5/2/6 | Hungary 1919. The Allure of Communism.

Hungary 1919: The Allure of Communism.


On 16th-17th October 2014 the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for the History and Theory of Biography held a symposium on the topic 'Hungary 1919: The Allure of Communism' in co-operation with the Institute for Hungarian Historical Research (Balassi Institut - Collegium Hungaricum Wien) and the University of Vienna - European and Comparative Literature and Language Studies (Department of Finno-Ugristic). An interdisciplinary group of scholars from Hungary and Austria gave talks on diverse aspects of the biographical impacts and autobiographical and literary mediations of the Hungarian Republic of Councils.

Following the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 and the collapse of the monarchies in Germany and Austria-Hungary in the aftermath of World War One, various attempts were made in Central Europe at establishing Communist states. The longest of these experiments was the Republic of Councils (otherwise known as the Hungarian Soviet Republic) under the leadership of the former journalist Béla Kun.

The 133 days of the Republic of Councils became a significant episode in the lives of intellectuals such as those of the ‘Sonntagskreis’ (Sunday Circle) around Georg Lukács, Béla Balász and Karl Mannheim. For many intellectuals and artists the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ created new opportunities and fields of action. Notable figures of Hungarian intellectual life became involved in the cultural policy of the Republic of Councils, in which Lukács played a leading role as People’s Commissar for Education.

Together with the multiple personal and intellectual consequences of the failed Communist project, the focus of the symposium was on the biographical narration and literary adaptation of historical events. The differing ways the revolution has been mediated in (political) memory cultures both East and West was of interest, with a particular emphasis placed on biography. Our goal was to shed light on the individuals involved in the cultural and political history of the Republic of Councils and to use the events in Hungary 1919 as a case study for the ways major political events are (re-)constructed in the narration of individual lives.

An edited volume is currently in preparation.

Contact: Albert Dikovich (albert.dikovich@gtb.lbg.ac.at)

Press (german)

Event poster