Documents of the Hungarian Democratic Forum (1987-1989)
Lakitelek Felsőalpár 3, Hungary 6065
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Name of collection
- Documents of the Hungarian Democratic Forum
Provenance and cultural activities
The Hungarian Democratic Forum (HDF), which brought together different groups representing a form of nationalist-populist opposition to the Kádár regime, was established as a movement on 27 September 1987 in Lakitelek in the garden of oppositional politician Sándor Lezsák. Like the Bethlen Gábor Foundation (created in 1980), the HDF welcomed people who wanted to work to protect Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries and bring about democratic change in Hungary. The movement’s first significant meeting was in the Jurta Theater on 30 January 1988. This meeting was followed by many gatherings and meetings in several cities in Hungary. On 27 June 1988, the HDF organized a protest on Heros square in Budapest against Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu’s repressive policy against the Hungarian minorities in Transylvania. Approximately 200,000 people took part in the demonstration, which was the first mass demonstration since 1956 that was not organized by the party state. On 3 September 1988, at the second meeting in Lakitelek, the HDF officially became an independent social organization. On 24 June 1989, at the common session of the HDF Presidium and Committee, the leaders of the movement voted to become a political party. In the spring of the following year, the HDF won the first free elections in Hungary after socialism.The document collection of the early history of the HDF is a unique source on cultural resistance in the late Kádár period and the period of the regime change. The collection was basically a private venture of teacher, poet, and politician Sándor Lezsák. At the end of the 1960s, Lezsák worked for a few months as an assistant in the National Széchényi Library. In the repository of the national library at Rákospalota, Lezsák discovered the value of smaller printings (posters, leaflets, invitations, obituaries, etc.) as potential sources thanks to literary historian Rezső Szíj. In the late 1960s, Lezsák began systematically collecting documents on the nationalist-populist opposition of the Kádár period. The collection, which grew into a large record office after several years, contains materials of the Lakitelek meetings organized by Lezsák, samizdats, documents about Hungarian emigration and the early years of the HDF, and an array of other materials. Lezsák donated this unique private collection to the Lakitelek People’s College (which was founded by Lezsák himself) in 1991 as the so-called Archive of the Regime Change. Today, it also contains the materials of the HDF. The collection has not developed any systematic catalogue for years. Thanks to the personal relationship of Sándor Lezsák and Zoltán Bíró (who was also one of the founders of the HDF), the material is in the Research Institute and Archives for the History of the Hungarian Regime Change (led by Bíró) as a deposit. Here, within the framework of a cooperative endeavor between the two institutions, the material is professionally arranged and digitalized. After the creation of digital safe copies, the documents will return to the Bolyai House of the Lakitelek People’s College, from where they will later be taken to a new record office building, which is currently under construction.
Description of content
The material (in approximately 80 boxes) mostly documents the history of the Hungarian Democratic Forum (HDF), one of the most important Hungarian parties in the period of the regime change, generally until 1993. Some of the sources are about the HDF as a movement (1987–1989) which was active in the late Kádár period as part of the nationalist-populist opposition. There are some documents from the period preceding the foundation of the HDF, for example a declaration made in 1986 by István Csurka. The collection includes the proceedings of the Lakitelek Meeting (1987) and the Lakitelek Declaration (September 27 1987), which established the HDF. Many documents deal with the HDFs’ efforts to protect the Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries (the HDFs’ protest against the cessation of state funding for Hungarian radio and television broadcasts, its call for protest against the construction of the Bős-Nagymaros water dam system, its call to create a state organization which would deal with cases involving the Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries, etc.). Membership declarations, program plans, letters, leaflets for recruitment assemblies, notes, reminders, declarations, the periodical handout of the HDF, and similar documents are also part of the collection. Collections of signatures for support for the periodical Hitel (Credit) and materials from the meetings in the Jurta Theater have also survived. Part of the collection is about the foundation of the local organizations of the HDF (county, district and city organizations). The collection also contains materials produced by specialists in various fields (for example, writings about totalitarian systems, documents on environmental protection, etc.). The materials include many photos, for instance photos of HDF members, of events held by the Forum, etc. The collection also contains posters and cuttings. The source material collected by Sándor Lezsák is in the Archive of the Regime Change of the Lakitelek People’s College in the Bolyai House. It is being organized and digitalized by the Research Institute and Archives for the History of the Hungarian Regime Change.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 1000-
- memorabilia (posters, flyers, stamps, etc.): unknown quantity
- photos: unknown quantity
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Lakitelek Felsőalpár 3, Hungary
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Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
Riba András László - Szekér Nóra. Dokumentumok a Magyar Demokrata Fórum korai történetéből, 1987-1989. Válogatás a lakiteleki Rendszerváltó Archívumból [Documents from the early history of the Hungarian Democratic Forum, 1987-1989. Selection from the Archive of the Regime Change in Lakitelek], 2017. Book.
A Magyar Demokrata Fórum 1988. szeptember 3-i tanácskozásának jegyzőkönyve és sajtóvisszhangja [Protocol and echoes in the press of the discussion of the Hungarian Democratic Forum on 3rd September 1988]. Szerkesztette [edited by]. Szeredi Pál, 2018. Book.
Author(s) of this page
- Pál, Zoltán
Lezsák Sándor: Élő Archívum [Living Archive]. Rendszerváltó Archívum 1. (2002) 1.
Riba András László - Szekér Nóra. Dokumentumok a Magyar Demokrata Fórum korai történetéből, 1987-1989. Válogatás a lakiteleki Rendszerváltó Archívumból [Documents from the early history of the Hungarian Democratic Forum, 1987-1989. Selection from the Archive of the Regime Change in Lakitelek], Antológia Kiadó, Lakitelek, 2017.
A Magyar Demokrata Fórum 1988. szeptemner 3-i tanácskozásának jegyzőkönyve és sajtóvisszhangja [Protocol and echoes in the press of the discussion of the Hungarian Democratic Forum on 3rd September 1988]. Szerkesztette [edited by]: Szeredi Pál. Antológia Kiadó, Lakitelek, 2018.
MDF-tanulmányok [HDF-studies]. Szerkesztette [edited by]: Szekér Nóra - Szeredi Pál. Antológia Kiadó, Lakitelek, 2018.
Bakos, István , interview by Pál, Zoltán, January 23, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection