You are on page 1of 20

Higher Education in Communist Hungary 1948-1956

Author(s): Elinor Murray
Source: American Slavic and East European Review, Vol. 19, No. 3 (Oct., 1960), pp. 395-413
Published by: {aaass}
Stable URL:
Accessed: 21-06-2015 14:09 UTC

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content
in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship.
For more information about JSTOR, please contact

Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies and are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and
extend access to American Slavic and East European Review.

This content downloaded from on Sun, 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


HUNGARY 1948-1956



great importance

on higher

education, especially in the years between 1948 and 1954.1 It was in
the universities and other institutionsof higher education that they
hoped to traina new Communist intelligentsiaand a body of technical
experts. This group was to replace the old intelligentsia and play
a keyrole in the building of socialism. Yet the universitystudentstook
up arms against the regime in 1956. Does this imply a direct failure in
Communist indoctrination or is it a more complex phenomenon?
Hungary has undergone a revolution in education in the past eleven
years. After the nationalization of schools in 1948 and Communist
control over the key universityposts in the same year,the educa tional
systembecame the servant of the state, or, more exactly,of the Communist Party. By 1951 the Hungarian educational system,which had
formerlybeen based on the intellectual traditions of the West, had
undergone a metamorphosisand was similar in content and emphasis
to that of the Soviet Union. Humanistic education was pushed to
one side by specialization and technological training. Hungarian
historybecame the historyof peasant rebellions, feudal and capitalist
exploitation, revolutions and social reform.Intellectual contact with
the West was severed and the Soviet Union became the intellectual
It was at the universitylevel that the "unreliable" elements were
weeded out. The Communists controlled the selection of studentsfor
all institutionsof higher education, the number of students in each
fieldof study,the curriculum and futureemploymentof the graduate.
Through this control over education the Communists hoped to create
a new typeof man. This man must be freeof the taintsof capitalist or
anti-Communistthinking.He must be well acquainted with the works
of Marx, Lenin, Stalin and their annotators. He must possess the
"Communist morality" which implies a deep and constant loyalty to
1This article is a condensationof a much more detailed studywrittenfor the Special
Seminar on The Problem of Hungary (Government362A) of Columbia Universityin
1958. Those who took part in this seminar were the firstto go through the completed
mass of interviewmaterial accumulated after the Hungarian revolution of 1956 by the
Research Programon Hungary of Columbia University.All statisticsincluded below are
based upon myresearchin this material.Each interviewwill be cited by number,when it
is used as a specificreference.

This content downloaded from on Sun, 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The emphasis theyplaced on technical education becomes quite evident when we examine the new institutions of higher education.2 The Communists used education as a tool in their struggleto found the Communist state on a permanent basis. 282. 3Hugh Seton-Watson.136. 4William Juhasz. Published for the Mid-European Studies Center (New York: FrederickA.Yet a student who is trained primarilyin a technical subject may not easily be subject to doubt and skepticism as one trained in the humanities or social sciences. There is a new Academy of Heavy Industry in Miskolc. "Education". a University of Economics and the Lenin Institute.industryor the Communist Party.4Although the last three institutions are not geared to the training of industrial technicians they graduate interpreters.They looked instead to the youth of Hungary as a still unformedand uncommitted segmentof societywhich could be molded into the desired patternand fromwhom would come the new intelligentsia. Technical experts are especially important in a countrywhich is in the processof industrialization. In Budapest there is a new Academy of Domestic Trade.166. for this group was still saturatedwith the values of the previous society. Ernest Helmreich ed. 45-47. Hungary now has Agricultural Academies in Budapest. This content downloaded from 109.When the Communists speak of the intelligentsia theymean not only those who are involved in intellectual work but also persons who are high up in the Government administration. Praeger. He must memorize certain factsand theories. 1957).persons who could be called ideological technicians. 1957). 193-94.a theoreticalsystemwhich purportsto give the answersto manyof the questions which mightarise 2 George S.p. The Challenge of Soviet Education (New York: McGraw Hill Book Company. Hungary.38 on Sun. Godello. In addition to the sixteen universitiesand academies which existed before World War II.teachers of Russian and ideology and Marxist economists. If superimposed upon this is intensivetrainingin Marxism-Leninism.396 AmericanSlavic and East European Review the party line and the ability to adapt to changes in the prevailing orthodoxy. an Academy of Industrial Chemistryin Veszprem. pp. At firstglance the emphasis the Communists put on technical education may seem only the reflectionof the needs of an industrialized society. an Academy of Foreign Languages.He deals with the material world. Praeger.3 Another goal of Communist education is the trainingof specialists. 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Counts. a Bookkeeping School. They did not look to the older generation forcontinued and reliable leadership.pp. Keszthelyand Magyarovar. The East European Revolution (New York: Frederick A.a Universityof Mining and Forestryin Sopron and Academies of Transportation in Szolnok and Szeged. 1956).

