll reaches tens of millions, and had he not been stopped by the Soviets, he would’ve killed many many more.

1. US imperialism and colonialism

The United States began as a settler colonial project. The European colonists exterminated indigenous tribes in order to steal their lands. The extermination was done by warfare, by deception, by deliberately spreading diseases to the natives, by confining the natives into ghettos or “reservations”, by forcibly sterilizing them, by forcibly converting them to christianity and trying to destroy their culture.

Rich settlers began bringing African slaves to work the land. The United States eventually conquered some foreign colonies, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the Philippines, Cuba etc. but it mainly relied on internal colonialism: by bringing foreign slaves and exploiting them in colonial fashion on American soil. Slavery and plunder was used to create the capital for American capitalism.

Even after the slaves had been freed, many of them were forced to remain as share-croppers, working for their previous masters. The African Americans were still utterly without rights, and racial segregation remained in force in the United States until the late 20th century.

In its racial segregation and bloody colonialism the United States continued the same path as the murderous British colonial empire and Hitler’s Germany. Black people were frequently lynched in the USA in SS fashion, and the modern American police force continues this tradition.

The workers’ movement and all democratic movements have always been persecuted by American reactionary rulers. There have been numerous “red scares”, where the government has used death squads such as the Pinkertons, and fascist terror such as McCarthyism against leftists, anti-war activists and communists.

The American reactionary government has always supported unscientific obscurantism, eugenics and racist pseudoscience, denial of darwinism, denial of climate change and supported religious fundamentalism. To an extent this continues to our era.

The USA has become the most powerful imperialist state in history. It has waged so many aggressive and genocidal wars it would take too long to list them, but the Korean war in the 50s, the Vietnam war in the 60s and 70s, the countless invasions into South America, the invasion into Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are some of the worst.

In its wars the USA also continues the tradition of Hitler. In the Vietnam war the American imperialists relied on burning countless villages to the ground, creating huge ‘dead zones’ to hunt down the Vietnamese rebels, used chemical weapons, and killed as many civillians as possible as a deliberate plan to exhaust and exterminate the Vietnamese nation.

“By 1967, South Vietnam had been so utterly devastated by the massive attacks, that it was threatened with extinction as a cultural and historical entity, along with its environment. After the they could not break the NLF by war, the US shifted more and more into trying to break the population. The CIA reported that in the bombings of North Vietnam, 4 out of 5 of the victims were civilians. It was even considered to starve the North Vietnamese to the negotiating table, by long-term destroying their food economy.

The 1968 Tet offensive – conducted almost entirely by South Vietnamese NLF forces – proved that the US wasn’t winning this part of the war either. By then US forces were suffering a severe loss of morale. After Tet, the US however still had the power to undertake an ‘accelerated pacification campaign’, really a mass-murder operation that killed tens of thousands and destroyed much of what was left of the country.” (US Humanitarian Narratives to justify the Vietnam War, p. 6)

“Murder, torture, rape, abuse, forced displacement, home burnings, specious arrests, imprisonment without due process were virtually a daily fact of life during the war in Vietnam. They were no aberrations, they were the necessary outcome of deliberate policies, dictated at the highest level of the military (and the government).” (p. 8)

“To quote a Vietnamese villager’s perception of the US military: “If a gunner saw anyone, even a woman or a small child or a water buffalo, he blew them apart.”” (p. 10)

“Entire cities were treated as free-fire zones. In the streets, everyone was fair game.” (p. 10)

“More than 60% of army officers said in a survey in 1969 that they would use torture or threaten so during interrogations. Most of the time, officers directly ordered soldiers to carry out crimes such as the burning of villages. In Quang Ngai district, 70-80% of homes had been wiped out. Even” (pp. 12-13)

In its later wars the USA deliberately targets civillians with air strikes, and creates “black sites”, secret prison camps where political prisoners are tortured with the most inhuman methods.

The USA has created the most powerful secret police in world history: the CIA and its various supporting organizations. In Europe the CIA recruited Gestapo and Nazi agents, for example the ‘Gehlen organization’. The CIA has been responsible for countless attacks on different countries. It trained guerrilla and sabotage groups to attack all socialist countries in Europe, it has been involved in countless coups in the Middle East and Latin America.

The number of slaves and natives killed by the USA may be as many as 100 million. The death toll of American imperialist wars is tens of millions: millions killed in Korea, millions killed in Vietnam, possibly several millions killed in Iraq, hundreds of thousands killed in other invasions and regime change operations.


British empire killed 165 million Indians in 40 years: How colonialism inspired fascism,mortality%20crises%20in%20human%20history.

About Chiang Kai-shek you can read e.g. books by Edgar Snow and William Hinton. You can find them under the “China” section here.

How South Korea started the Korean War (video)

“Falsifiers of History” by Soviet Information Bureau (Audiobook) (Text)

US Humanitarian Narratives to justify the Vietnam War

History of the Hungarian People’s Republic (PART 10: Revolution in Culture)


“the government’s new written constitution… came into effect on the 20 August 1949, the traditional national holiday in honour of St. Stephen [Hungary’s first ruler], now referred to as ‘constitution day’… Of the 67 proposed amendments to the constitution, six were incorporated into its final form… The constitution also increased the autonomy of the administration and thus prepared the way for the introduction of a system of Soviets which was officially introduced through Law 1 of 1950.” (Hoensch, pp. 193-194)

The new constitution “came into effect on 20 August 1949, intentionally coinciding with the traditional St. Stephen’s Day, renamed Constitution Day… public debates were staged on the draft, and six of the sixty-seven proposed amendments… were incorporated.” (Bennett Kovrig, Communism in Hungary: from Kun to Kādār, p. 253)

“In order to ensure and develop the rights gained by our working people, we created the Constitution of the Hungarian People’s Republic which states: “In the Hungarian People’s Republic all power belongs to the working people,” and that the State of the Hungarian People’s Republic “fights against every form of exploitation of man, and organises the forces of society for Socialist construction.” This Constitution ensures the right of the working people to work, leisure and culture, ensures equal rights to women in every field, and opens wide the gates of development to youth.” (Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party)


The western capitalist countries had propped up the Horthy fascist dictatorship, which had kept the Hungarian people in ignorance and oppression. Their goal in supporting Horthy had been to prevent revolutions and to isolate the USSR:

“The French, through a series of fragile alliances, established a cordon sanitaire as a rampart against… Bolshevik political penetration. For this cordon to be effective, it was essential that the social and political systems in the region remain stable lest a major upheaval opened the road to revolutionary change. Thus France, and in time Great Britain, gave its tacit support to the semi-feudalistic order that obtained in most of those countries [countries of Eastern Europe]. The result was virtual economic stagnation; industrialization was slow and the pressure on cultivable land increased, creating a large [landless] agricultural proletariat.” (Eric Roman, Hungary and the victor powers, 1945-1950, p. 2)

Horthyist Hungary had an “ossified feudal system” (Roman, p. 3)

“before World War II, Hungary’s educational system… was… archaic, inequitable, and restrictive… for centuries education had been vested in the hands of the Christian churches, especially the Roman Catholic church… and until 1948 [the churches] continued to exercise great influence.” (Randolph L. Braham, Education in the Hungarian People’s Republic, p. 9)

The Horthyist “educational system was basically restrictive and inequitably selective. For example. Law No. XXV of 1920 and Law No. XIV of 1928 (the so-called numerus clausus laws) limited the admission of Hungarian citizens of Jewish faith… The composition of the student body in general was not correlated with that of the country: the number of students of peasant and working-class background was extremely limited. These inequities were eliminated, however, in the post-World War II period” when Horthy had been overthrown. (Braham, pp. 21-22)

“During the Horthy era (1919-44), kindergarten education, like all other levels of education in Hungary, acquired certain patriotic-chauvinistic overtones.” (Braham, p. 43)


Number of students

Under Horthy “Nearly a million people over the age of six were not able to read or write. The elimination of illiteracy made little progress. The children of peasant and working-class families were able to finish four or, at most, six grades of primary school… only 4 per cent of the gymnasium students came from the families of workers and peasants, and in the colleges and universities the figure was only 3.5 per cent.” (Ervin Pamlényi, A History of Hungary, p. 506)

“before World War II many children of the plains were unable to go to school. Now, however, boarding schools have been established in the villages so that the long distances will not prevent farm children from getting an education.” (Marianna Norris, Young Hungary; children of Hungary at work and at play, p. 42)

“At present, the number of students in our universities and colleges is three times as large as under Horthy, and we can proudly point out that in this respect we have left far behind developed capitalist countries like Britain, France and Holland.
Behind the rapid increase in the number of the intelligentsia lies a real cultural conquest of the country. Today, the majority of university students come from those strata which, though representing the overwhelming majority of the nation, were as good as excluded from higher education ten years ago… We are not yet fully aware ourselves of the new opportunities, of the vast perspectives opened up to the intelligentsia by the cultural revolution of the past few years, the like of which are unprecedented in the lives of our people.” (Rakosi, Speech Delivered at the Election Rally of the Hungarian People’s Independence Front in Budapest on May 10, 1953)

“One of the great revolutionary achievements of this period was that of opening the doors of the secondary schools, colleges and universities to peasant youth. In 1937-1938 only 314 young poor peasants attended secondary schools and only 93 attended colleges or universities. By 1952-1953, 30,600 attended secondary schools and 8,225 were in the colleges and universities.” (Henrik Vass, Studies on the History of the Hungarian Working-Class Movement (1867-1966), p. 335)

“Enrollment in higher schools of education in 1937-1938 was 11,747, in 1949-1950 the number rose to 23,247 and in 1955-1956 to 45,431. From 1938 to 1955 the number of engineers increased from 11,409 to 19,200, that of physicians from 10,590 to 14,153 and of teachers from thirty to sixty thousand. Before the Liberation, young people of worker and peasant origins made up only 3 to 4 per cent of university students, while by 1955-56 this rose to 50 per cent.” (Vass, p. 339)

“While in 1938 only 34,000 pupils completed the eight form of primary school, in 1955 there were 98,000 pupils in the eight form of primary school. The number of college and university students rose from 11,700 in 1938 to nearly 31,000 in 1955/56.” (The Counter-Revolution in Hungary in the Light of Marxism-Leninism, Gyula Kállai, p. 6)
“By awarding grants the government attempted to increase the number of students from workers’ and peasant families, who made up only 5 per cent of the total student population. It also encouraged prospective students to take up the study of the natural sciences.” (Hoensch, p. 198)

“higher education expanded overnight five times.” (Stone, p. 412)

“The number of students at university or enjoying higher education rapidly multiplied, and the government hoped that this was the best investment for the future. Half the students lived on grants, often awarded to them because of their working-class background, and hostels were built to house them. There were special Party schools for the clever, and admission there guaranteed bright prospects… Among the intellectuals… the Party also found much support… Some had been shocked by what they had experienced of fascism and were equally convinced that communism would bring about a just society.” (Pryce-Jones, p. 40)

Example of this support from the best intellectuals include such people as Zoltain Kodaly, and the most respected bourgeois historian of Hungary, Gyula Szekfű, who went to the side of the communists:

“After 1945 Szekfü wholeheartedly sided with the new regime and during the crucial period of the Communist take-over between January 1946 and September 1948, he even held the post of Hungarian ambassador to the Soviet Union. In 1947 he published an anthology entitled After the Revolution, in which, after censuring the Horthy regime and the persecution of the Jews, he sang the praises of the Soviet system with special emphasis on Stalin, whom he called “the object of highest esteem and love”. The Soviet people loved Stalin, he wrote, because they knew that in his simple way of life, almost like a “hermit yesterday, today and tomorrow”, he worked for their welfare.” (Paul Lendvai, The Hungarians, p. 159)

“Szekfü suddenly became an ideologist of the “Left , going in 1945-48 as far as it was possible to go, outside the official Communist party, in support of Soviet policy.” (Béla Menczer, A commentary on Hungarian literature, pp. 115-116)

“Educational reforms in the period of intensive socialization achieved a reduction in illiteracy to negligible levels.” (Kovrig, The Hungarian People’s Republic, p. 54)

“the network of people’s colleges (nepi kollegiumok)…* offered a genuine possibility for social advancement. The people’s college movement was well received in the countryside and brought the Party closer to the country people” (Zinner, p. 76)

*The People’s College movement was a relatively loose movement influenced by communism and left-wing peasant populism. The movement spread basic education to the masses but was often spontaneous rather then academic. The titoist Rajk was influential in this movement. When the working class fully consolidated its state power, there was no longer any reason to maintain a separate non-state system of schools such as the People’s Colleges. Instead, the People’s Colleges were integrated into and replaced by a systematic education system. There were some peasant populists (especially right-wing) and Titoists who demanded that the movement must not become part of the national education system, must not follow the objectives of the state or the guidance of the Communist Party. Those people turned into a reactionary force opposing socialist construction and instead advocating petit-bourgeois ‘peasant romanticism’ and nationalism. (Cf. Bennett Kovrig, Communism in Hungary: from Kun to Kādār, pp. 240-242 & endnote on the People’s Colleges in Josef Revai, “Lukacs and Socialist Realism”)

During Socialism “East European states guaranteed women’s full employment and invested vast resources in their education and training.” (Kristen R. Ghodsee, Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism, p. 31)

“The instructors constantly encouraged the students in this manner: “Speak up, comrades ! Tell us frankly if you have problems, if there is something you don’t understand, or if there is something you don’t agree with!” Questions or disagreements never got anyone into trouble… If somebody had too many questions to ask and the questions all tended in one definite direction, he was judged to be a comrade who had “too many conflicts” or who was still burdened by “bourgeois influences,” or who was “a little difficult.” He was not punished for this failing. Nor was he removed from the school. On the contrary, more attention was paid to him than before.” (Aczel & Meray, pp. 50-51)

“Revai enumerated the statistics… The percentage of working-class in the secondary school has increased from 17 to 41. And we are only at the very beginning. In 1948, we had 600 village libraries; in 1950, 1,600. But, by the end of the Five-Year Educational Plan in 1954, we shall have 4,000. As against seventy-four Homes of Culture in 1949, we now have 1,000. By 1954, there will be 2,500.”” (Aczel & Meray, pp. 84-85)

“the Communists no doubt succeeded in bringing about a considerable increase in the number of young people who attended schools… enrollments in what are now called ‘universities’ were three times as large as they had been in 1938. The secondary schools also announced a considerable expansion, amounting in some instances to twice the size of their student bodies. The growth was particularly noticeable in so far as trade and agricultural secondary schools were concerned… whereas only four agricultural schools had been in existence in 1938, the number in 1951 was 55. This was a notable achievement… The number of young people in attendance at educational institutions beyond the elementary school is now greater than it has ever been in the history of Hungary” (Shuster, In Silence I speak, pp. 194-195)

During the first Five Year Plan “The number of secondary-school students had increased by more than 70 per cent , including those attending the evening and correspondence courses, enrolments in the higher educational institutes increased to 2.3 times the 1949 figure.“ (Nemes, p. 229)

“Similarly to the political and economic successes of our People’s Democracy, our cultural development too can look upon considerable results. This is true for every section of our cultural life. The number of pupils in our secondary schools is 83.3 per cent, higher than in the last year of peace. The number of university and secondary school students is nearly three times the 1938 figure. In 1950, books and pamphlets were published in sixty-three million copies. Investments in 1950 devoted to education and culture were 100.5 per cent, higher than in 1949. As a result of this development, new Socialist buds appeared in every branch of our culture.” (Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party)

New schools

“The Communists have added the following institutions: Academy of Heavy Industry, at Miskolc; Academy of Industrial Chemistry, at Veszprem; Academy of Transportation, at Szolnok; Architectural Academy, at Budapest; Agricultural Academy, Trade School (Academy of Domestic Trade), and Lenin University (until 1954, Lenin Institute), at Budapest; Academy of Agricultural (Agronomic) Engineering, at Godollo… the Budapest Language School and Bookkeeping School” (Ernst Helmreich, Hungary, p. 240)

“In the period after 1947, an impressive number of higher educational establishments, including vocational and technical schools, universities and technical faculties, were set up in record time… These institutions also offered evening courses and correspondence courses for anyone in full-time employment. In 1951, the selective awarding of grants supported 24,000 students in Hungary” (Hoensch, p. 198)

The policy of improving education was also demonstrated in “the completion of the new Technical University for Heavy Industry in Miskolcz, the Agricultural College in Godollo and the College for the Chemical Industry in Veszprem. In addition, a Department for Transport Studies was set up in Szeged and a Foreign Languages College established in Budapest. The party was also able to announce proudly that 57 percent of students and 68 percent of secondary school pupils already came from a working-class or peasant background.” (Hoensch, p. 199)

“In 1952, the Presidential Council marked the 60th birthday of Mátyás Rákosi by instituting the Mátyás Rákosi Study Medal of Merit and Study Scholarships for outstanding college and university students.”
(“Culture and education”, on the 1956 institute website)

Electrification, radio, cinemas

Communists started bringing culture to the countryside:

“From 1946, the primary instrument of rural popular education was a series of presentations called Free Land Winter Evenings (Szabad Föld Téli Esték, hereinafter: SzFTE). Within the framework of the SzFTE movement, educational presentations on current political issues and topics from various disciplines and branches of art were held in villages on Saturdays in winter. These educational presentations were sometimes enhanced with brief performances: short drama scenes, poetry recitals, song and dance productions… From 1947, SzFTE Books and Booklets, published weekly as part of the Free Land series, contained program materials and a short synopsis of political, scientific, historical, literary, or agricultural topics… Filmstrip (diafilm) was a frequently used visual aid in rural outreach.” (Ágnes Eitlereitler, “The “Re-Tuning” of János Arany’s Life and Work in the Popular Education of the 1950s”)

Under Horthy “cinema became one of the most important media of mass entertainment. But the majority of villages in Hungary—primarily as the consequence of a lack of electric power—were excluded from enjoying it.” (Pamlényi, p. 506)

During the first Five Year Plan “As a result of the enlargement of the cinema network, the number of cinema tickets sold doubled. Livelier publishing activity, the national increase in the number of libraries and cultural centres and other data also confirmed the great progress made in the sphere of culture.” (Nemes, p. 229)

“During this period the number of cinemas nearly doubled… The number of cinemagoers increased from 18.5 million people in 1935 to 116 million by the end of 1955.” (Kállai, p. 6)

“mention has to be made first of all of the electrification of about a thousand villages by the end of 1952, bringing them, in the fullest sense of the word, brightness and light. This was also a period when books, press, cinema and radio veritably conquered the villages. In 1949 there were 685 cinemas in our villages, while in 1952 there were as many as 2,084. The number of radio-subscribers rose from 162,000 in 1949 to 312,000 in 1953. The policy of the workers’ and peasants’ state with regard to public education, first of all the introduction of the eight grades of comprehensive elementary schooling, served, above all, to eradicate the cultural backwardness of the villages.” (Vass, p. 335)

Book publishing

“The growth of book publishing is also worth noting: in comparison to 8150 books published in 1938, in 1955 it was 17,500.” (Kállai, p. 6)

“Even after the first world war Hungary had over a million illiterate people… Between the two world wars publication activity in Hungary regressed both quantitatively and qualitatively, there were less scientific and professional works, and worthless literary trash won even more ground. Out of the 6,5 million books printed in 1938, 4,8 million (71,5 percent) can be considered pulp trash literature. Healthy development of publication activity was hindered by the political and social system of the time, which prevented the publication of progressive political and philosophical, as well as literary works. It is illustrative that the horthyist police stopped among other things the distribution of Diderot’s “Nature and society” [philosophic work from the 18th century]… because it perceived revolutionary views in the book. Obviously this system persecuted all publications of the workers’ movement, the works of communist writers and banned the publication of certain Hungarian writers such as the great proletarian poet Attila József… At the same time the system did all in its power to spread its fascist, nationalist and clerical ideology. A large part of progressive publications were distributed illegally and they were printed predominantly abroad.

