Friday, 3 August 2007

Review - In The Name of the Working Class by Sandor Kopacsi

In The Name of the Working Class is an autobiography/description of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, written by the at that time Chief of Budapests Police.

The book begins with Kopacsis description of his upbringing, his origins as a metal worker and his involvement in the resistance against German occupation during the second world war.

He then describes his move to Budapest to become a police officer and how he rose through the ranks to become police cheif, but including description of the general political situation and the influence of the Russians and his disdain for the AVO (the Hungarian secret police).

One of the most interesting parts of the book is his depiction of his involvement in the 1956 revolution and how his somewhat blind faith in the Russians was broken in the course of events. He then goes onto desribe his imprisonment and the sham trials to convict him and the other leaders of the rebellious government. (Many other people were simply executed or fled to Austria). Kopacsi once released from prison eventually emigrated to Canada where he died.

The book is not a full depiction of the event, but it does give huge insights into it, especially where Kopacsi was involved. This is not so say he didn't make mistakes during the course of the revolution, I for one thought he didn't put enough faith in the working masses, however, given the dominance of Stalinism it is somewhat understandable. Of particular interest is when Kopacsi details the revolt of sections of the Hungarian Army and how he dealt with his own role as chief of police.

The major criticism I would make of this book is the introduction, I believe it is in desperate need of reprinting with a different one that seeks to put the event fully in its context rather than be loaded with capitalist triumphalism, it isn't the worst I've ever seen, but to me it seemed to misrepresent what Kopacsi says and the lessons of this event.

Ps. This book is fairly cheap second hand on and despite its heavy topic made fairly good light reading

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