Z. The responsibilityfor action in disciplinarymatterswas shared by a student board. Murray with Student A on July 21. 8 Interview # 601. regulated controlled and the of its matters. p. 1955).pp. Afterthe Communistsestablishedcontrol over the educational systemin 1948-49all mattersrelatingto educationweresupervisedby the Ministryof Education.136. and the Dean. 82-83.S. One of the firstthingsthe Communists did awaywithwas thetraditionalautonomyoftheHungarianuniverhad been a self-governing unit whichelectedits sity. controlledby the DISZ. 1944).38 on Sun.I. the UniversityPersonnelDepartment.In 1948theDivisionof Studies was establishedand thissoon becameone ofthemostfearedcentersof Communistcontrol.9There wasa Partyorganizationforeveryclass. p.everyfaculty and forthe entireuniversity.The top administrative were no longerelectedby officials theircolleaguesbut appointedeitherbytheMinistryof Educationor the CommunistParty. See also # 505. 56. 1952). kept scholarships.a record of the social originand politicalactivityof each individual. 39.Each university ownadministrative administrative and disciplinary officials.It containedinformation about hisfamily.p.Discrimination in Education in the People's Democracies (New York: Mid-European Studies Center. relativesabroad. 3-10.8 closewatchon theactivitiesof thestudentsand tookpartin disciplinaryaction.The powersof the Rector and Deans were greatlyincreased.reportsfromhis and schools information submitted previous is possiblethattheemphasison technical educationmayalso be a meansofcontrol.5By 1950thisautonomyhad vanished.The UniversityPersonnelDepartmentdetermined the salariesof the facultymembersand distributedfellowshipsand The CommunistYouth Organization.I.It washerethatthekadersheetwaskept. p. This content downloaded from 109. 2. 5 (in private files).L'Instruction Publique en Hongrie (Geneve: Bureau International d'Education. faculty determinedthe appointment curriculumand qualifications fordegrees.6 At thesametimetheCommunistsintroducednewcentersofcontrol withintheuniversities and academies.S. 0 Special interviewmade by E. 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1958.. 6William Juhasz.Blueprint for a Red Generation (New York: Mid-European Studies Center.7 Other centersof Communistcontrolwere the Committeeof the Teachers Union.166.the D.The Teacher's Union supervised the faculty. and theCommunistPartyOrganization.D.The PartySecretariesof the various facultiesformedtheCouncil of theFaculty.Hungarian Higher Education 397 in themindof a student. Neal Buhler and StanleyZuchowski.Z. p. pp. 7 Interview # 610.10 In ordertomeettheincreasednumberofstudentsattendinguniver5 Joseph Somogyi. 10.

136.They wouldusually followPartydictatesbut as one professor said: . 5-7.At the same time Communist facultymemberswerequite rapidlypromoted..13 Faculty memberswere expected to watch each other.. pp.the outline of coursesto be given the next year. p. 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .The professors over Hungarywould meetonce a yearfora conference. manyof thenon-members werefrequently willingto do more than would do.withrepresentatives CommunistParty. U 12 Interview# 107. The professors deliveredthe lecturesand the studentshad mimeographedlecturenotesagainstwhichthe contentof the lecturecould be checked. p.15 This programofstudiesstatedwhatwasto be lecturedon eachweek. p.By 1956theprofessor wasnotexpectedtocovereverything Interview # 412.knowingthatnew people werebeing trainedto replace them. Many faculty through joined Party. othersto hold theirposts and othersdue to the pleading of their students. The Party Members were often worried about the consequences of theiractions.38 on Sun.but moreoftentheobserverswerestudents or departmental assistants.especiallythe non-Communists bersof the "old intelligentsia"and who held theirjobs on thesufferance of theParty.A greatnumberof the olderprofessors wereretainedin theirpostsbutwerecarefully watched.Sometimestheywereoutsiders.. 6. This content downloaded from 109.thiswas also feltbymanyofthenew appointees whosepromotions restedon thefavoroftheParty. This plan would thenbe workedout in detailin thevariousuniversitiesor academiesand sentto theMinistryof Educationforapproval. pp.166.However.. 13. althoughfewwere activemembers.398 AmericanSlavicand East European Review sitiesand to replacetheprofessors who had been dismissedbecauseof theirclass originor politicalviews.There they of the Ministryof Education and the discussed. Muchof radical for the members the things regime theParty's powerwasbuilton thesemen. 18Interview # 412. 23. Often a would receivea letterfromthe Dean of his Facultyasking professor him to attendand reporton a lectureof one of his colleagues. members the some conviction. 3-4.12 The facultymembersseemgenerallyto have feltinsecurein their who had been activemempositions.the Communistsbroughtmany teachersup fromsecondaryschools."In some departmentsthe percentageof facultymembers who joined thePartyis estimatedas highas 70%.14 All factual and interpretativematerial was controlled by the of a certaindisciplinefromall Ministryof Education. 5 Ibid.. 14 Interview # 601.There werealso confidential observersattendingthevariouslectures.

