March 1997 - October-November 1956 witnessed the most momentous events in Hungarian history since 1848, according to Istvan Deak, but they escape an agreed definition despite remaining a defining memory. The debate in Hungary over the events of 1956 even extends to what to call them, with "revolution and struggle for freedom" being the current compromise. Deak, the Seth Low Professor of History at Columbia University and a former Wilson Center Fellow, began his Noon Discussion on 12 March by reviewing the way the 1956 revolution has been treated in Hungary from the Communist to the post-Communist period. To bring his audience up to date on the political debate and the current best understanding of what happened, he concluded with his impressions from the fortieth anniversary conference held in Budapest in September 1996. The meeting was cosponsored by the Center's Cold War International History Project, the Institute for the History of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and the National Security Archive.
Hungary is one of those countries which, starting from a semi-peripheral position, have for centuries tried to catch up with the west. And it is a country which has failed at it again and again. Its elites have drawn up and tried to implement program after program. They have devised new economic and social models, failing again and again. This paper analyzes the emergence of an "alternative society" in Hungary since the 1950s. What do we mean by an "alternative society"? Or a "second society"? Does one really exist? And if it does, what is it like? What are its origins? What role has it played? How does it relate to the official, "first society"? What are the prospects for its further development?
December 2001- At the meetings of ELTE Klub, a university-based environmental organization, heated discussions took place on the nature and challenges of the Hungarian environmental movement. In 1996, at one of the meetings, one of the members was asked to comment on the changes observed in the Hungarian environmental movement. Comparing the challenges faced by environmentalists under state socialism and in the post-socialist era, she pointed out that: "In the 1950s there was the belief that there simply weren't nature conservation problems in socialist countries because natural resources were being harnessed for the benefit of the workers. Today, nature conservation is seen as an obstacle holding back development and marketization. It's this vadkapitalista (or "wild capitalist") perspective that we are up against."
February 1999 - Since major changes swept through Hungary in the late 1980s, there has been dramatic growth in the non-profit sector of society. From just under 8,800 non-profit organizations in 1989 the sector grew to more than 43,000 in 1995. The most rapid growth occurred in 1990 and 1991 but there has been steady expansion in succeeding years. In 1995, there were 27,685 associations, which are membership-based organizations, and 15,650 foundations that are property-based.
The shift from a German to a Hungarian theater culture has been told in different ways: This author analyzes three examples of this: 1) the nationalist linguistic focus on the making of texts and the theater as a forum for Magyarization; 2) the National Theater in Budapest as an institution-the building itself as an icon of Hungarian political identity; and 3) the role of the crowd in diffusing the significance of the theater, now simply one voice in the multiplicity of the metropolis.
October 2001- Budapest was the fastest growing European city in the 19th century and about a quarter of its population was Jewish. Jews in Eastern Europe have functioned like the canary in the mine: what happened to the canary would soon enough happen to the miners. The degree Hungarian Jews felt included, excluded, then ambivalent and confused about leaving or staying also provides a glimpse of the history of Hungarian nationalism in its various manifestations between 1848 and the present.
June 1997 - Transition in the Hungarian higher education system, begun with high hopes about ten years ago, has proven to be slow and difficult. Erno Zalai , professor and chair of mathematical economics and econometrics at the University of Economic Sciences in Budapest, Hungary, and a Wilson Center Guest Scholar, acknowledged that he and his colleagues greatly underestimated the magnitude of the political, economic, and cultural gap between East-Central Europe and Western Europe.
CWIHP Working Paper No. 38
A CWIHP Document Reader compiled for the international conference "Political Transition in Hungary, 1989-1990," Budapest, Hungary, 12 June 1999
CWIHP Working Paper No. 54