The Archive of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989

A Catch-22 December 1989, Groundhog-Day Production. Presenting the Strictly Personal Research and Scholarship of Richard Andrew Hall, Ph.D.

Braila in zilele revolutiei (II)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 20, 2014


Maistrul Mihai Cruceanu, de la “Laminorul”:  Pe 23 seara eram in Laninorul 4.  La un moment dat am auzit serii scurte de arma cu automata, de pe acoperisul laminorului.  Se vad si acum urmele gloantelor in gardul unitatii si in peretii cladirilor cazarmii dinspre laminor.  Pocnetele armei pareau diferite de cele ale armelor de calibru 7,62 mm.  Erau seci.  De altfel am adunat de pe linga gard gloante de o facatura deosebita.  Ricosasera din placile de beton ale imprejmuirii unitatii.  Erau din metal alb, aveau capul tronconic.  Le-am masurat cu sublerul.  Aveau diametrul de 5,6 milimetri.


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Braila in Zilele Revolutiei (I)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 18, 2014


Locotenent-colonel Ionita Ioan:

Interesant e, ca aparitia pe ecranele radiolocatoarelor a proiectiei unor tinte aeriene neidentificate a fost dublata de ivirea pe cerul Brailei a unor luminite rosii pilpiitoare, care se deplasau dinspre Insula Mare a Brailei.  Se vedeau cu ochiul liber.  Pareau a fi beculete de semnalizare ale unor elicoptere….

Ne-am dat seama ca sintem supusi unei actiuni sistematice de dezinformare.  Scopul?  A provoaca deruta, panica, a dispersa unitatile militare, pentru a nu mai reactiona cu intreaga capacitate de lupta in cazul unei interventii straine…


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Virgil Magureanu despre decembrie 1989 (Strict Secret, 18 decembrie 1990; Romania Libera, 1 iulie 1994)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 17, 2014





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Jocul dublu al securitatii: Stefan Kostyal–Generalul unei alte armate moarte (cu Ioan Buduca, Cuvintul, ianuarie 1991) (II)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 16, 2014

Jocul dublu al securitatii: Stefan Kostyal–Generalul unei alte armate moarte (cu Ioan Buduca, Cuvintul, ianuarie 1991) (I)





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Jocul dublu al securitatii: Stefan Kostyal–Generalul unei alte armate moarte (cu Ioan Buduca, Cuvintul, ianuarie 1991) (I)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 15, 2014






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Declarations of Alexandru Kos (aka Alexandru Koos, aka Koos Sandor) from Timisoara in December 1989

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 12, 2014

(purely personal views as always, based on two decades of prior research and publications)

From the 630 am broadcast of Kossuth Radio on 23 December 1989 (Hungarian Monitoring transcripts of Radio Free Europe in Munich, Germany) :

Sandor Koos discusses in an interview (presumably performed on the evening of 22 December 1989 before nightfall based on the discussion of coming nightfall) from Timisoara how he and civilians found 9 Securitate members on the property of the Hotel Timisoara next to the Opera building in the center of Timisoara, took their guns and turned them over to the Timisoara military garrison. (p. 1752)



Alexandru Kos’s declaration for the military prosecutor, from 14 January 1990:

“[pe 23 decembrie 1989] am fost impuscat…cu o arma de calibru mare si probabil cu gloante dum-dum”

[on 23 December 1989 I was shot by a high caliber weapon probably with dum-dum bullets]

After discussing the exact incident mentioned above in the interview from 22 December 1989 about rounding up Securitate personnel on the grounds of Hotel Timisoara, where he says they had been for several days, he continues:  “I saw two of those who shot at me, one in a blue uniform with a white helmet, the other dressed in black with something white on his head.” [in other words, no stupidity here about the Army shooting into itself  and into civilians in the confusion of it all...]

imaginea 207
imaginea 208



From this site ].  The following are from Volume V.  Alexandru Koos’ courtroom testimony during the so-called Timisoara trial (date of his testimony appears to be 3 October 1990).  Koos discusses all of the above incidents in detail, and also the specifics of those detained during these days.

Alexandru Koos who was wounded on the night of 22-23 December 1989 also was treated in Austria however, where both doctors and experts confirmed that the bullet in question was a dum-dum bullet. (p. 600)

Alexandru Koos:

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Sorin Rosca Stanescu, the Historiography of December 1989, and Romanianists

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 10, 2014

(purely personal views as always, based on two decades of prior research and publications)

I, for one, haven’t forgotten….In recent days, some of those rushing to bury the journalist Sorin Rosca Stanescu–and to argue that they always knew and considered him a bad apple–are exactly the same people who conveniently turned a blind eye to Stanescu’s past as a Securitate collaborator, even after it became public knowledge in 1992.  They did so because it was ideologically and politically convenient.  They never asked at the time how or if that fact had affected his reporting before or after it became public knowledge…and in fact they still never have.  But then again there are always such people who, consciously or unconsciously, engage in the constant revision of their own personal history and selectively remember or forget past doubts, silences, or expressions of support as the situation dictates.