By the beginning 22." group. 6lIbid.528. of titleor wealth.38 on Sun.21 "bad children who also those were the were known as Kader.p.1956). op.The studentswere dividedintothefollowingclasses:worker.18 rise does not seen to be relatedto an increasein the university-age population. The AdmissionsDivisionsetthepercentageofthevariousclassorigin groups who were to be admittedto each class. 204. In fact this group actually was smaller in 1955 in 1949.op. United Nations. 39. 160.770men and women betweenthe ages of twentyand twentynine whereas in 1955 there were only 1.555." Young people of peasant and worker originweregivenpreferenceand from1949-50on theymade up approximately66% of the total studentbody of the universitiesor 17 Ibid.16 The and seminar classwas dividedintolecture departmental periods. One of the mostimportantcontrolsexercisedby the Communist regimeovereducationwas theirabilityto siftout thosetheydid not wantto have educatedin universities and academies.peasant..The seminarmaterialwasevenmore carefullyworkedout and came under the supervisionof the Dean. Juhasz."Education".kulakand "X" group. 20Interview# 608.In the 1948-49academicyeartherewere of highereducation. 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .136.The admissions of and academies was determinedby the Adthe universities policy missionsDivision of the Ministryof Education.a differenceof 27. needed to have trained the field they specific From these estimatesthe AdmissionsDivision set the maximum numberof studentswho wereto be admittedto each faculty. assistants conductedtheseminars.17 Higher education in Hungaryunder the Communistregimeexperienceda rapid expansion.The decisionsof the AdmissionsDivisionwerebased upon estimatessubmittedto themby in whichtheministries thevariousministries statedhowmanyexperts in withwhichtheydealt.Hungarian Higher Education 399 Each in thesyllabusbut "patrioticmaterial"couldnotbe eliminated.. p. cit. p. 1Seton-Watson.ofpre-Communist oftheformeraristocracy government officialsand armyofficers.166.700studentsin institutions This of1954-55thisfigurehad morethandoubled to 48.629.middleclassintelligentsia.p. 19 In 1948 therewere 1. people who had been part of the "formerexploitingclasses..20 This figurewas brokendown even furtherintoclassorigingroups. Demographic Yearbook-1956(New York: United Nations StatisticalOffice.The definitionof kulakvariedbut it usuallymeant a peasantwho differedfromthe "workingpeasants" The "X" throughgreaterwealthor byexploitingthelaborofothers.500students.but these opportunitieswere not the same for all the talentedyouth. 273. cit. 8.141 people. p.19 The Communistsdid offermore opportunitiesto receive a higher education. 18 This content downloaded from 109.

11 and #509.However. continued pulsions up until 1956 the cases after1951 were more isolated.therewerevarious waysof gettingaround thisadmissionspolicy. 23See Interview# 457. Such a studentcould be refused admision in severalways.twelveintelligentsia.In all onlyforty-three to attenduniversitiesor academies.elevenworker origin.T. Of theseseventy-two people who wereofuniversity expressedthe desireto receivea highereducation.eightpeasant.a comprehensive examinationtakenat theend of secondaryschool.A studentmightbe admittedif his familyhad powerfulfriends. 3.Only twenty-six of thesestudents or 36% experiencedno difficulty at all in continuingtheireducation or 60% wereallowed beyondsecondaryschool.38 on Sun.Between 1948 and 1951 the and academieswere"cleansed"ofmanystudentsofmiddle universities kulak or "X" group origin. and seventeenofthe"X" group.This sampleis heavilyloaded withstudentsof non-worker and There were middle class students of twenty-eight peasant origin. fivekulak.166.peasants or personsin the lower middle class. p.thirteenwere expelled between 1949 and 1951. 22L'OfficeCentral R.and ifhe wereof "X" group or kulak originhe had littlehope.22 passed Anybodywho had finishedsecondaryschooland successfully thematura.136.. p. 1932). 43.A studentwho was not of workeror peasantorigin had lessofa chanceofgainingadmission. 24Of the seventeen students in our interviewswho had been expelled from an institutionof highereducation forpolitical reasons or by fact of class origin.23 Anothermethodwhichwas used to assurethe two-thirds majority of peasantsand workerswas expulsion.This was a greatchange forin 1930-31only 11% of the total universitypopulation were childrenof workers.24 The ResearchProject on Hungaryinterviewedeighty-one young age.In Table I.Althoughsuch exclass.forthequota ofstudentsof his classorigingroupwas muchsmaller.intelligentsia.H.Statistique des Etudiants des Ecoles Superieures Hongoises en 1930-31 (Budapest: Stephaneum Nyomda R.AmericanSlavic and East European Review 400 academies.p. This content downloaded from 109. de Statistique. He mightreceive a failingmark at the entranceexaminationor he mightpassit onlyto be toldthattherewas no moreroomin thatfacultythatyear. 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Some studentsworkedfora yearor so in industry theuniversity as workers.He mightfalsifyhis and entered origin.was permittedto applyforadmissionto an institutionof highereducation. I have divided these eighty-one youngpeople intogroupsbased upon classoriginand this is shownin relationto theirexperiencein receivinga highereducation.

136. 14% Unable to attendfor financial reasons Not admittedor expelled and not in the case of a young man who wanted to be a translatorand became a Russian teacher. p. Although scholarships were available and peasants and workers received especially large ones between 1949 and 1952.38 on Sun. however. Peasants and workers were more often allowed to enter the field of their choice. Some of themwere the only workingmembers of a familyor had to continue working in order to contribute to family income. we must not forgetthat this refersprimarilyto children of the pre-Communistintelligentsia. This content downloaded from 109. In some cases the second or third choice was not so far removed fromthe first.3% - No troubleat all. 11% TOTAL 100100% 100 00 100% "X" Group Peasant 6% 100 100% Worker 25 % 18% 62.The kulaks and "X" group.5% 55% 12.25 The middle class seems the next favored group after the peasants and workers. p. Class origin and chance often determined what discipline the student was allowed to study. Others would have had to support two households. 22 and # 214. The intelligentsia seems to have received worse treatment. 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . in some cases they were not adequate. Of the thirty-five students in our sample who attended universitiesand academies only fifteenwere in the field of their firstchoice.5% 27% 100 100 100% None of the peasants and workers fall into the second and fourth groups but more than half of these groups had to discontinue their studies forfinancialreasons. 32. Not interestedin a higher education. 6. 26Interview # 115.Hungarian Higher Education 401 TABLE I ExperienceofClass OriginGroupsin Receivinga HigherEducation MiddleClass Intelligentsia Kulak 25 % 20% 12% 50 % 40% 29% - 8. Other times the gap was quite wide as in the case of a student 25Interview # 561.26A student who was denied admission to the facultyof his firstchoice would apply at other faculties until he found one that would accept him.3% - - 18% 8. had the hardest time continuing their education.3% 40% 53% 8. as expected.166. 57% Some delaybut finallyallowedtostudy.

