Long live, long live Comrade Rákosi

“Long live, long live Comrade Rákosi”. Folk song from the anthology Hét évszázad legszebb magyar versei (The most beautiful Hungarian poems of seven centuries, 1951). A modern arrangement by DJ Wastrel – DJ Visor – DJ Seaby

Gyertek lányok öltözzetek fehérbe,
Szórjunk rózsát Rákosi elvtárs elébe,
Hadd járjon ő a rózsában bokáig,
Éljen, éljen a Rákosi elvtárs sokáig!
Come, girls, dress in white,
Sprinkle roses before Comrade Rákosi,
Let him go in roses to the ankle,
Long live, long live Comrade Rákosi!

Sixty years ago all Hungary celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of a major event in which at the time when it happened nobody saw anything extraordinary. Mátyás Rákosi (then Rosenfeld), the future “best Hungarian disciple of Stalin” was born in a small village of Bácska, then Southern Hungary.

Manó Róth – As Mátyás Rákosi, he was the most influential politician in Hungary between 1945 and 1956. This Communist leader mimicking Stalin was called to account in 1953, after the death of the Leader, by the new Soviet regime who asked him “how long more he wants to be a Jewish king”.  He was born as Mátyás Rosenfeld, son of a grain merchant in Ada; the widespread nickname Manó Róth was intended to emphasize his Jewish descent. In fact, at the time of Hungarian Stalinism the country was led by four Jews, while the fifth headed the secret police. Rákosi was an ugly, short, fat man, with an explicitly ugly Jakut wife, and he sucked the blood of the Hungarians as a mad mosquito. Thus his person embraced all the anti-Semitic stereotypes of the period: that of the blood-sucking usurer, of the drinker of the blood of Eszter Solymosi [a reference to a late 19th century blood libel] and of the Lenin boys who beat the grandfather to death during the first Hungarian Soviet republic of 1919. In addition he made lick the boots of the Soviet army who raped the women by the hundred thousands, and he also confiscated the land and cattle of the farmers. The zombie who returned from the gas chamber to take revenge on everybody. No Elders of Zion Protocols or Racist Party could have compiled a better bogeyman.”
(Márton Bede – Péter Magyari: Ablak-Zsidó (a satyrical Jewish encyclopedia), JudapestMatula

The more brighter were the celebrations of the sixtieth birthday, on which Gábor Murányi gave a detailed account in the 2011 winter edition of the historical journal Múlt-Kor. These were obviously modeled on Stalin’s two years earlier 70th birday celebrations. The birthday was preceded by a several months long Stahanovist work competition with 300-400 percents overdelivery commitments. A photo album Mátyás Rákosi’s life in pictures was published in red leather binding, in which the photo of the encounter between Rákosi and Stalin which never took place was created by laborious retoucher’s work. A brochure published in a hundred thousand copies “finalized” the fact that not Béla Kun – executed in the Soviet Union in 1938, and therefore unpresentable in a Socialist country –, but Rákosi himself was the leader of the first Hungarian Soviet republic of 1919. And an anthology entitled Hungarian writers on Mátyás Rákosi was published, in which no less names than Gyula Illyés, Gábor Devecseri, István Örkény, Tibor Déry, István Sőtér, Gyula Háy or Zoltán Zelk, some of the best authors of the period pledged faith to Stalin’s best Hungarian disciple.

Ő az országépítőkhöz így szólt:
„Az égbolt a felső határ!”
Kereken ragyog a tiszta égbolt
és Sztálinváros benne áll.
He said to the country’s builders:
“The sky is the ultimate limit!”
And the bright sky shines all around:
and Stalin’s City stands under it.

Gábor Devecseri

Farmer Antal Baumann and his wife offer to fulfill their first half-year plan of egg delivery until the birthday of Mátyás Rákosi (Illustration of Múlt-Kor)

The encounter between Mátyás Rákosi and Lenin, which never took place. Painting. “Rákosi felt that Lenin was looking into him and through him, like through the clear glass. And this was a very pleasant feeling. His heart beat faster.” (Béla Illés: Historical lesson, in: Hungarian authors on Mátyás Rákosi)

On the birthday eve, 8 March 1952 a grandiose gratulatory evening was held in the Opera House, on which many outstanding figures of the country’s intellectual life took place from Zoltán Kodály to Aladár Tóth, director of the Opera House, and from Pál Szabó, head of the Writers’ Union to István Rusznyák, president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Mátyás Rákosi’s invitation to his own birthday celebrations, which unexplicably bears the number 209 instead of 1

Report of Szabad Nép (“Free People”) on the celebrations

Opening program by the choir of the secret police in the Opera House

The final scene in the Opera house, 8 March 1952 (Illustration of Múlt-Kor)

But the highlight of the birthday was the inauguration of the Museum of Workers’ Movement, established in the building of the Supreme Court after the abolishment of this institution in 1949. And the first exhibition, opened on 9 March 1952 was none other than the tableaux depicting the life of Mátyás Rákosi, as well as the extremely various gifts sent to him by the grateful Hungarians on his sixtieth birtday.

On the sixtieth anniversary of that sixtieth birthday, three weeks ago, on 9 March opened in the same building – in the meantime converted into the Ethnographic Museum – and on the same galleries the same exhibition. That is, not quite the same. Only a part of the gifts is exposed, but this is just enough to evoke the depression of that age. Ten or twenty years ago, freshly liberated from Socialism, we would have rather laughed at their clumsiness, but nowadays we feel better the political climate which called them to life, and at their sight the laughter frosts on our faces. And instead of the tableaux now the photos of the former exhibition follow each other on one large screen, while another one projects again and again the comtemporary newsreels from which we have also taken the black and white photos published here. The exhibition has its own blog with a detailed description of each exhibited object: go and check it.

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