–One Romanian political analyst, Alina Mungiu, has castigated the political opposition and independent press for their response in cases such as that of Rosca Stanescu.  Mungiu suggests that an opportunistic double standard leads those opposed to the Iliescu regime to “draw an illogical difference between the ‘bad securisti” of those on the other side, whose head they demand, and those [securisti] who are ‘ours’, those of the ‘good’ world, like F.G. Marculescu, Sorin Rosca Stanescu, rehabilitated by Petre Mihai Bacanu [Romania Libera's senior editor]…” [Richard A. Hall, "The Dynamics of Media Independence in Post-Ceausescu Romania," Special Issue:  Post-Communism and the Media in Eastern Europe (ed. Patrick H. O'Neil), The Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics, Volume 12, no. 4 (December 1996)]


Back in late 1995/early 1996, fellow former Indiana University of Political Science Ph.D. Patrick H. O’Neil (at the time a Hungarianist) asked me if I wanted to participate in a special journal issue on the media in post-communist “Eastern Europe.” (I suppose I should be thankful that he and the publishers allowed me to publish a chapter as narrowly-focused as the one I did:  on coverage of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989 in the Romanian media.)  I could have written an anodyne, predictable Frankenstein-like chapter–Regime press bad; opposition press GOOOOD–that would have been easily accepted and cited by the Romanian studies community.  But by then that was impossible.  My dissertation year of 1993-1994 in Romania had truly undermined my previous views and understandings of many things in post-communist Romania that I had accepted as gospel before that field research.  On the other hand, I probably should have heeded the words of a professor who cautioned several years earlier about not publishing while still writing the dissertation, but I desperately needed a publication to keep any chance of an academic career a possibility (it didn’t work and if anything hurt me!).  Indeed, the years 1994-1996 were years of great confusion for me in working through what I had found to that point and full of false starts.  Therefore, I am not particularly proud of this chapter as it contains ideas and directions (it was written in March-May 1996) that in the face of evidence I was soon to abandon (i.e. yes, I made mistakes and I freely admit so!).  I did, however, get some things right, and one of those was the case of Sorin Rosca Stanescu.


Senior Romanianists, Vladimir Tismaneanu and Tom Gallagher, two leading authorities on opposite sides of the ocean in the English-speaking world, did not publish a word of dissent or questioning of Sorin Rosca Stanescu until the mid-2000s.  Indeed, Tom Gallagher’s 2005 Modern Romania continued to portray Stanescu in almost heroic terms.  Tismaneanu only seemed to have remembered Stanescu’s Securitate past in 2006 when Stanescu and Stanescu’s daily Ziua bitterly criticized him.  These things are verifiable.  Any doubts they may have had significantly never seem to have made it to print or the Internet until the mid-2000s at the earliest.  In fact, Tismaneanu still seemed to focus on the “good” Stanescu until quite recently, as the following excerpt about June 1990 makes clear:   ” …despre conversatiile cu Sorin Rosca-Stanescu (pe atunci unul dintre cei mai acerbi critici ai fesenismului) dar si cu Florin-Gabriel Marculescu, ziarist de o impresionanta tinuta morala, amandoi inca la Romania Libera,”

I recall in the mid-90s attempting to relate my doubts and misgivings about Stanescu’s reporting on December 1989 to Tismaneanu.  He neither cared, nor took it seriously.  In the tradition of academic putdowns, Gallagher actually accused me in a review of low standards of professionalism for questioning journalists of the independent press.  Hence, why I was so thankful to come across Alina Mungiu-Pippidi’s  1995 observation–cited above–that crystallized and explained the double standard I had been witnessing (of course, at the time, I hadn’t realized that there was more of a back story to why Mungiu had Rosca Stanescu in her sights, but her analysis was still spot on and a breath of fresh air.)




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(Redux) decembrie ’89: Sorin Rosca Stanescu, “turisti sovietici,” dezinformare securista, si orbirea partizana a intelectualilor romani

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 9, 2014

decembrie ’89: Sorin Rosca Stanescu, “turisti sovietici,” dezinformare securista, si orbirea partizana a intelectualilor romani

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 2, 2009


In vara aceasta, pe site-ul Tupeu, Control, Monopol ! (TCM), omul TCM a scris cum in in timpul mineriadei din iunie 1990 a stat de vorba cu SRS–Sorin Rosca Stanescu–si cum SRS era atunci un mare dusman al FSN-ului….Da, e adevarat, asa a fost…Din nenorocire, totusi, e incomplet, nu este adevarul intreg…fiindca la acelasi timp, SRS era un fost colaborator cu securitatea, mai precis cu USLA (detaliu important)…si a difuzat dezinformarii de provenienta securista…de exemplu, basmul cu “turisti sovietici” din decembrie ’89…sigur ca pina astazi ori n-a sesizat acest lucru TCM, ori nu vrea sa-l recunoasca…o lume impartita in alb si negru este mult mai placuta…


Ignorat cu desavarsire de catre intelectuali romani…acest articol a devenit renumit si chiar foarte pretuit printre fosti securisti (Filip Teodorescu) si functionari ceausisti (Radu Balan, Timisoara)…OARE DE CE?


Radu Ciobotea, Flacara, iulie 1991



Filip Teodorescu, Un Risc Asumat, 1992 (si aceasta carte este citata de catre TCM, dar desigur ignoreaza cu desavarsire discutia aceasta….)