. As an emergencymeasureto meet thisproblemHungaryunderin highereducationfrom1948wenta period of proletarianization similar This was to in 49 to 1953-54. It had not been economicallyfeasible under the previousregimeformanystudentsof workerand peasant and forthisreasonfewhad preparedfor originto attendtheuniversity it." Under thisplan anyyoungpersonwho had not completedsecondary school.Yet somecould notmeettheacademicrequirements..At the Budapest Technical Universityin 1949-50approximately35-45% of the "expressmatura"studentsfailed theircourse work.In manycases the total income receivedby a workerif he studiedat the university was greaterthan and his factory were workers wages. op.27 use to mean the proletarianization temporary adaptationof the universityto the needs of peasantsand workerswhowereadmittedwithouttheproperacademicbackground. 144-46.but was of university age.29It was in thesameyear thatthe scholarshipsawardedto peasantsand workerswere cut and made moreequal to thegrantsawardedto the othergroups.136. 29Ibid. 18. cit.It was almostsolely workersand peasantswho attendedthesecourses. For thisreasonthe Communistsintroducedthe "expressmatura.38 on Sun. p. The "expressmatura"studentsfloodedthe universitiesand academies in 1949-50and 1950-51. p. could enrollin a concentratedonecourse.Theprofessors to juggle theirstatisticsand pass the necessaryminimumnumber of "expressmatura"students.By 1953in thesameUniversity thesituationwas so bad thatthe studentsweretold thattheywould have to pay back theirtuitionand maintenancescholarshipiftheyflunkedout.. At the end of thisyearhe would receivea yearpreparatory him allowed which to enteran institutionof higher certificate special educationwithoutthe admissionsexamination.During theseyearstheyreceivednot only tuitionand maintenancescholarshipsbut oftenalso had allotmentsfor clothingand textbooks. 80Ibid. While policiesofadmissionand expulsionmightcreatea two-thirds one of themajor majorityofpeasantsand workersat theuniversities.28Many peasants temptedto continuetheireducations. p.Anotherwaythisproblemwas metwas 27See Counts.166.pp. theperiodof proletarianization in I the term Russia the 1920's.30 At thesametimethefacultymemberswerecautionedto handlethe soonlearned "expressmatura"studentswithspecialcare. 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . This content downloaded from 109. 7. 5.AmericanSlavic and East European Review 402 who wantedto become a veterinarianbut was acceptedonly by the facultyof law. in the field of education which faced the Communist problems regime in 1948-49was how to findenough properlyqualified studentsof workerand peasant origin. 28Interview # 561.

p.Juhasz.especially the technical schools.that the Attila JoszefUniversitywhich was established as a Night School in 1954 with the primarypurpose of providing workerswith the possibilities for furthereducation. had in its firstyear enrollmentof 4. 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . p. 200. This content downloaded from 109. This was also a means of control forthe studentswere carefully watched for any deviation from the accepted political views. The tutor was held responsible if the student failed.32 Therefore by 1954 the period of proletarianizationwas almost over. 33It is interesting.. Often a peasant or worker student who was having trouble with his course work would be assigned to a good student of less reliable origin to be tutored.300 students only 500 workers.. 7.besides social origin. 4 (June-July. cit.Our countryin the building of socialismneeds not only trainedbut excellentlytrainedexperts.33Many talented students who might have been rejected in the earlier period because of class origin were allowed to enter institutionsof higher education.1954). A new group of peasant and workeryouthhad completed theirsecondary school training and were ready to enter the universityin the usual way.38 on Sun. intelligence. It is possible that the Part Time Universitiesand CorrespondenceCourses serve as the catch-all for those who are unable to continue their education elsewhere and have an overproportionof those refused admission to the universitiesfor political reasons or class origin.Hungarian Higher Education 403 through the organization of twenty or thirtystudents into a study group. In 1954 Matyas Rakosi said in a speech before the Third Party Congress: A fewyearsago the twomostimportanttasksin thesphereof secondary and highereducationwerethesecuringof a majorityof studentsof worker and peasantoriginand thequick and intensivetrainingof experts. Many became good students. In registrationfor universitystudy.however.We can considerthistaskas havingbeen essentiallysolved."New Hungary.. p.31 The standards of some of the universities. By the summer of 1953 the Communists had begun to turn their attention from the accelerated expansion in higher education to the establishment of a network of good Communist schools from the nursery to the university. .136.Vol. 71.was not. While admission was based on class origin. 1Ibid.166. Correspondence and Night Schools were established to carryon the training of those who had not finishedsecondaryschool as well as offeringpart time university study. Yet it should not be assumed that all of the "express matura" studentshad difficulty with the work. 33"Speech by Matyas Rakosi to the Third Congressof the Hungarian WorkingPeople's Party."Education.the requirementsof talentand outstandingmarksmustincreasinglycome to the forefront.fortunately. seem to have been lowered during this period." op.

