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Political jusitice in Budapest after World War II

Political jusitice in Budapest after World War II

Ildikó Barna
Andrea Pető
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 130
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  • Book Info
    Political jusitice in Budapest after World War II
    Book Description:

    In Hungary, which fell under Soviet influence at the end of WWII, those who had participated in the wartime atrocities were tried by so called people’s courts. This book analyses this process in an objective, quantitative way, contributing to the present timely discussion on the Hungarian war guilt. The authors apply a special focus on the gender aspect of the trials.

    eISBN: 978-963-386-053-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. 1-6)

    For political justice in post-World War II Hungary, there is both a history and a memory. The two aspects have less and less in common. This conflict explains why we embarked upon this basic research. Though the literature on the people’s tribunals (a selection of which is given in the bibliography) is growing, its effect on public discourse and in public life has been negligible. The primary reason for this lies in the distinction drawn between history and public history. While public history addresses a broader audience in order to achieve some specific aim, “history” seeks to meet the standards...

  5. Political Justice in Europe: The State of Research
    (pp. 7-12)

    Attempting to offer a comparative overview of European judiciary processes between 1944 and 1949 is a challenge. Thus far, this task has been pursued mainly by multi-author volumes, whose introductions tried to set up a taxonomy of European processes (e.g., Deak, Gross, and Judt 2000; for an overview of the process, see Bloxham 2001 and 2004, 397—420; Douglas 2001; Kuretsidis, Haider, and Garscha 1998; Frei, Laak, and Stolleis 2000). The language of sources, the accessibility of sources, and nationally framed memory politics are fundamental issues of European comparative historiography, which define the questions posed.

    Literature on post-World War European...

  6. Legal Background to the People’s Tribunals and Their Operation in Hungary
    (pp. 13-26)

    A significant amount of material is already available on the legal conditions and prerequisites for the operation of the people’s tribunals (see Gyenesei 2011). Consequently, this chapter will merely summarize the legal background in order to demonstrate the extent of its fluid nature. It is this fluidity that makes it difficult and even misleading to make claims regarding the “entire process.” A certain amount of continuity can be observed in the legal regulation of people’s justice: the legal background to the process that some have uniformly called “people’s justice” emerged gradually over a period of years. This catchall term is...

  7. Research Methodology
    (pp. 27-44)

    The purpose of our research has been to map out and evaluate the system of people’s tribunals after World War II and to reveal how the trials ran their course and who participated in them. Previous research projects had been conducted at two levels:35either the researchers examined the institutional network or they described individual cases. Such a methodology could not give us a comprehensive and valid picture of all the case files.

    The innovation in our research is the methodology we used to approach the topic. On the one hand, the case files were examined through quantitative social research;...

  8. Analysis of the People’s Tribunal Cases
    (pp. 45-84)

    Having presented the methods employed in our investigation of the people’s tribunals, we shall, in the rest of this volume, make known the results of the analysis. Our aim was to reveal the basic characteristics and features of the operation of the people’s tribunals: What trials were held? How long did they last? Who participated in them? What was the composition of the witnesses and how did this affect the trials?

    As we analyzed the data, we soon realized that the trials held by the people’s tribunals were far from uniform. This meant that we could not receive an accurate...

  9. A Gendered Analysis of Political Justice in Hungary in the Aftermath of World War II
    (pp. 85-96)

    According to the literature on political justice, most convictions in Hungary were handed down to members of the former political elite and to the mostly male perpetrators of acts of violence. Hence the general history of the people’s tribunals is usually presented in the form of an analysis of cases involving men. Meanwhile, some researchers in Hungary have analyzed individual court cases and have drawn, on the basis of their analysis, generalized conclusions on the operation of post-World War II justice from a gendered perspective. However, an analysis of the individual court cases of female concentration camp guards cannot tell...

  10. Jewish Identity and the People’s Tribunals
    (pp. 97-110)

    Holocaust experts agree that until the Eichmann trial, the needs of Jews as a community were ignored by the justice system, as social changes in the aftermath of war and the realities of the Cold War diverted attention from the sufferings of Jews in all European countries. There is also agreement that “Jewish survivors, indeed survivors in general, were incapable of illuminating the general picture because of a prosecution strategy that favored documents above fragile memory” (Bloxham 2004, 401). This chapter offers evidence, based on the data at our disposal, that these conclusions do not apply in Hungary, where Jewish...

  11. Summary
    (pp. 111-114)

    In this volume we have reviewed the people’s justice process in Budapest in the aftermath of World War II. Our systematic quantitative analysis has revealed some surprising facts that were ignored in earlier works.

    The first is the characterization of the era. We cannot speak of a single era; rather, it seems that two periods “slipped together” like tectonic plates. First was an immediate postwar period of restoring accountability, and afterwards was a period of abusing the justice system for the purposes of the communist takeover and the replacement of the country’s political elite. These two periods have different legal...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 115-120)
  13. Index
    (pp. 121-128)