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“Life punishes those who come too late!”: East Germany’s 40th and Last Anniversary Celebration (7 October 1989)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 7, 2014

Mark Kramer of Harvard University’s Cold War Studies Center highlighted the centrality of East Germany to the region-wide collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989 as follows  in “The Demise of the Soviet Bloc” (see pages 235-241 here, :

The crucial test case in all this, at least for Soviet policy, was the GDR, which for historical, geographic and strategic reasons was the keystone of the Warsaw Pact. [p. 236]




The following timetable/chronicle of daily events is from this highly useful site:

October 6: In the newspaper “Leipziger Volkszeitung,” under the headline “No more tolerance for subversion,” an article published under the name of the commander of the combat group contingent “Hans Geiffert,” Günter Lutz, says that, with regard to the forthcoming “Monday demonstration,” the combat groups are ready and willing “to protect what we have created with the work of our own hands and to put an end to these counter-revolutionary actions. If necessary, with weapon in hand.”
Mikhail Gorbachev arrives to take part in celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the GDR in Berlin on 6 November 1989

October 6/7: State ceremonies for the 40th anniversary of the GDR, attended by Mikhail Gorbachev, who is greeted with calls of “Gorbi, help us”. The West German TV programmes “Tageschau” and “Tagesthemen” report on the events of the day.

Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary

In a tête-à-tête between the two general secretaries, Honecker boasts about the GDR’s successes, especially praising the SED’S housing programme and East Germany allegedly leading worldwide position in the field of micro-electronics. Gorbachev, who is well aware that the GDR is really nearly insolvent, feels that he is being made a fool of.
40th anniversary of the GDR: Military parade of the National People’s Army, 7 October 1989

“I was horrified. I talked with him for three hours. … And he kept on wanting to convince me about the wonderful achievements of the GDR.”

In a spontaneous interview at the Neue Wache in East Berlin, Mikhail Gorbachev says the sentence “Danger only lies in wait for those who do not react to life!” Speaking to the SED Politburo, he modifies this sentence: “If we lag behind, life will punish us straight away.”
40th anniversary of the GDR: Gorbachev next to Honecker in the VIP stand

It is not Gorbachev, but his press secretary Gennadi Gerassimov, who in the evening turns this into the saying, “Life punishes those who come too late!”

On the evening of 7 October, young people demonstrate in front of the Palace of the Republic. On this evening and the next, the Volkspolizei carry out attacks and make mass arrests in East Berlin and other cities.

On the evening of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the GDR, thousands of people in the centre of East Berlin demonstrate for political reform

October 8: Erich Honecker tells the First Secretaries of the SED district leaderships that demonstrations of the day before “were directed against the constitutional basis of our socialist state.” He says that further “riots” are to be expected. He gives the command that, if such protests occur, “they are to be put down immediately.” Honecker instructs the district operation commands to meet without delay and discuss “measures”; the First Secretaries are told to report back to the Department of Party Organs of the Central Committee about the way the situation was developing.

Stasi chief Mielke also describes the domestic situation “as considerably more critical”. He orders all members of the Ministry of Security to be on “full standby duty” in order to effectively repress or stop all “mobs” and for enough reserve forces to be at the ready, “whose quick deployment to undertake , if needs be, offensive measures to stop and disperse mobs is to be ensured.” Stasi members are to keep their service weapons with them at all time until further notice. Reports by Western journalists on demonstrations are to be rigorously prevented. – Notwithstanding this, the dialogue between the opposition (“Gruppe der 202) and the district SED leadership begins in Dresden.

The GDR government deploys uniformed and civilian

October 9: “Tag der Entscheidung” (Decision Day) in Leipzig: 70,000 people demonstrate peacefully for reforms. Although the East German security authorities plan to prevent the demonstration and its staff have practised dispersing it and arresting the “ringleaders,” the state does not intervene. The unexpectedly large number of demonstrators breaks the security organs’ will to act. – In Halle and in Magdeburg, several thousand people also take part in demonstrations.

October 10: Talks between the mayor of Dresden, Wolfgang Berghofer, and the opposition awaken hopes that a dialogue may begin.

October 10/11: At the end of an unusually heated two-day crisis meeting, the SED Politburo announces that the party is ready to enter into a dialogue with the people. For the first time, the Politburo admits that the reasons why people are trying to flee are to be found in the GDR itself as well. It also puts forward its concept for the dialogue that is being demanded by so many people: “Together, we want to discuss all the fundamental questions of our society that are to be solved today and in the future. (…) These concern the continuation of the unity of economic and social policies. They concern economic efficiency and its benefit to all, a democratic coexistence and committed involvement, a good supply of commodities and adequate pay, realistic media, possibilities for travel and a healthy environment.” – Egon Krenz has pushed through this declaration against the bitter resistance of Honecker in the Politburo.

October 16: More than 100,000 people demonstrate in Leipzig. They demand that Neues Forum be permitted, free elections and freedom to travel, a free press and freedom of expression. Demonstrations with around 10,000 participants in Dresden and Magdeburg, 5,000 in Halle and 3,000 in Berlin also take place peacefully.

October 17/18: A fierce power struggle in the SED Politburo ends with the downfall of Erich Honecker, who is forced to cite health reasons as being behind his resignation from the SED Central Committee. Egon Krenz becomes the new SED general secretary. Krenz announces the credo for his policy of reform: “We are guided by the firm conviction that all the problems in our society can be solved politically.” In his inaugural address, Egon Krenz also promises “to prepare a draft bill regarding travel abroad for GDR citizens. We believe that this draft should be discussed and resolved upon in the People’s Parliament (Volkskammer) after being publicly announced. In connection with this, the temporary restrictions on travel to fellow socialist countries could also be lifted or modified.”