65. was that the peasant-origin students in his university began to complain quite openly that theirparents were being exploited by the regime.They came to the universitywith disillusionmentand pain. 38 Interview # 226.thesestudents would take on the cause of the People's Democracy. By the thirdyear of theiruniversitycareer. p... 26-30. There were many aspects of life which might lead them to doubt Communist promises..enrapturedby thehumanirivedat theuniversity tarianand greatideals of Communism.The firststudent is describing the situation at his universityin 1949-50. It mighthave been possible if the students of worker and peasant origin had been sure that conditions really were better. 11. by training the youth who had been underprivilegedunder the formerregime. 17. 3 Interview # 505. while the other is speaking of the situation after1953-54: (1949-50):The averageHungarian studentcame fromthe slumsof the workingpopulation or fromthesmall hamletsof thepoor peasants.He arin his pristineignorance. Interview #501..Through theirnatural logic and fromhome theybroughtto the universitya rejection of the regime. One of the major changes noted by a student of architecture in 1953. p.34 The statementsconcerning the peasants and workersat the universityof the following two studentspresent an interestingcontrast. 37 Interview # 213. pp.35 (1953-65):The studentswere. that the descriptions of class origin differencesat the universitywere completely void of any referenceto class conflictalong Marxist lines..38 on Sun.404 AmericanSlavic and East European Review The Communists had hoped to train a loyal intelligentsiaby choosing to educate a majority of students who were of peasant and worker origin. This content downloaded from 109.166. 59.136. They seemed to assume that. p. p.37Others insist that groups were formed by interestalone and cut across class boundaries. . 34 85Interview# 561.In many cases students of the same origin or similar background tended to form friendship groups. however.36 The studentsgive conflictingpicturesof life at the university. theyrealizedthattheirtroubleswere not accidentalbut stemmedlogically fromthe nature of the regime. to a greatextentof peasant and worker origin.38It is revealing.Almost all comment on the increased informality. during the period of the "New Course" when therewas a marked relaxation of the most rigid of the Stalinist controls. 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . He goes on to say thatit was the studentsof workerand peasant origin who were most critical of the regime in the heated debates of the Marxist-Leninist seminars of 1955-56.

21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .a greatpartof thisnew Communistintelligentsiais neitherloyal nor reliable in the sense that the Communistswanted. The Russian was heard to say.thesestudentswere If hard our is to find.a weeding machine.In the thirdyearhe would study Political Economyand in the fourthyear he would be trainedin DialecticalMaterialism. Anotherimportantphase of Communistcontrolover the students in theprinciplesof wasthegreatemphasisplaced upon indoctrination was set up A departmentof Marxism-Leninism seems that a great number stayedin Hungary. Aside fromthe formalideological trainingall other susceptible materialwas presentedthroughthe lens of Marxism-Leninism.166. This content downloaded from 109.39In thefirsttwoyearsthestudentwould learnof the historyof the BolshevikParty. Is it possiblethattheyhad lessknowledgeof the West and could not fromtheland theyknew?Is it possible thinkof uprootingthemselves thattheydid notwantto leave becausetheywould have a favoredrole undertheregime?Perhapstheyfelttheywould be rejectingresponsibilityfortheirpeople iftheyleft. Therefore the machineryis superfluous.The samewordsstaredoutat themfromposters. Hungarianstudentsbecamefamiliar with Russian literature. 16.Russian history.Hungarian Higher Education 405 Only 25% of the studentsinterviewedby the ResearchProjecton Hungarywere of peasantor workerorigin. and in the new literature.40 89Most universitystudentshad only fourhours of Marxism-Leninisma week but those in the Economics Universityand Lenin Institutehad six hours per week. Even thelecturesat themedicalschoolhad to be filledwithreferences to Russianmedicalprogress.136. 40 Even in 1955 a professorreportsthat it was the visitingRussian agriculturalexpert who had the last word to say on the value of a new Hungarian invention. very experience typicalit would indicatethat mostofthestudentsofworkeror peasantoriginremainedin Hungary.While the Projectmade a consciouseffort to get a representative sample. seemsto have One of the mostirritatingaspectsof indoctrination whichreacheditspeak about 1951 been theprogramof Russification and graduallysubsidedafter1953.Everystudenthad fromfourto six hoursof MarxismLeninismper week.Yet these students gatheredfrom participatedin the Revolutionand frominformation the studentswho emigrated.38 on Sun.slogansand promises newspapers. p. Only and pure sciencewere excepted. "We no longer have weeds in the Soviet Union and in three or four years time you will not have in Hungary either."Interview # 412.scienceand geography. in each faculty.They in thetheatresand movies wererepeatedovertheradio.It was not only in the mathematics schoolsthattheyouthweretaughtthe theories.Whateverthecase mayhave been.

