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Pictures of Hungary’s Post-WW2 May Day Captures Spread of Communism Throughout Society

Hungary Today 2021.05.01.

May Day has been an official holiday in Hungary since 1946. At that time the country had a democratically-elected coalition government, but the communists had already begun their political takeover. Pictures of the first official May Day perfectly capture the spread of forced communist ideology throughout Hungarian society.

May Day has become the biggest international workers’ day over the last century. After World War II, the holiday was particularly important in the Soviet Union and in communist countries of central and eastern Europe under its influence. Eastern Bloc countries held official celebrations in every town and city, during which party leaders greeted the crowds while workers marched through the streets carrying banners with political slogans.

May 1st in the Past: From Labor Demonstrations to International Holiday
May 1st in the Past: From Labor Demonstrations to International Holiday

International Workers’ Day is called Labor Day, Worker’s Day, or in some countries, referred to as May Day. In Hungary, the day is called the “Munka ünnepe” (Celebration of work) and is a public holiday. The economic and social achievements of workers are recognized on this day, but incidentally, it does not take place on […]Continue reading

In Hungary, May Day is celebrated to this day on May 1st. It became an official public holiday in 1946.

Even though at that time Hungary had a coalition government led by the Smallholders’ Party, the communists had already begun taking control of Hungary’s political affairs. As a result, with the help of the Kremlin, the Hungarian Communist Party was able to secure important ministerial positions while winning full power soon after.

Hungary’s transition to a communist dictatorship is perfectly illustrated by the photos taken at the May Day ceremony of its first official celebration in 1946.

“Democratic police for the people,” the slogan says. Meanwhile, the police and secret police were torturing innocent people in prisons. Photo: Fortepan/Pál Berkó

Photo: Fortepan/Pál Berkó

“This is what orange looks like.” One of the promises and aims of the Communists was to make a high standard of life accessible to the masses. The Communists also wanted to naturalize the cultivation of several tropical fruits in Hungary, such as the orange. Photo: Fortepan/Pál Berkó

“We will defend the villages.” Photo: Fortepan/Pál Berkó

Photo: Fortepan/Zoltán Aszódi

Photo: Fortepan/Pál Berkó

With the help of the Soviet Union, the Hungarian Communist Party (MKP) spread intense communist propaganda. Photo: Fortepan/Pál Berkó

Photo: Fortepan/Zoltán Aszódi

Photo: Fortepan/Zoltán Aszódi

Photo: Fortepan/Pál Berkó

Featured photo via Fortepan/Zoltán Aszódi