Tibor Valuch

The main aim of the research project, that also includes this paper, is the investigation of the social history of Hungarian factory workers from the late nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth century in the case of Ózd, a small industrial city in northeast Hungary. For the purpose of this research the author uses not only the traditional historical and statistical sources and methods, but family history, personal history, and life story approaches too. The basic sources of the research are the registers of births, marriages, and deaths, and various kinds of family history and life story interviews. From this material, the author reconstructs a multigenerational worker family life story. Families were one of the determining groups of the Hungarian working class in the nineteenth and twentieth century. The major questions of the research and paper are the following: How is it possible to reconstruct the life stories of ordinary families and people? How can this reconstruction help us gain a deeper insight into the stratification and the internal power/hierarchical structures of the factory and local society? The first part of the study is an outline of the history of the factory and the settlement. The second part reconstructs and analyzes a typical multigenerational family history as a case study. Finally, the article investigates the process of socialization of multigenerational worker families. Through this analysis the author introduces and characterizes the main elements of the value system and the most typical patterns of social behavior of this section of Hungarian workers from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.

The Birth of the Militant Self

Working-Class Memoirs of Late Russian Poland

Wiktor Marzec

The 1905 Revolution was often considered by workers writing memoirs as the most important event in their lives. This paper examines biographical reminiscences of the political participation of working-class militants in the 1905 Revolution. I scrutinize four tropes used by working-class writers to describe their life stories narrated around their political identity. These are: (1) overcoming misery and destitution, (2) autodidacticism, (3) political initiation, and (4) feeling of belonging to the community of equals. All four demonstrate that the militant self cannot be understood in separation from the life context of the mobilized workers. Participation in party politics was an important factor modifying the life course of workers in the direction resonating with their aspirations and longings. The argument is informed by analysis of over a hundred of biographical testimonies written by militants from various political parties in different political circumstances.

Adam Kożuchowski

This paper addresses the intersection of moral condemnation, national antagonism, and civilizational critique in the images of the Teutonic Order as presented in Polish historical discourse since the early nineteenth century, with references to their medieval and early modern origins. For more than 150 years, the Order played the role of the archenemy in the historical imagination of Poles. This image is typically considered an element of the anti-German sentiment, fueled by modern nationalism. In this paper I argue that the scale and nature of the demonization of the Teutonic Knights in Polish historiography is more complex, and should be interpreted in the contexts of pre-modern religious rhetoric on the one hand, and the critique of Western civilization from a peripheral or semi-colonial point of view on the other. The durability and flexibility of the black legend of the Order, born in the late Middle Ages, and adapted by Romantic, modern nationalist, and communist historians, makes it a unique phenomenon, surpassing the framework of modern nationalism. It is the modern anti-German stereotype that owes much to this legend, rather than the other way around.

Natalia Koulinka

The coal miners’ strikes of 1989 and 1991 in the ussr have received significant attention from scholars in the country and abroad that peaked in the 1990s. Drawing on the existing scholarship, I argue that our understanding of the strikes remains incomplete unless we consider these events in their proper discursive contexts, which were different for the two waves of strikes. I explore the All-Union daily, Izvestiia, and weekly, Literaturnaia Gazeta, as well as a Belorussian daily, Sovetskaia Belorussiia, in order to restore the discursive contexts and apply them as a tool to explain the miners’ contradictory demands. From this contextualization, the wave of 1989 strikes emerges as a proto-class struggle played out within the peculiar sociopolitical conditions of Soviet society; while the strikes of 1991 appear as a result of the classical merging of the workers’ movement with that of intellectuals and politicians, who at that time aligned themselves with neoliberal ideals.

Jakub Štofaník

The article focuses on the role of religion among working-class inhabitants of two industrial towns in the Czech lands, Ostrava and Kladno, during the first half of twentieth century. It analyses the enormous conversion movement, the position of new actors of religious life, and the religious behavior of workers. Looking at the history of the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century, the study understands religion as one of the constituent factors of society and its historic change. Traditional, new, and nonconformist religious actors appear as active agents in the private and public life of industrial towns. They mobilized workers, young people, and women, and they produced the major arena in which social, cultural, and church history come together.

Veronika Pehe

Based on an oral history project that interviewed one hundred former Czech students active during the “Velvet Revolution” of 1989, this study investigates a motif that emerged particularly strongly among respondents. Many evinced positive memories of the perceived unrestrained freedom of the 1990s, here termed “transformation nostalgia.” The study traces the object of positive memories expressed by narrators in the context of their awareness of the increasingly critical public reception of the post-socialist democratic transformation in the Czech Republic and argues they employ two main narrative strategies: extricating their personal experience from wider political developments and performing a form of “self-criticism” in relation to false hopes placed in the political solutions of the time. The article thus aims to contribute to the ongoing process of the historicization of the 1990s and the democratic transformations in the former Eastern Bloc by examining the memories of this decade expressed by members of the generation that came of age and entered adulthood just as the socialist regime collapsed.

Women’s Industrial Labor in Hungary

An Overview of Main Tendencies and Turning Points from the End of the Nineteenth Century

Judit Acsády

This study is a part of the RE-WORK research project at the Centre for Social Science of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and it contributes to the initiative to create a social history overview of Hungarian industrial labor since the last decades of the nineteenth century. Women workers in Hungary have been part of the labor force ever since the beginning of industrialization, and yet they have mostly formed a distinct and in certain ways segregated group of industrial laborers. Based on statistical data, a review of secondary literature, and pointing at some original sources, the study provides an overview of the main characteristics and the tendencies as well as the most relevant features of women’s employment in industry in Hungary.