William Juhasz on May 3.jazz and fadsseem to have had wideraudiences.movies.136.406 AmericanSlavic and East European Review Everystudentfromthe upper gradesof General School.theregimecould notkeep him isolatedfromtherest thelastyearofuniversity yearcompulsory training wasforcedtostudytheRussianlanguage.It seems to have awakenedin the youngergenerationan intensecuriosityabout the whichwastheresultofmany West. and possibly.or at least was not a special friend.The oldergenerationcould rememberthetimesbeforethe War and painted themoftenas a "golden" period. 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Blueprint. 18.pp. 16.. years beingpart but morean interestin whatwas forbiddenand unknown. In manycasesthestresson indoctrination and isolationwithinthe Soviet orbit led not to acceptancebut irritation.46 Althoughmanybooks wereoutofcirculationand "forbidden"47 someofthesecould be found 42 Student A. forHungarianis a non-Indo-European languageand connotbe used as a steppingstonelanguageto anyofthemajorEuropeantongues.This doesnotseemtobe a curiosity and the of of the West common traditionof culture.the eight grammarschool.This wasresentedbymost studentsand as a reactionfew learned Russian well. The teachers would let thempass the courseswith verylittlework and in some casesthe teachersthemselves werebadlyprepared.op. cit.Russiahad been a traditional enemyof Hungaryafter1848. op.This necessarilylimitedstudentsto the use of Hungarian. 45 Interview # 218.1957). 1957. 7 In 1952 and 1953 the Ministryof Education published lists of over 700 pages of "antiquated books" which were not to be circulated in Hungary. 24. 48Murray. Columbia University.. p. Murray with Dr.38 on Sun. p. "The Student in Communist Hungary" (Term Paper for Government 162. the Westernpopular culture.43 and in some cases the classesmet after was not offeredeverywhere schoolhours. Juhasz. 44Interview # 115. In some homes therewas formalcounter-indoctrination wheretheparentsattempted to breakdowntheattitudesbuiltup in school. cit.42 At the same time therewas littleopportunityto studyany other foreignlanguage. p.45 was directedat the studentfromall conAlthoughindoctrination trollablemedia. One student who was 41 This content downloaded from 109. p. 2.Although some studentswere quite interestedin Westernliteratureand ideas. 16-18.41 been regardedas a place ofbackwardness and Russiahad traditionally lackofintellectualculture.fashions. 48Interviewmade by E.166.p. In Elinor Murray.It was onlyafter1953 thatinstructionin a second This instruction foreignlanguagewas offeredin secondaryschools.otherSlavic materials. 46 (unpublished).althoughtheywere a regularpartof the curriculum.44 This lackoflinguistictrainingwasseriousfortheHungarianstudents.Suddenlyafter1948she becamethemodel afterwhichHungaryshouldpatternherself.

61 By 1955-56questionswere being asked in the Marxist-Leninist seminarswhichresultedin arrestsin formeryears.the apartmenthouses and otherplaces.48A teachercould also influencea studentby the inflection ofa sentenceor a mockingtone. 27.50 Leninistclassicsand memorization After1953-54discusa sion of contemporary became usual problems part of the seminar workand in 1955-56one whole semesterwas devoted to studyand discussionof the TwentiethPartyCongress.. Until 1953-54verylittletimeseemsto havebeen spentin discussing currentaffairsin the Marxist-Leninist seminars. 8. 0Interview# 560. 16.Hungarian Higher Education 407 in theprivatelibrariesoffriendsor colleagues. 48 Interviewwith Student F. p. This content downloaded from 109.38 on Sun.the problemsof the peasantand while theywere not yetdirectingattacksat the regime theyaskedquestionswhichshowedup someof theblind spotsof the would have to consult ideologicalsystem. The other 2/3 were forbidden. ibid. 49 Interviewwith Student G. 54.He knewwhen to talkand whento keepsilent.49 The studentwas also facedwiththerealityof everyday existence. 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . pp. p.He was intelligent enoughto be able to contrastthetheoryhe learnedwiththerealityin whichhe lived. If he lived at homehe saw hiswifeor motherspendinglong hoursin line for food and othernecessities.52 These debates had a cumulativeeffect: Attheuniversity in theMarxist-Leninist seminardebatesone couldtell withabsolutecertainty whowas Marxistand whowasnot-at leastuntil well acquainted with the town librarian reportsthat the librarian estimatedthat in that libraryonly 1/3 of the books were allowed to circulate.His familyprobablylived in a crowdedapartmentwithotherfamilies.166.he knewthathis livingstandardwas not rising. Ibid.. p. It was commonknowledgeat theuniversity thattherewereinformers scatteredthroughthestudent bodyand therewere informersin the streets. the livingstandardsin Hungary.Most of the work seemsto have been the laborioustakingof notes fromthe Marxistof theories.They askedabout Stalin. 52. p.He did notnecessarily learnto believe in theslogansor trustthepromisesof theregime. 51Interview# 561.eventhoughhe repeatedthe wordsof the text. If he lived in a crowdedstudentdormitory and ate thefoodservedat thestudentcafetaria.A studentlearnedto protecthimself. 61.He possiblyknewpeople who had been arrestedby thesecretpolice..In somecasestheinstructor withhisPartysuperiorsbeforehe answereda question.136. ibid. 2Ibid.Suchbookswerepassed fromhand to hand.Tito.