After the liberation book publishing activity in Hungary has advanced enormously. As a result of the revolution in culture, the desire for reading has awakened in the wide masses of the people, and books have become a “necessity” for millions of people. This can be seen even in the increased number of books printed. In the last peace year before the liberation, 1938, 8156 books were published and the number of total printed copies was 17,3 million, while in 1958 15 156 books were published and the number of printed copies was 49 millions (both numbers include pamphlets)” (Halasz, pp. 240-241)

The democratization of society and the spread of education can also be seen from the fact that “In 1949, 176 of the 402 members of Parliament were workers, 115 were peasants and 71 were women. Between 1949 and 1953 almost 50 thousand physical workers were given high positions: they were appointed to lead firms and factories and held leading posts in the various ministries, in the armed forces, etc.” (János Berecz, 1956 counter-revolution in Hungary: words and weapons, p. 32)


Socialist Realism was encouraged in the arts:

“The minister of culture and chief ideologue, József Révai, told a congress of Hungarian writers in 1951 that literature was simply a weapon to defend the working classes and the “peace camp” and that socialist realism and dialectical materialism must go hand in hand in this battle. [Révai, “The Tasks of Hungarian Literature” (1951)]” (Kovrig, The Hungarian People’s Republic, p. 60)

“But the classics were hardly affected. Nor were the skills of artists such as surgeons, pianists, opera singers. Beethoven and Verdi were ‘progressive by the standards of their time’; so were Homer, Shakespeare, Walter Scott, Goethe, Dickens, Hugo, Balzac… In Hungarian classics there was practically a boom. They could be bought cheaply, in good editions, printed in good taste” (Ignotus, p. 216)

“The new post-war Hungary… was optimistically described as ‘an oasis of culture and liberty’.” (Alan Blackwood, The Hungarian Uprising, p. 22)

Along with socialist realism, all the best achievements of past culture were made available to the people for the first time:

“our theatres play the dramas of Moliere and Shakespeare… only recently a complete Hungarian edition of Racine’s dramas was published… we publish Balzac, present Shaw’s plays on the stage… we read Aragon, Eluard, Jack London, Mark Twain and Thomas Mann, and… we were present at the celebrations of Goethe and Anatole France.” (Revai, Lukacs and Socialist Realism, p. 1)

“Years ago in [capitalist] Hungary, culture was mainly for rich people. Today [in the People’s Republic] it is for everyone.” (Norris, p. 51)

“In the 1950s, the institutional system of popular education included a network of libraries and cultural centers, managed extensive outreach activities, played a significant role in book publishing, and published specialized periodicals. The new, socialist culture saw itself as originating from the people, built on the principle of ‘by the people and for the people.’ As József Révai said: “Socialist culture is popular culture, in literature, fine arts, and music alike. Socialist culture is oriented towards the people, creating for the people, and in its content and form, it is based on the tastes, language, everyday life, and great historical aspirations of the people”. Urban and rural popular education endeavors were given a public forum in the specialized periodicals of the Ministry of Popular Culture – Népművelési Híradó [Popular Education News] (1949-1953), Művelt Nép [Literate People] (1950-1956), and Népművelés [Popular Education] (1954-1956)” (Eitlereitler)

“Nowadays in Hungary, Hungarian classics are published regularly, and also such books which were not available in the past. Naturally there are large editions of novels, poetry, plays and other works of current socialist writers. In the past it was unimaginable that large editions of classics of world literature could be published and sold. But now, for example the entire 30 000 copy edition of the complete works of Shakespeare, was sold out in a few weeks. At the same time was printed and sold “Hamlet” in 50 000 copies and “Midsummer nights’s dream” in 45 000 copies. In Hungary in the period of ten years there have been published in Hungarian, works of Tolstoy in 335 000 copies, works of Balzac in 220 000 copies, Dickens in 100 000 copies, Gorky in 775 000 copies and Sholokhov’s “Virgin soil upturned”, an examplary work of socialist realism, in 12 editions, 153 000 copies in total.

As an example of the publication and sale of Hungarian classics, take the poems of Attila József. In 1936 when the poet was already a well known person, his poetry collection “It hurts a lot” sold only 120 copies. Since 1945 Attila József’s works have been printed and sold in 300 000 copies. Works of Endre Ady have been sold in 214 000 copies, Petöfi’s 679 000 copies and János Arany’s 774 000… Hungarian classic prose writers have achieved even higher numbers of sales: Zsigmond Móricz 1 985 000, Kálmán Mikszáth 1 407 000, Mór Jókai 1 280 000 and Ferenc Móra 722 000 copies.

Publication activity in Hungary pays great attention to current authors and helps young writers. In the course of 13 years, the works of Béla Illés have been printed in 1 278 000 copies, Ernö Urbán 359 000, Gyula Illyés 334 000, Pál Szabó 327 000, Jenö Józsai Tersánszky 300 000 and Sándor Rideg in 204 000 copies… These works – with exceptions – are new also in that their subject matter is modern day, they deal with real life issues…

In the current publishing activity of Hungary, well known progressive representatives of modern foreign literature have a significant part. The leading role is played by Soviet literature… Also new works by writers and poets from the neighboring people’s democracies are published regularly, as well as from China and Korea. Great attention is paid to modern western European and American writers. In Hungary new editions of Thomas Mann and Heinrich Mann are always being published. Bertolt Brecht is as popular on the stage as in books. Along with Aragon, Eluard, Camus, Sartre and Vercors, works by the younger generation of French authors are published… A collection called “Contemporary English story-tellers” in an edition of 12 000 copies was sold out in a few weeks. Works by Maugham, Hemingway, Dates, Graham Greene, Faulkner etc. have been published recently.” (Halasz, pp. 241-243)

“Kossuth Prize was the highest award given to writers actors, painters, sculptors, and musicians, as well as to scientists, engineers, doctors, and pedagogics, or even to workers and peasants… who achieved outstanding production records. The award included a large sum of money, country-wide celebration, and fame and glory. The winners had the right to add to their names the title of “Kossuth Prize-Winner” for as long as they lived.” (Aczel & Meray, pp. 44-45)

“Hundreds of scientists, artists, physicians, engineers and teachers have been awarded the Kossuth Prize, the highest recognition for good work. Our People’s Democracy by awarding these decorations has emphasised that it highly appreciates and respects the creative work of talented people.” (Rakosi, Speech Delivered at the Election Rally of the Hungarian People’s Independence Front in Budapest on May 10, 1953)

“Revai was not only a scholar, but a man who really loved and understood art and literature…. Revai’s articles and essays, and particularly those written during the war while he was in emigration or underground, belong to the treasures of the Hungarian, history of literature and historical research… His long essay on Kilcsey, one of the greatest Hungarian poets and thinkers of the nineteenth century, and his essay on Kossuth and on the 1848-1849 Hungarian Revolution, and his essay on Endre Ady, the foremost Hungarian poet of the twentieth century, are fine examples of analytical writing.”
(Aczel & Meray, pp. 82-83)

“[Revai said:] The victory of socialism is impossible without the solution of the problems of the cultural revolution. What does cultural revolution mean? It means that we have to turn hundreds of thousands of unskilled workers into skilled workers. It means tens of thousands of new and highly qualified experts. It means that we must raise the general educational level of our working people, that we must broaden the cultural and political horizons of tens and hundreds of thousands of state and economic and Party officials. It means that we must harness every means at our disposal to the service of the socialist re-education of our people: the school, agitation-propaganda, art, film, literature in fact, every form of the mass cultural movement. The cultural revolution is not mere schooling, or mere training, or mere political education. It is a composite of all these.” The young Communist writers were carried away by Revai’s zeal. They felt they were being allowed to share in a task which was really epoch-making. The semi-feudal, backward, hitherto uneducated country of Hungary would soon be a cultured socialist country.” (Aczel & Meray, p. 84)

Various events and celebrations discussed historic and contemporary artists. Birthdays and other anniversaries of artists were celebrated:

“Various institutions and societies (e.g., the National Council of Trade Unions, the Ministry of Popular Culture, the Hungarian–Soviet Society, the Union of Hungarian Youth) produced program booklets for these occasions. The programs of the festivities regularly included the performance of Soviet and Hungarian authors’ poems… There was an increased interest in the work of prominent writers and poets on the occasion of the anniversary of their birth or death.” (Eitlereitler)

Rakosi even mentioned Petöfi and Vörösmarthy in his report to the 2nd Party Congress:

“We are the rightful heirs, the straight continuation of all that which was progressive in our thousand years of history, of all which was vigorous and pointed to the future. That is why we could intimately and unitedly celebrate the centenary of the 1848 revolution, the birth of Vorosmarthy, the anniversary of the death of Petöfi”

Sander Petöfi, poet and revolutionary
Sandor Petöfi, revolutionary martyr and Hungary’s national poet

“’Socialist realism’ became the artistic norm. In Budapest and the other major cities the monumental Soviet style of architecture met with an enthusiastic reception from architects.” (Hoensch, p. 188)

“The exhibition named Towards Communal Art opened in the autumn [1948]… In the second half of 1949 a “cultural revolution” was launched in a bid to accomplish a Stalinist turn in art policies. Standing at the helm of the revolution was the newly established Ministry of Mass Education headed by József Révai, a powerful party chief who was to govern culture policies right until 1953. Playing a key role in mobilising artists was the state-run Association of Fine and Applied Artists founded on 24 September, 1949. The founding assembly proclaimed no less than “the artistic founding principle of the Association is socialist realism”. The Association was simultaneously ideological and meritocratic; while relentlessly pressing the official brand of socialist realism, it also welcomed well-respected older artists pursuing other styles. After launching such important new institutions as the Ministry and the Association, and revamping such other institutions as the art academies and the museums… [the communists] pressed on by replacing the country’s free art market by a state-run National Enterprise for Handling Works of Art. The first important duty of the Association was to stage a big, national exhibition. It opened ceremoniously on the first anniversary of the enacting of Hungary’s Stalinist Constitution, i.e. on 19 August, 1950. With the First Hungarian Art Exhibition the paradigm change in art history, i.e. the accomplishment of a “cultural revolution” was complete….

[In 1951] The Association first staged its thematic exhibition named Hungarian Soldiers for Liberty, and then, on 3 November another grand national socialist realist parade, the Second Hungarian Art Exhibition was launched.” (Gábor Rieder, A History of Hungarian Socialist Realist Painting 1949-1956 Ideology and Existence)


“dismissed Horthy officials and dispossessed land-owners, who sat along the boulevard cafes to reminiscence with their cronies about the “good old times” and speculate on how long they must still wait for the Americans to come and restore their estates and their jobs… The government has taken a tolerant view of those that only talk in cafes, but is sharp to pounce if there is any hint of action.” (Burchett)

“I was invited to dinner with a Hungarian family, to whom I shall give the name of Schwartz. Baron Schwartz had been a landowner before the first World War, but his estates lay in that part of Hungary which was given to Rumania. The baron as a token of changed times, dropped his title and was given a position in the Department of Agriculture. He served loyally under Horthy, under the Nazis, under Szalasi Fascists.

When it seemed the Germans would be defeated, Schwartz shipped his son off to Bavaria and as the Russian troops entered Hungary, took his wife and daughter and fled to Prague hoping to get further west and be “liberated” by the Americans.

But Prague was liberated by the Czechs themselves, the Russians got there before the Americans. Schwartz and family returned unwillingly to Budapest, having scattered most of their family possessions along the road in their hurried flight away from the Russians.

Instead of their previous large flat, they had to make do with two small rooms. Mr. Schwartz was invited to appear before a Public Service Commission like all other public servants to decide whether he could continue in his job at the Ministry of Agriculture or whether he could be dismissed. He refused to present himself, as he “knew” the Americans would be in Hungary within a matter of months…

The energetic and intelligent daughter got herself a job with the new government despite papa’s protests that she was compromising herself, and the family. Several jobs were offered Schwartz. He refused them all. Ever since his return from Prague he sits for most of the day in his pyjamas – and waits for the Americans. He does literally nothing, does not read a book nor a newspaper.

“If I take a job, under this government, I would be compromised,” he explained to me, “I would never get my old job again or my pay.”

“But who will ever give you your old job back?” I asked.

“When the Americans come, they will need all of us experienced officials of the old days. And, of course, the new government they set up will pay us back all the salary that has accumulated since 1945.”

Schwartz… sits in his armchair and waits for his daughter to bring home her month’s wages. He pockets the lot and daily doles out enough for her bus fares and one packet of cigarettes. The first salary after they became re-established went for a deposit on a radio set, so Schwartz could listen to the Voice of America and the B.B.C. in Hungarian… both he and his wife are learning English, in order to be ready for the day of “liberation.” He lives five minutes by bus from the centre of Pest, but has no conception of what miracles of reconstruction have been accomplished within a stone’s throw of his own flat. There are thousands of Schwartz’s type in the country, and their opinions on the temper of the people, their stupid little stories are valued like gold in the western legations. Solemn reports are drawn up about oppressions… on the basis of the armchair musings of Mr. Schwartz and his kind. They destroy the future of their own children if they can. Schwartz’s son has several times expressed the wish to return to Hungary instead of working as a house servant in Western Germany… he could start a new life, enrol in a training course and make himself a useful member of society. But Schwartz insists that he remain abroad and only return with the American Army!” (Burchett)

“If you want to see a museum of the past in Budapest, walk along Andrassy Street, which is the Champs Elysees of the city. There are hundreds of little cafes still flourishing here, crowded all day and night with well-dressed men and women sipping tiny cups of coffee, chattering endlessly, dramatically. They are the old Hungarian upper classes, former factory owners, land barons, playwrights, art critics, journalists, police agents, and church and state bureaucrats” (Michael Gold, The Worker, N. Y., July 9, 1950).


Jörg K. Hoensch, A history of modern Hungary

Bennett Kovrig, Communism in Hungary: from Kun to Kādār

Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party (text version) (audio version)

Eric Roman, Hungary and the victor powers, 1945-1950

Randolph L. Braham, Education in the Hungarian People’s Republic

Ervin Pamlényi, A History of Hungary*

Marianna Norris, Young Hungary; children of Hungary at work and at play

Rakosi, Speech Delivered at the Election Rally of the Hungarian People’s Independence Front in Budapest on May 10, 1953 (text version) (audio version)

Henrik Vass, Studies on the History of the Hungarian Working-Class Movement (1867-1966)*

Gyula Kállai, The Counter-Revolution in Hungary in the Light of Marxism-Leninism

Norman Stone, Hungary: A Short History

David Pryce-Jones, The Hungarian Revolution

Paul Lendvai, The Hungarians

Béla Menczer, A commentary on Hungarian literature

Bennett Kovrig, The Hungarian People’s Republic

Zinner, The Revolution in Hungary

Kristen R. Ghodsee, Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism

Thomas Aczel & Tibor Meray, The Revolt Of The Mind

Shuster, In Silence I speak

Dezső Nemes, History of the Revolutionary Workers Movement in Hungary: 1944-1962*

Ernst Helmreich, Hungary

“Culture and education”, on the 1956 institute website

Ágnes Eitlereitler, “The “Re-Tuning” of János Arany’s Life and Work in the Popular Education of the 1950s”

Zoltan Halasz, Unkari: kuvitettu tietoteos [“Hungary: an illustrated information book”]

János Berecz, 1956 counter-revolution in Hungary: words and weapons*

Paul Ignotus, Hungary

Alan Blackwood, The Hungarian Uprising

Jozsef Revai, Lukacs and Socialist Realism (text version) (audio version)

Gábor Rieder, A History of Hungarian Socialist Realist Painting 1949-1956 Ideology and Existence

Wilfred G. Burchett, Peoples’ Democracies

Michael Gold, The Worker, N. Y., July 9, 1950

*Pamlényi, Vass, Nemes and Berecz are kadarist historians. Their books contain a lot of good information but also wrongfully slander Rakosi and defend revisionism. You can find their books here under the “Hungary” section.

