Budapest Erzsébetváros, Kiraly Utca Kettő, 2009 · alexbarrow [177]

Herr K.

Political Situation in Hungary and Budapest in the 70's

After World War II, Hungary fell into Soviet control. After the 1956 Budapest Uprising, János Kádár became General Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party. He remained in the position for over 30 years until 1988. His name has become associated with „Goulash Communism“, the special Hungarian blend of communism with limited market freedom. In an effort to smooth over the hard Soviet response to the revolt of 1956, the party tried to respond to the needs of the people. Numerous new housing blocks were constructed all over the land. In 1966, restrictions on foreign trade were loosened, some small service businesses and limited dissent were permitted. Compared with other eastern bloc countries, the Hungarian government paid more attention to public opinion and offered a greater variety of consumer products. By the mid-80’s, the people of Budapest enjoyed a higher standard of living than most of their urban counterparts in Eastern Europe. The city had become „ the shop window of communism in the “merriest barrack” of the communist block.“ ("Goulash communism",
[172] View of Budapest, 1979

Secondary Economic Activity

In Hungarian Communism, the state rented unprofitable shops and restaurants to private entrepreneurs, who were able to turn them into profitable businesses. Especially in Budapest, there was a lively unofficial private economy throughout the 80’s, which was officially called ‚secondary economic activity’. People used their private cars as taxis, their apartments as restaurants, pensions and even clothing boutiques. Additionally, fresh bread and vegetables were sold on the street from station wagons and carts. In the 80’s this ‚secondary economic activity’ was responsible for 90% of Hungary’s fruit and vegetables, although the products were more expensive than those in the state stores. In essence, this was tolerated private business and a popular symbol of capitalism.
[173] Flag Ceremony at the Pioneer Railway, Budapest Hegyvidék 1988