October 21: At a meeting of the extended leadership of the Ministry of Security, Stasi chief Mielke leaves little room for doubt that the party’s strategy of solving political problems with political means goes against his fundamental chekist convictions. It meant, Mielke says, not reacting to the “anti-socialist gatherings” in the way “these forces really deserve.” The fact that Mielke, even though he was not in agreement, categorically ruled out any independent policy of the ministry over the party’s head, had all the more decisive an effect on the behaviour of the Ministry of Security up to the time the Wall came down and even later. “In everything that we do,” he admonishes his top staff, “we must be absolutely clear that all measures undertaken by the Ministry of State Security, by every department, must be in accordance with the general strategy, the decisions of the Central Committee and its Politburo, and have to be directed at their strict implementation.” Force, he says, could only be used “if there is direct danger to people or objects that cannot be averted in any other way.” In the next few days, Mielke announces, central decisions would be made about how to proceed against opposition movements in future.

October 23: Three hundred thousand people demonstrate in Leipzig, tens of thousands in Magdeburg, Dresden, Schwerin, Zwickau, Halle, Stralsund and Berlin, as well as in Plauen and Rostock during the previous days.

October 24: The SED Politburo passes a resolution on “Trips by GDR citizens abroad”: “1. A draft bill on travel abroad by GDR citizens and proposals for financing this travel are to be presented to the Politburo soon. (…) 2. An argumentation is to be worked out [as a basis for] a broad discussion of the draft bill.”

October 26: On this day alone, the Ministry of Security counts 160,000 citizens who, at demonstrations in the districts Rostock, Erfurt, Gera, Schwerin, Chemnitz, Neubrandenburg, Dresden and Halle, call above all for free elections, the free formation of opposition groups and freedom to travel. Whereas the Ministry for Security registered altogether 140,000 demonstrators at 24 demonstrations in the week from 16 to 22 October, from 23 to 30 October 540,000 people take part in 145 demonstrations. Leading SED functionaries no longer rule out the imposition of a state of emergency. In a twenty-minute conversation with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, SED General Secretary Egon Kreuz states his interest in placing relations with West Germany “on a – if I may put it like this – on a new level”. Chancellery Minister Seiters and state secretary Schalck-Golodkowski are named as confidants.

October 27: The GDR State Council announces an amnesty for all refugees and participants in demonstrations. – The GDR Council of Ministers decides to lift the “temporary ban on travel without passport or visa” to the CSSR that was imposed on October 3. From this moment on, GDR citizens are meant to be able to cross the border to the CSSR again with their identity card.

October 31: The USA and the Soviet Union organise a summit on Malta scheduled for 2/3 December.

October 31: The SED Politburo discusses a white paper by five leading economists on the “Analysis of the Economic Situation of the GDR with Conclusions”. To avoid the necessary lowering of the living standard by 25 to 30 percent and the imminent insolvency of the GDR, they recommend offering the West German government the Wall in return for urgently needed new loans and extended economic cooperation.

In October, 57,024 GDR citizens manage to flee to the West; 30,598 people are allowed to leave the GDR with permission.

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Turn out the lights, the party’s over: The Hungarian Socialist Workers Party Rebrands Itself (6-10 October 1989)

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on October 6, 2014


Az első MSZP kongreszus- így alakult meg az MSZP (1989)


Így alakult meg az MSZP 1989


Published: October 6, 1989

BUDAPEST, Oct. 5— As the Communist Party gathers its shrinking forces for a Congress opening Friday, the party’s chief of ideology propaganda said the leadership’s expectations were modest.

The leaders hope the Congress will be a major step in bringing the party into line with the nation’s new reality. Since the party held its last major meeting, in May 1988, through opposition initiative and leadership disarray, the party’s monopoly on power in Hungary has been broken by a new, independent party. Preliminary elections for a multiparty parliament are scheduled for the first part of next year.

”If a new model left-wing socialist party can emerge from the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party, then it will have some chance of coming out of the election as the strongest single party,” said the official, Janos Barabas, Politburo member and secretary for ideology, agitation and propaganda. ”But that still doesn’t mean it could form a one-party government.” Seeking Yet Another New Name

The Hungarian Socialist Workers Party is the name the Communists adopted during the 1956 uprising crushed by the Soviet Army. Mr. Barabas said it will change its name soon, but he added that it saddened him that the party had already changed names six times in its 71 years of history.

”I think this party should have a new name to give it credibility,” said Mr. Barabas. He said among the ”countless” names suggested were Hungarian Socialist or Democratic Socialist Party.

Mr. Barabas said the transformations the Congress is expected to endorse would greatly reduce the membership.

”I’m convinced that after all the restructuring some 400,000 to 500,000 will remain,” Mr. Barabas said. The party announced this week that its membership had shrunk to 725,000 from 800,000 as the year began. On Jan. 1, 1988, there were 871,000 Communists. Loss of Members Expected

The chief ideologist said he expected the loss of members to result not from a split down the middle, as some Communists predict, but from a drifting away at the fringes. He appeared to share a belief of many Communists that their great majority has cast its lot with those who demand reform.

Views are divided on whether orthodox Communists, who appear to be in the minority, will stay in the party after a reforming congress, opt out or regroup in a counter-Communist Party.

”The party today is not a political party in the European sense but a conglomerate of widely differing views,” said Mr. Barabas, who said he spoke for the reform-minded majority.

