Factory-history and the History of Labour Movement in Hungary

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    Factory-history and the History of Labour Movement in HungaryAuthor(s): P. SiposSource: Acta Historica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, T. 21, No. 1/2 (1975), pp. 171-182Published by: Institute of History, Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy ofSciencesStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42580689 .Accessed: 13/06/2014 07:01

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    Factory-history and the History of Labour

    Movement in Hungary

    By P. Sipos

    The subject of factory history and that of the history of labour movement are conditional upon each other; their relationship is not a series of interactions of cor- relative phenomena but an objective interdependency, a consequence of production ensuring the maintenance of society. But factory-history does not belong to the old

    disciplines; it has not so much a past than a present. One can hardly say that it has al-

    ready an elaborated methodology and that universally valid and generally accepted standards would have been established as to the requirements a study in factory-his- tory ought to meet to be measured at all on the scales of science. In the absence of uniform "rules of game" the level of the studies - rather than in other branches of science - is primarily determined by the authors' skill or their lack of skill, and by their general knowledge of history.

    An especially frequent indecision relative to the inner proportions of the works is apparent. The factory is an enterprise, that is an economic unit; at the same time it is the setting of the manufacture of products as well as of technical operations and technological processes, too; these all are kept moving by the activity of people, and their relationships and conflicts make them day by day alive. To what extent should the historian of factory development think his own research field a part of the history of the economic relations, technological progress and social life?

    Next to the problems of "What does the factory produce?" and "How does it produce?" it is, in our opinion, one of the essential criteria for the appraisal of each study to what extent it can answer the question of "Who produces in the factory?" Thus, going beyond the pictures of the modern social projects - though they elicit

    imposing advantageous impression - whether it can present the working man, the most important constituent of work and force of production in the actual factory taken in the background of his class-struggles in the past and his constructive work today viewed together.

    The methodological literature of factory-history unanimously emphasizes that the history of the factories should be observed in a complex way, that the factory must be interpreted as "an economic technical and social unit which despite its rela- tive stability constantly moves" as a manifold microcosm that can be known and un-

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  • 172 p. Sipos

    derstood only in harmony with the external world.1 The earliest paper, at the begin- ning of the emancipation of this discipline, had already pointed out: "A scientific monographical work in factory history must cover, in a proper rate, the whole knowl- edge concerning the history and technical development of the factory, the conditions of work and the movements of the workers."2 Some limitation can be felt in this formulation since what factory-history has to say about the workers is obviously broader than a simple demonstration of their work-conditions and movements but, at any rate, it indicates the need of a complex representation.

    A summary of the results of a rather substantial literary production has ena- bled us to set up more complete criteria: "It is a specific task of the history of the plant to draw the special line of the factory, its special products, manufacturing processes, innovations, inventions, its inner organization which had developed of its own, its market relations, business policy; to introduce the capitalist and the top technical. . . leaders in a plastic way as living persons, to show their individual characteristics beyond their typical features; and to reveal the work relations in the most concrete way possible and the society of the factory in its complexity as much as possible."3

    The newer guides4 also emphasize the sociological outline of the working man's social situation, the presentation of the history of labour movement, and their references to the source materials also give surveys about specific archival sources and bibliographies relative to the working class.

    Several studies have been recently written in factory-history but most of them are unknown to the society of historians. This is due to the fact that the circulation of these works is restricted to a rather narrow circle, mostly to the factory concerned and its superior authorities, all of which we have an almost complete lack of criticism as a consequence. Because of this isolation the labour movement research has not utilized the results of the studies in factory-history up till now. This paper makes therefore an attempt to survey studies which had been written from the point of view of labour movement.

    Those works that examine the factory, in an organic unity, as a producing- economy unit and as a human community contribute in many respects to a more many-sided, more concrete knowledge of the Hungarian labour movement. The historian may find such phenomena and events in the life of the factory that can reinforce, enrich in contents, perhaps modify and correct the general picture drawn in historiography.

