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Marxist Schools Analyzed


The author of this article, which was submitted for publication as a letter to the CRIMSON, is a former Hungarian freedom fighter. Although he escaped his country last year and is now a freshman at Harvard, he prefers to remain anonymous because of possible reprisals against his family.

Photographs courtesy of the Association of Hungarian Students in the United States.

Reproduction of the article in whole or part without the written approval of the author is strictly forbidden.

In Moscow and Budapest the official party line soberly declares that last October's Hungarian revolution was provoked by western imperialist agents. Don't believe it, and don't think it is believed by anyone in Hungary, least of all the small minority of communist quislings who rule my homeland.

They know what is to them the bitter truth: the revolution erupted because Hungarian students didn't believe what they had been taught and couldn't be made to swallow munists would pursue anywhere they munist educational system, in eleven years of trying, failed miserably to make communists out of Hungarian children.

I am a Hungarian refugee student and having spent most of my youth under this system, I feel that my fellow students can profit from knowledge of its operations, its aims and its results. The system is an indication of educational policies the communists would pursue anywhere they gained control. It perhaps provides clues to further difficulties ahead in the satellites.

To understand this system, especially in the satellites, we must realize that it is the only education that has been available in these countries for a decade and that the entire educational set-up becomes the most important media of overall propaganda in the hands of the regime.

Before and during World War II these countries were victims of Hitler's fascism. Following his defeat, their suffering peoples happily expected to forget totalitarian terrors and achieve democratic governments, and they welcomed as liberators the soldiers of the Russian army. But the liberators overstayed their welcome, undermining and finally destroying their prestige by acts of plundering and barbarism. And, still worse in the long run, they became the intimidating force that set up puppet governments and forced non-communist parties and politicians into eclipse. In the complete nationalization that followed the schools were, of course, included, and a systematic program was initiated to indoctrinate the satellite youth with the communist ideology.

The immediate goal of the puppet governments was the separation of the children from their parents. This was essential if they were to fully possess the minds and spirits of the children and raise a dedicated, zealous generation of communists. The parents, having lived part of their lives in happier days before Hitler and war, infected with the democratic notion that man can live according to his own wishes and enjoy certain basic rights, could not be trusted to teach the new communist concepts to their children. Worse still, the parents might spread this infection to their children by exposing them to outmoded religious ideals and other beliefs diametrically opposed to communist truths.

Under the circumstances it was not difficult for the regime to effect the separation of families. Chronic economic hardship made it necessary for both father and mother to work long hours six days a week, leaving them little time to devote to their offspring. Yet even this was too much for the authorities. The government established "seminaries" in the nationalized factories and various other places of business where ideological lectures were held for workers after they had finished their daily chores. The worker who failed to frequent these lectures in order to hurry home to his family was subject to dismissal and, in most cases, imprisonment. In this way the communists got their chance to begin poisoning the spirits of the children in the nurseries and the grammer schools.

The famous communist slogan reads: "Religion is the opium of the people." Consequently the communists began with the negation of God. This was the fundamental point of their educational system--the negation of everything in disagreement with their philosophy, beginning with the ultimate. Faith in God was substituted with faith in the communist regime, particularly in the deified communist leaders. The goal of this "secular religion" manufactured in Moscow was to supersede the church and belief in God with a host of communist demigods, starting with Lenin and Stalin and ending with Rakosi for Hungarian consumption, Georghiu Dei for Rumanian, Boleslaw Bierut for Polish, and Wilhelm Pieck for East German. By this device the communists overrode the first commandment: "Thou shalt have no Gods before me."

To tell a small child that God is a fabrication isn't difficult because he has not yet learned to doubt his teachers. It was made easier in the satellites because the parents could not effectively refute what was taught. Some parents dared not interfere because of the fear that their children might, with innocent words, betray them to the school authorities. Braver parents did what they could to plant seeds of truth in their children. Some declared in desperation, "I would rather have no children than foster a communist."

Always one of the most important courses in any educational system is history, influencing our views of people and institutions through presentation of their developments. In the communist system all history is explained by Marx's assertion that "the history of society is the history of class struggles." Rich and poor constantly clash, one defending what the other is seeking, so the communists assert, and they conveniently rewrite all of history to support this thesis.

There are two ways to lie. One is the direct delusion, the telling of something other than the truth. The other is deception by silence, the telling of only part of the story. The communists used both means. They omitted everything that could possibly be omitted, when it did not jibe with the Marxist theory.

Things too important to be left out were reshaped into convenient forgeries. There were only four lines in our books on the American Revolution and the United States Constitution, but there were separate volumes on the Russian Revolution. America's role in World War II was downgraded in every possible way. They taught us that Germany assailed the USSR and Russia had to fight quite alone against the Nazi military mechanism. The West, they declared, opened the second front only after the heroism of the Russian people, under the genius of Stalin and the leadership of the Communist party, had Germany virtually conquered. And the western front was successful then only because the Germans had to reinforce their eastern lines so heavily!