Also see my page on Hungarian revolutionary and progressive art, which is still being updated

Class struggle in Finland in 2022-23 – government outlaws nurse strikes


In 2022 and 2023 the living standard of the Finnish population has fallen. The social-democrat government has continued cuts to social programs and healthcare, has increased military spending, and has used repressive measures against workers.
Finland is a country suffering in the late stage of capitalism, imperialism. In the imperialist stage, mass unemployment has become a permanent phenomena.

The Finnish government has attempted to decrease unemployment numbers essentially by manipulation of statistics. According to the government statistical office “an employed person is someone who has worked at least one hour during the week in question” (see

With such low criteria for “employment”, they can surely eliminate mass unemployment? It is completely obvious that a person working for only 1 or few hours per week, cannot earn enough to survive, and cannot be considered employed.

The government also changed the way they report employment numbers. Employment figures are now calculated based on the employment of persons between 20 and 64, which eliminates 18 and 19 year olds from the statistic. By doing this, the government has achieved a 6% higher employment rate, although according to the statistical office there are “somewhat more unemployed than last year” (see

While billions have been systematically cut from healthcare, the Finnish government has spent a billion euros to arm Ukraine and has planned to spend approximately four billion during the course of 2022 and 2023 to support Ukraine further.
(Sources: Finland’s additional support to Ukraine and TKS #3/2023, Ktp tuomitsee Suomen Nato-jäsenyyden ja tukee työtätekevien palkkataistelua)

Finnish military spending was increased by 2 billion last year, on top of the new fighter jets which cost tens of billions, the new war ships which cost 2 billion and the provocative “wall” which Finland is building on its Russian border. (See and

While the people suffer from social problems such as mass unemployment, lack of healthcare and falling real wages, the government is stubbornly putting the people’s money into imperialist war-mongering and armaments on the instructions of Nato generals. They keep saying we as a society cannot afford healthcare, we cannot afford public services, we cannot afford retirement, we cannot afford care for the elderly, we cannot afford free university education and we certainly cannot afford better wages or working conditions: yet somehow we can afford all these imperialist weapons! The truth is, the government’s warlike imperialist policy is devastating the country.

Real wages have decreased by more than 4%. Largely as a result of the sanctions against Russia inflation has reached 10% and food prices have increased by 20%. The reformist social-democrat leadership of the Finnish industrial union accepted a wage increase of 5.5% over two years, which does not cover the losses suffered by the workers. Living standards and real wages will continue to fall. For context, “For example the wages in the technology and industrial field in Germany will rise by 8.5 percent in two years…” (TKS #2/2023 “The industrial union accepted a discount in real wages – wage struggle continues in other trade unions” [Teollisuusliitto hyväksyi reaalipalkkojen alen – palkkataistelu jatkuu muissa ammattiliitoissa])

Despite the capitulation of the Industrial Union, whose reactionary leadership also voiced support for the governments decision to join NATO, other unions have launched strikes. Practically the bureaucratic reformist social-democrat leadership has only accepted to do so, under heavy pressure from activists and ordinary members.



In 2020 the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals newspaper wrote:

“The situation is worsening even more in the social and healthcare field. Well-being at work has decreased somewhat further in the last 6 months, people are scared at work and nearly 90% are considering changing their profession. The covid pandemic period has been hard for the staff. Coercive measures have been used, but they have not been compensated… a number of coercive measures have been applied to health and safety professionals… 34% have had their annual holidays postponed, canceled or their duration changed, 23% have been transferred to another workplace or tasks and 16% say that the notice period [the time before you are allowed to quit your job~MLT] has been extended.

Respondents were also asked how the employer has compensated for the consequences of coercive measures. Almost all (97%) state that nothing deviating from the normal working conditions has been compensated for…

Almost half (48%) are actively planning a change of field, and a total of 88% have considered it. Only 23% of nurses believe that they will be able to cope with tasks in the health and social care sector until the end of their working career. There are big problems with the attractiveness of the field, and 64% would not go into the field if they were starting their studies now.” (Tehy: Broad survey: nothing about the pandemic has been compensated, an increasing amount are interested in choosing a different profession [Tehyn laaja kysely: Koronasta ei ole korvattu mitään, alan vaihto kiinnostaa yhä enemmän])


The situation had become intolerable in April 2022 when the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals (Tehy) and Finnish Union of Practical Nurses (SuPer) went on strike for 2 weeks. The strike included “approximately 25 000 nurses in 6 hospital districts”. They also started demonstrations in the cities of “Helsinki… Turku, Oulu, Tampere, Kuopio and Jyväskylä” (Tehy: Demonstrations by Tehy members started [Tehyläisten mielenilmaukset alkoivat])

The nurses complained of bad working conditions, exhaustion, shortage of workers etc. but mainly demanded higher pay. The employers did not accept the demand and instead used demagogic attacks against the nurses, as always happens. The nurses were attacked as “selfish” and “endangering patients”, although according to the nurses themselves, the patients are endangered every day by the lack of resources and exhaustion of the workforce, and the government and other employers have never cared about that.

“Tehy and SuPer confirmed the starting date of a second wave of strikes… 35 000 nurses in 13 hospital districts are planned to go on strike.” (Tehy: The first strike ends this friday – the second begins on April 20th [Ensimmäinen lakko päättyy perjantaina – toinen alkaa 20. huhtikuuta])


To crush the justified strike action of the nurses, the government quickly began preparing an emergency law to outlaw the strikes. The nurse unions responded in their declaration on April 4th:

“According to the nurse unions, the government’s proposal for a law on ensuring patient safety during the health care labor strike is a mockery of legislative work. The organizations state in their statement that the government’s proposal is based only on incorrect and unidentified information from the other side of the labor dispute about the inadequacy of the protection work [protection work means necessary measures that healthcare workers must take in order to protect patient’s during strikes~MLT]. The strike is legal, where sufficient protection for the patients is provided and the need for it is constantly negotiated. The country’s government is actually enacting a forced labor law against women [most Finnish nurses are women~MLT].

According to Tehy and SuPer, the patient safety law, which significantly interferes with the basic rights of employees, i.e. the right to strike action and personal freedom, and in practice leads to the breaking of the strike, should not be enacted…

– The only purpose of the Forced Labor Act is to break the legal labor struggle of nurses. This is the last straw for nurses. I have received a huge number of messages from members over the last night. Their main content is the statement that this is the last straw, why work in a profession that the policy makers in Finland hate so much, says Millariikka Rytkönen, chairman of Tehy

The organizations state in their declaration that several healthcare units such as intensive care units, operating rooms, etc. have had a very significant shortage of nursing staff for several years. Several shifts have been regularly run understaffed. The same situation has existed not only in specialized medical care but also in primary health care and services for the elderly. Under normal circumstances, the employer has not considered the shortage of nurses to be a factor endangering patient safety.

– Both political decision-makers and employers are aware of the level of patient safety during normal times. In everyday life, nurses are left to survive on their own, but when we try to improve the working conditions and pay in the industry by legal means, forced labor is the result, says SuPer’s chairman Silja Paavola…

Nursing organizations also criticize the process of drafting the law in harsh terms.
– Today, April 4, 2022, at 11:00 a.m., we were heard at an event where the legislator proposed forcing nurses to work. The invitation to the hearing arrived on Sunday, April 3, 2022 at 4:39 p.m. On Sunday, April 3, 2022, we only received the board’s draft presentation at 18:43 [the union had significantly less than a day to draft a response~MLT]. It is clear that with this schedule it is impossible to respond thoroughly and sufficiently comprehensively to such a large and important legislative project that affects basic rights, state Tehy’s executive director Else-Mai Kirvesniemi and SuPer’s advocacy director Anne Sainila-Vaarno… the representatives of the nurses whose basic rights are severely restricted are not even given adequate time to prepare an answer and be heard in the case.
– In a state governed by the rule of law, the law would not be enacted in this way, they say.” (Tehy and SuPer: Forced labor law should not be passed, the proposal includes several large problems [Tehy ja SuPer: Pakkotyölakia ei tule säätää, lakiesityksessä lukuisia isoja ongelmia])

“Tehy and SuPer announce that they are withdrawing their notice of strike action, which was issued on March 17, 2022. According to the announcement, the strike was supposed to start on April 1, 2022. Minister Tuula Haatainen postponed the start of the strike… by two weeks, so that there would be more time for mediation. Tehy and SuPer have voluntarily postponed the start of the strike after Easter, so that there would be enough time for mediation.

Despite Minister Haatainen’s transfer decision and Tehy’s and SuPer’s voluntary transfer, mediation activities have not resulted in more than one settlement proposal in more than six weeks. The settlement proposal of the national mediator would not have brought any kind of improvement to the salaries and working conditions of the nursing staff. In our opinion, the settlement proposal was of an even lower standard than the previous agreements…

During the mediation – even before the start of the first strike – a patient safety law has been prepared under the leadership of Minister Lindén… Minister Lindén has succeeded in making the nurses’ strike ineffective with their legislative actions. Because of this, the employer also has no desire to promote reconciliation.

We do not consider it expedient to start a strike, which the Minister of the Government has already rendered ineffective in advance.” (The announcement by Millariikka Rytkönen of Tehy and Silja Paavola of SuPer to the employers and the mediation board about the cancellation of the second phase of the strike [Tehyn Millariikka Rytkösen ja SuPerin Silja Paavolan ilmoitus työnantajalle ja sovittelulautakunnalle lakon toisen vaiheen perumisesta])

In August of 2022 the nurses again said they would strike in a more limited capacity in intensive and other specialized healthcare units the next month in the Turku University Hospital, Southern Helsinki homecare unit, Intensive care unit of Oulu University Hospital and the Oulu homecare unit. Approximately 20 nurses planned to strike in the region of Tavastia Proper and 200 in Southwest Finland.

The minister of labor Tuula Haatainen ordered the strike to be post-poned by two weeks. Apparently the minister of labor is allowed to do that. Practically every strike of the nurses, including the ones in April, was always post-poned by two weeks.

The hospital districts of Tavastia Proper, Southwest Finland, Northern Ostrobothnia demanded that the Helsinki district court prevent the strikes. As a result the court actually ruled against the nurses and on September 14th the unions were banned from starting the strikes in the cities of Hämeenlinna, Oulu and Turku. The court stated that if the ban was violated, the unions would have to pay a fine of one million euros per hospital district each.

The Finnish state media reported that:

“The District Court of Helsinki has accepted the demands of three hospital districts for a temporary security measure, which forbids the nurse unions Tehy and Super from starting a strike in the intensive care units of the hospital districts next week and the following week.” (The Helsinki district court prevented all the strikes of intensive care nurses in the coming weeks – the threatened penalty fines are six million euros [Helsingin käräjäoikeus kielsi kaikki tuleviksi viikoiksi kaavaillut tehohoitajien lakot – uhkasakkoja yhteensä kuuden miljoonan euron edestä])


After this fascistic measure one strike still took place in Oulu. The newspaper of the Communist Workers’ Party reported:

“The forced labor laws proposed by Marin’s five-party government and approved by the parliament have not discouraged the nurses’ unions Tehy and SuPer. Neither have the strike bans of the judiciary
which threatened fines made the nurses give up their demands for a salary increase, the salary program and the improvement of working conditions. Tehy and SuPer started the nurses’ strike on Tuesday, September 27 in home care unit of Kontinkankaa-Myllyoja at the Kontinkankaa welfare center in Oulu. The strike continued for four days and ended on Saturday 1.10. The District Court of Helsinki has previously banned strikes by Tehy and SuPer in three hospital districts and home care in Helsinki

with the threat of fines of millions of euros.” (TKS #11/22, The nurses don’t surrender, labor struggle continues [Hoitajat eivät luovuta, työtaistelu jatkuu])


“Nurse unions Tehy and Super organized a demonstration in Helsinki against the government’s proposed patient safety law on Friday.

Members of the unions marched from Citizen square to the parliament building, on the steps of which there was an emotional speech led by Tehy’s Millariikka Rytkönen and Super’s Silja Paavola.

A strange situation was seen in front of the parliament building when a Social-Democrat member of parliament Jukka Gustafsson arrived to speak to the nurses who demonstrated in the rainy weather.

Gustafsson, who introduced himself as a long-term union activist [sic], tried to gain the sympathy of the nurses.

-I actually came here because I want to listen and experience the feelings you have, Gustafsson said.

Judging by everything, the nurses standing in the rain did not warm to the sympathies of the Social-Democrat, but started shouting loudly demanding “higher pay”.

Gustafsson lost his temper and raised his hands as if to fight back the screams.

-Shut up! Gustafsson shouted into his microphone.

…The demonstrating nurses did not shut up, but shouted even more loudly.” (SDP parliament member Jukka Gustafsson lost his temper and demonstrating nurses: “Shut up!” [SDP:n kansanedustaja Jukka Gustafsson hermostui mieltään osoittaneille hoitajille: ”Hiljaa!”])


After strikes had been outlawed, the nurses still kept fighting. The nurses decided they would start quitting their jobs en masse as a form of pressure on the capitalists and the government.

“The board of representatives of the social and healthcare trade union Tehy reached a decision about new labor struggle measures last night. The board decided to implement mass resignations of nurses in special and intensive care” (Tehy: Mass resignation proceeds… [Tehy: Joukkoirtisanoutuminen etenee, koko kunta-alalle julistetaan tilapäisen siirron kielto])

One nurse who signed the declaration to resign from their job said:

“I see no other option at this point than to put my name on paper and thereby try to speed up this difficult situation”

Another nurse said:

“the position and benefits of our nurses will not improve if radical decisions are not made. So I’m happy to be part of this” (Tehy’s busses travel around Finland – nurse Tuija Turunen agreed to resign: “I don’t see any other option” [Tehyn matkailuautot kiertävät nyt eri puolilla Suomea – irtisanoutumiseen sitoutunut sairaanhoitaja Tuija Turunen: “En näe muuta vaihtoehtoa”])


An agreement was finally reached in October 2022. The nurses are supposed to receive a wage increase of around 17%* in the course of five years: 2.5% for 2022, 4.6% for 2023, 5.4% in 2024, 2.8% in 2025, 0.8% in 2026 and 1.2% in 2027.

(*HS, Agreement was reached in the wage struggle of the nurses [Hoitajien palkkakiistassa syntyi sopu])


The newspaper of the Communist Workers’ Party reports:

“The service industry union PAM and retail workers were on a two-day strike from 9–11. February [2023]. The strike included 16,000 workers in 160 stores.

The trade union says that it became aware of several cases where the employer had acted improperly and prevented employees from exercising their right to strike, even though the strike is a constitutional right. According to the union, communication about the strike had also been disrupted and striking workers had been threatened with sanctions.

A new two-day strike would begin on Monday morning, February 13, if no agreement is reached in the labor dispute on Sunday, February 12. There would be 47 distribution centers and wholesale warehouses within the scope of the strike, through which supplies are delivered to the stores of Kesko, S Group, Lidl and other stores. About 4,000 employees would go on strike.

An even wider strike would be coming from the 16th to the 18th of February. 26,000 workers and 415 shops would then be on strike…

The goal of the workers in the retail sector and the trade union is a one-year collective agreement and a salary increase of 200 euros for everyone.” (Teollisuusliitto hyväksyi reaalipalkkojen alen – palkkataistelu jatkuu muissa ammattiliitoissa, TKS #2/2023)


“The Automotive and Transport Workers’ Union AKT will start strikes lasting at least six days on Wednesday, February 15th [2023], if an agreement acceptable to the employees in the working conditions and salary dispute is not reached before then. The strikes concern several contract areas of the union.

The strikes include the stevedoring sector… the trucking sector… the tanker and oil product sector… and the shipping and warehouse terminal operations sector from February 15th to 22nd.

In Finland, the purchasing power of employees only continues to weaken, as real earnings already fell by more than 4 percent last year. The smallest wage increases in Europe are now coming to Finland.” (TKS #2/2023 Ibid.)

The post and logistics workers went on a sympathy strike to support the transport workers. The logistics trade union PAU announced on February 16th that “PAU supports AKT – the sympathy strike begins


According to the Finnish state railway corporation (VR) the “railway workers’ trade union (RAU) is threatening to stop all railway traffic starting next monday (March 30th) until further notice.” (A strike of the railway sector will possibly stop railway traffic on monday [Rautatiealan lakko pysäyttää mahdollisesti junaliikenteen maanantaina])

According to the state media the railway workers mainly demand the ability to rest properly between shifts. To me this sounds like the employer wants them to do “double shifts” i.e. work two shifts back to back or almost back to back. (Solution to the labor dispute of railway men is sought over the weekend… [Veturimiesten työriitaan etsitään ratkaisua viikonlopun aikana…])


Despite the bureaucratic reformist social-democrat leadership of various unions, which don’t want to go against the capitalists or the social-democrat government, there is significant pressure from workers themselves which explodes into strikes. The living standard of the workers will continue to fall and the government will continue its anti-people policy, thus creating more resistance. These processes are part of the general crisis of imperialist capitalism. We must give our support to the workers, organize and educate ourselves.

Capitalism has no future, the future belongs to the workers!