B.136. The students interviewed by the Research Project were asked to comment on the effectivenessof Marxist-Leninist indoctrination on the basis of theirown experience: TABLE II The Effectiveness Indoctrinationas ofMarxist-Leninist seen by Thirty-Eight Hungarian Students Effect A. Communisteducation led to a strugglebetweenthehomeand theschool.Finallyeveryoneasked questionsand it was impossible to knowwhethera persondidn't know the answer. Number of Students TOTAL 53Interview # 501. It gave the students tools with which to criticizethe faults of the regime. Then one brickwas pulled out and thewhole buildingcollapsed. E. 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .. The generation who were attending the universityin 1956 had only experienced eight years of Communist indoctrination. C. 10 9 4 4 2 9 38 This content downloaded from 109.if the Communists are still in power. p. Marxism-Leninism did have an effect but one opposite to that intended. The long-range effectof this training can only be measured afterfifteenor twentyyears. 30. Does the 1956 Revolution indicate that indoctrination failed? It is still much too early to be able to measure the effectivenessof Communist indoctrination in Hungary. D.166.38 on Sun.It was only five weeks afterthe beginning of the firstsemesterthat the Revolution broke out. The standards of higher education were lowered by the introductionof Marxist-Leninist indoctrination.Students accepted certain partsof the ideologyand became more aware of social issues. or merelyasked the question as provocation. There was some effectin the teaching of Marxism-Leninism.408 AmericanSlavic and East European Review the ideologicalchaos began.. when the studentswho leave the institutionsof higher education and take up posts of leadership in their society have received their entire education in Communist schools. F. The actionof thestudentsin theRevolution shows the effect.53 By the beginning of the 1956-57 academic year the atmosphere at the universities was one of intellectual ferment. There was no effectat all.

B.The highestaverage numberofyearsspentin Communistschoolswas foundin thegroup ingivinganswer D. This groupmayhave feltthesetensionsmorefortheywereprobably onlyenteringsecondaryschoolor.136.It was not too to turnthe conceptsof feudaland capitalistexploitationto difficult fitwhathe thoughthe saw in his own societyand speakabout "ComThe increasedawarenessof social and ecomunistexploitation.9. 31. C and F average5.but 4 Interview # manycases. GroupsA.0 yearsin Communistsecondaryschoolsand universities.Hungarian Higher Education 409 Those givinganswerE. The Communistsachieved only relative successin teachingit to us.even in theupper grades ofGeneralSchoolin 1948and theywereat an agewherethefamilyhad moreinfluenceoverthem.38 on Sun.166.which was stimulatedby the studyof MarxismLeninism. (A) Marxism-Leninism intended. perhaps. This content downloaded from 109. statement interesting A closerexaminationofanswersA and B mayhelp to indicatesome oftheideologicalproblemsfacingtheHungarianstudents: but one oppositeto that did have an effect. Those givinganswerF feltlittleneed to qualifytheiranswers. p. We learnedabout itsoriginsand principles.5 yearsin Communistschools and thiswasduringtheproletarianization period.Studentswhowerealreadyin theuniversity in 1948mighttendto statetheproblemin a moretheoreticalfashion.only made the studentmore aware of the economicand socialproblemsofhis owncountry. 46.6 yearsrespectively. This group which felt that Marxist-Leninist doctrinationled to a strugglebetweenhome and schoolhad spentan averageof 7. 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 4. hard but to measure.6. 51 and #213.they an merelystatedthattheyhadn'tbeen influencedby indoctrination. p.had spentonlyan averageof 1. 4.It gave thestudentstoolswithwhichtheycould criticizethe faultsoftheregime.6 and 4. at least wasan unknownideologyin our country. 65See Interview # 107. that the standardsof highereducationhad lowered. In 1945Communism it was unknown to the youth.This studentshould have been a bygraceofhis classoriginand loyalmemberofthenew intelligentsia Insteadhe reported: educationalopportunities.55 Perhaps the most eloquent statementof this problemwas made by a youngman of peasantorigin."54 nomic problems. The constantrepetitionof Marxisttheoriesand promisesservedonly to keep certainquestionsalive in the mindsof the studentsand remindthemof thecontrastbetweentheoryand reality.p.

7 or: It gave manyanswersto youngpeople who were searchingfortruth.op.. Not thatyou believe themeaningsof thesewordsbut because you are accustomedto them.56 Those who responded with answer B give a much differentpoint ofview: (B) There was some effectin the teaching of Marxism-Leninism..59 These statementsshow the dilemma in which a Communist student may find himself.It may only indicate that he knows no other way of expressinghimself: Communismand itswordsand expressionscreepinto yourmind.. 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . p. cit. 58Interview # 211. begin his search and questioning within the ideological systemin which he has been trained....136. The students quoted above did not seem aware that the same ideals were shared by other ideological systems.. This content downloaded from 109. When you are outside a Communistsocietyit is almost like learning a new language. What the regimedid was exactlytheopposite.We could notunderstandwhya regime whichcalls itselfsuperiormustrelyon terror.It also helpedus to realizehowmuchinjusticetherewas in humansociety.410 AmericanSlavicand East European Review saw that in real life it consistedof lies. 50.generalwelfare. p.. It is revealing to see what parts theydid accept and what theyrejected: . 67Interview # 106. 6. They achieved the opposite: gettingtheyouthto hate Comunism. 59Interviewwith Student F. p. Any young person who is curious and eager to use ideas will.166. 45. . What we thoughtgood in Communismwere the ideas of equality.p.. He may disagree with the practicalityof Marxist66Interview # 226. most probably.38 on Sun. Murray.This does not necessarilymean that he accepts the ideological systemin its entirety.We no doubtliked theidea ofequality.58 These commentsindicate the effectof intellectual isolation within the Communist world. If he is not exposed to any conflictingideology he may be forced to do all of his intellectual work within this system. Studentsacceptedcertainpartsof the ideologyand became more aware of social issues. 19.freedomforall. manystudentswereof theopinion thatCommunismwas a good idea but not a practicableone..

