Hungarian Communist Party
The Communist Party of Hungary , renamed Hungarian Communist Party (Magyar Kommunista Párt) in 1945, was founded on November 24, 1918, and was in power in Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 briefly from March to August 1919 under Béla Kun
Béla Kun
Béla Kun , born Béla Kohn, was a Hungarian Communist politician and a Bolshevik Revolutionary who led the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919.- Early life :...

 and the Hungarian Soviet Republic
Hungarian Soviet Republic
The Hungarian Soviet Republic or Soviet Republic of Hungary was a short-lived Communist state established in Hungary in the aftermath of World War I....

. The communist government was overthrown by the Romanian Army and driven underground. The party regained power following World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and held power from 1945 under the leadership of Mátyás Rákosi
Mátyás Rákosi
Mátyás Rákosi was a Hungarian communist politician. He was born as Mátyás Rosenfeld, in present-day Serbia...

. In 1948 the party merged with the Social Democrats to become the Hungarian Working People's Party. The Communist Party of Hungary was a member of the Communist International.

Foundation and early years

The Communist Party of Hungary (KMP) was first established in late 1918 by Béla Kun
Béla Kun
Béla Kun , born Béla Kohn, was a Hungarian Communist politician and a Bolshevik Revolutionary who led the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919.- Early life :...

, a former journalist who fought for Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. After spending time in a POW camp, Kun, along with several associates, set up the initial workings of the KMP in Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 in October 1918. These first members returned to Hungary in November, and on the 24th officially created the KMP. Initially, the group was small in number, boasting only its founders and a handful of leftist Social Democrats. Nonetheless, the political instability of the government under Mihály Károlyi
Mihály Károlyi
Count Mihály Ádám György Miklós Károlyi de Nagykároly was briefly Hungary's leader in 1918-19 during a short-lived democracy...

 and the growing popularity of the Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 movement prompted the Social Democrats to seek a coalition with the KMP. For the Social Democrats, an alliance with the KMP not only increased their standing with the common people, but also gave them a potential link to the increasingly powerful Russian Communist Party, as Kun had ties with prominent Russian Bolsheviks.

Following the establishment of the Hungarian Soviet Republic
Hungarian Soviet Republic
The Hungarian Soviet Republic or Soviet Republic of Hungary was a short-lived Communist state established in Hungary in the aftermath of World War I....

 in March 1919, Kun set about nationalizing private industry while embarking on a massive agricultural collectivization project. He also took steps towards normalizing foreign relations with the Triple Entente
Triple Entente
The Triple Entente was the name given to the alliance among Britain, France and Russia after the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente in 1907....

 powers in an effort to gain back some of the land that Hungary was set to lose in the post-war negotiations. For the 133 days that the Hungarian Soviet Republic existed, the KMP concentrated mostly on trying to fix the widespread economic chaos that had resulted from Hungary’s defeat in World War I. Unfortunately, Kun’s economic policy only created higher inflation while also leading to food shortages across the land. Opposition began to grow, led by Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy
Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya was the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary during the interwar years and throughout most of World War II, serving from 1 March 1920 to 15 October 1944. Horthy was styled "His Serene Highness the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary" .Admiral Horthy was an officer of the...

, and in June, following an attempted coup, the KMP launched a violent terror campaign through its secret police mechanism. Despite all this, the Soviet Republic fell on August 1, 1919, following the Hungarian Army’s crushing defeat by Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

. The invading Romanians seized Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

 from the Communists, exiled Kun to Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, and forced the KMP to hand over power to the Social Democrats.

Interwar period and exile

The fall of the Soviet Republic was followed by a year-long anti-Communist purge, known as the White Terror, by the new nationalist government under István Bethlen
István Bethlen
Count István Bethlen de Bethlen was a Hungarian aristocrat and statesman and served as Prime Minister from 1921 to 1931....

, in which anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people were killed and thousands more were imprisoned and tortured. Much of the old KMP leadership was either executed or exiled, primarily to Vienna. There, remnants of the KMP Central Committee, once again led by Kun, reformed into a Provisional Central Committee, which attempted to keep the Party together despite its illegal status in Hungary.

Throughout the 1920s, many Hungarian Communists moved to Moscow, with Kun among them. Kun’s actions in Russia, most notably the organization of a massacre of White Russian
White movement
The White movement and its military arm the White Army - known as the White Guard or the Whites - was a loose confederation of Anti-Communist forces.The movement comprised one of the politico-military Russian forces who fought...

 POWs in 1921, drew censure from Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

 and other prominent Bolsheviks. Nonetheless, Kun maintained a prominent position with Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

 until 1937, when he was arrested and executed during one of Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

’s purges. Furthermore, Kun was the unquestioned leader of the KMP during the inter-war period, with his main rival, Jenő Landler, dying in 1927.

During this time, the KMP held its First Party Congress on August 18, 1925. The Party also organized a legal cover party, the Socialist Workers Party of Hungary
Socialist Workers Party of Hungary
The Socialist Workers Party of Hungary was a political party in Hungary. The party was founded by social democrats and communists in 1925, and led by István Vági. Unlike the established Hungarian Social Democratic Party, the Socialist Workers Party sought to mobilize mass movements and agrarian...