All the Finnish texts translated by MLT (Marxist-Leninist Theory blog).,Teollisuusliitto%20hyv%C3%A4ksyi%20reaalipalkkojen%20alen%20%E2%80%93%20palkkataistelu%20jatkuu%20muissa%20ammattiliitoissa,palkkaratkaisu%20alentaa%20reaalipalkkoja%20useilla%20prosenteilla

The nurses don’t surrender, labor struggle continues [Hoitajat eivät luovuta, työtaistelu jatkuu], Työkansan Sanomat #11/2022

History of the Hungarian People’s Republic (PART 9: The Co-operative farm movement)

“In August 1948 Rákosi announced that mass collectivisation would proceed over the next four years… By 1953 there were… 5,224 cooperative farms… representing a quarter of the arable land.” (Stone, Hungary: A Short History, p. 417)

“State farms… hold 14 percent of farmland.” (Zoltan Halasz, Unkari: kuvitettu tietoteos, p. 156, based on numbers from 1960)

In total, the socialist farming sector was more than a third of all agriculture.

Around election time in 1949, Burchett visited an election meeting at one of the most conservative regions of Hungary, Celldomolk near the Austrian border:

“After the meeting was over, the taverns were full of excited peasants discussing Rakosi, whom most of them had seen for the first time. All they knew of him, was what they had heard from their priests – that Rakosi was a synonym for anti-Christ… “But he talks good sense,” one glum old peasant told his neighbour, “he talked about seeds and fertiliser and machinery as if he knew all about it. About crops and prices. I was told he’d talk only about kolchozes and the church.” “Kolchozes” was a famous bogey-word at the time in some of the more backward villages where the priests spread the word that the “kolchoz” was a sinful, Soviet invention… Many of the peasants had no idea even that the word meant communal farm. They only knew from the priests that the “kolchoz” was an evil thing and must be avoided.” (Burchett, The people’s democracies)

“Hungary will certainly not remain a country of tiny landholders. The development of the machine-tractor station and the co-operative farm have started the second revolution in five years in the Hungarian villages. Hungarian peasants, because millions of them have had the status of serfs for generations, are backward and fearful of change… and the government is wise in introducing the new co-operative farms very gradually.

The principle is to demonstrate to the peasants that the co-operative farms give the best results, the best crops and give more free time to the farmer. There is no pressure on people to join. Unwilling farmers will not plant crops and the government does not want any interruption in its food supplies. Reactionary priests in all parts of the country warn farmers to have nothing to do with this new evil.”

“our first and foremost task is to strengthen the already existing co-operatives and to make provisions so that these co-operatives attract the working peasantry through their good example and good results…

Owing to the initial difficulties, some of our co-operatives are not sufficiently attractive, and it happens that some of the co-operative members who come from the poorest village class go over to industrial construction or go into the towns which offer sure and permanent wages. If, as in such cases, the maize field of the producer cooperative is covered with weed, or the yield is smaller than that of the individually working peasants of the village, then the enemy, the kulak, grasps the opportunity, exaggerates the situation and spreads the rumour throughout the whole district.

Therefore, we must support with all our strength the work of the producer co-operatives; we must help them to eliminate the difficulties. The help should be led by the Party, the Federation of Working Youth, the State, the councils, the State machine stations, and State farms…

It is important that where development is not sufficient, the highest or the third type of cooperative should not be suggested; but we should be satisfied with the simplest, or first, type, which has the advantage of giving an opportunity to the individual farmer and the still hesitating peasants to try out the good side of co-operation at a time when they still are afraid of a more advanced, higher form, which is too collective for them. We should not be afraid of the first type of co-operation. The superiority of cooperative production will show itself at this simple stage in that, as the experience of the past years has proved, in the majority of cases the members of the first-class co-operative will move towards a higher co-operative grading” (Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party)

“All those who want to join, perhaps fifteen or twenty families, will meet together and elect a committee, a governing board of the co-operative. If their farms are not adjoining, the committee will have to do some negotiating with their neighbours, exchanging perhaps some pieces of land so that the co-operative farm will lie in one block of land. The members will have to decide what sort of farm they want to have and there are two main types.

(1) One in which the land is completely pooled… the peasants lose all claim to any land if they withdraw, payment will be made on the same basis to all according to the number of working days he or she has worked.

(2) The land is pooled only for working purposes… if the peasant wants to withdraw he can take his land out with him, payment is based partly on rent paid for his land and partly on the working-day system.” (Burchett)

“Old-established co-operatives have already built their own cinemas, and in some cases small theatres to which troupes from Budapest come and play.” (Burchett)

“The policy of our Government of not tolerating any kind of compulsion or pressure in forming the co-operatives, but strictly adhering to the principle of voluntariness, has been vindicated.” (Rakosi, Speech Delivered at the Election Rally of the Hungarian People’s Independence Front in Budapest on May 10, 1953)

Indeed, after they had seen the efficiency of the co-operatives, the poor peasants gladly joined them:

”the poorest strata, the agricultural population, who received… small plots in the land reform program… the introduction of cooperatives held no terror for them” (Ernst Helmreich, Hungary, p. 115)

“The machine station is an important adjunct to the co-operative farm and a valuable bridge between the city worker and the peasants. Hungary’s small farmers are not wealthy enough to own tractors… The government set up machine stations all over the country, each with a few tractors, harvesting machines and other essentials. They were manned by young men and women from the city, politically educated as well as being first-class mechanics. All of them volunteered for the work. They are the city workers’ ambassadors to the peasantry. At first they were regarded with deep distrust… In some cases they were attacked, their sheds burned. They are there primarily to serve the co-operatives, but any farmer who wants his ploughing done can call up the machine co-operatives and the ploughing will be done at a very modest charge. In some cases the machine stations have been absorbed by the co-operatives and, of course, the latter has priority over private farmers’ work. The private farmer must pay slightly more than the co-operatives.” (Burchett)

“In the old days a villager turned to the priest as the supreme authority on all matters, now they turn to the mechanics. Instead of being completely isolated as they were at first, the technicians from the machine stations are now the centre of the village life. They are good propagandists for socialism by their very skills… “Work hard, develop your co-operatives and you and your-children can enjoy the same sort of life as we have in Budapest,” they tell the peasants. They open up entirely new horizons, give a picture of a life where one need only work eight hours a day, six days a week, have paid holidays… Why should farmers always work from dawn to dusk and live in misery? The co-operative farm and the tractor will alter all that.” (Burchett)

“The government, of course, favours the co-operative farms, by selling them the best seeds and fertilisers, giving them the benefit of any new developments in treating diseases of crops or cattle… By communal effort they lay on an irrigation system, they take the advice of the government and try the deep ploughing and rotation of crops. Specialists survey their soil for them and tell them what is best to plant where. Usually by the second season, there is a demonstrable improvement in their crops and in the financial situation of the members. More farmers want to join and in a neighbouring village a new group starts up and that’s the way the government wants to have it. The co-operatives should grow naturally by the example of successes firmly demonstrated. In 1949 the government had to put a temporary halt to the formation of new co-operatives. They were beginning to grow too fast, faster even than Hungarian industry was able to keep pace with tractors and machinery. But the movement is now on a firm basis with over 1,500 co-operatives farming half a million acres, and 220 machine stations operating 3,800 tractors, by the end of 1949, the last year of the Three-Year Plan.” (Burchett)

Life has become better

“The slow development of individual peasant households is due to the fact that over 80 per cent of them farm small plots. In such cases it is extremely difficult, and often impossible, to use modern agricultural machinery and the latest production methods…

Our Party wants every working peasant to use modern means of production – machines. We want him to have everything that the town is capable of supplying. We want him to have electricity and water supply, doctors, hospitals, maternity homes, cinemas and sports grounds. We want him to have a radio set in his home, we want his sons and daughters to enjoy all the amenities of the town. We want him and his family to benefit from social insurance, old age pensions and all the State assistance which the city worker receives.” (Rakosi, Strengthening the People’s Democratic Order)

“The biggest change has occurred in the lives of the hundred thousand families formerly employed on yearly contracts as farm hands on the great manorial estates… theirs had been the lowest social status in the rural hierarchy… lived in miserable barracks in the manorial courtyard, and worked under the supervision of bailiffs for practically unlimited hours.” (I. P. and E. W., Land Reform in Hungary, in The World Today, London, Jan. 1949, V, p. 22).

The kulak, a rural capitalist.

In capitalist times:

“Milk, sugar and fruit were luxuries in the Hungarian villages. In many places the adults could obtain no work, and the children were compelled to stay home from school for lack of proper clothing. It was stated in parliament: ‘There are families… where four-year-old children do not know what shoes are because they have never worn them.’ Half the village dwellings were mud and adobe huts with earthen floor in which tuberculosis killed off 10,000-12,000 people annually.” (A History of Hungary by Ervin Pamlényi, p. 504)

Under capitalism:

“Millions of peasants had still to struggle along with little or no land while huge tracts belonged to a few magnates. The plight of the landless farm worker was particularly sad. One of their spokesmen, Sandor Csizmadia, presented this gloomy picture at the turn of the century: “I have watched the life of the peasants on the estates, three or four families, sometimes as many as twenty to twenty-five persons living in the single room of a hut. I have seen men collapsing of famine on the richest soil of the country, and I have also seen men being virtually drowned in their fat. Families of the puszta are working for fifteen krajcars (a dime) from three in the morning till ten at night.

The working day of the factory hand was very long, too, and he earned not much more than the farm worker. When the labor unions began to agitate for an eight-hour day, they met violent opposition.

Hunger typhus was endemic in parts of the country, and tuberculosis was called the Hungarian malady. Pellagra and other vitamin-deficiency diseases sapped the people’s health. In some areas, half the infants died before the age of five. Iniquitous tax assessments favored the rich; the richer the taxpayer, the less his share of the burden.” (Emil Lengyel, The land and people of Hungary, pp. 82-83)

But life began to change during socialist construction:

“Many country people lived in straw-thatched mud huts, which had to be replaced by more durable houses covered with tile… The government introduced fertilizers, improved seed, new farm machinery, and farm products; it undertook large-scale irrigation, drainage, and marketing.” (Emil Lengyel, The land and people of Hungary, p. 97)

In People’s Democracy: “The tone of life in Hungary is changed. The peasant has lost his demeanor of chronic servility” (Howard K. Smith, The State of Europe, p. 217)

“Nothing had been done for the Hungarian peasants or villagers for hundreds of years until 1945. Even villages on the outskirts of Budapest had no electric light until the Three-Year Plan brought it to them. Nearly 400 have been linked up with the electricity network during the Three-Year Plan, and by the end of the Five-Year Plan there will not be a village without electric light.” (Burchett)

“The horrible poverty which strangled the village in Horthy’s time has disappeared. The village has become wealthy and consumes more agricultural produce.” (Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party)

“Collectivisation of land… released an abundant supply of men and women for work in mines and factories; the single-minded Communist emphasis upon investment in heavy goods production… ensured unprecedented increases in output… In terms of gross production figures the growth rates in the first generation of industrialization were impressive” (Judt, Postwar, p. 170)

“Experience of the past has taught [the peasant] to fear the state as their enemy. Today the propaganda of the Church against collectivisation as the instrument of the devil reinforces that fear.” (Warriner, p. 149)

“kulak… bandits brutally murdered Imre Kish, a peasant in the village of Lendelka-polna, the secretary of the local organization of the Hungarian Working People’s Party.” (K. M. Frolov, The Struggle of the Working Class for the Victory of Socialism in the People’s Democracies)

“the Catholic Church, and the adherents of the old regime in the village, former estate bailiffs, and the remaining gentry. All these have made energetic propaganda against the land reform, first saying that those who claimed land would be punished when the rightful owners returned with the Americans and British, and then, when this did not happen, that the reds would drive the peasants into the dreaded golhaz, with collective meals and collective wives…

The first object of communist policy therefore was to dispel these fears, to avoid the word, and to prove that producers co-operatives were better than individual farming. This has certainly been done. The groups started in 1948-49 have been given every kind of help, in the form of credits, fertilisers at

cheap rates, tractor service from the Machine Tractor Stations at special rates, livestock for fattening on credit, expert advice; and they have shown good results” (Warriner, p. 156)

“The following figures show the higher grain yields on co-operative farms, compared with the average on individual farms in the same village… Naturally these results are impressive to the Hungarian peasants, who know what good farming means.” (Warriner, p. 156)

In 1951 Rakosi stated:

“The average wheat and rye yield was 9.2 per cent, higher last year than in the ten years of peace preceding the war. This fact is the more noticeable because production carried on in the large estates before the war, gave 15 to 25 per cent, higher yields than on the peasant farms. Due to this fact, our enemies calculated after the land reform, that it would take much longer to reach the peace-time standard in agriculture.” (Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party)

And this was in spite of the fact that there had been extremely bad weather:

“We must take into consideration the fact that, there has been a drought every year since the Liberation, which was especially severe last year. In the light of these facts, it can be stated that our working peasantry has, by and large, fulfilled the hopes placed on them.” (Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party)

According to New York Times Hungary “suffered from a severe summer drought and spring frost in 1952” (NY Times, Dec. 27, HUNGARY CONCEDES BIG DROUGHT LOSS; Says She Averted Famine by Importing Food – Progress in Industry Is Seen)

According to a scientific paper by I. Pálfai from 1990 presented at the 14th International Congress on Irrigation and Drainage in Brazil “the most significant droughts occurred in the period 1947-1952.” (Pálfai, Description and forecasting of droughts in Hungary)

“The damage caused by the bad weather would have meant a catastrophe in capitalist times, as they spelled catastrophe in neighbouring Yugoslavia, where now a veritable famine is raging and hundreds of thousands of peasants are becoming impoverished.” (Rakosi, Speech at the Introduction of the Budget for 1953 in the National Assembly)

“Yugoslavia is threatened with a grave food crisis” (“Yugoslav threat of famine”, The Courier-mail, sep. 19, 1950, p. 4)

To fight against the terrible droughts, massive irrigation works were built:

“During the first five year plan the Tiszalök dam was built in Tisza. A 100 kilometer channel was dug from it, which is used to regularly irrigate the area. Thus it has been possible to improve the grazing fields and begin rice cultivation on a huge area, and to plant forests.” (Halasz, pp. 20-21)

“Irrigated area has increased tremendously. Before liberation irrigation was practiced only on 14 000 hectares, but by 1958 it was already practiced on 72 000 hectares.” (Halasz, p. 160)

Rakosi enjoyed immense popularity during socialist construction

“One of the men who led the Communist government following World War I is today deputy premier of Hungary and secretary-general of the Communist Party. He is Matyas Rakosi, easily the most important political figure in his country.” (Martin Ebon, World Communism Today, p. 78)

According to Ebon, Rakosi’s policies were popular, not only among the far left, but also more broadly:

“Rakosi… pressed actions that were favored by genuinely liberal Hungarians.” (Ebon, p. 79)

Ordinary people sent letters to Rakosi asking for his help:

“On one occasion, a small girl, Ida Csombor from Jászjákóhalma, asked “Uncle Rákosi” to provide her with school textbooks, because her family was poor: “I turn to you because I know that you help every child of the proletariat.” Rákosi allocated 100 forints to the girl’s family to purchase the necessary books… the parish priest of Tápiószentmárton asked for the leader’s help in replacing the lost bell of the local church. “We have heard that Mr. Vice-Prime Minister has retrieved the bells of so many villages before. Ours has gone missing too.” “The bell will be recovered,” promised Rákosi.” (Apor, The invisible shining, p. 57)

“letters expressed the people’s gratitude to Rákosi for a new textbook, a renovated school, or the “unity of workers,” as in the case of the workers of the Goldberger factory, who wrote their letter to “the leader of the working people,” “in the happy hours of [the] unification” of the two Marxist parties. Letters of gratitude were written by sportsmen and sportswomen as well. A group of Hungarian athletes at the London Olympics, for example, thanked Rákosi in a letter for providing the opportunity to take part in the event, where they had the chance to demonstrate the “ardent fighting spirit” of the “Hungarian democratic youth.” (Apor, pp. 65-66) Hungary achieved extremely good success in the Olympics due to government’s efforts in helping sports and health.

As told by teacher Gyula Kékesdi, when Rakosi toured the countryside:
“People rushed Rákosi with presents. One of the peasant women brought him bread, the other a cloth, the third a knitted coat… An old woman standing next to me also seemed to want to give something too. [handing over a basket] she pushed into the crowd and said, “Comrade Rákosi, I cooked this, but I could barely save it from my husband, because he loves it too, but you’ll receive it from us with love””
(Pünkösti Árpád, Rákosi a csúcson 1948-1953)

“”[Rakosi] received a lot of presents in Kecskemét,” said the driver Károly Szirmai…

“I remember a truck brought the presents from the rally; the garden was full of them” – said Lajos G.” (Pünkösti, Ibid.)

The peasants gave animals and food as presents:

“there were geese and five sheep. We kept them in the yard for days, then they were taken to the zoo. The edible gifts went to the children’s home and dormitories” (Pünkösti, Ibid.)

Rakosi frequently visited ordinary people to learn about their problems and listen to their opinions: “he would take a walk around the given location (village, factory, etc.), chat with the people about their problems, and sometimes even share their meal with them. His visits, especially those in the countryside, often lasted until sunset.” (Apor, p. 59)

Socialism was being successfully constructed both in industry and agriculture, people’s lives were improving tremendously, and they looked to the future with hopeful optimism.


Stone, Hungary: A Short History

Zoltan Halasz, Unkari: kuvitettu tietoteos

Burchett, The people’s democracies

Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party

Rakosi, Speech Delivered at the Election Rally of the Hungarian People’s Independence Front in Budapest on May 10, 1953

Ernst Helmreich, Hungary

Rakosi, Strengthening the People’s Democratic Order

I. P. and E. W., Land Reform in Hungary, in The World Today, London, Jan. 1949, V.

Ervin Pamlényi, A History of Hungary
[Quite a good book otherwise, but the criticism of Rakosi and Stalin and the attempt to defend Titoism and Rajk in Chapter X section 2 and the attempt to justify Kadarism in Chapter X section 3 are totally erroneous.]