”It will become an unambiguous left-wing socialist party, breaking with the Bolshevik Communist tradition. It will mark a break with the dictatorship of the proletariat, with thinking exclusively in terms of power and with the ideological sense of Messianic mission.” Yielding the ‘Leading Role’

Mr. Barabas said that the party has abandoned its historic claim to ”the leading role” in the state. ”We say now that the party has a right to be present in the state structure only to the extent to which its representation in Parliament justifies it,” he said.

Party leaders estimate that in Hungary’s first free elections since 1947 the Communists’ best hope is to obtain 30 percent of the vote. Its principal rival is expected to be the nationalist Hungarian Democratic Forum.

The chief ideologist said he believed that the ”successor” to the current party ”will have to show persuasively that it wants democracy and wants to break with everything in its path that must be broken.”

When asked whether the party would insist on retaining control of the defense and interior ministries, as the Polish Communist Party did after Solidarity won its sweeping victory in elections this year, he evaded the question. He finally conceded, ”I think geopolitical realities must be acknowledged by any political force that shares in government.” Worries About Stability

He said a recent visit to Moscow had convinced him that Hungary enjoyed ”intellectual support from representatives of the Gorbachev line.” But he added: ”We also sense some worries about our ability to preserve stability.” After a pause, Mr. Barabas said, ”I share these worries.”

The principal threat to stability, he said, is ”what’s happening in the economy.”Burdened with the heaviest per-capita foreign debt in Europe -$18 billion – the Government appears unable to halt a continuing slide in the standard of living. About 20 percent of the population is shown in official statistics to be living below the poverty line. As loss-producing state enterprises face enforced shutdowns, unemployment is expected to rise sharply.

Mr. Barabas says the party should preserve elements of the Communist-Socialist system, including ”solidarity, equality of opportunity, striking a balance between collective and individual freedom.”

Asked how the party intended to equalize opportunities in a multiparty system by giving up such advantages of its power monopoly as the headquarters palace on the banks of the Danube, where the interview took place, Mr. Barabas said the party would have to return expensive properties to the Government and let Parliament decide its redistribution.

As for the headquarters, known popularly as the ”White House,” the chief ideologist said: ”You won’t recognize this party in one year, one and a half years. We won’t have the money to maintain this kind of building. There will be so few of us in the apparat that we’ll have to move to a much smaller office.”

Key Hungarian Communist Urges More Open Party and Ties to West

Published: October 7, 1989

BUDAPEST, Oct. 6— One of the four top leaders of the Hungarian Communist Party told his comrades at a party congress today that they had to change their basic orientation.

”It cannot be Communist, and it cannot be simply a social democratic party,” the official, Rezso Nyers, the party president, said in his address at the congress, which opened today. ”We should seek a synthesis to be created from the coming together of social democratic and Communist traditions, values and practices.”

In his address, Mr. Nyers declared that the party, known formally as the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party, should be superseded by a new one that would broaden its links to the Soviet Communist Party by establishing ties to Western socialist and social democratic groupings. Prospect of Many Parties

Whether Mr. Nyers’s suggestion is immediately followed or not, it was raised amid the prospect that the Hungarian party, which now still maintains a monopoly of political power, may fragment or that its members may become part of a spectrum of new parties when legislation permitting the formation of openly competing opposition groups goes into effect.

Mr. Nyers said the successor to the present party should seek friendly relations with Communist parties that are changing in the East and West, particularly with the Soviet party.

He also called, for the first time among ruling Communist parties, for ”friendly bonds” with the Socialist International, the grouping of democratic socialist parties long reviled by the Soviet Union and its allies.

The congress is expected to adopt, possibly with minor amendments, two basic documents and a new party statute worked out by the Central Committee in months of discussion. They are marked by the dominant tendency toward change.

The new party program fully endorses its new ideology of a traditional left-wing European socialist party, into which the Communists wish to transform themselves. It calls for a ”democratic state of laws,” the prevention of ”exaggerated concentration of power,” a freely elected parliament to which the Government will be responsible and ”free competition” between freely created parties.

In a bow to its past, the party pledges itself to prevent by ”all political means” a restoration of capitalism. But it fully endorses freedom of property in a market economy. ”We must abandon our stubborn prejudice against private property,” the program stated. Education Monopoly Opposed

In a major change of heart on a social issue, the Communists proposed abolition of ”the state monopoly in education.”

Mr. Nyers, State Minister Imre Pozsgay and Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth, the three more change-minded members of the party Presidium, appear to be attuned to the majority of the 1,256 delegates assembled in the convention center.

But the more conservative fourth member, General Secretary Karoly Grosz, spoke with a self-assurance and authority that belied rumors assiduously circulated by radical reformists that his downfall was assured.

He was applauded when in a thinly disguised attack on Mr. Pozsgay he condemned as ”Stalinists” those who steered so radical a course of change as to want to force out of the party those who do not share their views. An Alliance Is Seen

Mr. Grosz, while endorsing change, chided those who view all of the party’s 44 years in power as years of failure and say ”they are ashamed in the eyes of their children and grandchildren.” He warned against the party’s ”ignoring the working class and the values and ideals of Communism.”

Party officials believe that a de facto alliance has been formed between Mr. Nyers and Mr. Grosz, despite their differing views, to work to prevent a major party split, at which Mr. Pozsgay has been hinting. Both the President and the General Secretary are thought to have been moved to the middle of the road in reaction to Mr. Pozsgay’s more radical language.