    1 Kabos, E.: Reprezentatv gyrtrtneti munka a magyar pamutiparrl (A Representative Study In Factory-History on the Hungarian Cotton Industry). Prttrtneti Kzlemnvek 1966/1. d. 189. ViGH, .: Hogyan ir junk zemtortnetet? (How to Write Factory-Industry?). Tortnelem 1964/3. 3 Hank, P.: Probleme der Betriebsgeschichttforschune. Acta Histrica 1968. No. 3-4. Sarkzi, Z.: tmutat az zemtortneti kutatsokhoz (A Guide to the Research of Factory-

    History). Orszgos Npmvelsi Tancs Orszgos Helytrtneti Bizottsg, 1970, p. 34. Jenei, .: Az zemtortnetrs trgya s levltri forrsai (The Subject of Factory-History and its Archival Sources). Levltri Szemle, 1970/2, pp. 335^9.

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  • Factory History and Labour Movement 173

    The special literature of factory-history can be a gold-mine for a representa- tion of the real , factual exploitation of the workers. Several works include rich ma- terial related to wage, health and social conditions and provide with duty lists and other documents that can make the milieu in the shop floor, perhaps even in the whole industrial sector credible.

    In many cases the remarkable radicalism of the workers in certain factories was motivated by local factors. The monographer of the Gbor Aron (former: Oetl) Ironworks, comparing the change of production, investment and the number of the workers, concludes that work-intensity was significantly increased in the factory between 1926-1929. This fact aggravated by the totally neglected state of social in- stitutions - which can be observed, by the way, in other places too - explains "why the Oetl Antal Ironworks and Engine factory became one of the centres of the labour movement".5

    In many places some special requirements of service or wage reduction methods aggravated the working conditions. The Industrial Explosives Factory of Peremarton was allowed to oblige to perform emergency work, at any time and without paying overtime wage, those workers who lived in the settlement belonging to the factory.6 In the Match Factory of Budafok fine was a recurrent method to keep workers under discipline. "The director kept a wary eye on the change of the payroll day by day. When he discovered any overspending in the course of his ordinary daily control, he imposed fines amounting to 2, 4 or 6 pengoes for little negligences."7

    The studies in factory-history explain the wage disputes, strikes by the specific conditions of the particular factories, stressing in this way the importance of the class struggles in the different periods. For instance, the study written about the history of the Gbor Aron Ironworks and Engine Factory clarifies the circumstances of the outbreak of the iron and metal workers' general strike in 1905. 8 In the early thirties great struggles were started in the Ganz Shipyard against the introduction of the Bedaux-system that aimed at the increase of the work-intensity. In the monograph treating the history of the Ganz Electric Works the reasons for this fact are traced back to the apparent narrow-minded business policy of the Klein-family and the Credit Bank who owned the majority of the shares of the concern since the turn of the century.9

    It is one of the deficiencies of our historiography of labour movement that, with a few exceptions, it concentrates mostly on Budapest. The utilization of the results of

    5 Jenei, K. - SRKZI, Z. - SziLGYi, G.: . A Gbor ron Vasntde s Gpgyr trtnete 1862-1962. (A History of Gbor Aron Ironworks and Ensine Factory 1862-1962), d. 86. 6 Gldonyi, . - Szab, F.: Peremarton 50 ve (50 Years of Peremarton). Peremarton 1970, p. 38. 7 ARNA, J.: Kpek a 75 ves Budafoki Gyufagyr trtnetbl (Pictures from the History of the 75 Year Old Match Factor- of Budafok). Budapest 1971, d. 75. 8 Jenei, K. - Srkzi, Z. - Szilgyi, G.: ibid. p. 39. ff

    SzEKERES, J. - Dr. Tth, .: A Klement Gottwald (Ganz) Villamossgi Gyr trtnete (A His- tory of the Klement Gottwald [Ganz] Electric Works). Budapest 1962, p. 184. ff.

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  • 174 p. Sipos

    the studies dealing with the development of the factories in the country can extend the geographical horizon of the special literature and enable the comprehensive works to represent the movement in such a manner, in a national frame, as it used to be in reality. Important contributions are provided by the history of the Sophiana Machine Factory in Pcs to the description of the special situation in which a small iron factory could serve as the base of class struggle even in an important provincial industrial centre. On the other hand the Lowlander Textile Factory in Mezberny where the local branch of the Textile Workers' Union initiated strikes time and

    again, illustrates what a role an industrial plant can have in the temporary rise of labour movement in an industrially underdeveloped region.10

    Noteworthy data enrich our knowledge about the political activity, mood and views of the factory workers. In Hungary, it was an essential ambition on the part of both the state and the employees to prevent at any means the labour organizations from getting into the factory. They could manage to realize their attempts only in

    part. It appears from the monographs that one could hardly find factories where class-conscious workers had not worked in lesser or greater number. These people were the stimulators of social unrest and they were those persons around whom a

    larger or smaller group of sympathizers with changing composition was formed. "The pattern makers' workshop was the meeting place of the left wing workers" says the historian in characterizing the conditions in the Heisler factory. Those workers of the factory were working here who had been organized for the longest time and "who

    kept systematically contacts with the Union, who went to seminars and were familiar with political issues. Mny people called at the workshop for a short conversation to know what the situation was on the front for the workers did not believe in the Ger- man victory".11 At the same time in Kisgyn, a mine-village in the Bakony, also the

    organized workers played a similar part. They were in contact with the external world i. e. the Miners' Union and the communists in Tatabnya too. The efficiency of their

    activity is proved in the general manager's account in November 1943.: "The de- crease of workspeed noticeable in other mines occurred in Kisgyn too."12

    The scholars of labour movement are faced with several phenomena that could not be explained without concrete facts given by factory-history, but being aware of the particular features of these facts they have become understandable. Thus, only the local analysis can answer the exciting problem characteristic throughout the whole Hungarian labour movement: why the intensity and radicalism of the labour movement were relatively weak in the north-eastern industrial region of Hungary

    10 Kopasz, G.: (ed.)v4 pcsi Sophiana Gyr (1865-1965) [Sophiana Factory of Pcs 1865-1965]. Pcs 1965, p. 68.

    Dtsch, Zs. - Jakab, M.: 50 ves a Pamuttextil Mvek mezbernyi gyra (The Mezberny Branch of the Cotton-Textile Works is 50 Years Old). Gyula 1970, p. 37. ff 11 Holls, J. - Kiss, E. : tven Esztend. A Szerszmgpipari Mvek kbnyai gyrnak trtnete (Fifty Years. A History of the Kbnya Branch of the Machine Tools Works). Budapest 1968, p. 29. 12 Pera, F.: A kisgyni-balinkai sznbnyszat tven ve (Fifty Years of the Coal-Mining of Kisgyn-Balinka). Trtnelmi Trsulat, p. 76.

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  • Factory History and Labour Movement 175

    (Disgyr, zd) despite of the par excellence heavy-industry character and the high degree of labour concentration. Without going into details let us remark that the studies with the titles "The Workers' Conditions in the Ironworks of zd at the Turn of the Century" and "Pictures from the History of 190 Years of the Siderurgical Works of Disgyr" provide us with interesting considerations to investigate the is- sue. "The most consequent wage policy was followed by the management in zd

    owing to the key role of the factory in the production system of the Rimamurny- Salgtarjn Iron and Steel Goods Co. With the help of ensuring relatively high av-

    erage wage it could establish a higher living standard to the majority of the workers in

    comparison with other industrial areas"13 says the study analyzing the workers' situ- ation in the factory.

    It is a similarly interesting problem why those factories (in the textile, chemical, telecommunication, tool and precision engineering industry) that started to rise in

    consequence of the disappearance of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and its cus- toms union were weak points of the labour movement between the two world wars and why the same were inaccessible not only to the illegal Party of Communists in

    Hungary but even to the organizations of the legal Social Democrat Unions? After having explored the history of a few important factories (Machine Tool Works of

    Kbnya, Hungarian Optical Works, the Danuvia Works), we may try to give, for the time being, only a hypothetical answer: the capitalists, in those sectors that were in the process of formation and growth, employed the "up-to-date" methods of wage and social policy with boldness and rather often, just to take out the wind of the labour movement's sails.