Emil Lengyel, The land and people of Hungary

Howard K. Smith, The State of Europe

Judt, Postwar

Doreen Warriner, Revolution in Eastern Europe

K. M. Frolov, The Struggle of the Working Class for the Victory of Socialism in the People’s Democracies


Pálfai, Description and forecasting of droughts in Hungary

“Yugoslav threat of famine”, The Courier-Mail, sep. 19, 1950

Martin Ebon, World Communism Today

Apor, The invisible shining

Pünkösti Árpád, Rákosi a csúcson 1948-1953

Scientific life in the Hungarian People’s Republic

Excerpt taken from Zoltan Halasz, Unkari: kuvitettu tietoteos [Hungary: an illustrated factbook], (1960), pp. 195-199. Translated by ML-theory.

This text by Halasz obviously only scratches the surfaces and leaves out such scientists as agrobiologist Dr. Sándor Rajki and geologist Elemér Vadász, and many others. However, it gives some information. When I have the time and some more resources I’ll try to create a page dedicated to the science of the Hungarian People’s Republic, similar to the one I’ve made about the USSR.



Hungarian scientific life has developed many world-renowned researchers, inventors and scientists. Examples of internationally famous scientists include Sándor Körösi Csoma, who wrote the first tibetan dictionary and grammar, skilled orientalists Armin Vámbéry and Aurél Stein, as well as Gábor Szarvas and Mór Ballagi, and other linguists who have researched related languages. The eradicator of puerperal fever, Ignác Semmelweiss is known in history as “the savior of mothers”, discoveries of Loránd Eötvös, developed further by his students, are used all over the world to measure gravity and for finding useful minable resources. Donát Bánki, who was one of the most significant engineers of his day, invented in 1892 together with János Csonka a carbonator. By using the turbine developed by him it was possible to utilize water power better than before. Károly Zipernovszky, Miksa Déri and Ottó Titusz Bláthy developed principles of energy transmission in transformers, and the first transformer station was put into operation by them. The electronic locomotive of Kálmán Kandón as well as the cylinder mill and first steam-powered earth cultivator of András Mechwart have became internationally renowned. Hungarian Oszkár Asbóth designed the first functioning helicopter.

Despite great successes, in the past the work of Hungarian scientists was hampered by countless factors and under capitalist conditions many valuable initiatives were ignored. The reform of Hungarian scientific life began only after the liberation of the country. In the opinion of the people’s democratic government, the economic development of the country and the tasks of the cultural revolution definitely required the reorganization of scientific life. For that reason, not without significant material sacrifices, material conditions for scientific research work were created, and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, which had a glorious history but had largely lost its importance between the two world wars, was again made the leading institution of scientific life by entirely reorganizing its activities. Nowadays in the academy’s departments, in its institutes, as well as in the scientific research institutes of the ministries – in 119 research institutes in total – planned theoretical and practical research work is carried out, which succesfully continues and develops the work of Hungarian scientists of previous centuries.

Within the academy there operates a linguistic and literary section, and under its leadership the institute of literary history researches, first of all, questions of the history and development of Hungarian literature. The institute of linguistics is preparing a ten volume Hungarian dictionary.

The institute of economics, which belongs to the section of social-historical sciences, is studying in great detail the questions of socialist planned economy. Along with preparing textbooks for the highest academic levels, the institute of history researches the history of Hungary and the neighboring nations.

The section of mathematics and physics studies the most current questions of theoretical research and has often achieved internationally recognized results.

The recently deceased Frigyes Ries and Lipot Fejér as well as György Alexits and Alfréd Rényi and others, are internationally known in scientific circles because of their mathematical researches.

The head of the central institute of physics, academician Lajos Jánossy, has achieved results in researching the twofold nature of light, which have sparked great interest internationally. With the help of the Soviet academy of sciences, Hungary’s first nuclear reactor has been built into the same institute. Hungarian nuclear physicists are now attempting to independently build nuclear reactors and even nuclear power plants.

In the field of nuclear research Hungarian scientists and researchers can present a respectable list of achievements. At the second atomic energy conference in Geneva, ten proposals of Hungarian scientists were accepted, four of which dealt with the biological, one with agricultural, and four with measurement uses of radioactive isotopes, while one dealt with professor Lajos Imre’s patented new method of producing isotopes. Hungarian atomic energy committee’s special committee on applications of isotopes organized a meeting in the fall of 1958, where 33 lectures were given on the achievements of peaceful uses of nuclear energy in industrial, agricultural, biological and other research as well as in medicine.

The academy’s section on agricultural sciences deals in detail with problems of developing the Hungarian agriculture. Hungarian corn breeders have achieved beautiful results in creating new hybrids. In the field of veterinary science books written by Hungarian scientists are used as textbooks in universities and institutes of higher learning both in Hungary and abroad.

The biological and medical section as well as the biological group successfully research new methods of examination and treatment. Very noteworthy is the research in the effect of radiation on the organism as well as curing cancer tumors.

The section of chemical sciences also carry out theoretical and practical research. The work of the section has been significantly improved by a new central chemistry research institute. Simultaneously Hungarian researchers have achieved ever better results in creating synthetic substances, studying their properties and in the scope of their field of application.

From the members of the section on technical sciences professor László Heller has already twice with world-renowned inventions improved power plant technology. He has together with engineer László Forgó designed the so-called “dry cooling tower”, which solves the issue of water maintenance of heating and nuclear plants in water scarce regions. Previously his system for solving the active cooling of electric generators and improving their efficiency, has attracted worldwide attention. Professor Ottó Benedikt has designed a new type of diesel locomotive with an asynchronous motor, and academician Elemér Szádeczky-Kardoss has achieved significant results in his research on the ionization system of ore formation.

Internationally significant occasions of Hungarian scientific and technical life are the events organized by the more than thirty member organizations of the Union of societies of technical and natural sciences. In 1958 over forty foreign scientists and engineers participated in the Hungarian machine industry week, organized by the Scientific society of machine industry, during which lectures were given on the achievements and plans of Hungarian advanced machine industry, and noted foreign experts also gave presentations. More than a hundred foreigners took part in the 50th anniversary congress of Hungarian chemists, and there the best chemists of Europe met each other and discussed questions of chemistry of both “traditional” and synthetic substances. Hungarian precision mechanical industry and research are internationally highly regarded, so the international body for precision mechanics IMEKO has its headquarters in Budapest, and at its meeting in 1958 in Budapest nearly 800 scientists, researchers and engineers from different parts of the world were present. Along with the Hungarian academy of sciences the other center of Hungarian scientific life is the House of technique, which is the center of the Societies for technical and natural sciences. Inside its halls, in the meetings of specialty fields of the societies and at club evenings, scientists, researchers, practical engineers and advanced professional workers meet each other, and their joint work livens Hungarian scientific life and develops the industry and national economy of Hungary.

“Veikko Pöysti, a fighter, a communist” by Artturi Rönnqvist

Source: SKP – taistelujen tiellä III (1947). Translated by ML-theory blog.

It is doubtful if the life of any Finnish communist, with the exception of the life of Toivo Antikainen, has become so legendary in the minds of a large part of our nation as that of Veikko Pöysti, a fighter and communist, who died at the age of 33 in a ferocious battle against Finnish fascists in December 1942.

Veikko Henrik Pöysti was born on June 26th, 1909 in Hamina. His parents were actively involved in the workers’ movement. His father was part of the red guard in the revolutionary civil war of 1918, has been imprisoned twice due to his political activities and even now is an active member of our party. From his mother Veikko got a great warm heartedness towards the cause of the oppressed, and from his father a strict clear intellect and fighting spirit. Already since his childhood in his home Veikko experienced poverty and hunger, persecution and white terror, which served to turn him into a determined and strong fighter, who after becoming conscious of his mission, joined the struggle of the oppressed masses with all the enthusiasm of his energetic mind. At age 17 he joined a Timber workers’ union [puutyöväen liitto] chapter in Käkisalmi, even working as the chairman of the chapter and beginning his involvement in the athletic societies at the same time. But soon Veikko Pöysti took a more decisive step. His enthusiastic nature, full of fighting will, led him to the illegal communist movement in 1927 and he was a loyal party member since then.

That led Pöysti, like so many others, to the jails and prisons of the Okhrana [secret police]. He sat in prison for more than 10 years, but that didn’t defeat him. His time in prison he spent in determined study, and there too, fought against oppression and tyranny, developing into a principled fighter.

Veikko Pöysti got out of prison on the eve of war, May 25th, 1941. After he fell sick with pneumonia his comrades delivered him to a hospital, but learning that the Okhrana was coming to arrest him, Veikko fled and thus avoided being sent right back into prison. But he didn’t run from his pursuers out of fear of prison. He wanted to retain his freedom, to fight, to organize and to lead our people in the struggle against the criminal war. When the war began in 1941 there was widespread disgust towards the war among the workers. The time after the winter war had opened the eyes of many to see in the Soviet Union a friend of our country, and a joint war alongside Hitler’s Germany was loathsome.

But even with those who were unhappy, the resistance was often mere passivity. Although, there were many soldiers who didn’t follow orders to be drafted, masses of men escaped into the forests to avoid being drafted in the war, the forest guards were born, but even many of them didn’t know what to do. Those conditions required principled determination. It was necessary to understand that the only solution was merciless battle against fascism, the savage and ruthless enemy. And conclusions had to be drawn with uncompromising clarity. In many cases solving this question was influenced by the person’s own life being on the line. In that context the admirable clarity and great heroism of the actions of Veikko Pöysti become even more striking. The author of this text had a chance in those days to talk to Veikko. I remember well, how brilliantly he explained a solution to the problem that was difficult even for many class conscious workers. The only solution was to join the active resistance against the war, he said. And Veikko Pöysti had personal bravery and most of all, the practical intelligence to apply this conclusion to real life. “War must be answered with war” was his slogan. But Veikko didn’t embark on his fight as an individual. As a member of our party leadership, he began organizing the forest guards to activity, to build organization among them, made contacts, inspired people to fight and explained why it was necessary. Our party saw as the main objective, to paralyze the fascist war machine, and Veikko Pöysti acted accordingly. The enemy knew the significance of Veikko’s work. It began a frenzied search for him. When the resources of the okhrana [communist slang for Finnish secret police] were not enough to find him, regular police and military were ordered to join in, and they ceaselessly combed the forests and carried out surprise raids on houses. A quick ability to assess the situation, courage and cool-headedness saved Veikko many times from difficult situations.

During those times Veikko Pöysti didn’t allow himself to ever rest idly, and all those who ended up within his circle were seized by enthusiasm for work. When someone was about to become too tired or become apathetic, Veikko Pöysti found the words to inspire them with new enthusiasm for work and to be ashamed of their weakness. He was helped in that by his clear sightedness and understanding of people. Veikko Pöysti, if anyone, was a man of the people. He was always ready to discuss, advise, made jokes even in the most difficult situations. After long journeys and difficult battles, when the men were tired, Veikko remained tireless and always ready to help others. Those who lived in the same dugouts as him, reminisced how he helped exhausted comrades, prepared food for them and slept in worse places to allow others to rest better. Veikko was also physically surprisingly strong and tenacious. Once he escaped encirclement while still fighting and carrying a wounded comrade on his shoulder.

Indeed, strength and determination was required in that difficult fight Veikko Pöysti and his forest guards were waging. Persecutors didn’t give even a second’s respite. On his travels Veikko often had to stop by peasant’s houses to get food or help. Soon he made friends, good and courageous friends, who were ready to help in difficulties and provide shelter, though by doing so they exposed themselves to danger.

Veikko Pöysti was a loyal fighter of our communist party, fulfilling the party’s assignments surely and reliably. But he also had initiative and even when communications were severed he didn’t remain inactive, but carried out his work and managed to reestablish communications.

Until December 1942 Veikko succeeded in avoiding the traps of his persecutors. The day before Christmas in 1942 he fought his final heroic battle. That battle was fought in Hiekkaharju in Tikkurila, in a two storey building where Veikko had hidden to be closer to the rest of the party leadership and to instruct comrades under his responsibility. The photographs which Veikko Pöysti’s father has given to our use, tell effectively about this battle. In this last battle the balance of forces was extremely uneven. On one side was Veikko Pöysti alone, while on the other there were the police forces, reinforced with machine guns and other weaponry. Even so, the fire fight lasted for many hours. For two hours train traffic on the nearby railway was halted. After the leader of the persecutors fell in the battle, and ammo was starting to run out, they called for reinforcements from Helsinki. Veikko also ran out of bullets, but instead of surrendering, attempted to escape through the police encirclement, which is when he was hit by a burst of machine gun fire. Veikko Pöysti died as heroically as he had lived.

In his death our party and the people lost a brave fighter and a tireless defender of the oppressed. But the memory of heroes like Veikko Pöysti will never die, for the cause for which he gave his strength and his life, the cause of peace, democracy, and socialism, is a cause which never dies.

History of the Hungarian People’s Republic (PART 8: The 1949 elections and first Five Year Plan)


1948 was considered the year of the “turning point”. The left had decisively gained the upper hand, the workers’ parties had merged and become the biggest party, the Three Year Plan was going better then expected and being fulfilled ahead of schedule, the largest industries and banks had been nationalized. Socialist construction was clearly on the agenda.

For the elections of 1949, the goal was to further improve the co-operation of the left bloc. This close unity was possible, now that the reactionaries had been expelled from the coalition parties. As a result, the Hungarian Working People’s Party, the National Peasant Party and the Smallholders created a united election organization, “The Hungarian Independent People’s Front”. Two smaller opposition parties (the Independent Hungarian Democratic Party and the Radical Party) also decided that they now wanted to join and work together with the coalition.

“Instead of the “more or less loose coalition” which existed until then, it took a stand for establishing the “political mass organization of the people’s unity”. It stated that the system of loose coalition

between competing parties “was favourable to the anti-popular forces, which took advantage of party rivalry for infiltrating the democratic parties and thereby hindered democratic co-operation and construction”.

What was actually in mind was the further development of the alliance of the socialist and democratic forces, and primarily the consolidation of the alliance of the working class with the individually working peasants… The alliance of the working class and intellectuals was also to progress within the framework of the new people’s front, winning over for the socialist goals an ever larger part of the intellectuals.

The programme stated that the new people’s front should be a mass organization headed by the Hungarian Working People’s Party. The allied parties, the trade unions, co-operatives and the organizations of women and youth would take part in the people’s front… The aim was clear: to end the party rivalry which resulted in a considerable waste of energy, and create close co-operation among the people’s democratic forces.” (Nemes, pp. 190-191)

“The people’s front declaration of the coalition parties and of the leading mass organizations that supported the country-building aims of the Hungarian Working People’s Party, was published on 1 February 1949. This considered the task of co-operation to “further guarantee the peaceful legal process of socialist social transformation with the inclusion of all the creative forces of the country”. The statement also announced that the political and social organizations comprising the people’s front

would “submit in everything to the decisions of the National Council and would carry them out”. The National Council of the People’s Front was established. Its members included 27 representatives of the Hungarian Working People’s Party, 9 of the Smallholders Party and 6 of the Peasant Party together with the delegates of the mass organizations. The two bourgeois parties which were outside the coalition, the Balogh party and the Radical Party, also announced their adherence to the People’s Front.

Parliamentary elections were held in May 1949. The parties making up the People’s Front decided, on the recommendation of the Hungarian Working People’s Party, to participate in the elections with a joint programme and joint list…” (Nemes, pp. 214-215)

Anti-communist historian Kovrig writes that anti-communists, and in particular the church, encouraged people to vote against the People’s Front, and this “in some districts accounted for over one-quarter of the vote” but “Of the eligible voters, 94 percent… marched to the polls, and 95.5 percent endorsed the [People’s Front] list” (Bennett Kovrig, Communism in Hungary: from Kun to Kādār, p. 252)

The election was a landslide victory for the People’s Front. This election was a turning point, because the neo-fascist parties had been banned, the petit-bourgeois parties and even the bourgeois radical party had united with the People’s Front, under communist leadership.

Bourgeois historian Hoensch writes that already previously “the National Peasants’ Party drifted more and more into the Communist camp and began to advocate ‘the development of a people’s democracy’, the nationalisation of industry and agricultural collectivisation” (Jörg K. Hoensch, A history of modern Hungary, p. 168)

And that in 1949 the National Peasants’ Party dissolved itself to be incorporated solely into the People’s Front. (Hoensch, p. 168)

Rakosi could proudly state:

“At these elections only sons of the working people stood as candidates. Counts, big landlords, bankers and other enemies of the people were not included.” (Rakosi, Speech Delivered at the Election Rally of the Hungarian People’s Independence Front in Budapest on May 10, 1953)

Rakosi also stated that in 1949 parties of the People’s Front nominated candidates, but further democratic progress should be made and “a special place must be reserved for the big social organisations—the trade unions, cooperatives and the organisations catering for women and youth.” (Rakosi, Unity congress of the Workers’ Party of Hungary)

Four years later, in 1953, Rakosi was happy to announce that instead of separate parties nominating candidates “the candidates have been chosen directly by hundreds of thousands of workers in the factories, the producer co-operatives and machine stations, in the universities and other institutions from among their own best workers.” (Rakosi, Speech Delivered at the Election Rally of the Hungarian People’s Independence Front in Budapest on May 10, 1953)

Rakosi described the results of the 1949 elections as follows:

“The composition of the House of Representatives elected at that time, shows how the People’s Front looks in practice and, within it, the alliance of workers and peasants. From the 402 deputies, 176 are workers, 115 peasants, and 92 progressive intellectuals. Amongst these are 72 working and peasant women, which is a measure of the equal rights of women.” (Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party)

“This election was followed eighteen months later by the election of the Local Councils when our working people elected 220,000 council members and supplementary members. This election, through which the working people took control of the local organs of the democratic State, has shown even more strongly the deepening of the worker-peasant alliance. To the 3,217 local councils, 23,016 industrial workers, 103,638 working peasants, 11,116 progressive intellectuals, and thousands of craftsmen, retail traders and others were elected as ordinary members. The inclusion of the working people into State administration has put the finish on the democratisation of our administration and put the entire State apparatus into the hands of the working people…

As a result of the battles fought by the united working people, under the leadership of the Party, the people’s democratic State was created, the State, with the help of which, and as a result of the victory of the Soviet Union, and supported by the Soviet Union, the working people, led by the working class, progressed from capitalism towards socialism. With regard to its functions the People’s Democracy is the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.” (Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party)

The bourgeois local organs were dissolved and instead councils were created:

“Since 1950, the local organs of executive power and administration are the county, city, district, and village councils.” (Péter Gál & Gyula Németh, Hungary: A Comprehensive Guide)

What exactly People’s Democracy was, had been debated throughout the mid-late 1940s. Was it a political system between capitalism and socialism? By 1949 the Communists had come to the understanding that People’s Democracy was a united front of progressive forces, which would either move towards a dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism, or be defeated. By 1949 the dictatorship of the proletariat had come to power in Hungary. The capitalists, fascists and reactionaries were ousted from politics. Their organizations were no longer recognized, and served no productive purpose. Instead, people would vote for peasant, intellectual, worker or petit-bourgeois candidates, who were members of the people’s front.

