by Gábor Danyi
For the leaders of Communist countries, the changes in Poland after 1976 – that is, the emergence of the democratic opposition and then Solidarity – were perceived as a crisis that needed to be controlled. It was no different for the leadership of the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party, headed by János Kádár, who considered the situation very ambiguous. The crisis in Poland allowed the Hungarian authorities to demonstrate (to the public and external observers) that the Hungarian economy was in a good state, with higher living standards and more effective reforms compared to Poland. The crisis itself and what it led to (the establishment of independent trade unions), however, caused anxiety. The leadership of the communist party tried at all costs to prevent the popularization of the idea of “Solidarity” in Hungary.
The crisis in Poland resulted in full mobilization of the special services in Hungary, especially in the area of information transmission and cultural management. Until mid-1981, the Hungarian press – with few exceptions – reported the rise and activity of Solidarity in an unfriendly tone, manipulating and silencing certain news, and spreading disinformation among Hungarian society about the real causes of the Polish crisis. In the summer of 1981, there was a marked change in the tone of propaganda which resulted in a general campaign against Poles. According to the new messaging they were accused of being lazy and not wanting to work, and it was emphasized that Hungarian workers would have to pay a high price for Polish strikes. Generally, Hungary’s leadership was pleased with martial law in Poland, leading Hungarian Television to comment:
“Finally some good news from Poland.”
Read more HERE.