 (MSzMP), to act as its representative in Hungary. But the Hungarian government soon took steps to abolish the MSzMP, and by 1927, the party existed in name only.

For the remainder of the inter-war period, the internal leadership of the KMP beyond Kun fluctuated tremendously, and membership was minuscule. On the home front, the declaration of martial law in 1931 allowed the government to round up suspected Communists and imprison and execute them at will, damaging the KMP to the point that the Comintern dissolved it in 1936. Further throwing the Hungarian Communists into disarray were the inconsistent policies of the Comintern throughout the 1930s, culminating in the 1939 Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact and the abandonment of the Popular Front
Popular front
A popular front is a broad coalition of different political groupings, often made up of leftists and centrists. Being very broad, they can sometimes include centrist and liberal forces as well as socialist and communist groups...

 tactic that had marked Communist ideology for the last decade. On top of all of that, Stalin’s purges in the late 1930s had taken a heavy toll on the Hungarian émigrés in Moscow.

World War II and the Communist takeover

The KMP entered the 1940s a shell of what it once was. In late 1941, following Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, the Central Committee advised Party members to work with non-Communist resistance groups in order to present a united anti-German front. This prompted the KMP to attempt to reestablish itself as a legal entity in Hungary, despite the Horthy government’s alliance with Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

. This movement was quickly put to an end, however, as mass arrests in 1942 effectively destroyed the leadership of the KMP. This, coupled with the dissolution of Comintern in 1943, spelled the end of the KMP as a functioning party for the time being.

In an effort to continue their actions, Hungarian Communists under János Kádár
János Kádár
János Kádár was a Hungarian communist leader and the General Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party, presiding over the country from 1956 until his forced retirement in 1988. His thirty-two year term as General Secretary makes Kádár the longest ruler of the People's Republic of Hungary...

 founded a new party, dubbed the Peace Party, as a replacement for the KMP. This designation lasted until late 1944, at which point the Peace Party reverted back to its designation as the Communist Party. By this point, Horthy was frantically trying to end Hungary’s role in the war. Attempts to scale back the involvement on the German end failed, and so, with the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 approaching the country’s borders, Horthy tried to declare Hungary a neutral state. The move backfired horrendously; Arrow Cross
Arrow Cross
A cross whose arms end in arrowheads is called a "cross barby" or "cross barbee" in the traditional terminology of heraldry. In Christian use, the ends of this cross resemble the barbs of fish hooks, or fish spears...

 forces seized the capital, took power, and set the stage for an almost year long battle that claimed thousands of lives and left Budapest in ruins. The city was finally liberated in April 1945.

Despite rapid growth in membership immediately following the war, the party refounded under the name MKP received 17 percent in the elections, equal to the Social Democrats. But the appointment of party secretary László Rajk
László Rajk
László Rajk was a Hungarian Communist; politician, former Minister of Interior and former Minister of Foreign Affairs...

 as Minister of the Interior, coupled with the presence of the Red Army in the country and strong support for the MKP within other parties, allowed the Hungarian Communists time to whittle away their political opponents. Within two years, the MKP had broken the power base of the Smallholders Party (SHP), the majority party in the new government, and by 1948, every party but the Social Democrats had vanished. These two parties merged in June 1948 to become the Hungarian Workers Party (HWP), and in 1949, the Communists took over parliament in new elections with no opposition. The Communist takeover in Hungary was complete.

Prominent Members

  • Ernő Gerő
    Erno Gero
    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 first secretary of its ruling communist party.-Life and career:...

  • Béla Kun
    Béla Kun
    Béla Kun , born Béla Kohn, was a Hungarian Communist politician and a Bolshevik Revolutionary who led the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919.- Early life :...

  • József Pogány
    John Pepper
    John Pepper, also known as József Pogány, born József Schwartz was a Hungarian-Jewish Communist politician, active in the radical movements of both Hungary and the United States. He later served as a functionary in the Communist International in Moscow, before being cashiered in 1929...

  • László Rajk
    László Rajk
    László Rajk was a Hungarian Communist; politician, former Minister of Interior and former Minister of Foreign Affairs...

  • Mátyás Rákosi
    Mátyás Rákosi
    Mátyás Rákosi was a Hungarian communist politician. He was born as Mátyás Rosenfeld, in present-day Serbia...

  • László Rudas
    László Rudas
    László Rudas was a Hungarian communist newspaper editor and politician who survived the Great Purge in the Soviet Union to become director of the Central Party School of the Communist Party of Hungary.-Before the 1918 Revolution:...

  • Tibor Szamuely
    Tibor Szamuely
    Tibor Szamuely was a Hungarian Communist leader.Born in Nyíregyháza, a city in the Northeast of Hungary, Szamuely was the oldest son of five children of a Jewish family. After completing his university studies, he became a journalist...

See also

  • Hungarian Socialist Workers Party
  • History of Hungary
    History of Hungary
    Hungary is a country in central Europe. Its history under this name dates to the early Middle Ages, when the Pannonian Basin was colonized by the Magyars, a semi-nomadic people from what is now central-northern Russia...

  • Hungarian People's Republic
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