Há 55 anos, na Hungria... - a criação de Conselhos Operários (III)

[Ou "Conselhos Revolucionários", ou que lhe queiramos chamar]

II. Revolutionary Councils

A. Territorial Councils

1. The provinces

493. As from 24 October, Revolutionary Councils were set up in many parts of Hungary in villages, towns, at district level and in the counties. Whole areas were brought under their control after successful bloodless shorter or longer fights with the ÁVH. They at once assumed administrative responsibilities and began address demands to the Government, some of which had considerable influence on the course of events.

494. Various names were used by these Councils, such as Revolutionary Council, National Revolutionary Council, Revolutionary Committee, Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council, Revolutionary
Workers’ Council, National Revolutionary Committee, National Council, National Committee, Socialist Revolutionary Committee. Many of the Revolutionary Councils were called Municipal Workers’ Council or Workers’ Council which sometimes made it difficult to distinguish them from the Workers’ Councils in factories. In part II of this chapter, the term “Revolutionary Council” will be used.

495. Among the first provincial Revolutionary Councils set up immediately after 24 October were those of Dunapentele and Miskolc. The Councils of Debrecen, Győr and Jászberény were set up on 25 October; those of Mosonmagyaróvár, Tatabánya and Veszprém on the 26th; Eger, Nyíregyháza, Szeged, Székesfehérvár, Szolnok and Zalaegerszeg on the 27th; Szombathely on the 28th and Kaposvár on 30 October.

496. The circumstances in which the Councils were elected varied from one place to another. In many places they came into being after peaceful demonstrations, combined with the liberation of political prisoners; elsewhere the population’s demands, among which the election of a Revolutionary Council was prominent, were resisted by the ÁVH and resulted in a massacre of the population before it was possible to proceed with the setting up of a Council. The following are some examples.(4)

497. In Debrecen in the course of a peaceful manifestation on 23 October, the ÁVH killed 2 persons. After this, power was taken over by a “Revolutionary Socialist Committee” which, after two days’ negotiation, disarmed the ÁVH. In Győr the Council was set up on 25 October after demonstrations which took place before the Headquarters of the Communist Party with the participation of a crowd of more than 10,000. Demonstrators were originally led by Communists, and were joined by factory workers; the crowd tore down the Soviet emblems from public buildings and cut out the Soviet insignia from the flags. When the prison was attacked and political prisoners liberated, the ÁVH intervened and killed four people. The demonstrations continued during the night, and the day after, a notice was published in the papers concerning the mode of election of the Revolutionary Councils, which eventually took over power and disarmed the ÁVH. In Jászberény, after the news of uprising in Budapest arrived, workers and intellectuals went on strike, removed the Soviet insignia from official buildings and hoisted national flags. The Revolutionary Council was established on 25 October by 150 inhabitants of the town. By 29 October the Council had the support of the peasants of the region. In Miskolc revolutionary demonstrations took place on 24 and 25 October and a “Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council” was set up. Demonstrations went on the 26th before Police Headquarters and when demands were made for the release of demonstrators arrested earlier, the ÁVH fired into the crowd. After this, the crowd, composed of miners and workers, attacked Police Headquarters, blowing open the door with explosives and killing many members of the ÁVH. By nightfall, the Council had taken over full control of the town. At Mosonmagyaróvár, on 26 October, students and workers joined by townspeople demonstrated before the ÁVH Headquarters, asking that the Soviet star be removed from the building. ÁVH officers opened fire with four machine-guns, others threw hand grenades at the defenceless people; 101 people were killed and 150 wounded, many of them women and small children. After these events, with the assistance of the local police, the population disarmed the ÁVH

498. In Sopron the local population, with the help of the workers of Győr and Mosonmagyaróvár, disarmed the ÁVH and formed the “Provisional National Council”. In Szeged on 26 October, a military administration took the place of the City Council. On 27 October a demonstration took place in the course of which many people were wounded by ÁVH, and during the day a “Workers’ Council” for the city was set up. In Szolnok there was fighting on 26 October to break down the Hungarian Communist organization and also against the Soviet troops stationed there, followed by the setting up of a Revolutionary Council. In Veszprém representatives of Workers’ Councils in factories met on 26 October at the University and elected a Revolutionary Council for the city and the county. In Zalaegerszeg on 26 October a crowd of several thousands demonstrated before the county building and requested the resignation of the president of the County Council. The president resigned, and in agreement with him a “Workers’ Council” was set up. In the course of the demonstrations, however, shooting started and two persons were killed and many were wounded.

