The Organisation of the Ministry of Interior

  • Share
  • 2016. May 19.

Since the establishment of the Hungarian Committee of National Remembrance it has considered its main role to explore and display the dual i.e. party and administrative structure of the dictatorship. In the followings illustrations of the operation of Ministry of Interior are displayed, which were made by CNR’s research group of internal affairs (head: Mrs Réka Kiss Földváry; members: István Galambos, Zsolt Horváth, Árpád Vári and Gábor Tabajdi as an external consultant). The illustrations are part of their research on the history of the institution and are meant to demonstrate the operation of the Ministry of Interior for our readers. The Ministry of Interior (MoI) remained to be one of the most important bodies of the rebuilt party-state after the revolution of 1956. This is not only a Hungarian phenomenon. The power enforcement organisations had a key role in all administrative systems that were modelled after the Soviet example. However, their organisational operation was hardly the same. Our research that started in 2015 was aimed to discover specifically Hungarian features, some characteristic of the practices of the Kádár-era. We could rely on thorough and detailed history monographs, however, we had to face the fact that there are still a number of blank spots in our knowledge of the operation and history of MoI. The "key role" of MoI in the aftermath of the 1956 and the cleansing processes of the Kádár-era is well-known. Far fewer works have been looking at the way in which the MoI apparatus was a necessary but not sufficient component of operating the system in the decades of “goulash communism”. The first collection is an introduction to the history of the Ministry of Interior as an organisation. With the time and resources available, we did not attempt to describe the whole of the structure, priorities had to be made in terms time periods and based on the extent to which data was processed. Therefore, we tried to establish integral divisions of the period that seems homogenous and to describe divisions up to middle level i.e. approximately to department level. It might not be possible to show an accurate picture of the structure of the ministry of the time due to the size of the bureaucratic apparatus and the characteristics of bureaucracy. It is demonstrated well by the fact that even former employees who were in charge of structural changes were unable to draw accurate charts and there were corrections to the list of participants at national MoI meetings on a regular basis. Although these MoI employees conducted researches on the history of the organisation of their own, they were unable to draw an accurate picture of the structure of MoI (especially of its operation before 1956). Fortunately, due to recent intense researches we have more detailed knowledge about the various units of the ministry. Information on the structure of state security authorities (political police) as well as on leaders, up to division and subdivision heads is available. This approach can be fruitful for other authorities, as the Ministry of Interior - being a military body - was operated in a military fashion, by a chain of command. In order to see through the confusing structural relations and complex transformations, examining individual career progressions might also provide help. The charts and pictures display the most important structural changes of the Ministry of Interior between 1956 and 1989. In this collection there are primarily 'snapshots' of the central units of MoI, but the main units of the structure throughout the country are also shown here. The sources of pictures are partly notes, plans and reports of the time, primarily remaining documents of relevant bodies of the Ministry of Interior (MoI Organisational Division). The other illustrations are organisational charts based on remaining orders, internal notes. Beside using literature available on the subject, We compared the contents of processed documents (mainly commanders' name lists) with already existing databases. The structure and operation of MoI will provide work for social scientists for some time, as basic research as well as means for other types of analyses. Our hope is the illustrations here will help readers to get acquainted with the operation of an organisation of tens of thousands of employees and the data published here will also help us to a deeper understanding of the party-state power structures.