In 1944, the two foreign occupations of the country destroyed the political system and the political class that had presided over the rise of modern Hungary. In March, Nazi Germany carried out a swift military occupation and after Admiral Horthy’s botched attempt at surrender in October, the Arrow Cross (Hungarian Nazis) took over. This coincided with the offensive of the Red Army, but it was not until 4 April 1945 that the whole of Hungary’s territory was liberated. Damage, particularly in the capital, was extensive, but the collapse of the administration and the anti-Semitic pogroms had also left a lasting impression on morale. This was intensified by the fact that, by 1944, few people in Hungary felt that they had much stake in continued belligerency and regarded the fighting almost as the activity of two alien armies which did not concern Hungary. But parallel with this disenchantment, there was a widespread desire for change. The interwar period had already seen an upsurge of political pressure for reform — in this instance it expressed itself in a right-wing ideology — and the collapse was seen as an opportunity for a thorough reconstruction of the social and political order. The desire for change affected every social class and it was accepted as inevitable by the now discredited former ruling class, at least in the immediate aftermath of the collapse.
KeywordsSocial Democratic Peace Treaty Electoral District Political Class Interwar Period
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