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In a Different Voice: Responses of Hungarian Feminism to the First World War

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Abstract

Hungary joined the First World War as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to defend the Empire’s interests. The war was presented in Hungary as being supported by the whole nation. Enthusiasm for the war and hostility against the enemy were understood to be inherent in patriotism and were expected to be demonstrated. Yet there were some who remained pacifist throughout the conflict. The politicians and social scientists who gathered around the first sociology journal, Twentieth Century (Huszadik Szdzád), and the movement of the so-called ‘middle-class radicals’ (polgári radikálisok) were critical of the war, although their pacifism was often merely theoretical (Mérey 1947: 45). The pacifist circles, who met informally in cafés or private apartments, were connected to free masonry in Budapest. The Radical Party’s programme also included the idea of anti-militarism (ibid.: 45). During the war, some of the strikes against poor food supply and high prices organized by the Party of Hungarian Social Democrats were likewise connected to this criticism of militarism (Nevelő 1980: 118–20). Yet the social democrats, in their fear of the authorities (who accused them of anti-war propaganda), did not, apart from a manifesto in 1916, publish or act openly against the war.2 It seems that the strongest voice against the war in Hungary that could be heard was that of women (Galántai 2001: 206).

Keywords

  • National Federation
  • Peace Movement
  • Poor Food Supply
  • Hungarian Woman
  • Feminist Association

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Let us make a stronger connection with our foreign sisters, the connection that has always existed among mothers of humankind. Let us gather strength from this solidarity in order to restore the peace that our civilization deserves and to find the way of non-violent resolution of conflicts between nationsr’1 (Woman April 1915: cover page).

Special thanks to my aunt, Dr Rozália Rákóczy (who earlier worked for the Archive of the Military History Institute, Budapest) for her valuable advice about sources for my essay and for educational consultations about World War I.

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© 2007 Judit Acsády

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Acsády, J. (2007). In a Different Voice: Responses of Hungarian Feminism to the First World War. In: Fell, A.S., Sharp, I. (eds) The Women’s Movement in Wartime. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230210790_7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230210790_7

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