5 YEAR PLAN (1950-1954)

The great Hungarian writer Zsigmond Móricz had written in one of his novels in 1934:

“…how to find work for the thirty thousand unemployed in the County? Thirty thousand men, agricultural workers, marvelous material. The country could be built with these thirty thousand. Roads, houses, schools, museums. All it needed was somebody to set the thirty thousand to work. A will, a power aiming at a goal. The whole country could be re-organised with just these thirty thousand.” (protagonist in Zsigmond Móricz’s novel “Relations” pp. 120-121)

Móricz did not live to see it, having died in 1942, but with the Five Year Plan, jobs would be found for all the unemployed and the country would indeed be transformed!

Bourgeois historian Jörg Hoensch writes that:

“By 31 December 1949… important sectors had even managed to exceed the [three year] plan’s quotas, with the result that on 10 December the National Assembly was able to launch the first Five Year Plan as from 1 January 1950.” (Jörg K. Hoensch, A history of modern Hungary, p. 204)

“Industrial development during the five years of the Plan will make as much headway as it did in all the fifty years up to World War Two. The result will be that our country will be transformed… into an industrial country with a developed agriculture. New industrial towns and districts will spring up.” (Rakosi, Strengthening the People’s Democratic Order)

New plants, more hospitals, schools, libraries and apartments – entire new cities were built.

“The Socialist cities established in Hungary at the beginning of the 1950s were Sztálinváros (today called Dunaújváros), Kazincbarcika, Komló, and Tatabánya.” (Zsuzsanna Borvendég & Mária Palasik in “In the Name of the Great Work: Stalin’s Plan for the Transformation of Nature and its Impact in Eastern Europe” ed. Doubravka Olšáková, p. 135)*

*The original site for Sztalinvaros was to be Mohacs. The location had many benefits, but after construction had already started it was discovered the area was threatened by earthquakes, and making an earthquake proof city would increase costs massively. The location was also very close to the Yugoslav border, and when Tito’s treachery was discovered, and Hungary was threatened by Yugoslav invasion, the location of the all important industrial city simply had to be changed. This caused unforeseen additional costs. Dunapentele was chosen as the new location. Unfortunately Dunapentele also had bad unstable land, which was prone to landslides, and this created construction challenges.

“Between 1949 and 1951, the number of workers in construction grew by 125,000… In 1952, an additional 49,000 workers were engaged in construction, bringing the total to 244,000.” (Zinner, p. 121)

“The Plan took effect on 1 January 1950. Investment was already high (60,000 million forints) but was increased (to 80,000 million). Heavy industry had priority” (Stone, p. 415)

Hungary had been a small poor country, ruled by the feudal nobility and the church. Their industrialization and modernization was full of challenges. They needed help from Soviet and Czechoslovakian engineers, raw material had to be imported from the Soviet Union because Hungary’s own mining industry was not developed enough to meet the demand. Norman Stone mocks the idea that Hungary, a small and traditionally agrarian country could become a developed industrial power: “It was, of course, preposterous for a country such as Hungary to be attempting heavy industry, and to apply the Soviet planning system.” (Stone, p. 472)

However, he admits that “On paper [sic] the Plan did succeed, metallurgical products doubling, or, in the case of aluminum, trebling. The industrial workforce grew by 500,000.” (Stone, p. 416)

“As a result of the Three and the Five Year Plans industrial production trebled over the pre-war figure.“ (Nemes, p. 187)

“The results of the first year exceeded expectations, particularly in industry. Instead of the planned 21.4 per cent industrial output was 27 per cent higher than in the previous year. State industry expanded by 37 per cent, while the production of private industry decreased by 26 per cent… In 1950, the output of agriculture was by 5 to 6 per cent more than the previous year’s figure. In the meantime, the arable land of the state farms and the co-operatives both doubled in area, and by the end of 1950 the two together formed 13 per cent of the total arable land of the country.” (Nemes, p. 222)

According to Lazlo Borhi the economy during the First Five Year Plan had “phenomenal growth” (László Borhi, Hungary in the Cold War, 1945-1956: between the United States and the Soviet Union, p. 214)

“The regime could claim a dramatic expansion of the industrial sector, an apparently favorable rate of growth in national income, and a state of full employment.” (Bennett Kovrig, Communism in Hungary: from Kun to Kādār, p. 256)

Ernst Helmreich says about Hungary’s industrial development that “the increase is staggering” (Ernst Helmreich, Hungary, p. 306)

“the economy grew – by a staggering 13.8 percent per annum in the first half of the fifties.” (Shawcross, p. 136)

“…In Hungary, output of sugar in 1950 was 15 per cent above the previous year, cotton textiles eight per cent, footwear 50 per cent.” (Klugmann)

“Freight traffic, electric power generation, steel production, shoe manufacture, textile production, have already passed 1938 levels… that there has been any improvement at all is remarkable. Consider once again the unbelievably heavy losses Hungary suffered by the war.” (Behind the curtain, p. 182)

“Advance was made in the building of the Tisza dams; 150,000 new homes, several hundred schools and the People’s Stadium in Budapest were completed… Other achievements of the Five Year Plan included better health protection. The number of hospital beds had increased by more than 11,000 and exceeded 61,000.” (Nemes, pp. 224-229)

“In 1952 the natural birth rate increase per 1000 people was 47 per cent higher than in 1938… The number of marriages per 1,000 inhabitants is 20 per cent higher than it was in 1938. The infant mortality rate is down in 1952 to nearly half the 1938 figure. Tuberculosis which was called the “Hungarian disease” in the past is being gradually repelled and in 1952 fifty-seven per cent fewer people died of this disease than in 1938. In Hungary today more hospital beds are available per 10,000 people than in France or Belgium. As a result of public health activity, the death rate is lower in Hungary than in England or Austria.” (Rakosi, Speech at the Introduction of the Budget for 1953 in the National Assembly)

Because of improvements made in nutrition and healthcare by the socialist government, life expectancy increased from 50 in 1930 to above 60 in 1950. (Source: Hungarian Central Statistical Office, 1993)

“Between 1949 and 1953 the urban population increased by 605,000 while the rural population [decreased by] 218,000” (Kovrig, p. 53)

Initially Hungary began importing trolley buses from the USSR “but since 1952 Hungary has been making its own” (Helmreich, p. 329)

Construction of a new express metro also began: “The first line, which was to be completed during the Five-Year Plan, was to run a distance of eight kilometers (five miles) from the People’s Stadium to Szell Kalman Square, crossing the Danube at Kossuth Square. The design was very ornate, in the style of the Moscow subway.” (Helmreich, p. 329)

“industrialisation, it was recognised long before 1945, was the chief thing that eastern Europe needed… and what it lacked was capital and the impetus to develop. The plans now provide both the impetus and the capital for transforming the agrarian half of Europe into an industrial economy. They are the framework for the industrial revolution.” (Warriner, p. 79)

At this time the United States imposed economic sanctions against Hungary and banned Americans from traveling there.

“The object of American policy in enforcing the embargo on trade… is to build up western Europe for strategic reasons, and to check the spread of communism. The use of the economic weapon against eastern Europe is a consequence of the revolution, and its purpose is to cripple the plans.” (Warriner, p. 164)

“From the east European standpoint, the economic weapon certainly does harm, in that it makes the plans harder to realise and slows down the rise in the standard of living. But it does not neutralise the really vital change, the fact that the people of eastern Europe have an economic future. To reverse that direction, to return to the stagnation of the past, would now be impossible. Looked at in terms of material resources the plans are what the region essentially needed. Looked at in terms of human life they are what the region needed too – they mobilise untouched resources of human energy and enthusiasm. They have brought material benefits to the mass of the impoverished peasants and workers; and not only material benefits; they have released an immense social potential…” (Warriner, pp. 170-171)

The table below gives an idea of the extent of the growth in construction (employees in thousands).

Source: Borsányi & Kende

Hungarian economy in 1930 according to Kovrig (p. 29):

Agriculture, forestry, fisheries 51.8%
Extractive industries 1.3
Industry 21.7
Commerce and finance 5.4
Communications 3.9
Public services and professions 5.0
Other 10.9

Hungary’s own mining industry was not developed enough yet, so Soviet help was invaluable. At the same time, the Hungarians were able to sell their new industrial products to the USSR:

“The fact that Hungary belonged to the socialist world system became one of the essential conditions of her economic prosperity. In spite of the fact that Hungary is poor in raw materials, she managed to establish a fairly advanced industry founded upon the Soviet Union’s raw material basis. Related figures can help illustrate the point. In 1955, the share of the Soviet Union in Hungary’s annual import was 28.2 per cent, the corresponding figure for exports to that country was 32.2 per cent. The overwhelming majority of Soviet deliveries were raw materials. Of the raw materials used in Hungary in 1955, 71 per cent of the iron ore, 80 per cent of the pig iron, 30 per cent of foundry lead, 81 per cent of sulphur, 81 per cent of raw phosphate, 77 per cent of native soda, 30 per cent of synthetic rubber, 80 per cent pine timber and 55 per cent of raw cotton were imported from the Soviet Union. At the same time, machines and engineering products accounted for over 50 per cent of Hungarian deliveries to the Soviet Union, a figure corresponding to almost 20 per cent of the annual output of Hungary’s engineering industry.” (Janos Berecz, 1956 Counter-Revolution in Hungary)

Nationalists, Titoists and other reactionaries always claimed that the Soviet Union was oppressing and exploiting Eastern European countries but economist Warriner states categorically that even though Hungary paid war reparations to the Soviet Union “…certainly Russia is putting more into eastern Europe than it is taking out.” (Warriner, p. 166)

“Hungarian leaders actually requested Soviet advisors, rather than having them imposed by Moscow.” (László Borhi, Hungary in the Cold War, 1945-1956: between the United States and the Soviet Union, p. 201)

“figures for road traffic since the war show enormous development, but it must be remembered that growth started from a very low level. Passengers carried in 1937 amounted to 44 million… In 1949, the total was 99 million, and it increased 192 per cent during the Five Year Plan to 290 million in 1953… volume of freight carried in 1953 was approximately ten times as great as in 1937, and nearly four times that in 1950… Streetcars carried 902 million passengers in 1953, almost two and a half times as many as in 1937. City bus lines carried 199 million passengers in 1953, an increase of more than 500 percent since 1937.” (Helmreich, p. 328-329)

Anti-Communist author Hugh Seton-Watson admits that: “industrial output doubled during this period… and labor productivity increased by 63 per cent” (Imre Nagy On Communism, p. xv)

Even highly anti-communist historian Helmreich admits that as a result of the Five Year Plan:

“Hungarian industry nearly tripled” (Helmreich, p. 395)

In the typical fashion, Pryce-Jones criticizes the plans for industrialization as too fast, but admits that “Industrialisation in itself was necessary and impressive” (p. 38)

“We must get down to the job of preparing a Five Year Plan of economic development, and a Ten Year Plan embracing electrification and irrigation. We shall reduce and, as far as possible, abolish income derived from exploitation” (Rakosi, Unity congress of the Workers’ Party of Hungary)

In 1951 Rakosi said:

“the production of our factory industry has increased to nearly twice that of 1938… to-day a number of industrial goods are manufactured which were not produced in Hungary before the Liberation. The production of our Socialist industry was 35 per cent, higher last year than in 1949. It has developed more in one year than during twenty years of capitalism.

At our first Congress, I mentioned as a considerable success the fact that the living standard of the workers and employees had reached 97 per cent, of the 1938 level. Now, I can record that the workers’ and employees’ wage fund has increased by more than three milliard forints during 1950 and that the average wage of workers in December, 1950, was fifty-nine forints higher than a year ago. National income last year, the first year of the Five-Year Plan, has increased by 20 per cent., which is more than during two decades of the Horthy era.” (Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party)

“The Three Year Plan was fulfilled ahead of schedule… and the targets of the first year of the Five Year Plan (1950) were overfulfilled.” (Henrik Vass, Studies on the History of the Hungarian Working-Class Movement (1867-1966), pp. 327-328)


“The Hungarian Five-Year Plan (1950-54) was planned to bring about an 86 per cent increase in industrial production over that of 1949 and an increase of heavy industrial production of 204 per cent during the same period. In five years the production of means of production was planned to increase 17 times. Hungarian industry, aided by the Soviet Union, will produce for the first time diesel engines, complex machine-tools and technically-developed mining equipment. But, once again, history has run ahead of even the boldest of perspectives. The first year of the Five-Year Plan exceeded all prevision and in the first months of 1951 the plan was radically revised – upwards.” (Klugmann, From Trotsky to Tito)

“During the Five-Year Plan we wished to double our output of steel, coal and electric power. We have realised these objectives not in five, but in three years. We have also realised our goal of transforming our country from an agrarian country with a developing industry, into an industrial country with an advanced agriculture. By the end of last year the output of our manufacturing industry was triple that of the last pre-war year… Our objective to increase the number of industrial workers by 300,000 in five years was attained in three years. Thereby, unemployment, the gravest threat to the working people, has been done away with… During the past four years the number of social insurance beneficiaries has risen by 1,650,000 and, at present, nearly 60 per cent of our population are covered by social insurance. We enacted a law on mother and child care. Family allowances for large families have trebled in three years. We have abolished the rationing system, a survival of war-time economy. In the first three years of the Five-Year Plan we built thousands of cultural centres, cinemas and public libraries in the villages and in the factories. Last but not least, we have built up our People’s Army, the guardian of our peace and socialist future.

I believe, Comrades, that the Hungarian working people have a right to be proud of these achievements.” (Rakosi, Speech Delivered at the Election Rally of the Hungarian People’s Independence Front in Budapest on May 10, 1953)

“Now we are just about to complete the third year of our Five-Year Plan. On the basis of the present results it can be said that we have fulfilled the targets of our augmented Five-Year Plan, and in fact we have overfulfilled it in the case of coal.” (Rakosi, Speech at the Introduction of the Budget for 1953 in the National Assembly)

“The rate of development of our coal production is rapid when compared with that of the capitalist countries. In Hungary per capita coal production has doubled as compared to 1938, but in Britain, whose mines were not at all damaged by the war, it has not yet reached the 1938 level. In Western Germany it is less than 75 per cent of the level of the last year of peace. This year per capita coal production in Hungary is 40 per cent higher than in France.” (Rakosi, Speech at the Introduction of the Budget for 1953 in the National Assembly)


“The Stakhanovite movement, a system organized by the Russian shockworker Stakhanov who exceeded his norms in record-breaking fashion, is widely used in Hungary. In fact, from only 5,000 Hungarian Stakhanovites in 1949, the number jumped to 63,000 in February 1953.

Among the several Hungarian movements are the Gazda movement (named for a Hungarian shockworker), aimed at saving raw materials by reducing the number of rejects; the Nazarova movement, a contractual system, aimed at making workers responsible for their tools and machines; and the Koznietzov movement, similar to the Nazarova.

There are movements: for improving methods of production (Innovation movement) and increasing production (Loy movement). The Roder movement, similar to the Soviet “experience exchange,” encourages shockworkers and Stakhanovites to take over less efficient workers and show them the methods by which they can increase production and decrease rejects. Two movements concern the voluntary extension of working hours: under the Ten-Minute movement, the workers pledge to arrive ten minutes early to set up their tools and machines; and under the Five-Minute movement, the workers stay five minutes later cleaning the workshops…

In bigger plants, Stakhanovite Schools press for “outstanding” results in production. There are Schools of Reciprocal Training, Schools of Outstanding Quality Production, Raw Material and Material Saving Schools, Schools of Quick-Processing Methods, Schools of Increasing Profitableness, and so on.” (Ernst Helmreich, Hungary, p. 279)

However, there were reactionary conservative elements too:

“Budapest Stakhanovite, Jozsef Kiszlinger… a skilled worker in the highly unionised heavy-engineering sector, had ‘endless problems with the older [workers]’ when he tried to improve his own work performance.” (From the vanguard to the margins: workers in Hungary, 1939 to the present: selected essays by Mark Pittaway, p. 65)

At the second congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party, Rakosi said:

“The Soviet Union helps us in the building of our most modern factories, give us its best machines, most up-to-date manufacturing processes and, what is no less important, puts its best scientists and ace workers at our disposal. The best engineers and technicians of the Soviet Union, led by Academician Bardin, the world-famous foundry expert, have visited us, people whose advice and guidance means a service to us which cannot be overestimated.