    "In the Hungarian Optical Works the workers were relatively well-paid. The construction of the factory building in the 1930's took already the demands of sani- tation into consideration. Its clean, light work places, lavatories and shower rooms were substantially better than the facilities of similar type in other contemporary factories of that period."14 The author emphasizes that, by all these means, the aim of the capitalists was to ensure work-conditions and manpower to meet the require- ments of precision mechanics and achieve, eventually, the permanent increase of

    profit. One must not still forget that these "reforms", within the given circumstances, misled the majority of the workers concerned.

    The approach of factory-history can also answer why the workers did not de- monstrate a more combative attitude in the seasonal factories in the country. Around the factory, in the neighbouring villages a mass of the agrarian proletarians waited for opportunities to work. That is why the regularly employed seasonal workers did not

    13 Birta, I. : Az zdi vasgyr munksviszonyai a szzadfordul idejn (The Workers' Conditions at the Turn of the Century in the Iron Works of zd). Trtnelmi vknyv 2, Miskolc 1968, p. 268. 14 Pinter, N.: A Magyar OptikaiMvek trtnete 1876-1963 (A History of the Hungarian Op- tical Works 1876-1963). Magyar Trtnelmi Trsulat s.d., p. 61.

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  • 176 P. Sipos

    dare to risk the possibility of being excluded from job opportunities of next year's seasonal production on account of their rebellious attitude.15

    Considering the general tendency of history the proletariat was confronted as a class with the bourgeoisie as a class. But in the every-day life of the struggle the indi- vidual workers or the workers' communities in the factories are brought to meet the owners, the general managers as individuals. The character and the role of the per- sonal connection between the capitalist and the worker in the period of the classic capitalism were of course different from that after the emergence of financial capitalist mammoth concerns. In Hungary, even during the period of imperialism in which Hungary had a mid-level capitalist development a lot of small and mid-fac- tories, sometimes also important large factories were kept in family property. Without over-emphasizing the personal motives in class struggle one must not forget that the personal features of the capitalist general managers should be taken into account when the workers' situation or the degree of organization and the intensity of their movements are investigated. Several studies in factory-history draw credible

    portraits of certain capitalists, among others of Lrnt Khne, Robert Szurday, Lszl Lng, Andrs Mechwart. "Lrnt Kiihne's active support to the Bill of which intention was to improve the social situation of the workers (in 1928 - P. S.) reflected a farsighted reason on the part of the capitalists, and it served a defence of the

    capitalist social system. He was one of those (not too many) capitalists who under- stood that expenses incurred to secure social benefits for the workers, far from ruin- ing capitalism and class society, were of considerable support for these latter."16 Such is the judgment passed by the factory-historian on the former owner of the Ag- ricultural Machine Factory of Mosonmagyarvr.

    For the researcher of the people's democratic period, it is of all things the vig- orous and well documented description of the heroic reconstruction that endows materials of factory-history with great value. All works, almost with no exception, cover the efforts made in order to start life and production again; they prove and ap- preciate the role of the workers' unselfishness, of the Soviet commanders' directing and organizing activity, and of the Soviet Army as a Number One customer and sup- ply base of raw material and food in the reconstruction of certain factories.

    The analysis of either the new relationship between the workers and the capitalists or the emergence of the workers' predominance in power within particular plants enriches with fresh colours the history of the period between 1945-1948 that gave new direction to the development of the Hungarian society. Pittoresque de- scriptions record the great moment of the victory and of the nationalization of the factories. "The news of the nationalization was received with limitless enthusiasm by

    15 Dancs, J.: (ed.) 100 ves az csi Cukorgyr (The Sugar-Factory of cs is 100 Years Old). Budapest 1971, p. 62. 1 SRKZI, Z. - SziLGYi, G. - SzEKERES, J.: A Mosonmagyar vri Gpgyr trtnete (1856-1956) (A History of the Agricultural Machine Factory of Mosonmagyarvr [1856-1956]). Mosonmagyarvr 1968, p. 177.

