Land Policy in Hungary 1944–1967
The topic of this study is land legislation and its implementation in Hungary between 1944 and 1967. In the paper, the different types of communist land policy methods were analysed, focusing on abolishing private land ownership and private land use. In this context, the fundamental elements and development of land legislation, furthermore basic trends and changes in land structure are assessed. The land law was not codified in the communist dictatorship, but the attempts of such codification are explored in the paper, which occurred during the “new course” (1953/1954–1955), started around the revolution in the autumn of 1956, and a third in 1962 after mass collectivization. As a result of political change and the aftermath of the revolution, private farmers received twice land back in private ownership and private use. The analysis points out that strengthening private land ownership had a better chance in the “new course” than after the revolution in 1956. Land transfer and lease were restricted from 1948 but increased between 1953 and 1955, and again between 1956 and 1959 during the relaxed agrarian policy. The regulations were implemented in a radical fashion between 1948/1949 and 1953 generally, and legislation on land use, land consolidation, and “waiver” multiplied efforts to abolish private farms. Because of this reason, the idea of the gradual transformation of the countryside was abandoned, “kulaks” were discriminated and their estates liquidated. Imre Nagy and others recognized the paradox situation and initiated corrections, which paved the way and did result in a whole new economic policy in July 1953. On the other hand, after 1956, the new regime set a new upper limit of private farms and started another wave of expropriation. The records indicate that the main method of taking private land in state ownership was “waiver” of land and expropriation until 1967. Private land ownership was finally abolished by creating cooperative ownership. The study can be considered a case study to the account of the legal, economic, and social history of the communist dictatorship.
- Luka Dániel