How do you make abstract historical interpretations authentic? This question troubled communist party leaders and propaganda historians in Hungary following the restoration of dictatorship after 1956. Accordingly, this book investigates the crooked history of the retrospective state revisions of the First Hungarian Soviet Republic between the years of its 30th and 40th anniversary, 1949 and 1959.
In recent decades the study of memory has become central to the historical discipline as a powerful conceptual tool to assess both the political-ideological implications of social constructions of the past and the writing of history itself. Yet, most of these investigations focus on postdictatorial situations, and suggest ways to understand how these societies confront their controversial and often traumatic pasts. In this volume, Péter Apor takes an in-depth look at a particular phenomenon - the First Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919 - to illustrate how a dictatorship and a communist state remembers. Unlike other works analysing social memory, this book concentrates on authenticity as the crucial concept in establishing the success or failure of memory constructions, integrating the broad range of processes - political, scholarly, artistic - through which history is sought to be rendered authentic.
Péter Apor offers innovative, theoretically grounded interpretations of the Communist memory politics. This book is an important work on the history of East European Communism.'
-Gábor Gyáni, Research Professor, Institute of History, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and Visiting Professor, Central European University
'The memory of the Communist past is a major issue today - Péter Apor reverses the question and reminds us how the Communists themselves distorted national memories. This original book offers a good example of how to deconstruct these sophisticated policies of history.'
-Henry Rousso, Senior Researcher, Institut d'histoire du temps présent, French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) '
"Fabricating Authenticity in Soviet Hungary" follows the intricate thread of the long afterlife of a short but deeply controversial historical event. The book forcefully argues that under the condition of politically induced retrospective uncertainty, all historical facts become suspect of fabrication.'
-István Rév, Professor of History, Central European University
Péter Apor is a research fellow at the Institute of History in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest and has been fellow at the Imre Kertész Kolleg from January to December 2012.