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  • Factory History and Labour Movement 177

    the workers but the former managers and owners took notice of it in silence, with depressed amazement" can be read in the history of the Leather Factory of Pcs. "There was no resistance. The hooter of the factory instantaneously blared forth and the workers went to the hall. . . where it was officially stated to them: the capitalists' power had come to an end, the factory was given to the workers! And the work went on smoothly and more cheerfully in a fresh, liberated atmosphere."17

    Two aspects of the workers' life and activity are taken into account by those chapters of the studies in factory-history that treat the period of socialist construc- tion. On the one hand they show carefully the contradictory process of the de- velopment of a new relation to work. The studies unanimously emphasize the sig- nificance of the emergence of work-competition and the papers aiming at analysis have pointed out: "certain bureaucratism undoubtedly began to predominate in the organization of the work-competition which by no means helped but hindered the proper work. So many organs, committees and subcommittees were working around the work-competition that it was no wonder that too many cooks began to spoil the broth."18

    On the other hand these monographs pay great attention to the treatment of the social, sanitary and cultural investments and services in the factories. The special literature of factory-history contains rich material concerning the social and cultural policy of socialist Hungary, even if not every author elaborates on the data in ques- tion. In this respect the habitual plea for the lack of analysis can be perhaps accepted: "numbers speak by themselves".

    The results of the now available literature covering plant history can be summed up from the point of view of labour movement research as follows:

    1. concerning the capitalist period a) an analysis of the factual manifestation of capitalist~exploitation; b) the role of the individual factories in the strike-fights of the whole pro-

    letariat; c) an exploration of the special circumstances forming the intensity of

    labour movement noticeable in the individual factories; 2. concerning the socialist construction

    a) a description, on factory level, of the revolutionary changes in the field of power relations and the property relations between 1945-1948;

    b) enumeration of social and cultural achievements that have changed the situation and way of life of the working class.

    The method of complex treatment can, however, hardly be regarded as a

    widespread practice. Even in the definition of the objective and conception of plant history one can discover the bias, viz. the "principal" justification of the artificial

    17 Gulys, I. - VRS, M. - Dr. Tth, G. - Fodor, Gy.: A ktszzves Pcsi Brgyr (The Two Hundred Years Old Leather Factory of Pcs). Pcs 1962, p. 108. 18 Srkzi, Z. - S zi lag Yi, G. - SzEKERES, J.: ibid. p. 232.

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  • 178 P. Sipos

    separation of factory and production from the working man. The author of one of these works constructs an artificial pair of contradictions in his problem setting: whether the technical progress or the life and work-conditions of the workers should be emphasized.19 He solves his dilemma in the terms of a simplified interpretation of the slogan "man means the highest value", and he describes one-sidedly the changes in the workers' situation. Certain works do not even treat this range of problems his-

    torically, they replace the continuous description of social progress in the factory with a loose heterogeneous mass of anecdotes and reminiscences. A compilation with the title "Years and People. Documents, Reports and Confessions about the

    Half-Century Old Nitrochemistry Plant", according to its Introduction, "wants to commemorate first of the people, the workers who have constructed and made the

    factory significant and of those who also nowadays work on its enlargement ... In this book thirty-one persons give account of past and present . . . Thus, instead of having a rather thorough but dull factory-history, we hope that through the personal experi- ences of the rememberers, the 50 years of Nitrochemistry will get nearer to the reader".20 This objective is fairly appealing at first glance but a survey of the work convinces us that it could not be achieved just because people and work-place are detached from each other; moreover, even the workers' community is presented at the same time, in an atomized way without any personal characterization, though the method of interviews borrowed from sociology could have resulted, at least, in a few decisive characters and types.

    An attitude of overestimating considerations in history of technology can also be noted. A critic of the monograph treating the history of Ganz Electric Works, though emphasizing that the factory is a unit of social and technical co-operation, still considers only technical criteria as a standard in his review. He finds fault with the alleged predominance of social problems and objects that the authors did not demonstrate the history of the factory as "one chapter of the history of the interna- tional electrical engineering".21 We think, on the contrary, that just by meeting this requirement would an inner imbalance of the treatment have resulted.

