From Soviet Power to Freedom
Interwar Period and World War II (1920-1946)
Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory and half of its population due to the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, leading to national resentment and the enactment of anti-Semitic laws. Hungary declared war on the USSR in 1941 and saw power seized by the Arrow Cross (the Hungarian Nazis) in October 1944, leading to the deportation of 700,000 Jews. The country proclaimed a republic in 1946, with Zoltan Tildy becoming president.
The Cold War Era (1946-1956)
The opposition between the East and West blocs marked the start of the Cold War in 1946, with the Red Army stationed in Hungary. The leader of the Communist Party, Matyas Rakosi, took over the government in 1949. However, with Stalin’s death in 1953, a period of eased tension began, and a wind of freedom started blowing.
The Hungarian Revolution (1956)
October 1956 marked the start of the people’s uprising against Soviet control and communism. The revolution was brutally suppressed, leading to the execution of Imre Nagy, the Prime Minister, in 1958.
The Kadar Era (1963-1988)
Under Janos Kadar, lenient measures were implemented, and economic and agricultural reforms were undertaken. However, an economic crisis in 1987 led to growing discontent and the dismissal of Kadar in May 1988.
Transition to Democracy (1989-1994)
The year 1989 marked a significant shift in Hungary. The communist-socialist republic became the Hungarian Republic, the fall of the Berlin Wall heralded the disintegration of the Soviet Eastern Bloc, and Hungary held its first free elections in 1990. Hungary also joined the Council of Europe in 1990, became an associate member of the European Union in 1993, and saw the Socialist Party, mostly comprised of past communist politicians, win the general elections in 1994.
Contemporary Hungary (1998-Present)
In 1998, Hungarians voted in favor of NATO membership, and the center-right-wing FIDESZ party came to power with Viktor Orban as Prime Minister. The reorganized Socialist Party won the 2003 elections, and in 2004, Hungary’s European Union membership was accepted. Hungary fully adopted EU rules and practices into its economy by 2005.