This volume provides a detailed history of the internal deportation campaign instituted by the Hungarian communist government in 1950s as a form of punishment for citizens considered “enemies of the state”. Their wealth, possessions, their way of life and most importantly, their influence on society at large had to be demolished.
The deportation campaign targeted remnants of qualified upper middle class: educators, medical or scientific professionals, aristocratic or military officials who represented pre-war Hungary and also well-to-do “kulaks” (peasants).
Széchenyi recounts the legal basis of the deportations, and points out the manner in which Hungarian laws were distorted to serve the purpose of sending its own citizens into forced internal exile. She has also uncovered many documents related to the deportations, their administration and implementation that are invaluable to our understanding of what amounted to a social engineering campaign by Hungary’s communist leaders to rid the country of elements they deemed undesirable.
In the second half of the volume, survivors recount their own personal memories of how deportations affected them and their families.
Stigmatized is the first book in English which lays out not only the history of the Hungarian internal deportations of the Stalinist era, but illustrates its consequences to a nation and society in the long run.