They further taught us that the United States was unable to bring Japan to her knees and called upon Russia for help, whereupon the Red Army promptly brought about a surrender by crushing the Japanese Kuantung Army of a million men in Mongolia. The first American Atomic bombs which fell upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki were dismissed as insignificant while compared with the Soviet strength. The communists were as thorough as possible with this one-sided distortion of the facts, too thorough to be believable.

Not even the little children could bring themselves to believe that the Russians were entirely perfect. By the time a child was nine or ten he began to realize that he was being cheated out of a real education. The disciplines that had been imposed since the start of his schooling kept him from open revolt, and he continued to parrot communist teachings, but resentment had begun to make him reject much of what he was taught. An anecdote indicates the spirit of those years:

A teacher, quizzing his pupil, asked, "Who is your father?"

Child: My father is Stalin.

Teacher: Very good. And who is your mother?

Child: My mother is Rakosi.

Teacher: Fine, fine, and what do you wish to become?

Child: A war orphan!

Equally as ridiculous as communist historical exaggerations were the claims made for Russia's fabulous inventors. These credited Popov with the discovery of the radio and made Marconi only a thief who profitted from the fruit of Popov's searches. Zhukovskij, the "father of flying," replaced the Wright brothers, Edison also bowed out before a Russian, and so on until every epochal inventive laurel was redistributed.

It was the same in other subjects. In geography we studied about America for one hour, about Russia for a complete school year. In literature we heard about Solohov, Gorki, Fagejev and Majakovski, but very little about Shakespeare, Moliere, Dante or Goethe. Even the Russian classicists, Tolstoy, Dotoevski or Pushkin were dismissed as minor figures.

Communist literature itself suffered from a paucity of great creativeness largely because the writers had only five acceptable themes with which to work. The first deals with the preparation of the revolution, the resultant communist victory, and World War II. The miserable life before the revolution is described, followed by the awakening to selfconsciousness, the spreading of new ideas among the working classes and their fight for the communist future in which they allegedly believe. The fight is a class struggle between the exploiters and the exploited people, i.e., between capitalists and communists. The stories of the second world war belong in this group because according to communist ideology (as expressed by Dimitrov: "Fascism is the overt, terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinist and most imperialist elements of finance-capitalism."), they were fighting against the unmasked capitalists during World War II.

The second theme involves the struggle to build communist industry and the new socialist society, and the fight against "base class enemies," usually American hirelings, who want to undermine the communist paradise by sabotage and direct destruction. Stories of this type are designed to convince the people of the legality of communism and to thwart so-called "bourgeois rudiments" and "drawbacking tendencies," including religion and God.

The third theme was the blind apotheosis and weaving of a cult around the "beloved communist leaders," especially Lenin and Stalin. This cult was intended to supplant the belief in God, and the cultists went so far on this path that they vested the Red leaders with almost supernatural characteristics.

Life in capitalist countries was subject matter for a fourth theme. Usually set in America, these stories claimed that "every honest man is a communist and the rule is in the hands of Wall Street. There is an ever-sharpening class struggle which will reach its climax in the communist world revolution in the capitalist countries."

A fifth and favorite theme of communist authors was the comparison between life in capitalist countries and in the communist "paradise."

Every humanist theme and subject was prohibited. According to the communists, literature and other branches of the arts have only one task, to build communism by convincing and agitating the people. This intent was adequately expressed by the schematic characters in communist fiction. The chief characters were:

1. A class-conscious communist who conquers every handicap and convinces the people of the truth of the ideology. This figure is quite like the hero of the cowboy movies. He can fight against all odds and win even so. The only difference is that the communist does not wear a ten-gallon hat but a set of rumpled coveralls.

2. A non-class-conscious but honest worker or poor peasant who finally becomes convinced by the results and truths of communism.

3. A nefarious class enemy who used to be a hired assassin or saboteur and who, as in the fairy tales, finally gets his much deserved punishment.

It was customary in these stories for the "non-class-conscious but honest man," caught in the net of the class enemy, to become enlightened by the "class-conscious communist" and unmask the enemy.

These themes very soon became hackneyed and commonplace, boring the readers, but authors under the direct control of the Communist Party couldn't do anything about it. During his period of creativity, stop lights flash in the author's mind's eye warning him not to stray from the path marked out by the almighty Party. Such authors had an audience, of course, because it was compulsory for us to study the cliches they wrote, but they had no followers. Indeed, all branches of communist art lose themselves in a blind alley. Art is a decaying skeleton, kept from complete disintegration only by the power of the state.5Hungarian students demonstrate against brutality of puppet regime after temporary victory in Budapest.

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