    The way the author of the monograph dealing with the Glass Works of Saj- szentpter conceived his theme can be regarded as a characteristic example of bias in favour of the history of economy: "The history of the factory grows beyond the mere story of a factory in the country. It is rather a chronicle of an international Co. Ltd. of which the Glass Works of Sajszentpter were the only factory. . . Looking over the life of this Co. Ltd. we can trace the way the Hungarian financial oligarchy had cov-

    19 Az jlakitl a Budai Tgla- s Cserpipari Vllalatig (From the jlaki Workshop to the Tile and Brick Producine Enterprise of Buda). Vllalati kiads 1963, p. 3. 20 Andrssy, .: vek, emberek. Dokumentumok, riportok, vallomsok a flvszzados Nitro- kmirl (Years and People. Documents, Reports and Confessions about the Half-Century Old Nitro- chemistry). Veszprm s.d., p. 7. 2f Karolyi, Zs. - Szekeres, J. - Tth, .: A Kment Gottwald (Ganz) Villamossgi Gyr trt- nete (A History of the Klement Gottwald [Ganz] Electric Works). Technikatrtneti Szemle 1964, No. 1 p. 172.

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  • Factory History and Labour Movement 179

    er ed in order to ensure the increasing organic composition of the capital."22 Insisting consequently on his idea, the author devotes most of the space to the description of manipulations with the shares.

    In Hungary, the special literature of factory-history could hardly miss local

    patriotism. But while it can have a stimulating and advantageous effect if the author indicates the function of the factory and appreciates its importance with a proper sense of proportion, any lack of moderation can be harmful. "Everybody who knows the history of the Northern Vehicle Repair Factory can learn, as from a drop of the sea, the history of the whole national development of industry, transport and the workers' struggles" can be read in the account written about the Northern Vehicle

    Repair Factory of'the Hungarian State Railways.23 This formulation, of which simi- lar ones can be found in other works too, can easily mislead the reader, especially in this instance, for this plant is operated in a special medium.

    The above-mentioned conceptual deformations are no isolated mistakes or inexact phrasings. In several publications which ought to be devoted to the mono-

    graphical processing of the history of a plant, working society is presented, perfunc- torily and cursorily to the extent of some pages, or even of a few sentences. The social aspect of the given unit of production and business is totally vague in recent publica- tions, treating among others the history of Gamma, the Waterworks of Budapest, the Industrial Works of Hajdsg and the VIDEOTON.

    The least utilizable parts of this literature from the point of view of labour movement research are the chapters covering the period of socialist construction. The competent historical analysis, the application of the method used in the exami- nation of the earlier period is continued in hardly few works (the history of the Hun- garian Cotton Indu&try, the Goldberger Press Factory, the Agricultural Machine Factory of Mosonmagyarvr, the D ANUVIA and the factories of Pcs) and it is replaced by phrases borrowed from political journalism and by various data picked out at random and having therefore slight chance to convince. Many of the authors consider it unnecessary, harmful and "spoil-sporty" to show the contradictory, hard years between 1950-1956 and they are also averse to analyse the problems of the

    period of consolidation and the following 5-year-plans. Thus a fairly great part of the work is rather unbalanced though it is an essential

    condition of the further progress and scientific emancipation of factory-history that the studies present in a complex way, in a unity capable of expressing reality and with

    special attention to the specific moment, the economical, technical and social factors which determine the development of the factory.

    Proportionally and comprehensively elaborated works can provide the his-

    toriography of labour movement with data of high value and with ones otherwise

    remaining hidden. The essential demand is to explore the history of labour according 22 RTHLY, Gy.: vezgyr a Saj-parton (Glass Works on the Banks of the River Saj). 1969, p. 8. 23 Nagy, I.: Az szaki Jrmjavit trtnete 1867-1967 (A History of the Northern Vehicle Re-

    pair Factory). Budapest, s. a. p. 251.

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  • 180 P . Sipos

    to its sources, quantity, composition, skill, sex and age groups. It is especially impor- tant to examine the situations of the particular groups, whether there had been workers being especially well-payed or on the contrary payed under the average; what accounted for this particular situation and what effect had the differences in payment on the organization and radicalism of the workers?

    Connections among the groups of the workers or their contradictions of in- terest that strongly influenced the effectiveness of wage-movements in the particular factories are also deserving attention.

    Taking the capitalist period into consideration, there is little opportunity for the research of the workers' way of life and consciousness in each factory. Yet re- markable interdependences can be stated between the work-conditions on the one hand and the change of the conception and cultural level of the workers on the other hand. One cannot forget what influence the larger factories had on the local social- political surroundings especially in the country and in the so-called "red zone" around Pest.