Comrade Bikov was here and passed on his experience in the field of fast cutting. Comrade Zuravlyov taught our foundrymen the method of quick smelting. Comrade Petrov, the chief foundry-man of the Stalin Automobile Factory, passed on his experience in the fields of casting and foundry work. Comrade Dubyaga helped us to transfer to the multi-machine system in the textile industry. Comrade Annanyeva taught our spinning workers how to decrease scrap to the minimum in the spinning mills. Comrade Shavlugyin taught our bricklayers the fast bricklaying method. Comrades Maximenko, Koba and Zuyev developed a whole team of Stakhanovites among our building workers. Comrade Panin taught the Hungarian engine drivers to increase the average speed of our railways. Filimonov, Padgarov and Logvinyenko gave help to our miners in acquiring methods of handling mining machinery, and so on…

It is well known that the Hungarian Stakhanovite movement increased tremendously, following the passing on of work methods by the Soviet Stakhanovites. Their pupils are Imre Muszka, turner, who passes on his methods of work in the Matyas Rakosi Works; Ignacz Pioker, carpenter in the Egyesult Izzo Works; Lajos Kugler, rolling-mill worker in Diosgyor, whose brigade is the best in the country; Sandor Szoczei, the locksmith, who received the Kossuth prize; Mrs. Arpad Ormai, the weaver, who received the Kossuth prize; Mrs. Janos Makar, who works on sixteen weaving machines in the Hungarian Cotton Works; Erzsabet Piszkei, who works on twenty-two automatic machines in Gyor; Barnabas Varga, Tata-banya miner, who received the Kossuth award for his outstanding work; Jozsef Dietrich, Stakhanovite miner; Andras Tajkov, the best miner in Tatabanya; Zoltan Pozsonyi, the building worker, who received the Kossuth award; Jozsef Lengyel, the best engine driver; and hundreds and thousands of those Stakhanovites who form the vanguard of Hungarian Socialist industry…

The transplantation of the highly developed Soviet Socialist methods of production to Hungary is being speeded by visits of our engineers, workers and specialists to the Soviet Union, and by students studying at the universities of that country…

It must be mentioned that in the field of the exchange of experience and mutual aid, a similar relationship is being formed with the countries of the friendly Peoples’ Democracies. Experience acquired by the Peoples’ Democracies and its exchange is also important for the reason that the conditions of development in these countries are, by and large, similar to ours and, therefore, these useful experiences can easily be transplanted to our country.

The Council for Mutual Economic Aid [comecon] and the fact that an increasingly larger part of our foreign trade is carried on with the Soviet Union and the friendly countries having a planned economy, have greatly contributed to our peaceful development.” (Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party)


“Nationally, the state planned to recruit seventy-six thousand women into industry over the course of the first five-year plan. This drive to recruit women was combined with a campaign to subvert older gender hierarchies by breaking the male monopoly over certain skilled trades. A policy of affirmative action was introduced to ensure that a minimum of thirty to fifty percent of training enrolments for skilled work were filled by young women… [There was] furious resistance of male skilled workers rooted in gendered notions of hierarchy…“ (From the vanguard to the margins: workers in Hungary, 1939 to the present: selected essays by Mark Pittaway, p. 84)

Communists came out with slogans such as “women into university, technology, Parliament” (Árpád Pünkösti, Rákosi a hatalomért)


Even according to anti-communists Aczel and Meray:

“the overwhelming majority of the new generation fully identified itself with that Party.”
(Aczel & Meray, p. 39)

“they went out on “house-to-house agitation,” did “cultural work,” lectured on Marxism-Leninism, delivered election speeches, and sacrificed all their spare time for the Party. Those who think that this was mere careerism… clearly ignore the feverish emotions burning in a young Communist.” (Aczel & Meray, p. 43)

“In this war-torn country, life returned to normal within a miraculously short time. The ruins, instead of depressing the people, seemed to serve as a challenge. Within a few brief months, the whole country hummed like a busy beehive” (Aczel & Meray, p. 40)

“The Communists’ popularity grew, and this was due to a large extent to the fact that, consciously and purposefully, they always presented programs that served the interests of the poorest strata but, at the same time, benefited the entire nation…” (Aczel & Meray, p. 41)

“The smiling faces and the overcrowded shops were arguments in favor of those who had now seized power and who were managing the country’s affairs…. The ecstasy of rapid and somewhat unexpected success was present everywhere. A kind of dizzy exaltation swelled the heart and numbed the brain.” (Aczel & Meray, p. 71)

“Opportunities abounded, particularly at the lower rungs of the ladder and in government employ: there were jobs to be had, apartments to be occupied at subsidized rents, places in schools reserved for the children of workers” (Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, p. 176)

“It is important… to keep in mind (much as you may dislike to hear it) that… non-Communists of the highest talent and experience play along freely with the Communists, and take part in their administrations.” (Behind the curtain, p. 40)

“Budapest is a totally different thing from Belgrade… The people on the streets are better dressed… My wife kept saying that she hardly dared go out, because she felt shabby in comparison to the enormously pretty young Hungarian women. The cafés are animated, and almost everybody makes jokes… Goods of excellent quality are available in the shops” (Behind the curtain, p. 165)

“We strolled up Vaci Utca… and Andrassy Boulevard… The shop windows are full of handsomely designed leather goods, women’s shoes and sandals, silk haberdashery, furs, perfumes. Antique shops had Florentine candlesticks and massive Hungarian hand-painted furniture… at a bookstore… The place of honor in the window was held by a translation of a new novel by Ludwig Bemelmans. And in addition to the inevitable Upton Sinclairs and Theodore Dreisers, we saw books by Pearl Buck, Somerset Maugham, Louis Bromfield, Evenly Waugh. The kiosks told us that a play by J. B. Priestley was a hit, and that you could see both Shaw and Shakespeare.” (Behind the curtain, p. 168)

“we visited a factory, the Manfred Weiss works on Czepel… The factory is completely nationalized… The average wage… was 700 forints a month ($60.00) for unskilled labor, and 800 up for skilled. Also a modified Stakhanoff system is in operation, with bonuses for piecework. If a worker becomes ill, he is on full wages for the first six weeks; then he gets 65 percent of his wages for a year” there are “twenty-five days of vacation at full pay, and eight holidays… The workers get free milk, and pay only a token fee for lunch; they get clothes and so on at sharply reduced prices. The plant has, on the Russian mode, a theater, free schools, a nursery, clinics for pregnant women, a college for adult education, various clubs and culture “corners”, and a large playground and athletic field. We watched two football teams scrambling together, and some tennis matches. Always, visiting a new city behind the Curtain, we would try to keep one question foremost in mind: “Is this regime really doing something for the people?” Visiting this factory anyway we felt that the answer was a fairly clear Yes.” (Behind the Curtain, p. 171)

Gunther spoke to a man named “Dr. Y.” who was briefly in jail for Nazi sympathies: “He was treated well enough in jail, and then released… He said that there was no “hot” terror, no violent excesses” but instead “No one will hire him since he is suspect”. “Several Hungarians we talked to gave us the same impression. Nonpolitical people go about quite freely without surveillance; there was little thought of a rap on the door at midnight, and the Gestapo bursting in. A professional man told me, “With my own eyes I saw women and children shot by the Germans as they ran down the streets in terror, and their bodies… hurled into the river!” Nothing remotely like this, he went on, goes on today.” (Behind the curtain, pp. 172-173)

“Jozsef Révai was not far from the truth when, speaking to an American journalist who inquired about the “terror” in Hungary, he said that such a contention was at variance with facts. “If as a seasoned reporter,” he said, “you walk the streets of our capital for only an hour, you find the answer yourself. No guards patrol the streets, traffic policemen are unarmed, you are not asked to identify yourself, not even if you travel from one end of the country to the other. Hungarian democracy employs 28,000 policemen and 12,000 soldiers. No other country in Europe has fewer. Our strength lies in our democratic workers and peasants.”” (Eric Roman, Hungary and the victor powers, 1945-1950, p. 198)

Journalist “Demaree Bess.. had no difficulty entering Hungary, “found very little mystery about what is going on,” and talked to everyone he wanted to meet” (Edgar Snow, Stalin Must Have Peace, p. 98)

“There were after all important empirical signs of improvement. The government could abolish the rationing of most of the foodstuff, the reconstruction of the destroyed cities was well on its way, people’s colleges were organized, the tertiary educational system was opened for all… cultural life was thriving.” (Agnes Heller, Legitimation Deficit and Legitimation Crisis in East European Societies)

In contrast “food rationing in Britain only ended in 1954… ‘It was queues for everything, you know, even if you didn’t know what you were queuing for… you joined it because you knew there was something at the end of it'” (Judt, p. 163)

Economist Warriner also wrote that in “Hungary… consumer goods are conspicuously plentiful and cheap.” (p. 116)


Nemes, History of the Revolutionary Workers Movement in Hungary: 1944-1962*

Bennett Kovrig, Communism in Hungary: from Kun to Kādār

Jörg K. Hoensch, A history of modern Hungary

Rakosi, Speech Delivered at the Election Rally of the Hungarian People’s Independence Front in Budapest on May 10, 1953

Rakosi, Unity congress of the Workers’ Party of Hungary

Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party

Rakosi, Speech at the Introduction of the Budget for 1953 in the National Assembly

Rakosi, Strengthening the People’s Democratic Order

Péter Gál & Gyula Németh, Hungary: A Comprehensive Guide

Zsigmond Móricz, Relations

Zsuzsanna Borvendég & Mária Palasik in “In the Name of the Great Work: Stalin’s Plan for the Transformation of Nature and its Impact in Eastern Europe” ed. Doubravka Olšáková

Zinner, Revolution in Hungary

Stone, Hungary: A short history

László Borhi, Hungary in the Cold War, 1945-1956: between the United States and the Soviet Union

Ernst Helmreich, Hungary

Shawcross, Crime and compromise: Janos Kadar and the politics of Hungary since revolution

Klugmann, From Trotsky to Tito

Gunther, Behind the curtain

Hungarian Central Statistical Office, 1993

Warriner, Revolution In Eastern Europe

Borsányi & Kende, The History of the Working Class Movement in Hungary*

Janos Berecz, 1956 Counter-Revolution in Hungary*

Hugh Seton-Watson, introduction to Imre Nagy On Communism

Henrik Vass, Studies on the History of the Hungarian Working-Class Movement (1867-1966)*

From the vanguard to the margins: workers in Hungary, 1939 to the present: selected essays by Mark Pittaway

Árpád Pünkösti, Rákosi a hatalomért

Aczel & Meray, Revolt of the mind

Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945

Eric Roman, Hungary and the victor powers, 1945-1950

Edgar Snow, Stalin Must Have Peace

Agnes Heller, Legitimation Deficit and Legitimation Crisis in East European Societies

See also Erno Gero’s discussion of theoretical aspects of Stakhanovism in Hungary: “About the Stakhanovite Movement in the People’s Democracies”

*Nemes, Borsanyi & Kende, Berecz and Vass are kadarist revisionist authors. They correctly describe the successes of the first 3 years of the Five Year Plan but falsely accuse the increased plan targets of being ultra-leftist and causing problems. This topic will be covered when we start discussing the rise of Hungarian revisionism.

“Toivo Antikainen – fearless fighter, talented human being” by Mirjam Tiilikainen

Source: SKP – Taistelujen tiellä (1945). Translated by ML-theory blog.

When we speak about the Finnish communist party’s path of struggle, we cannot neglect speaking about Toivo Antikainen, an exemplary revolutionary, fearless fighter and honest comrade. There were no peaceful idle days, no rest, no carefree times in the life of Toivo Antikainen, Toiska, instead there was work and struggle, heroic deeds of bravery and devotion to our dear cause, the struggle for the welfare and happiness of our people. It is exactly because of his determination in struggle, never wavering, and because of his burning devotion, that Toivo Antikainen has meant so much for our party and is so liked, not only in Finland, but also beyond our borders.

It is futile to even attempt in a short article, to fully describe the life and work of Toivo Antikainen. It has been too rich in experience and too complicated. He was born in Helsinki in 1898 to an upholsterer [furniture textile maker] family. Already at the age of 7, Toivo had to take part in providing for the family by selling newspapers. At a very young age he joined “ihanneliitto” [social-democratic children’s organization] and social-democratic youth league where he soon became a frontline fighter due to his burning energy and motivation. Toiska participated in the 1918 revolution with all the energy of his youth, by organizing red guard divisions, inspiring the youth with his fiery speeches to rise to battle and to be resilient in it, and by taking part in a variety of different activities.

After our revolution suffered defeat, Antikainen moved to Soviet-Russia, where he immediately joined the military of the new socialist state – the Red Army – to continue fighting for freedom and workers’ rights. He understood that the young soviet state was the friend and support of the workers in our country, and that’s why he took part in defending it with his full enthusiasm. Antikainen participates in the defense of Petrograd against Yudenich, repels invasions by Finnish white guards in Aunus in 1919, goes after plunderer invaders in the North with the Finnish VI regiment etc.

Antikainen is the first student in the Finnish red officer courses, where he graduated in 1919 as a commander. He gets additional education in the International military school as head of a machine gun command committee, is steeled and earns experience on the front against Yudenich, in Aunus, Karelia and again in Aunus. His troops fought bravely and fearlessly, and those who were with Toiska in battle never forget his courage, initiative and sense of humor, which was present even during the worst attacks. Toiska managed to cheer up his own troops, to make the enemy ridiculous. There probably aren’t as many stories and jokes about any other Finnish fighter then Toiska. Old revolutionaries, partisans and military school students still tell them to each other, smiling.

– – –

Winter 1921-22. Again the Finnish white guards attack Soviet-Karelia, conquering by surprise large areas. The leadership of the Red army makes a bold plan, which the commander of the Karelian military region, A. Sedjakin, gives to a ski company, formed from the students of the International military school and lead by Toiska, to carry out.

According to the plan, the ski troops of Antikainen were to enter enemy territory, and once there, destroy enemy units that came in their way, discover the locations of the enemy command and destroy them, capture Repola and from there advance to Kiimasjärvi without delay. There was no information regarding the enemy’s strength in Repola or Kiimasjärvi. Only one who knows the nearly impenetrable Karelian forests, tall ridges and harsh winter can understand all that this mission involved. Nobody expected the Red army to embark on such an impossible mission, and thus it came as a total surprise to the white guards. The forces of Antikainen travelled 1000 km on skis on unmarked paths, fought a dozen battles, destroyed the enemy command and supplies, and thus caused their resistance to break. Crossing Kiimasvaara was the most dangerous part of the mission. Carrying their skis, wading in the deep snow, in the darkness of night and snowstorm, becoming more exhausted every minute, the forces heroically advanced forward. Toiska inspired and encouraged his troops, helped carry burdens of the most tired and organized support for them. They advanced from stone to stone, every step ahead was a victory. Some went missing during that bleak, dark winter night, but most made it. In the greyness of dawn the peak of Kiimasvaara was conquered. The village of Kiimasjärvi, where the white guards, completely oblivious, were carrying out their morning routines, was visible. The ski company rested for a while, until Toiska’s command was heard: on your skis, towards the enemy. At that moment these excellent skiers and brave fighters flew down the slope of Kiimasjärvi like a snow fall, and the white guards were completely taken by surprise. The village was taken, one of the most beautiful stories of heroism, and legendary missions of the Soviet civil war, ended victoriously. Toivo Antikainen and the 26 other participants of the mission were awarded with the highest honor of the time – the Red Flag medal. Many songs have been made in honor of that mission. Gennady Fisch wrote a novel about it [Падение Кимасозера / The fall of Kiimasjärvi / Kiimasjärven valtaus, 1933] and Lenfilm made the movie “For the soviet motherland” [За Советскую Родину (1937)].

– – –

The military career of Toivo Antikainen steeled him into a fearless fighter. At the same time he immersed himself to Lenin’s theory, he became a communist. The success and development of the Finnish workers’ movement was always on his mind. Toiska loved our country in his own unselfish way. When fighting in the ranks of the Red Army on different fronts, he was inspired by the thought that while fighting against white guards of different countries, especially Finnish, he is fighting against the enemies of the Finnish working class, who are bringing our nation to disaster with their adventurist and warlike policies. But Toivo Antikainen knew that the Finnish working class had to create the basis of their happiness and well-being through their own struggle. He took part in founding the Finnish Communist Party and organizing the revolutionary youth movement in Finland. It’s understandable that youth organizing was especially close to him. Toivo Antikainen also enthusiastically takes part in the work of the Comintern and receives recognition and responsibilities. The Comintern Executive Committee recommends him to leading party work and in 1923 Toivo Antikainen is elected into the C.C. of the Finnish Communist Party, and he has consistently, as much as circumstances have permitted, been participating in the party’s leadership. Toiska’s untiring work ethic, initiative and energy have been an antidote of the best kind against all stagnation. His sharp political intellect, theoretical clarity as well as his revolutionary fighting will and activeness made him the closest comrade in leadership to Kuusinen and Sirola. It was a joy seeing Toiska fighting for the party’s line against distorters and opportunists. His clever points and sense of humor quickly convinced even the most wavering to side with the party’s line. When needed, Toiska didn’t hesitate to step into the most dangerous position – leadership of the immediate work of the party.

6th of November 1934, the State Police managed to capture Toivo Antikainen. We remember the stages of the court case, lying accusations, pressuring (even murder – Rask) of witnesses, lying under oath, the campaign of slander by the newspapers, and the other methods by which they tried to make a murderer out of Antikainen, and thus weaken the trust of the working class and the people in him and the party. But Toivo Antikainen didn’t surrender. Proudly rang his words:

“Who am I, what do I aim for? I am a bolshevik, a responsible worker in a party belonging to the Communist International. I have kept as the principles of my work, the teachings and instructions of Marx and Engels, of their most devoted students, further developers of their thought, builders of socialism and leaders of the world proletariat – Lenin and Stalin, program and decisions of the Comintern, instructions and decisions of the Finnish Communist Party.”

