Historical overview 3.

Closed Camps (1950-1953)

Between the second half of June 1950 and the summer of 1952 the representatives of the power gathered up to 8,000 people (2,500 families) from 451 village and towns situated along the Western and Southern border of the country and forced them to move to 12 closed camps in Eastern Hungary. Gábor Péter described this area of the country as a place where “not even a stork could fly from”. People were sent into these internment camp-like closed camps without being sentenced with a decree of banishment. Families banned to these camps lived and worked under very bad circumstances.

“351 people were crammed into one of the three sheep folds. Some straw was spread upon an 80 cm layer of sheep manure and this served as beds. One person had a space of about 50 cm wide. The sheep were also kept in the fold but because of the deportees they were more crammed than usual. Some trellis separated the newcomers from the sheep. There was a stench of manure and sheep and there were about three million flies in the fold.”
(Memoirs of Albert Varga)

A map of the closed camps, 1951–1953 One of the sheep folds in Hortobágy where the families were put up<br />Lajos Hatvany Museum, Hatvan – photo by Mrs.Tóth, Katalin Kardos
A map of the closed camps, 1951–1953 One of the sheep folds in Hortobágy where the families were put up
Lajos Hatvany Museum, Hatvan – photo by Mrs.Tóth, Katalin Kardos
Kónya-farm – owned by Piroska Zsákai
Kónya-farm – owned by Piroska Zsákai

Dissolving the camps

In his policy speech in Parliament on the 4th of July, 1953 Prime Minister Imre Nagy announced that according to the policy of the new period flagrant cases of injustice, such as internment, police jurisdiction, deportation and “kulak”-lists, would be ceased.

On the 26th of July, 1953 the Presidential Council of the Hungarian People’s Republic issued a Decree of Amnesty and the Council of Ministers passed a resolution about ceasing internment and deportation and dissolving internment camps.

By July 1953 about 5030 cases were reviewed. It was ordered that people considered dangerous had to be kept back until the final phase of dissolving the camps. Afterwards they had to appear in court in Kistarcsa and those sentenced had to go to prison.

In the beginning Recsk and Kazincbarcika internees were set free in the smallest numbers and most of the internees who gained their freedom were from Tiszalök and Kistarcsa. The free places in Kistarcsa were filled up with internees from Recsk, Kazincbarcika and other internment camps. These people were questioned and charged in the new place. In Tiszalök internees of foreign citizenship were gathered from the other camps and from that time on their cases were managed by the National Central Office for Controlling Foreigners (KEOKH).

Prime Minister Imre Nagy in Parliament, 1953 – collection of Lívia Gyarmathy Rudolf Garasin (1895-1969) In 1952 the Ministry of Home Affairs, led the Prison Department. Summer of 1953 became head of the Prison Affairs Department. – collection of Gyarmathy Lívia
Prime Minister Imre Nagy in Parliament, 1953 – collection of Lívia Gyarmathy Rudolf Garasin (1895-1969) In 1952 the Ministry of Home Affairs, led the Prison Department. Summer of 1953 became head of the Prison Affairs Department. – collection of Gyarmathy Lívia
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