Second Hungarian Republic

Last updated
Hungarian Republic

Magyar Köztársaság
Flag of Hungary (1946-1949, 1956-1957; 1-2 aspect ratio).svg
Coat of arms of Hungary (1946-1949).svg
Coat of arms
Anthem:  Himnusz
(English: "Hymn")
Ungheria (1945-1949).png
Common languages Hungarian
Government Unitary parliamentary republic (1946–1947)
Zoltán Tildy
Árpád Szakasits
Prime Minister  
Ferenc Nagy
Lajos Dinnyés
István Dobi
Legislature National Assembly
Historical era Cold War
 Monarchy abolished
1 February 1946
10 February 1947
31 May 1947 [1]
20 August 1949
1946 [2] 93,073 km2 (35,936 sq mi)
1947 [2] 93,011 km2 (35,912 sq mi)
1949 [2] 93,011 km2 (35,912 sq mi)
 1949 [3]
Currency Pengő  / Adópengő  b
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of Hungary (1915-1918, 1919-1946).svg Kingdom of Hungary
Hungarian People's Republic Flag of Hungary (1949-1956; 1-2 aspect ratio).svg
Today part ofFlag of Hungary.svg  Hungary
Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia c
  1. Predominantly Roman Catholic.
  2. Until 1 August 1946.
  3. Bratislava bridgehead until 10 February 1947.

The Second Hungarian Republic (Hungarian : Magyar Köztársaság) was a parliamentary republic briefly established after the disestablishment of the Kingdom of Hungary on 1 February 1946 and was itself dissolved on 20 August 1949. It was succeeded by the People's Republic of Hungary.


The Republic was proclaimed in the aftermath of the Soviet occupation of Hungary at the end of World War II in Europe and with the formal abolition of the Hungarian monarchy in February 1946, whose throne had been vacant since 1918. Initially the period was characterized by an uneasy coalition government between pro-democracy elements—primarily the Independent Smallholders' Party—and the Hungarian Communist Party. At Soviet insistence, the Communists had received key posts in the new cabinet, particularly the Interior Ministry: despite the Smallholders' Party's landslide victory in the 1945 elections. From that position the Communists were able to use political intrigue to systematically eliminate their opponents segment by segment through political intrigue and fabricated conspiracy, a process that Communist leader Mátyás Rákosi called "salami tactics."

By June 1947 the Communist Party had gutted the Smallholders' Party as a political force through the mass arrests and forced exile of its main leaders and had gained effective control of the government, installing a fellow traveller as Prime Minister. New elections in August 1947 increased the Communists' share of the vote, though non-Communist parties won essentially the same number of votes as in 1945 and the elections were marred with fraud and intimidation. Regardless, further Communist machinations and intrigues managed to liquidate most of the remaining opposition parties within the next year. This culminated in their merger with the Social Democratic Party of Hungary in June 1948 to form the Hungarian Working People's Party; essentially an expanded Communist Party under a new name. The government instituted programs of nationalization of key industries as part of the Sovietization of the Hungarian economy and society as the country entered the Soviet sphere of influence. In August 1949, the country was formally proclaimed to be a people's republic with the Communists as the sole legal party. This arrangement would last, aside from a brief break in 1956, until the end of Communism in Hungary in 1989–90.


From September 1944 until April 1945, as World War II in Europe drew to a close, the Red Army occupied Hungary. The Siege of Budapest lasted almost two months and much of the city was destroyed. Neither the Western Allies nor the Soviet Union supported any changes to Hungary's pre-1938 borders, so the peace treaty signed by Hungary in 1947 declared that "The decisions of the Vienna Award of 2 November 1938 are declared null and void". [4] This meant that Hungary's borders were moved back to those that existed on 1 January 1938 and it lost the territories it had regained between 1938 and 1941. The Soviet Union also annexed Sub-Carpathia, some of which had been part of Hungary before 1938. Between 1946 and 1948, half of Hungary's ethnic German minority (around 250,000 people) [5] were deported to Germany and there was a forced "exchange of population" between Hungary and Czechoslovakia. [6]

The Soviets set up an alternative government in Debrecen on 21 December 1944 before capturing Budapest on 18 January 1945. Zoltán Tildy became the provisional prime minister.

Ferenc Nagy Nagy Ferenc-MTI 1946.jpg
Ferenc Nagy

In elections held in November 1945, the Independent Smallholders' Party won 57% of the vote. The Hungarian Communist Party, now under the leadership of Mátyás Rákosi and Ernő Gerő, two survivors from the Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919, received support from only 17% of the population. The Soviet commander in Hungary, Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, refused to allow the Smallholders Party to form a government. Instead Voroshilov established a coalition government with the communists holding some of the key posts. Under Parliament, the leader of the Smallholders, Zoltán Tildy, was named president and Ferenc Nagy prime minister in February 1946. Mátyás Rákosi became deputy prime minister.