Mr. Pozsgay was named before the congress as the party’s candidate for the new post of President of the republic, to be elected probably next month. This explains his attempts to appeal to non-Communist voters.

Indications are growing that Mr. Nyers may be the majority candidate for election to the new post as the party’s sole president. The election is expected just before the end of the congress, probably on Monday. Defeated on Procedure

Mr. Pozsgay’s supporters were defeated on a procedural point this morning, which would have provided for the election of the new leadership on Saturday. Their apparent hope was either to provoke the conservatives to walk out or at least to chasten them during the remaining days of debate.

In the text of the party program, Communism is only glancingly mentioned and its eventual attainment no longer postulated as the ultimate goal.

Describing the ideology of the new party it intends to become, the statement said, ”the roots of its spirituality reach back to the Marxian system of ideas, but it is open to all new, scientifically founded thought.”

The second document before the congress, prepared under Mr. Pozsgay’s chairmanship, deals with the party’s history.

In its crucial passages it drops the highly unpopular thesis that the 1956 uprising, crushed by Soviet forces, was a ”counterrevolution.” Instead, it praises its leader, Imre Nagy, and the associates who were hanged with him. ”Their stand, even accepting martyrdom, is exemplary,” the document states. Traditional Slogans Replaced

In another departure from the almost ritual customs of Communist Party congresses, no top party leaders from other Communist countries, not even the Soviet Union, were invited.

Only the speaker and the chairman faced the public from the stage, the entire leadership sat with the rest of the delegates. The traditional slogans of the ”long live Communism” type were replaced by three words on the stage wall: ”Democracy-Legality-Socialism.”

In other parts of Budapest today, in apparent coincidences, Otto Hapsburg, the son of Hungary’s last King, addressed a meeting of ”old boys” of West German dueling university fraternities wearing their caps and sashes, and a copy of the tall statue of Stalin, pulled down in 1956, was erected at its old site, to be toppled again for a movie. PLEASE KEEP LAST GRAF.


Published: October 8, 1989

BUDAPEST, Oct. 7— The Hungarian Communist Party voted today to transform itself into a socialist party and said it would strive to bridge the gulf between doctrinaire Marxism and European democratic socialism.

In a series of votes to change the party’s name to the Hungarian Socialist Party and set general party direction, the delegates at an extraordinary party congress here greatly raised expectations that the reform-oriented leadership’s entire program to overhaul the party would be adopted. Among the changes expected are more democratic procedures for choosing the leadership.

With Poland, Hungary is at the forefront of change in the Eastern bloc. But unlike Poland, where the Solidarity union has taken the reins of power with the Communist Party largely unchanged, Hungary is pushing through radical change from within its Communist Party. Approval From the Floor

While decisive, tonight’s vote totals were difficult to ascertain because some measures were approved by a show of hands of the large number of delegates and went uncounted.

In a news conference before the voting, Imre Pozsgay, a member of Hungary’s collective presidency and a leader of those advocating major change, said an overwhelming majority of the delegates supported the leadership’s program so that the party can better confront new, independently formed parties in free parliamentary elections due to be held by next June.

Mr. Pozsgay did not elaborate on the party’s new path, but details of the nature of the renamed party and its prospective leadership were disclosed by an official close to Rezso Nyers, the party President. Elections Ahead

The official said in an interview that by this morning, a majority of the more than 1,200 delegates to the congress had agreed on the new party structure, the leaders to be elected and the program to be adopted before the congress ends Sunday or Monday.

The official said Mr. Nyers would be chosen as party president. Mr. Pozsgay and Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth, another member of the presidency, are to be named vice presidents, and it is possible that a Politburo member, Pal Vastagh, will be elected to that same rank.

The post of General Secretary, now held by Karoly Grosz, is to be abolished. Instead, the lesser position of National Secretary is to be created. Jeno Kovacs, now a Central Committee secretary, has been chosen to fill the office, which is to manage the day-by-day work of the party.

Dispensing with the traditional Politburo and Central Committee, the new party is to be guided by a presidium of 15 to 21 members and a national committee of about 150.

Contrary to Communist practice, the national committee will not be chosen by the party congress, as the Central Committee is, but through balloting by all party members, a bow to greater democracy. Central Committee secretaries, the party’s equivalent of government ministers, are to be replaced by presidium members assigned to specific tasks.

Faced with severe economic problems and declining popularity, as shown in recent losses in several parliamentary by-elections, the party has gradually introduced liberalizations in recent years, including the scheduling of next year’s multiparty national elections, the country’s first in more than four decades.

Another change came this year when, in an opening to the West, Budapest lifted restrictions along its border with Austria, setting off a mass migration of East Germans through Hungary and on to West Germany. Defection of the Orthodox

The official close to Mr. Nyers said the leadership expects the Communist transformation to prompt as many as a third of the present membership of 725,000 to leave the party.

It is expected that some of those who leave will regroup in a new party. In expectation of such a move, the official said, the party has taken legal steps to secure its hold over such assets as the grandiose party headquarters on the Pest bank of the Danube.

In speeches, several delegates to the congress demanded that the party return to the Government many of its extensive assets throughout Hungary, including office buildings, hotels and resorts, and commercial properties.

The biggest loser in the creation of a new leadership is likely to be Mr. Grosz. Since unseating Janos Kadar last year, Mr. Grosz has seemed to be a reluctant reformer. As recently as Friday, he insisted in a toughly worded speech that reforms be limited and Communist ideals retained. And He aimed a sharp rebuke at Mr. Pozsgay, without mentioning him by name, accusing him of seeking to drive more orthodox Communists out of the party.

In a sharp rebuff to Mr. Grosz, the delegates tonight approved an amended text of a statement that specifically rejected a Grosz proposal. The General Secretary had strongly urged the Communists to simply declare a renewal of the party rather than the establishment of a new one. The amendment pointedly redrafted the declaration to make it clear that the old party was dead and that it considered itself a new party.

Mr. Nyers is said to have managed months of internecine disputes and maneuvers to prevent an open split in the congress while still securing the transformation of the party, which had been formally known as the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party. Although there is personal antipathy between Mr. Nyers and Mr. Pozsgay, both advocate change, as does Prime Minister Nemeth.

All three have stressed that their commitment to change does not mean that the party means to question Hungary’s alliance with the Soviet Union in the Warsaw Pact.

Today, Mr. Nemeth sounded the clearest call yet for drastic change to prepare for next year’s elections.

”We must be the most democratic of all Hungarian parties,” he said to applause. ”We need a new party, with a new form of organization, a new platform and a new name. We need a reformed membership. Our members should not be a flock of sheep following a bellwether. Those who don’t feel at home in this party should form a new party.”

Mr. Nemeth made evident the ultimate purpose of the reorganization, saying, ”We don’t want members, we want voters.”

Hungary’s Extraordinary Change Draws Critics of Varying Ideologies

Published: October 9, 1989

BUDAPEST, Oct. 8— A day after the Hungarian Communist Party changed its name to the Socialist Party and rejected orthodox Marxism, leaders contended today with criticism from members who thought it had not gone far enough as well as from die-hards who thought it had gone too far.

Despite an overwhelming vote on Saturday night to change the name and model the party along social democratic lines, some of those most staunchly in favor of reform, like Deputy Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy, said the changes would fail to achieve the ”necessary purification” to purge hard-liners from the party.

”This is a compromise, and I am not convinced the compromise is convincing enough,” he said. ”It is not necessary to carry with us the former party as a whole.” Grosz Must Choose

Among orthodox Communists, the principal losers, there were also rumblings of disaffection and mutterings of breaking away. Karoly Grosz, the General Secretary before the large-scale shifts this weekend, said in an interview with the party’s daily newspaper, Nepszabadsag, that he would either register as a member of the Socialist Workers Party, as the Communist Party had been formally known, or retire from politics.

And there was criticism from non-Communist opposition groups expected to take part in multiparty elections next year. Ferenc Kosseg, a leader of the Alliance of Free Democrats, said he considered the restructuring of the governing party as ”a compromise to satisfy reform-minded party intellectuals without hurting the party apparatus.”

But he said the party had avoided a ”split down the middle” that would have been ”healthy but dangerous” since it would have left the armed forces and the bureaucracy uncertain about who commanded them. Vanguard of Change

The vote of 1,005 to 159 by party delegates on Saturday night came at a special congress that has been meeting to prepare for the elections, which must occur by June. Facing major economic problems and rising unpopularity, the party has placed Hungary alongside Poland at the forefront of change in the Soviet bloc.

The congress is dominated by Communists who declare themselves in favor of far-reaching change in a ruling party that most say has outlived its capacity to act in a more open and technologically advanced world.

But among them today, only the largest group, the middle-of-the-road faction represented by Rezso Nyers, the party President, appeared to be satisfied with the compromise that produced Saturday’s heavy majority.

Disaffection among orthodox Communists had been expected. Janos Barabas, party chief of ideology and propaganda, said last Monday that the leadership expected the changes at the congress to cause membership to drop to a range of 400,000 to 500,000 from the present 725,000.

Party officials interpreted Mr. Grosz’s remarks in the newspaper interview to mean that he would not recognize the party’s transformation; they said he might gather around him many Communists who contest the legality of the new Socialist Party’s claim as successor.

Followers of the late Janos Kadar, the Communists’ leader for 32 years until Mr. Grosz unseated him last year, said they would form a party of those who remained faithful to Communism.

Criticism today from the leaders most enthusiastic about change was somewhat unexpected, though. Is the Change Sufficient? Deputy Prime Minister Medgyessy, a former Finance Minister who is considered one of the party’s leading technocrats, said he had ”considerable doubt” about whether the negotiations between the dominant reformist group and the harder-line factions had brought about the needed wholesale changes in the membership.

In a dramatic aside, Mr. Medgyessy added, ”I haven’t made up my mind yet whether I’m a member of this party or not.” Like others in his group, he appeared unhappy that Mr. Nyers had not led a vigorous enough fight to prompt more hard-liners to leave.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the party’s positions need to be clarified so that opponents of the reorientation toward left-wing socialism would see whether they could adopt the new policies or quit. He said the party needed to make clear its attitude toward its past policies, its readiness for fundamental renewal and its determination to privatize sectors of the economy.

In less diplomatic language, a member of the dominant group promoting change said at a caucus today, ”Those with blood on their hands may have left, but the rats are remaining.”

Like Mr. Barabas at a news conference Saturday night, Mr. Medgyessy conceded that leaders were at a loss to define the new party’s ideological stance and undecided on how much of their former ideology and symbols would remain.