499. The procedure followed in establishing the Councils also varied from place to place. The methods used included election by secret ballot at a general meeting, or at a meeting of factory workers’ delegates, and election by representatives of peasants, factory workers and professional organizations. Sometimes, members of the Council were appointed by acclamation, sometimes by open election from those present at the meeting. In some cases, de facto non-Communist leadership appears to have been established without previous election.

500. The Councils included representatives of all segments of the population. In Debrecen, the Council had one hundred members of whom 60 per cent were workers, 20 per cent University students and 20 per cent representatives of the armed forces. The Councils of Győr and Eger consisted of workers, peasants, soldiers and intellectuals, while half of the twentyeight members of the Council of Jászberény were peasants. Revolutionary Councils were fully supported from the beginning by the armed forces (e.g., Debrecen, Eger, Győr, Szeged, Szolnok, Veszprém), and by the local police (e.g., Debrecen, Győr, Mosonmagyaróvár, Szolnok, Tatabánya, Veszprém).

501. Some of the Revolutionary Councils were set up with the consent of the local Committee of the Hungarian Workers’ (Communist) Party (e.g., Debrecen) many of them had from the beginning to the end Communist members (e.g., Debrecen) ; others dropped their Communist members after 1 November (e.g., Pécs). Most of them enjoyed almost at once the editorial support of the local organ of the Hungarian Workers’ (Communist) Party. Regarding the attitude taken by the Councils towards the Party, the following comments of Hétfői Hírlap of 29 October are significant:

“The demands [of the Revolutionary Councils] are, on the whole, identical and essentially socialist and democratic(5) in their character, and do not intend to destroy the people’s power. This is proved by the fact that wherever Party organizations endorsed the aims of thedemocratic revolution, no action was taken against them.”

502. Some of the Revolutionary Councils had radio stations of their own, which broadcast news and announcements during the whole period of the uprising. The main radio centre of the Provinces was in Győr, where Free Radio Győr and Free Radio Petőfi functioned on medium and short waves. Another important centre was the radio of the Workers’ Council of the County Borsod in Miskolc which broadcast on medium wave. Other free stations were Radio Damjanich (Szolnok), Free Radio Debrecen, Free Radio Dunapentele, Free Radio Eger, Free Radio Rákóczi (Kaposvár), Free Radio Széchenyi (Szeged), Free Radio Szombathely, Radio Vörösmarty (Székesfehérvár) and the Radio of the Workers’ Council of the County of Szabolcs-Szatmár. Most of the latter stations broadcast on short wave.

503. Of considerable political significance were the demands put forward by the Councils to the Government on behalf of the people of their area. These demands varied greatly, in accordance with the geographic location of the Councils. Those from the western parts of the country submitted more extreme demands than the Councils in the east. Demands differed further with the political trends which were represented within the Councils.

504. Some Councils gave qualified approval to the Government of Mr. Nagy, while making conditions for full recognition. The great majority of Revolutionary Councils were unanimous in calling for immediate cease-fire, the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary and the organization of free elections. Other demands amongst those put forward by the Revolutionary Councils of twelve Hungarian cities and counties(6) which were examined, were for complete independence and freedom for Hungary, for a protest to the United Nations against the presence of Soviet troops in Hungary, for the United Nations to deal with the Hungarian situation, for equality with the USSR, withdrawal from the Warsaw Treaty, recall of Péter Kós, the representative of Hungary to the United Nations, and for a proclamation of neutrality. Further demands included changes within the structure of the Government, the abolition of the ÁVH and the creation of new police, the establishment of the National Guard, liberation of political prisoners, in particular, of Cardinal Mindszenty, freedom of speech, press, religion and association, the setting up of Workers’ Councils in factories; new agrarian policies and, in particular, abolition of compulsory delivery of produce by the peasants.(7) It was often emphasized that a return of the landed estates to their former owners would not be tolerated. “The people have already decided as far as the question of land, factories and mineral wealth is concerned”, one Council delegate told the Government on 3 November. “The people will never alter that decision.”

505. The Revolutionary Councils controlled the ad ministration of the cities in which they were set up, dealing with all the major problems of local government and taking special measures to restore and maintain order by setting up of local units of the National Guard. Some collected medical supplies and food for the fighters and wounded in Budapest. Thus the Revolutionary Council of Jászberény, in co-operation with the local peasants, from 30 October on provided the fighters in Budapest free of charge with nearly 10,000 kilogrammes of food on a daily basis.

[relatório da ONU, páginas 155-158]

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