During 1945 and 1946, the national currency, the pengő, was all but destroyed by the most ruinous hyperinflation in recorded history. The only way to restore sanity to the economy was a new currency, so the forint was reintroduced in 1946.

László Rajk became minister of the interior and in this post established the security police (ÁVO). In February 1947 the police began arresting leaders of the Smallholders Party and the National Peasant Party. It also pressured both parties to expel those members who weren't willing to do the Communists' bidding as "fascists." Several prominent figures in both parties escaped abroad. Later, Rákosi boasted that he had dealt with his partners in the government, one by one, "cutting them off like slices of salami." [ citation needed ]

By 1947, the power of the other parties in the coalition had been reduced in favour of the Communists, and they became the largest single party in elections held that year. The Communists were the dominant partners in the coalition People's Independence Front government. Nagy was replaced as prime minister by the more pliable Lajos Dinnyés.

In October 1947, Rákosi gave the leaders of the non-Communist parties an ultimatum: cooperate with a new, Communist-dominated coalition government or go into exile. [7] The Social Democratic Party effectively ceased to exist as an independent organization, and Independent Smallholders' Party secretary Béla Kovács was arrested and sent to Siberia. Other opposition leaders such as Anna Kéthly, Ferenc Nagy and István Szabó were imprisoned or sent into exile.

The Republic of Hungary effectively ended in June 1948, when the Social Democrats were forced to merge with the Communists to form the Hungarian Working People's Party. However, the few independent-minded Social Democrats still left in the party were pushed out in short order. For all intents and purposes, this left the MDP as the MKP under a new name. In August, Tildy was forced out as president in favour of Social Democrat-turned-Communist Árpád Szakasits. That December, Dinnyés was replaced as leader of the Smallholders and prime minister by the openly pro-Communist István Dobi. At the 1949 elections, voters were presented with a single list from the Communist-controlled Independent People's Front, which carried 95 percent of the vote. By this time, fellow travelers had taken over the other parties and turned them into loyal partners of the Communists.

On 18 August 1949, the Parliament passed Hungary's first written constitution (1949/XX.) – a near-carbon copy of the 1936 constitution of the Soviet Union. The name of the country became the People's Republic of Hungary, "the country of the workers and peasants" where "every authority is held by the working people". Socialism was declared as the main goal of the nation. A new coat of arms was adopted with Communist symbols, such as the red star, a hammer, and an ear of wheat.

See also

Related Research Articles

Imre Nagy Hungarian politician

Imre Nagy was a Hungarian communist politician who served as Prime Minister and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Hungarian People's Republic from 1953 to 1955. In 1956 Nagy became leader of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 against the Soviet-backed government, for which he was sentenced to death and executed two years later.

Ernő Gerő Hungarian politician

Ernő Gerő was a Hungarian Communist Party leader in the period after World War II and briefly in 1956 the most powerful man in Hungary as the second secretary of its ruling communist party.

Mátyás Rákosi Hungarian Communist leader

Mátyás Rákosi was a Hungarian communist politician who was the de facto leader of Hungary from 1947 to 1956. He served first as General Secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party (1945–48) and later holding the same post with the Hungarian Working People's Party (1948–56).

Zoltán Tildy President of Hungary

Zoltán Tildy, was an influential leader of Hungary, who served as Prime Minister from 1945–1946 and President from 1946 until 1948 in the post-war period before the seizure of power by Soviet-backed communists.

István Dobi Hungarian politician

István Dobi was a Hungarian politician who was the Prime Minister of Hungary from 1948 to 1952 and Chairman of the Presidential Council of the Hungarian People's Republic from 1952 to 1967.

Lajos Dinnyés Hungarian politician

Lajos Dinnyés was a Hungarian politician of the Smallholders Party who served as the last pre-communist Prime Minister of Hungary from 1947 to 1948.

Ferenc Nagy Hungarian politician

Ferenc Nagy was a Hungarian politician of the Smallholders Party who served as Prime Minister of Hungary from 1946 until his forced resignation in 1947. He was also a Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary and a member of the High National Council from 1945 to 1946. Nagy was the second democratically elected prime minister of Hungary, and would be the last until 1990 not to be a Communist or fellow traveler. The subsequent Hungarian prime minister Imre Nagy was unrelated to him.

Independent Smallholders, Agrarian Workers and Civic Party

The Independent Smallholders, Agrarian Workers and Civic Party, known mostly by its acronym FKgP or its shortened form Independent Smallholders' Party, is a political party in Hungary. Since the 2002 parliamentary elections, the party has won no seats.