    In the period of imperialism and particularly since World War I, an interven- tion of increasing vigour and efficiency can be observed on the part of the state. Be- side the direction of production and distribution the bourgeois state wanted to im- plement its intentions in the issues of wage-system and work-conditions; moreover it claimed to handle the regulation of relationships between the capitalists and the workers. Thus labour movement research cannot do without data with respect to the realization of state intervention into the individual factories.

    The strengthening of the organization of the working class, at the beginning of the century, induced also the capitalists to create uniform organizations of the em- ployer, Especially the National Association of Manufacturers and the National As- sociation of Hungarian Ironworks and Machine Factories, sometimes co-operating sometimes competing with the state, made efforts to gain a dictatorial power within the industry. The effect of the operation of the employers' organizations on the labour policy of the individual factories must also be clarified by studies in the history of factories.

    It is an important speciality of the development of Hungarian labour move- ment in the capitalist period that, instead of the workers in the factory, the Union proved to be a frame of political activity. Unions were organized by professions so that the respective profession was a decisive factor in affiliation. That is why the rep- resentation of wage-movements, strikes and other fields of political activity, on the level of the factories, meets difficulties though some data may occur that refer to wage-movements and strikes having been initiated within the factories.

    It is a rather complicated issue how the factory-historian represents the par- ticipation of the workers of a certain factory in the demonstrations and revolutionary movements of national significance. These events can by no means be treated as parts of the history of the individual factories for one could hardly find such a factory either in Budapest or in the bigger provincial towns the workers of which did not take part

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  • Factory History and Labour Movement 181

    in them actively. Yet, if there are data concerning the factual activity of the workers of a certain factory or their merit in initiation, they are of great use for labour movement research. In this respect special precaution is needed considering the as- pects of both presentation and acceptation of the relevant data.

    We are far from demanding of the authors the post-"creation" of labour movement in those factories where such movement did not exist. But the investiga- tion of the question why certain factories were relegated to the periphery of class struggle can lead to extremely interesting achievements.

    Due to the change in relations of property, after the liberation, a revolutionary transformation was taking place in the existence of the working class. It is right if the factory-historian pays attention primarily to the sociologically valuable new phnomena: the regroupment of the labour, the consequences of the numerical in- crease of the working class and of the rise of the most conscious and most active layer of the workers.

    In the period of the construction of socialism the factory is the most important field of action of the labour movement. A wrong meaning is attributed to this factor of social transformation, according to which its existence can be accepted only for the period preceding the socialist revolution. During the construction of socialist society the proletariat is engaged in politics in an active way, in organized frames under the leadership of the Party in order to complete its mission. Thus, both the scientific re- quirement of the exploration of reality and the very role the studies in factory-history played in the development of a socialist consciousness of the community demand from these studies to deal in details with the reinforcement of MKP (Hungarian Communist Party), SzDP (Social Democrat Party), factory-committees and the Unions, with their struggle against the capitalists; they must make the establishment of the workers' unity and the influence of the contradictory development of the period between 1950-1956 on the political activity of the factories known. It cannot be neglected how the new characteristics of the MSzMP's (Hungarian Socialist Labour Party) guiding role and new forms of socialist work-competition have de- veloped after 1957 and in what way the mass-organizations have been created and what function they have had in the education and raising of the consciousness of the workers.

    The benefit of the studies in factory-history for labour movement research is determined by the very compilation of the works too. The chronicle-like construc- tion which describes events in the factory year by year without a selection gives no more than a mere collection of data and is of no use either for the historiography of labour movement or for that of economy and technology. Composition of a chronicle can be useful as raw material and a treasury of documents but by no means can be equalled with a historiographie treatment.

