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Antisemitism in an Era of Transition

Continuities and Impact in Post-Communist Poland and Hungary

Edited By François Guesnet and Gwen Jones

The post-Communist transition in Eastern Central Europe has brought about democratic reform, liberalized economies and accession to the European Union, but also the emergence of political movements that revert to antisemitic rhetoric and arguments. This volume compares the genealogies and impact of antisemitism in contemporary Poland and Hungary. Leading and emerging scholars contrast developments in both countries from the last quarter of the nineteenth century to the present, analysing the roles played by organised religion, political leaders, media and press, but also by Communist Parties. They present historical analysis as well as the results of qualitative and quantitative research on contemporary public memory, the image of the Jew, antisemitic media, political constituencies and the interplay of prejudices, specifically anti-Roma racism. A topical bibliography of research on antisemitism in post-Communist Eastern Central Europe offers pathways to further research.
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Jews and the Communist Commitment in Hungary and Eastern Central Europe after 1945: Victor Karady


Victor Karady

One recurring trope of anti-Communist politics in Eastern Central Europe since 1945 has been the supposedly close relationship of Jews to the regimes in the ‘people’s democracies’. Although this involvement may have been overstated, Jews nonetheless had a very specific investment in the post-war political order under Soviet control. In order to understand how this idea could gain credit among many critics of communism, the Jewish involvement in leftist politics needs to be discussed in its historical context.

The question of the Jewish engagement in leftist, socialist or early Communist movements has generated a sizeable literature going back to the young Marx or even earlier, especially for Central Europe.2 It is the Hungarian heritage in this matter that will be the central focus of the present study: Hungary had the second largest Jewish population in a European state during most of the long nineteenth century, and some indicative data on Jewish involvement in early leftist movements is now available. Under the Dual Monarchy and between 1880-1901, 23 percent of the leaders of the Hungarian Social Democratic Party were Jews, and this figure rose to 33 percent in the period 1902-1917.3 In the inter-war years 1922-1937, 32 percent of the same party’s leadership was Jewish,4 while figures compiled by the police on activists of the clandestine Party of Hungarian Communists (KMP) identified 28 percent as Jews.5 Regarding intellectuals in the Communist movement that was outlawed after 1919, one can find an overwhelming majority of...

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