In the name of the Hungarian people?
A new perspective on the post-1945 People’s Tribunals
The Veritas Debate Night held on March 3rd put the People’s Tribunals under the microscope.
These judicial institutions were established after WWII not only in Hungary, but in the other European states as well. The proclaimed goal of bringing war criminals to justice, however, was only partially met. On the one hand, this was driven by contemporary legislative anomalies, and on the other, by inadequate secret police, prosecutorial and tribunal procedure in many cases. Oftentimes political elements were put on the scales of justice instead of legal ones. In addition to the People’s Tribunals, administrative measures, initially the identification process, and then as a result of its failure, the “B” listings in 1946, also served a similar purpose. Additionally, as a forum for identification appeals, the Budapest People’s Court played an active role in this process that so weighed upon the middle class. This legal institution was abolished on April 1st, 1950, only to be restored after the 1956 Revolution, by which time it had become strictly an institution for political reprisals.