Dunaújváros under construction

The notion of socialist city is related to the notion of industrial city closely. However, it was not easy to transform cities and adapt them to the new ideological system. Nevertheless, new industrial cities served as the socialist city type of the future – or rather, they could have served.

Birth of a city

126917.jpg“Sztálinváros (Stalin City) and the Ironworks – one of our peace-works – is being built less than 70 km far from Budapest, next to the Danube bend of Adony. Here, where corn-stalks have been hovering recently, our first socialist city is going to be constructed” – you can read it in the propaganda publication with the title “Peace-works of our first five-year plan”. You can ask why they dreamt the Ironworks here. Because of the nearness of the Danube.

It is a fact that Dunapentele was a populated area even in the ancient times, which is proved by its Roman artefacts. Do not think that an idea like this can be born only in the heads of governors who urge socialist industrialisation. The thought of ironworks along the Danube was drafted already in István Széchenyi’s mind. In fact, when they negotiated about the details of the first five-year plan on the meeting of 20th January in 1949, the location of the ironworks was Mohács, but then they did not know that politics would interfere. Yugoslavia was disowned from the communist party family due to its individualistic politics. As Mohács is too close to the border, communist comrades chose Pentele. Thus, planning and constructing started rapidly.

Getting bigger and prettier

F_5559.jpgNowadays, when “socialist” has been degraded to a swear-word, it is important to emphasize that these industrial towns like Tiszaújváros – earlier Leninváros (Lenin City) –, Komló and Oroszlány wished to be modern cities and meant to be built for their workers, at least on the designing table certainly. The photos that recorded constructions give you a taste of the efforts and the prevailing morale as well. Inevitable red stars on top of typical houses, female labourers participating in masonry, ruinous huts that served as construction workers’ hostels and loaded horse-carriages.

Stalin appears on the stage

VF_26006.jpgWhat kind of city did they want to make? According to plans, this city will be fundamentally different from the cities that capitalists created. There won’t be dirty streets, airless blocks of flats, but there will be large grasslands between houses, cinemas, state department stores and people’s shops. In addition, our new city won’t have fuel problems, because the Ironworks will provide every flat with heating. The city will have its own bread factory; an 800-person capacity cinema will provide for culture and a huge clinic for health.

In reality, chaos ruled the rapid settlement construction sometimes, and absurdly short deadlines did not improve the morale; not to mention developed technical standards. Meanwhile, the party commission had a heavy burden on their shoulders: it turned out that Hungary dropped behind other socialist countries, because we did not have any towns named after Generalissimo Stalin yet. They thought that the perfect occasion arrived; the only task was to upgrade Pentele to a city. The inauguration was held on 7th November in 1951 finally. The city had the name Sztálinváros until 1961, since then it is Dunaújváros again.



Laki Ildikó, A magyarországi iparvárosok múltja és jelene, Polgári Szemle 11. évf. 2015.





Translated by Zita Aknai






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