. They had to lie in school. said the youth were cynical but throughno fault of their own. 4 Interview# 101. 63 Eighteen of the thirty-eight universitystudentswho were interviewedby the Research Project mentioned this. They have a don't care attitude. They had to mouth the Communist sloganstheydidn't believein. They are.61That sum.Hungarian Higher Education 411 Leninist theory. 5. To certain of these young people the Revolution of 1956 occurred within a Marxist framework.The young people are exposed to constantpressure. 4. p. ready to accept the good and the beautifulin theirweakermoments.62This period of criticismwas accompanied by discussions of the need foreducational reform. words and intellectual constructswhich are used by habit and can be replaced. Some studentsbecame devout Marxistsand/or Leninists. It was not safe forhim to express his views openly and it was probably better to appear as if he had no strongbeliefs at all. theyrarelyhave views nor showed them.. and the amount of deeper indoctrination which may determine the attitudes and actions of the individual throughout his life. 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . p. and rejected responsibility: Hungary'syouth is cynical.but he knows no other. p.They believe that training in the principles of Marxism-Leninism made the students see the need for a Revolution and prepared them for their role in it... 12. It is extremely difficultto measure the amount of what may be called superficialindoctrination.166. was lacking in ideals and patriotism.opposition between the familyand school. they said. It was quite laughable at Lyingbecame a perfectly the universitythat when studentsdiscussedthe "low" Westerntechnical 'o Interview # 508.. They could easily see the discrepancy between theory and reality. Many of the studentsinterviewedby theResearch Project mentioned this cynicism. This content downloaded from 109. 62Interview# 408.. naturaleveryday act. The younger generation. p. '6 Interview # 206.64 Life was hard forthe student in Hungary. a leading Marxist philosopher.It is nothing.136. it said.38 on Sun. mer in one of the Petofi Circle debates Gyorgy Lukacs.60 In the spring of 1956 a series of articles appeared in a Hungarian journal which accused the youth of being cynical.. He had to learn to protecthimselfand one of the most effectivedevices was learning how to tell a convincing lie: One of the effectsCommunismhad on youthwas that it taughtthem how to lie.This was not in answer to a specificquestion but came out in the course of the interview. It is not Communist.63The youth lacked firmbeliefs. 8.

mentioned one or two close friends to whom they could talk freelyand without fear. pp. 67Interview # 229. 45.166. 39.. Almost all of the students. many of the studentsattended church. Some young people looked to religion as a way of life to counterbalance Communism.. p. I do not trustidealists.. This content downloaded from 109..p..69 The cynicismof which the studentstalk seems most directlyrelated to disillusionment with Marxist-Leninist ideology: Communismis an attractivetheory..eleven had establishedclose friendshipswhile at the universityand two had no close friends.fourteen mentioned close friendswho theyhad known before enteringthe university. Murray.. p.It is logical and intelligent. Only fourofthe thirty-eight studentsansweringthisquestion in the interview stated that they never went to the "great men". in a certain sense that you are no longer naive.65 Yet many of the statementsof the students point to the conclusion that this cynicism was not all-embracing. 66Interview# 217. It could be dangerous for a student if the authorities discovered that he attended church.70 There is a wide distance between distrustof idealists and theories and distrustof everyone.theywere congratulatedlater by their fellowstudentsfortheirclevernessin lying. 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .an attitude of complete cynicism. means. 50.68Most studentswould say that youth did not attend church for this was often something not even told to friends.66Others attended church as a protest67while still others went for solace. 70 Interviewwith Student F.38 on Sun.op. p. well. It is interestingthat while church-goingwas frowned upon by the Communists.136. I don't believe in the theoriesof the idealists and dreamers.yet its basic assumptionsare wrong. 60Of the twenty-sevenstudents who were asked about friendshippatterns. cit.412 AmericanSlavic and East European Reviewz standardswith great enthusiasm. The theorybecomesblurredand distorted whenit is applied to human society.An individual does not give up his life for 65 Interview # 213. For that reason they went to churches in parts of town where they were not known.The Hungarian students do not seem to have lost faith in the possibilities of sincerityand truston an individual basis.Yet afteryou have knownit. 68 Interview # 228.. That the Hungarian universitystudentscared about the futureof theircountrycan be seen in the demands for reform which they drew up during the Revolution. 47.. Perhaps some of the studentscould be called cynical but the action of those who participated in the Revolution makes one doubt that all fall into the same category..

the studentsrose. The Hungarian students were.136.166. This content downloaded from 109.forthe most part.disillusionedwith Marxist-Leninist theory and lived fromday to day under a systemtheyseemedpowerlessto change.When the possibilityforchangecame.38 on Sun.throughviolenceand massaction.Hungarian Higher Education 413 somethingin which he does not believe. 21 Jun 2015 14:09:19 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .