Back to RJ Archive

Political Justice in Austria and Hungary after World War II

István Deák, David
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) 1945 In, Elster, Jon, editor, Retribution and Repatriation in the Transition to Democracy Cambridge University Press, New York, pp.124-146

Retribution for war crimes, treason, and collaboration initially affected a very large part of both populations, but in Austria it was of short duration; in Hungary it soon became intertwined with the persecution of non-Nazi’s. In effect, both governments hoped to demonstrate to the victorious great powers that the number of fascists and other enemies of the people had been relatively small in their respective countries; that these elements had been dealt with effectively by the police and the courts; and that there was no reason why their country should not now become a full-fledged member of the new world order. By 1948, Austria had begun to rehabilitate its former Nazis; in Hungary, the former Right and far Right was diluted by the ever widening purge of thousands of non-Rightists suspected of hostility to the Stalinist regime. In both cases, and this will be my main argument, the prosecution and punishment of war criminals, traitors, and collaborators gradually lost political and moral significance: in Austria, because it was shown that democracy could flourish even if administered mainly by former Nazis; in Hungary, because the purge of democrats, Social Democrats and even many loyal Communists soon took precedence over the purge of former fascists. (excerpt)


AbstractEuropeRJ in SchoolsStatutes and Legislation
Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now