restricted access The Great War and the 1918–19 Revolutions as Experienced and Remembered by the Hungarian Peasantry
Abstract

At the beginning of the 20th century more than 60 percent of the Hungarian population was made up of peasants. This essay examines how this large section of society experienced and remembered the Great War, and the 1918–19 revolutions that followed. Utilizing letters, diaries, memoirs, and autobiographies produced by the peasants themselves, as well official reports, newspapers, oral history interviews, and novels with sociological observations, this study emphasizes that the reception of the mobilization was much more reserved among peasants than within the urban population. With the outbreak of the war the traditional immobility, isolation, and political disengagement of the peasants ended. One of the lasting effects of the war on the mentality of the peasantry was the widening of their worldview and the strengthening of their self-respect. The other was their becoming acquainted with the modern techniques of killing and the consequent devaluation of human life. Finally, this paper considers how such affects contributed to the red terror practices by the Communists in 1919 and the white terror committed by rightist paramilitary units in 1919–20.


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