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Wed, 04 Sep 2013 02:52:59 EDT by admin, 62008 views
University of Florida
History paper by Mellis, Johanna (all papers)
1956 as a Turning Point? Elite Hungarian Athletes After the Revolution
It cannot be denied that the 1956 Revolution played perhaps the most central role in shaping the course of Hungarian history under communism and in collective memory thereafter. The Communist period did not, however, end after 1956, nor after the general amnesty in 1962. The reforms of the New Economic Mechanism from 1968-1972 and the state’s relaxation of its socio-cultural policies in the 1970s and 1980s in many ways altered the course of Hungarian society and everyday life. Yet the period of Goulash Communism has received very little attention from scholars of Hungary. At first glance this is perhaps surprising. Some historians have described the Kádárist period as a time of “relative abundance” of consumer goods and freedoms, particularly when compared to the “economy of shortage” that plagued their Romanian neighbors. The availability of consumer items and opportunities to improve and enjoy one’s lifestyle brought great promise to the Hungarian public; but perhaps more interesting were the myriad of ways in which Hungarians worked and took pride in obtaining these items, and experiencing what some historians have called the “pleasures” in socialism.
As one of the groups most well suited to take advantage and obtain these pleasures, elite Hungarian athletes stood to gain more than most citizens during this time. But while trying to acquire and enjoy these pleasures, elite athletes risked punishment from the Hungarian Communist state, as they had before 1956. This paper will, therefore, examine the ways that elite athletes pushed the limits of Goulash Communism in their attempts to obtain the “good life.”
Brief Professional Bio:
Johanna Mellis is a doctoral student studying Hungarian history at the University of Florida. Her teaching and research interests include East-Central Europe, Hungary, sport history, everyday life under communism/socialism, and oral history and memory studies.