State Security Department
Allamvedelmi Hatosag -AVH
Following World War II, Hungary faced the challenge of choosing a new government. In November of 1945, general elections were held and the Smallholder party, won 57 percent of the vote, with the communists winning only 17 percent. Dr. Zoltan Tildy was named the President, and Dr. Ferenc Nagy was named Prime Minister, both came from the Smallholder Party, Mátyás Rákosi, a communist was named the Deputy Prime Minister.
The Red Army still occupied Hungary, and the communist wanted complete control of the Government, so they created the AVO (Allamvedélmi Osztály), which served as the communists’ secret police, it was controlled by Soviet advisors, and Gábor Péter was named Director. Peter was a Jewish tailor and former NKVD agent. Péter began a series of Stalinesque purges to cut away the foundation of the Smallholder party. The AVO arrested the most outspoken critics of the communists, accusing them of Fascist coercion and of wartime collaboration with the Fascists. Thousands of loyal communists were dragged into Péter’s office and systematically tortured and killed. The AVO then finished off any opposition by having the Smallholders Secretary-general arrested by the Soviet Military police on charges of plotting against the Soviet army. In May of 1947, PM Nagy went on Holiday in Switzerland, he was told that if he returned he would be arrested.
In August of that same year, the communists won 24 percent of the popular vote in the general elections.
In Jan. 1948 Rákosi, now the President, reduced the government to a one party coalition. Later that summer, Rákosi was called to Moscow, where he was told László Rajk, the minister of the Interior, and Péter’s boss had been identified as working with Noel Haviland Field, an eccentric former diplomat and relief worker, who was thought to work for western intelligence, and Marshall Tito (the Yugoslavian dictator), in an attempt to infiltrate spies into communist governments. When Rákosi returned to Budapest he held a cabinet meeting, minus Rajk, and it was decided that Rajk had to go. In May 1949, Field was lured to Prague with an offer of possibly teaching at the Czech University. On May 11, Field was arrested in Prague, and was taken to Budapest, where he was charged for spying. On May 17, Péter called a meeting of all senior AVO officers to tell them that a plot had been uncovered between Marshall Tito and western Intelligence agencies. On May 30, Rajk was arrested, and charged with treason. He was then summarily beat and tortured by the AVO, in what would be a vain attempt to get him to confess. The beatings continued until at least June 11th when it was realized that Rajk would never confess. Péter threatened Rajk’s family, and told him that the entire affair was a put-up job, the entire trial would be a sham, that no matter what the verdict was, his family would be spared, and relocated in the Soviet Union under a new identity. In the end, Rajk confessed to his crimes, probably out a misguided sense of loyalty to the party.
At his trial the connection, between Field and Rajk came to light. Field had freed Rajk from an internment camp during the war, and helped him return to Hungary, and get back on his feet. Field also had ties to Allen W. Dulles, the DDP (Deputy Director for Plans) in 1949. Letters were found from Field to Dulles, that had vague references to espionage. The court concluded, that Rajk owing a debt of gratitude to Field had been providing Field with intelligence from Hungary, which was then making its way to the CIA. Rajk, and three other “conspirators”, were all sentenced to death. The MGB (Ministerstvo Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti) the Soviet state security service, knew that the charges were manufactured, but they also knew that there was an actual connection between Marshall Tito and Dulles. It had been Field who had convinced Dulles to back Tito’s actions. So the MGB used this as an opportunity to expose the connection. Rajk’s last words before he was executed were “Long live Communism”. As for Péter’s promise, it to was a sham, and Rajk’s entire extended family was executed.
Kádár replaced Rajk as Minster of the Interior, but fell from grace in 1950, in 1951 he was arrested and tortured, but he would be resurface in 1956 as “rehabilitated citizen”. Sándor Zöld, who followed Kádár as minister of the Interior, killed his wife, children, mother-in-law, and himself, in 1952 when he learned he was about to be purged.
Late that same year, Kremlin Doctor Lydia Timashuk wrote a letter to Stalin detailing a plot by her mostly Jewish superiors, to curtail the lives of soviet leaders by sabotaging their healthcare. In January of 1953, Pravda wrote several scathing articles on Jewish doctors for their attempts to kill the soviet leaders, as well as lambasting the Soviet security services for allowing it to happen. Stalin flew into a rage, and order the doctors, arrested, thrown into chains, and beaten to pulp. A few days later, Stalin personally called Rákosi to tell him that Gábor Péter had been named as someone working for western intelligence by Belkin. After Péter’s arrest, a similar Jewish doctor's plot was uncovered in Hungary. Péter later confessed to being “an agent of the British and Zionist intelligence agencies.” Péter’s confession, much like Rajk’s was probably given out of loyalty to the party. He was convicted, but was not executed, instead he was sent to Prison. In 1959, Péter was released from prison by PM János Kádár , who then gave Péter a low-level government job, till he retired some years later. For all of her help, Doctor Timashuk received the order of Lenin.
On the night of March 1-2, 1953, Josef Stalin had a stroke. He died three days later on March 5. Shortly thereafter Beria ended the witch hunts, and the doctors were free to go. hundreds of thousands of Jewish political prisoners were released from the Gulags.
In 1956, reforms began to occur in Poland, a copy of Khruschev’s denunciation of Stalin's purges where front page news, and the case against Rajk, was admitted to have been a fabrication, for which Rajk was posthumously announced a rehabilitated citizen. On Oct. 23 of that year, students from the Universities took to the streets, a quarter of a million people from Budapest joined them. Around 9 p.m. that evening, members of the AVH (the AVO’s successor) shot and killed several protesters. Over the next several hours, the protesters gathered weapons from sympathizers in the military and police. Ernő Gerő, who had replaced Rakosi earlier in the year for health reasons, asked the Soviet army for assistance. For days the students, workers and general public fought against the red army, while Khruschev and the Kremlin decided whether they should pull out of Hungary or quell the rebellion. On Oct 25, János Kádár replaced Gerő as First secretary. He along with Imre Nagy, who was the Prime Minister, said over radio that they would begin negotiating with the Soviet Union for Soviet Troop withdrawal. On Oct 29, hundreds of protesters, lynched members of the AVH, Nagy and Kádár abolished the AVH. On October 30, Nagy went on the air to announce that the one-party system was being abolished, and that the system that was used in the 1945 elections would return.
Moscow had hoped to use Nagy to keep the situation in Hungary under control. But this announcement signaled that Moscow would have to use more surreptitious means. To do this they sent future KGB head, and Soviet Premier, Yuri Andropov to Hungary, to “negotiate” with Nagy and Kádár. On Nov. 1, Nagy woke to the news that Soviet tanks where entering Hungary, but Andropov assured Nagy that they were there merely to protect the withdrawing Soviet forces. That same day, Nagy declared Hungary’s cession from the Warsaw Pact, and asked the United Nations to put discussion of their admittance on their docket. On Nov. 2, troops continued their movement toward the capital, Nagy protested the USSR’s actions to the UN. Two days later, the Red Army began their assault on Budapest. Nagy later went on radio and announced the Soviet attacks. Nagy and several others were arrested. Nagy never confessed to his “crimes”, and in June of 1958, he and three were found guilty, and executed. But unlike the show trials of the past, this one went poorly for the AVH. the truth was out, everybody knew, what had happened, the entire affair was a public relations fiasco. This was the last show trial in the communist bloc that ever resulted in an execution.
Following the Hungarian revolution, largely due to the animosity, the Hungarians felt towards the AVH, it was permanently disbanded. Hungary would spend the rest of the cold war as the only Warsaw pact country without an intelligence service.
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