Hungarian Peoples Republic 1949–1989 socialist republic in Central Europe

The Hungarian People's Republic was a one-party socialist republic from 20 August 1949 to 23 October 1989. It was governed by the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party, which was under the influence of the Soviet Union. Pursuant to the 1944 Moscow Conference, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin had agreed that after the war Hungary was to be included in the Soviet sphere of influence. The HPR remained in existence until 1989, when opposition forces brought the end of communism in Hungary.

The Left Bloc was a political alliance in Hungary, functioning between 1946 and 1947. The Bloc included the Hungarian Communist Party (MKP), the Social Democratic Party (SZDP), the National Peasant Party (NPP) and the Trade Union Council (SZT).

Hungary–Soviet Union relations

Hungarian–Soviet relations were characterized by political, economic, and cultural interventions by the Soviet Union in internal Hungarian politics for 45 years, the length of the Cold War. Hungary became a member of the Warsaw Pact in 1955; since the end of World War II, Russian troops were stationed in the country, intervening at the time of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Starting in March 1990, the Soviet Army began leaving Hungary, with the last troops being withdrawn on June 19, 1991.

Jenő Szervánszky (1906–2005) was a Hungarian post-impressionist artist.

1945 Hungarian parliamentary election

Parliamentary elections were held in Hungary on 4 November 1945. They came at a turbulent moment in the country's history: World War II had had a devastating impact; the Soviet Union was occupying it, with the Hungarian Communist Party growing in numbers; a land reform that March had radically altered the property structure; and inflation was rampant.

Parliamentary elections, which later became infamously the "blue-ballot" elections, were held in Hungary on 31 August 1947. The Hungarian Communist Party, which had lost the previous election, consolidated its power in the interim using salami tactics. Communist-led political intrigues had deprived their opposition of its democratically won mandate from 1945, as numerous prominent anti-Communists were removed from office on charges of conspiracy. These conspiracies reached a climax in late May 1947, when the Hungarian Communist Party deposed the democratically elected prime minister Ferenc Nagy in a coup d'état, removing one of the strongest opponents to their rule and crippling the opposition. This weakening of the opposition, combined with a revised electoral law, led to further Communist gains.

Parliamentary elections were held in Hungary on 15 May 1949. The Hungarian Independent People's Front, an umbrella group created that February to replace the National Independence Front and led by the Hungarian Working People's Party, but also including the remaining four non-communist parties, ran a single list of candidates espousing a common programme. With all organised opposition having been paralysed, the Front won 95.6% of the vote, presaging the result of elections through 1990. 71 (17.7%) elected deputies were female, up from 22 (5.4%) elected in 1947. Some 71% of those elected belonged to the Working People's Party, and a similar proportion were workers or peasants.

Hungary in its modern (post–1946) borders roughly corresponds to the Great Hungarian Plain . During the Iron Age, it was located at the crossroads between the cultural spheres of the Celtic Tribes Dalmatian Tribes and the Germanic Tribes.

Béla Kovács (politician, 1908) Hungarian politician

Béla Kovács was a Hungarian politician, who served as Minister of Agriculture from 1945 to 1946 and in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

The Hungarian Freedom Party, was a short-lived right-wing political party in Hungary between 1946 and 1947, it strongly opposed the Communist takeover. The party was revived for a short time during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and after the end of communism in 1989–90.

Imre Nagy first became Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Hungarian People's Republic on 4 July 1953 upon the resignation of Mátyás Rákosi, forming a government more moderate than that of his predecessor which attempted to reform the system. However, Rákosi remained First Secretary of the ruling Hungarian Working People's Party, and he was ultimately able to use his influence force Nagy out of office in April 1955.


  1. Part 2: Communist take-over, 1946-1949 The Institute for the History of the 1956 Revolution.
  2. 1 2 3 Élesztős, László, ed. (2004). "Magyarország határai" [Borders of Hungary]. Révai új lexikona (in Hungarian). Volume 13. Szekszárd: Babits Kiadó. p. 895. ISBN   963-9556-13-0.|volume= has extra text (help)
  3. "Az 1990. évi népszámlálás előzetes adatai". Statisztikai Szemle. 68 (10): 750. October 1990.
  4. Treaty of Peace with Hungary Archived 2004-12-04 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Chad Bryant, Chad Carl Bryant, Prague in Black: Nazi Rule and Czech Nationalism, Harvard University Press, 2007, p. 209
  6. Rieber, Alfred J. (2013). Forced Migration in Central and Eastern Europe, 1939-1950. Routledge. ISBN   9781135274894.
  7. Hungary: a country study. Library of Congress Federal Research Division, December 1989.