    One cannot say that every question connected with the history of all factories might be elaborated in the same manner. Yet, it is an important methodological condition of the greater efficiency of the special literature of factory-history to widen

    Acta Histrica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 21, 1975

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  • 1 82 P. Sipos

    the range of sources used, especially as regards the period after the liberation. Only few authors have undertaken up till now to present this period on the basis of archival materials though the sources can be found in the archives of the party organs in dif- ferent levels, in state archives and in the record offices of the factory managements, the party and union locals of the factories. Among the bibliographical materials statistical issues are first of all useful. The compilation entitled Statistical Data- Sources Bibliography 1867-1967 (KSH 1967) includes all the works published in this theme from the beginning of the systematic data-collection. Systematically pub- lished personal and industrial data-collections can be also utilized with advantage, especially to compare investigations among the recent publications.

    The interaction of labour movement research and other historical disciplines is determined by the level of the historiography of labour movement. But the research of essential and standard themes from the point of view of factory-history has been carried out merely in part. Only two independent monographs and a volume of studies deal with the question of the trade union movement. The history of the economic struggles in the particular period has not been treated in an exemplary way.

    The present objective conditions of the discipline of factory-history do not favour in every respect scientific work. The development of the literature of the his- tory of industrial plants has been no doubt made possible due to the sponsorship of the factories but it is also undisputable that this very close connection with the fac- tories constitutes one of the major obstacles of the progress. The demands of those who "order" hamper, anyway, the implementation of principles of historicism. It happens quite often that the publication of works having been written and having treated important factories are trailed on for a long time just because the factory management wants modifications which often prove to be subjective and historically unreliable.

    On the other hand, it is also unfavourable from the point of view of labour movement research that the history of several factories has not been and probably is not going to be elaborated at all since a lot of factories have already ceased to exist. In the 1920's many large factories shut their doors, especially in machine industry and mill industry. In a diametrically opposite economic environment, during the cam- paign of creating large factories in 1962-1963, also a lot of factories disappeared as independent economic units. If the present organizational state of factory-his- toriography is maintained, the history of these factories will remain unwritten forever. The way of solving the problem lies in the establishment of a research staff in factory-history which, according to accounts rendered on the second international congress of factory history,24 has already been done in many socialist countries. The safeguarding of the further progress of this discipline is the concern not only of schol- ars and institutions that deal with the history of labour movement but of all those who are interested in a many-sided exploration of both past and present of the Hun- garian working class.

    24 Cf. an account of the congress: Acta Histrica Vol. XIX. No. 1-2, 1973, pp. 265-69.

    Acta Histrica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 2L, 1975

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    Article Contentsp. [171]p. 172p. 173p. 174p. 175p. 176p. 177p. 178p. 179p. 180p. 181p. 182

    Issue Table of ContentsActa Historica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, T. 21, No. 1/2 (1975), pp. 1-267Front MatterLes 25 ans de l'Institut des Sciences Historiques de l'Acadmie des Sciences de Hongrie [pp. 1-15]ETUDESPlne zur Neugestaltung der Habsburger Monarchie nach dem Preuisch-sterreichischen Krieg von 1866 [pp. 17-51]The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the Unrestricted Submarine Warfare [pp. 53-97]Zum Dilemma der Annahme oder Zurckweisung von Versailles [pp. 99-121]

    COMMUNICATIONSEnglish Kersey in Hungary [pp. 123-152]Brgerliche Entwicklung, Assimilation und Nationalismus in Ungarn im 19. Jahrhundert [pp. 153-169]

    RAPPORT SUR LES RECHERCHESFactory-history and the History of Labour Movement in Hungary [pp. 171-182]

    DOCUMENTSDocuments des relations Franco-Hongroises des annes 1917-1919 [pp. 183-207]

    COMPTE RENDU DE LIVRESReview: untitled [pp. 209-210]Review: untitled [pp. 211-212]Review: untitled [pp. 213-214]Review: untitled [pp. 214-216]Review: untitled [pp. 216-218]Review: untitled [pp. 219-222]Review: untitled [pp. 223-226]Review: untitled [pp. 226-227]Review: untitled [pp. 227-229]Review: untitled [pp. 230-233]Review: untitled [pp. 234-236]Review: untitled [pp. 236-237]Review: untitled [pp. 237-241]Review: untitled [pp. 241-243]Review: untitled [pp. 243-246]

    BIBLIOGRAPHIEBibliographie choisie d'ouvrages d'histoire publis en Hongrie en 1972 / , 1972 . [pp. 247-267]

    Back Matter


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