In the spring and summer of 1944, hundreds of thousands were deported from Hungary. The tragedy of the Jews was followed by the local German population's tragedy. Between 1946 and 1948, some two hundred thousand ethnic Germans were expelled and resettled in occupied Germany. Subsequently more than ten thousand country dwellers were transported to so-called "closed" – in reality concentration – camps, where the guards were not held accountable for the prisoners' lives. In 1951, thousands of the capitals' middle,- upper-middle class and titled citizens were forcibly transferred to designated quarters in the countryside. It is their fate that is illustrated in the hall by way of contemporary photographs and documents. The ZIM automobile on display is a frightening relic of the times: it evokes the infamous "black car" used by the communist political police to pick up its victims, usually in the middle of the night. Millions were in dread of these nocturnal visitors, and the ringing of the bell that heralded their arrival. That is when the expression: "bell-panic" was coined.
The Second World War did not end collective persecution.
Following the decision of the victorious super powers, more than 200,000 Hungarians of German origin were deported. When the deportee lists were drawn up, the willingness to appropriate the lands and homes of the ˝traitor Swabians˝ played a crucial role besides the hostile disposition towards them. During the almost two year long campaign, the humiliated, ostracized Hungarian citizens of German origin, completely deprived of all their belongings, were deported under inhumane conditions to Germany. After the wartime human losses, with the large part of the Jewish population exterminated and several hundred thousand deported to the Soviet Union, this round of deportations led to the irreplaceable loss of another approximately quarter of a million citizens.
Czechoslovakia belonged to the winning side and attempted to expell German and Hungarian speaking minorities. Through the Hungarian-Czechoslovak Population Exchange Agreement (1946), the regime attempted to unilaterally expel 200,000 Hungarians. Following this, more than 100,000 Hungarians were forced from their birthplace, while approximately 60,000 Slovaks from Hungary moved north to Czechoslovakia.
After the introduction of the totalitarian dictatorship, a program of persecution was launched against the Hungarian peasantry. More than 10,000 people referred to negatively as ˝kulaks˝ were coerced to leave their homes and land. The Ministry of Interior oversaw this campaign, keeping in mind the quotas established by the Party, the AVO was responsible for its implementation.
In the summer of 1951 and later 1952, residents along the Yugoslav border were resettled as well. In many cases, the ˝unreliable˝ were taken away in the middle of the night, forced to leave all belongings behind. They were relocated by force to a new location in various areas of the country or locked up in labor camps. Those forcefully resettled lost all rights, were deprived of their retirement benefits and could not leave their new location without permission. They were controlled day and night.
In summer 1951, mass resettlements began in Budapest and in the larger cities around the country such as Győr, Szombathely and Székesfehervár.
From May 21st to July 18th, with a well-prepared, large scale action, more than 5,000 families or around 15,000 people, were forced out of the capital. Each person was allowed to take 250 kilograms of belongings with them. The communists inventoried the items left behind and made three copies. The more valuable items and furniture were appropriated to party members living in larger apartments. The rest became state property.
The fate of those resettled was the most difficult for those who ended up in agricultural forced worked camps or ˝social camps˝, which were surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by ÁVO soldiers and police dogs. Prisoners were placed in sheep pens and barracks, and were forced to work in horrible conditions. Work days were twelve hours long and the laborers had to usually walk eight to ten kilometers back and forth to their workplace from the camp. Due to the lack of food, the cruel conditions, the strenuous work --as well as the lack of doctors and medicine-- many died or suffered permanent health conditions. From June 1950 to October 1953, around 15,000 people worked in forced labor camps around Hortobágy.
Based on a decree issued by the authorities, the use of the word ˝deportation˝ was forbidden. Those who used the word or wrote it were punished. The resettled were chosen on the basis of their origins or for their targeted belongings. Because they owned beautiful houses or apartments, it was the easiest and quickest way to compensate the diligent party cadre. Among the ostracized were those who returned from Nazi concentration camps. Many committed suicide before facing deportation once again. Others chose to take out their yellow stars and put them on.
Unreliable military-age young ˝class enemies˝ were also called into forced labor service. They had to work in the most deserted mines and construction sites around the country.
In July 1953, the government of Imre Nagy repealed the decree on expulsions, however the majority of people resettled could not return to their homes. Those who did return suffered from discrimination for many long years.