”The ideology is taking shape at the moment,” the Deputy Prime Minister said. ”The party is socialist and leftist. It rejects Stalinist theory and practice.” Censoring the Sage

He added, ”We have to delete a number of things from Marxism.”

Mr. Barabas said he had no answer yet to the question of how many tenets of Lenin would remain in practice or whether the ubiquitous pictures of the patriarch of Soviet Communism would continue to adorn the walls of virtually all party offices.

As a first sign of a change of symbols, Nepszabadsag appeared today for the first time without the slogan ”Workers of the World, Unite,” the Marxist entreaty that is the front-page motto of official Communist Party papers everywhere. And, instead of describing itself as the official organ of the party, Nepszabadsag restyled itself a ”socialist daily.”

Budapest Encore: Old Socialist Elected

Published: October 10, 1989

BUDAPEST, Oct. 9— The newly named Hungarian Socialist Party, which as the Communist Party over the weekend abandoned hard-line Marxist dogma, today elected Rezso Nyers, a once and present Socialist, as its President.

Mr. Nyers had served as head of a four-member party presidency since June. In his new function, he will be the party’s sole chief. A 23-member Presidium was also elected and will take the place of the Politburo characteristic of Communist parties.

Mr. Nyers, 66 years old, was chosen by 78 to 80 percent of the 1,256 delegates to the party congress meeting here, said Janos Barabas, a spokesman. But, the nomination and voting took place behind closed doors and required almost four hours of sometimes heated debate.

A bloc of delegates that advocated a greater distancing of the new party from its predecessor challenged Mr. Nyers. They proposed policies that would have alienated more orthodox Communists. How to Attract Voters

Those leaders most favorable to change believe that only policies and statements that Hungarian voters accept as marking a clean break with communism would give the renamed party a good chance in the period of free elections. This multiparty voting, to take place by next June, is supposed to transform Hungary into a state observing the norms of West European democracies.

In a stormy session on Sunday night, the bloc of delegates pressing for greater change demanded that the party withdraw its cells from all places of work. Mr. Nyers sided with a middle-of-the road majority.

The issue is considered vital for the campaign. Advocates of change believe that the party’s presence in shops and factories has long been a thorn in the sides of workers, who feel that party functionaries are the real bosses of all enterprises. More orthodox party members, however, believe that they cannot hold its members together if it does not organize them at their jobs.

In the heated debate, Imre Pozsgay, a State Minister, and Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth opposed the party President, and this apparently caused the unraveling of a leadership compromise engineered by Mr. Nyers with the two others.

As a result, an official close to Mr. Nyers said tonight, Mr. Pozsgay and Mr. Nemeth were not elected vice presidents, as planned. Presidium Posts

But the compromise did succeed in placing 11 reformists, including Mr. Pozsgay and Mr. Nemeth, on the Presidium. The other members are largely middle-of-the-road socialists, Communists until Saturday, and can be counted on to support Mr. Nyers in steering a reformist course.

In his news conference, Mr. Nyers, referring to his reputation as father of Hungary’s first economic liberalizations, said he did not disagree with the liberal minority’s goals but with its means, which he deemed radical. Differences Are Reconcilable

Still, ”I’m easygoing,” he said. ”I live in the style and taste of the 1930’s and don’t want to change.”

To indicate that no bad feelings remained after the election struggle, Mr. Nyers said he has urged the renamed party to reaffirm its predecessor’s nomination of Mr. Pozsgay as its candidate for the national presidency.

He conceded that he had had some differences of opinion on economics with Mr. Nemeth, but said that ”the clouds are going away. The sky is clearing.”

An aide said Mr. Nyers would soon name a Presidium member, Jeno Kovacs, as National Secretary. The new post will replace that of the old General Secretary. The job has been downgraded, however, and Mr. Kovacs is to be in charge of the daily management of party affairs, not policy-making.

The last General Secretary, Karoly Grosz, was the principal victim of the transformation. He was dropped from all party functions and said that he did not wish to be a member of the new Socialist Party. But he told Hungarian journalists, he intended to continue to be ”present” in political life.

Many party officials believe that hard-line Communists are likely to put aside differences among themselves. These aides think the hard-liners will eventually form a separate party or declare that they do not recognize the name change but consider themselves still members of the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party, as the Communists called themselves. Printer Rose Rapidly

Mr. Nyers started his working career as a printer and his political career as a member of the Social Democratic Party and rose quickly to high party posts. He joined a faction of the party that merged with the Communists in 1948.

Having studied economics in the meantime, he became a senior official of the Internal Trade Ministry in 1952. From 1957 to 1960, he was chairman of the National Association of Consumer Cooperatives. He became Finance Minister in 1960 and was a secretary of the Communist Central Committee for economics, the equivalent of a ministerial post.

Mr. Nyers was elevated to the Politburo in 1962 and quickly became known as an advocate of economic change, seeking to free the highly centralized economy from excessive controls and parcel out responsibility and rewards to enterprises.

The changes were put into operation in 1968 but halted, at Soviet demand, in the early 1970’s. From then until 1988, Mr. Nyers lived in relative obscurity as director, and later adviser, in an economic research institute.

He was brought back to the Politburo last year, when a reformist wave swept the late Janos Kadar, party leader for 32 years, from office.

Photo of Mikhaly Bihary, a member of Hungary’s Socialist Party speaking with Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth, and the poet Sandor Csouri, a leader of the Democratic Forum. (AP); Rezso Nyers after being elected head of Hungary’s new Socialist Party. (Reuters)

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