Everyday Life

In the room contemporary posters and objects conjure up the communist workaday. The mind-set suggested by the crudely garish posters was just as mendacious and miserable as the ideology behind it.

In the countries where the Red Army forced out the Nazi occupiers, arrangements for a Socialist type of society as seen in the Soviet Union were forced on the population. The iron curtain was lowered, the borders were sealed, mines were laid, barbed wire was installed, and one could no longer go beyond the borders of the socialist countries. Those who attempt to leave could count on a long prison term, at best, if they were caught.  However, some were blown up, shot down or even executed. At the head of the ˝brotherly˝ socialist countries, the Soviets nominated party leaders who enhanced the power of the Communist Party through terror and violence. 

In Hungary, the opposition parties were dissolved and a one-party system was firmly established. All social organizations and associations were banned.  Only communist party followers of the Hungarian Workers Party could have political representation. Any belief, idea or view which did not correspond with the party line was considered a manifestation of the enemy and doomed to be destroyed.  The party´s Marxism-Leninism and Stalinist ideology, was applied to the economy, culture, education and daily life.

Parliamentarianism and political debate were abolished.  State organizations were subordinated to party organizations and the real decisions were made at the level of the Central Committee of CP and the Political Committee. At the head of the party stood ˝Stalin´s best student˝, ˝our father˝, ˝our wise leader˝, Mátyás Rákosi. However, at every level there was a smaller leader, the local petty dictator, who was referred to then as the party secretary. 

Inside the one-party state, militaristic discipline prevailed, which spread over the whole society.  Everyday life became militarized and the entire country lived in a state of wartime hysteria with the authorities waging an ongoing war against its citizens and in parallel, as a member of the Soviet empire, it prepared for WWIII against the United States and her allies.

The Communists modified the Hungarian constitution, declaring Hungary a People´s Republic, which they believed would bring them one step closer to their goal of socialism.

Instead of local governments, the Soviet system of Councils was introduced. Private property was liquidated and unions came under the purview of the party. A centrally planned economy led the country into bankruptcy in a short time.  Scarcity became the norm and store shelves remained empty. People stood in line for hours in order to receive rationed bread and sugar. All of this did not apply to the party leaders, or as they were then called ˝functionaries˝, since they received special provisions. The position of economic director equated to party soldier, and so these people had to be ˝ideologically developed˝, however they untrained in economic matters.

The party already began ideological indocrination in pre-school, when children were enrolled as ˝Little Drummers˝. Then, as they grew older, they became ˝Pioneers˝ and later members in the Association of Working Youth (DISZ).

Children could only become members of these groups if they were of the proper origins: if they were not considered as a class enemy, were not religious, or if the parents were not interned, resettled or in prison.  Such backgrounds presented serious disadvantages  for those who wanted to enter university or find employment as well.

Whether at work or during free time, people were required to show their belief in the system. Before work, joint half-hour readings of the Party´s central newspaper, ˝Free People˝ were held to deepen ideological identity.  Attendance was also compulsory at seminars organized for the same purpose as well as at work competitions and voluntary ˝solidarity shifts˝ on the weekends. ˝Voluntarily˝ as well, one could subscribe to a peace loan.

The Hungarian coat of arms was also modified.  Instead of the Hungarian national anthem, people had to sing the Socialist Internationale. National holidays were declared workdays.  In their place, the Day of Liberation on April 4th and the Bolshevik rise to power on November 15th were commemorated. Those citizens who did not show enough enthusiasm risked being reported by the ever-present informer.  Everyone learned how to whisper since they feared being overheard or bugged.
Terror overshadowed daily life.

First floor