Because of the brave presentation of Antikainen, which was so much above that of his lowly accusers, and due to the trust he had earlier won by working among the working masses, the case garnered a lot of attention both in our country and abroad. Here, in Sweden, America, France, Norway and Denmark there was a large campaign for his release. However, Toiska was given a life sentence.

Six years he had to be separated from his comrades, among criminals or in a lonely cell. Even in prison he won the trust and admiration of his fellows because of his honest and down to earth conduct. Toiska’s health suffered much during these years, but when in 1940 he was released at the demands of the Soviet government – and due to the ceasefire agreement he was able to move to the Soviet Union – he once again began taking an active part in the work, his enthusiasm and energy were the same.

The people of Karelia, who had not forgotten their heroic liberator, showed him their confidence by electing him to the Supreme Soviet of the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Republic. When German-Finnish troops attacked the Soviet land, Antikainen again embarked on the familiar path of struggle. During the war that has now ended, he worked as a liaison officer on the Karelian front, and taught new cadres with all his enthusiasm. The words of the famous Danish author Martin Andersen Nexø from the time of the Antikainen court case fit him most excellently:

“He is one of those extraordinary people who inspires souls wherever he is. Over the whole Karelia he worked like a beacon light, wherever he plunged to visibility. . . Stories were told about him, he became a creature of legend, which he deserves. Good fortune in battle and ingenuity in battle came to life in him. An awesome volcano, fearless fighter, and exceptionally talented human being.”

Some thoughts on the sources of khrushchevite revisionism

I’m going to further develop the ideas expressed in this article and write about this topic in greater detail with more sources, once I have more time to research.


Among self-described anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninists, one often hears two basic explanations: one view is that Khrushchev came to power in a plot. Another view is that there were serious mistakes in Soviet policy, which gave rise to Khrushchevite revisionism.

While admitting that Khrushchev came to power in an undemocratic coup, some characterize the “plot theory” as naïve and superficial. They say that it is wrong to believe “everything was fine” in the USSR until Stalin died, and ‘evil revisionists’ simply ‘suddenly came to power’. As marxists, they seek the answer in material conditions of society (and the ideological conditions arising therefrom). However, in my opinion they go too far in one extreme, they over analyze every ideological position in the Stalin era USSR (especially in its later period) to try to find the roots of Khrushchevism.

Some of them blame the Soviet Union for being too patriotic, such as this particularly bad ultra-leftist article:

“During the war there was, understandably, an upsurge of national feeling against the Nazi aggressors, but Stalin encouraged this far beyond a point compatible with the proletarian internationalist principles on which the Soviet state was based… Although the process of degeneration was not completed in the Soviet Union until sometime after the war, it was already well advanced in 1939.” (“The Origin and Development of Revisionism in the Soviet Union” by M. F.)

The article also claims that “thousands of innocents” were killed on Stalin’s orders, because he was “isolated from the masses”, “had no mass line” and that the trials of titoists in Eastern Europe were “frame-ups”. The article makes countless other false statements.

Others, such as the Russian Communist Workers’ Party (which recently adopted a position, uniting with blatant Russian revisionists and defending Russia in the inter-imperialist war), have claimed that the Stalin Constitution of 1936 was one of the reasons for the rise of Khrushchevite revisionism. They write that the election rules of the Stalin Constitution

“were prerequisites for a parliamentary system divorced from labor collectives… contributed to… bureaucratization of the whole system of state power.” (100 years since the Great October Socialist Revolution and the lessons for contemporary сommunists – REPORT OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE RUSSIAN COMMUNIST WORKERS’ PARTY (RCWP-CPSU))

Was everything fine in the USSR under Lenin and Stalin? Things are never “absolutely” correct or “absolutely” fine. But the party and state generally followed a correct policy. I do not accept the suggestion that the line of Stalin was so seriously flawed that it “gave rise to revisionism”. Some people seem to believe it is necessary to blame Khrushchev on Stalin era mistakes, or else we don’t have a materialist explanation for Soviet revisionism. That is false.

It is fundamentally wrong to attribute revisionism to Stalin, as it would mean attributing revisionism to the opponents of revisionism, equating revisionism and anti-revisionism. In reality there were two opposing tendencies: the correct line of Stalin, and the revisionist line of Khrushchev. Those who blame Stalin, accuse him of falling into right-deviationism, which gave rise to Khrushchev, but that’s wrong. In reality, Malenkov and his supporters (possibly also Beria) were the ones who represented right-deviation. Khrushchev also supported Malenkov’s foreign policy and even Molotov and Kaganovich went along with it. But Malenkov’s position of lessening tensions and lessening ideological struggle, was totally the opposite of Stalin. In reality it seems that Malenkov was the one who paved way for Khrushchev.

We can find certain elements in Stalin era (and Lenin era) policy which were later distorted, re-interpreted and re-used by Khrushchevite revisionism, but that doesn’t mean the roots of Khrushchevite theories are actually in Lenin or Stalin era policies. All revisionism is distortion of marxism, and as a result it always takes certain elements from marxism and twists them.

People often claim “Stalin must have been wrong, because he failed to prevent revisionism”. In a sense that is true, but as long as capitalism exists, it will always create revisionism. There was nothing Stalin could’ve done to prevent revisionism from ever appearing. Stalin’s only failure was that revisionists actually captured state power after Stalin had already died. Stalin was not able to predict and create a theory about Modern Revisionism, Soviet Revisionism, but that is not a mistake in any typical sense. We wouldn’t say Marx was wrong and made “rightist mistakes”, or whatever, because he didn’t have a theory of Imperialism.

It is well known that Stalin predicted capitalist restoration would only succeed if there was a foreign invasion of the USSR. Obviously that did not happen, largely because Stalin was able to prevent any such invasion by strengthening the defensive capacity of the USSR. However, Stalin actually predicted that revisionists would try to come to power through a trotskyite-bukharinite plot. He did not fully foresee Modern Revisionism, but he closely predicted certain aspects of it.

People look for the roots of Khrushchevism in the Soviet economic base and structure of the state. But in my opinion, they will not find Khrushchevism there. The truth is that Khrushchevism can be seemingly “discovered” within the Soviet economy and superstructure only because socialism still suffers from remnants of capitalism both in “bourgeois right” and “in the minds of the people”. Khrushchevite revisionism is not a product of Stalin’s mistakes, Khrushchevite revisionism is a product of capitalist influence, capitalist remnants.

So how should we understand the Khrushchevite coup? It is not entirely naïve or superficial to claim Khrushchevites primarily came to power in a conspiracy and not as a result of any slow degeneration or rightward deviation. The Trotsky-Bukharin group tried to come to power through a conspiracy. The roots of trotskyism and bukharinism do not lay in “Stalin’s flaws” or “Lenin’s flaws” but in capitalist remnants and capitalist influences which are inevitable until socialism achieves final and complete victory.

Similarly, the group of Khrushchev and Mikoyan came to power in basically a conspiracy, and there are many similarities between them and the Trotsky-Bukharin group. Khrushchev advocated a rightist line basically akin to Bukharin (which was supported by the entire Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites). Khrushchev’s accusations against Stalin are basically fundamentally trotskyist, and it is quite possible Khrushchev would have even rehabilitated Trotsky if it hadn’t been prevented by other members of the Central Committee (mainly Molotov and Kaganovich). As a result of resistance by genuine marxists, Khrushchev was able to only condemn the criminal prosecution of bukharinists and trotskyists, but not their ideological annihilation by Stalin.

Based on their actions, it is entirely possible (and even likely) that Khrushchev and Mikoyan belonged to the Right Opposition or the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites in the 1930s (in fact, sources have claimed as much). In the 1930s Khrushchev and Mikoyan tried to hypocritically give completely boundless praise to Stalin and to foster a cult around Stalin, which was actually a common bukharinist-trotskyist tactic practiced e.g. by Bukharin and Radek.

“The links between Trotsky and Khrushchev were not merely political, theoretical and ideological. The memoirs of Kaganovich reveal that in 1923 and 1924, Khrushchev had been a member of the Trotskyist opposition. At the end of 1924 he ‘realised’ his error and admitted it. He requested Kaganovich to shift his area of work so that he could make a break from his earlier political links. After consulting Stalin, Kaganovich had transferred him to new areas of work. Khrushchev, argues Kaganovich, later conducted good work against the deviation of the right opposition. He was later promoted as the secretary of the Moscow Committee… Commenting on the activities of Khrushchev in his years of power based on his experiences, and after reading the memoirs of the former Soviet leader, Kaganovich argued that: it turned out that Khrushchev did not prove to be a simple chameleon, but a ‘recidivist’ of Trotskyism.” (Vijay Singh, Some Reflections on ‘Khrushchev Lied’ by Grover Furr)

We can see from history that the bourgeoisie will use spies and traitors against socialism. We have seen this not only from the case of the Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites, the case of the All-Union Menshevik Bureau, and from the Rajk, Slansky, Kostov and Xoxe cases. We also have the example of Yugoslavia, where a gang of capitalist agents actually successfully took power already in the Stalin era. Why should we approach Khrushchev fundamentally differently from Rajk and Tito? Of course there are differences, but not fundamental ones. Tito came to power in a state which was not a leading super power. As a result Yugoslavia became a US puppet against the Socialist Camp. However, Khrushchev came to power in a world super power, and as a result the USSR developed to an independent imperialist state.

There is nothing inherently naive or superficial in the view that Khrushchev was basically a secret member of the Trotsky-gang, who succeeded in the criminal plot attempted by Trotsky.

What would Trotsky have done if his plot had succeeded? He would’ve killed Stalin, and would’ve claimed he saved Soviet democracy “from bureaucracy”. Possibly the assassination of Stalin would’ve been hidden or obscured somehow. Khrushchev also claimed he saved the USSR from Stalinist “despotism” and characterized Stalin as an anti-democratic bureaucrat. Khrushchev was required to mask his revisionism better than anyone else had done up to that point, and that is a special feature of Soviet Revisionism. However, the other revisionist traitors (Trotsky, Bukharin, Tito) rationalized and justified their policies by claiming that they represented genuine Leninism, and perhaps only special conditions resulted in them not covering up their views even better. What special conditions?

The Trotsky-Bukharin opposition had an established tradition, established views and supporters. They adopted those views openly which supported their political goals. Those views were noticeably different from the line of the Bolshevik party, which made their revisionism easily recognizable, but that is because they were competing with the party line. Tito based himself on chauvinism and also competed against the Bolshevik line. Khrushchev achieved power inside the Bolshevik party, and did not lead a movement outside it. He also worked at a time when the opposition movements were already long dead. As a result, he had definite reasons to choose the tactic he did, i.e. posing as an “orthodox” Marxist-Leninist, only making “corrections”.

That being said, were there any particular ideological or economic factors which actually contributed to the rise of Khrushchev? Of course there were. After WWII there was a noticeable rightist danger. Dimitrov stated at the 7th comintern congress that popular front tactics are correct, but lead to an increased rightist danger (“We must increase our vigilance…bearing in mind that the danger of Right opportunism will increase in proportion as the wide united front develops more and more”.). The same goes for People’s Democracy which was being built in Eastern Europe, and similar tactics which were being used by western communist parties, as well as the broad Peace Movement which was a key focus of the USSR. It would be wrong to conclude that any of these tactics (People’s Democracy, Popular & United Front, Peace Movement) were mistaken or false, but they obviously contained risks, just like every tactic.

The coalition between the USSR and the Western Allies during WWII also led to deviations, which are best exemplified by Browderism. Khrushchev and Malenkov adopted certain similar positions with Browder related to “Peaceful Coexistence”. There was also a spontaneous and legitimately harmful tendency towards right-deviation caused by the objective economic and ideological conditions in the post-WWII period in the USSR. There had been a coalition with the West, an increased influence of Western culture, emphasis on anti-fascist unity, national unity and a lessening of struggle between certain sections of the Soviet intelligentsia etc. This was combated already in the Stalin era in the increased vigilance campaigns in art, science and culture starting in 1947, in the campaigns against “servility towards the West” (cosmopolitanism). Stalin and his comrades understood the problem and acted correctly. These policies were reversed by Malenkov and Khrushchev and were never restored, though Brezhnevites adopted a relatively more anti-Western position from the standpoint of Russian chauvinism.

In my opinion there was a spontaneous tendency towards the Right in the post-war environment because people were exhausted by war. They wanted consumer goods, relaxation and entertainment. However, there was also the opposite tendency, which was by no means bound to fail. This opposite tendency was the class conscious socialist tendency, which understood the necessity for increased industrialization, increased vigilance, re-equipping of the defense forces, and was enthusiastic for the post-war reconstruction and the march towards construction of Communism. The difference is that the Rightist tendency was spontaneous while the correct tendency was conscious. When the leadership of the party was decapitated, by the death of Stalin, but also of Zhdanov and others, the new leaders did not continue providing class conscious leadership but instead introduced muddled and confused views that fed spontaneity and were fed by spontaneity.

Malenkov, Beria and Khrushchev all had similarly muddled views, which (apparently) Molotov and Kaganovich also were fooled into tolerating. I am talking about individual leaders here, and marxists often times think individuals don’t matter at all, and that only economic factors and classes have influence. But actually the position of Marxism-Leninism is that individual political leaders represent classes. It is not meaningless who is the leader. It was never meaningless whether Trotsky or Lenin became leader, or whether Trotsky or Stalin became leader. It was a very important question. In the exact same way, it was not an insignificant fact that the most powerful post-Stalin figures were muddleheaded and made rightist mistakes (e.g. Malenkov), or were outright traitors (Khrushchev in particular).

Someone might ask, how did Malenkov end up making such mistakes, or how did he end up holding so much power if his grasp on theory was so poor. The fact is, as Lenin says in “Marxism and Revisionism”, new conditions always create new possibilities for revisionism and mistakes. Bukharin was not an idiot either, far from it, and yet he was completely misguided and wrong, which turned him into an enemy of the working class. Everyone makes mistakes, but as Lenin says in “Left-wing communism, it only matters how quickly one realizes and corrects those mistakes. The only way to remain on the correct path is to have a firm basis in Marxism-Leninism, and the most important principle of Marxism-Leninism is class struggle. Malenkov clearly forgot that principle and Khrushchev hired his “theoreticians” to try to theoretically justify abandoning it.

Molotov and Kaganovich were not stupid either, nor were they disloyal to Marxism-Leninism. And yet they did not fully understand the shift towards the Right, nor the nature of Khrushchevite revisionism. It is clear from Molotov’s memoirs he did not understand it clearly. Other brave and honest fighters, very intelligent and even ingenious people such as M. Rakosi also did not fully understand it. He considered Khrushchevite revisionism in Hungary (Kadarism) to be a social-democratic restoration, and did not clearly see it as a qualitatively new kind of revisionism, Modern Revisionism. Stalin was only a person, but still an exceptional person, whose theoretical leadership allowed the party to follow the correct path. It is not an exaggeration to say that many smart people fell into mistakes when they no longer had Stalin to instruct them.

However, Marxist-Leninists, such as Molotov, Rakosi, Revai, Bierut, Chervenkov and many others (not to mention Zhdanov, Dimitrov, Gottwald etc., had they been still alive*) understood that Malenkov was a Right-deviationist who was forgetting class struggle, and that something similar was true of Khrushchev. Their class instinct warned them about Khrushchev, even though they did not have a theory of Modern Revisionism yet. I do not want to characterize them as hopelessly inadequate to understand the situation. They were only temporarily shaken and fooled, which cost them everything.

*I wonder if it is a coincidence that Stalin, Zhdanov, Scherbakov and Dimitrov died under suspicious conditions while in the USSR. Vyshinsky died mysteriously in New York in 1954. Gottwald died at Stalin’s funeral while Bierut died at the 20th congress of the CPSU. Despite probably not even being marxist-leninists, but only his rivals, even Abakumov and Beria were executed secretly by Khrushchev.

Why did they lose the struggle? They did not have the special theoretical genius needed in a situation like that. None of them was Lenin. None of them was Stalin. Of course they also had many other problems. Molotov, Kaganovich and Rakosi were forced to maneuver under revisionist pressure. They were also caught off guard. The escalating world situation scared many people into accepting Malenkovist appeasement of the West. There were many factors, but the simple generalization is that every new situation creates new possibilities for mistakes. There were both objective necessary conditions, as well as accidental conditions which helped Khrushchev. They coincided with the death of Stalin and Zhdanov, which weakened the party’s theoretical level severely. This was not something inevitable, nor was it rooted in mistakes.

However, Khrushchevite revisionism necessarily was a qualitatively new kind of revisionism, much more refined, much more dangerous than any previous revisionism. As Lenin said in “Marxism and Revisionism” the struggle between revisionism and genuine Marxism only increases as the revolutionary process proceeds. Trotskyite revisionism was a new and more dangerous vanguard of world reaction. That role was later taken up by Tito. But conditions to defeat those existed, and Marxism-Leninism triumphed. Khrushchevite revisionism was a new and even more dangerous, higher form of anti-marxism posing as Marxism. It would’ve taken exceptional skill (subjective factor) and certain conditions (objective factor) to prevent it. Those were lacking, and Marxist-Leninists were defeated.

In the future the same will not be repeated, because we now understand what Modern Revisionism is. We now understand revisionism much better then ever before. Mistakes are still inevitable, but every time Marxism and the revolutionary process advances further. The victory of Marxism is actually inevitable, although it requires intense sacrifice, devotion and hard work.