“Flags are flapping, songs are flying” - The story of the pioneers

It is more than probable that those born before the turn of the millennium do not need to explain in detail the role and concept of pioneers and light railroaders. However, the question may arise in many of us ‘where and how it started’. In which cities did it get a bigger role, and what did it all look like? In the followings, a brief historical overview can be read for the curious ones and a pleasant retrospective for those who already knew it.

Merging with Scouting

01_101791.jpgThe children's movement, which is now operating democratically and in the public interest, was once organized in the midst of social democratic-communist influences. The Association of Hungarian Pioneers was established only on 2 June, 1946, on Youth Day, within the framework of the GYOE (National Association of Child Friends). Earlier, however, at the beginning of 1945, preparations had already begun, and the Hungarian Communist Party tried to unify and organize children in communist organizations with more or less success.

02_408529.jpgThe history of the pioneers includes their association with the Scouts and their possible earlier rivalry. From the beginning of November 1945, the Hungarian Scout Association functioned again as an association, continuing their pre-World War II activities, with minor modifications. They abandoned the assertion of fascism, chauvinism, and militarism within the organization, and focused more on governing according to the principles of “B-P,” the founder of scouting, Lord Robert Baden-Powell of Gilwell, whom scouts call only B-P. Although evidence of rivalry between the two movements is hard to find, there is something: the MCSFSZ (Hungarian Scout Boys' Association) presidential council set up a Scout-Pioneer Connecting Committee in order “to reconcile the conflicts between the two movements and ensure possible co-operations”. This statement provides some explanation for a possible disagreement.

03_651830.jpgHealthy rivalry would not have been a problem if – shortly after the aforementioned meeting – the MKP had not decided to merge the two youth mass organizations. As a result, the two organizations tried to cooperate and make friends, but the first attempt, a meeting of scouts and pioneers on Nagyrét of Hűvösvölgy, culminated in a quarrel finally. The merger can be dated to September 1948. Interestingly, the regulation on the organization of primary schools for pioneering troops, published on 23 September that year, no longer mentions scouts. After this, the pioneers are mentioned as the only democratic movement of popular democracy.


"For the working people, for the homeland, forward – steadfastly!"


About two years before the unification, in the fall of 1946, the uniform of pioneers was born, because what else would characterize a team, the affiliation better than wearing the common symbol. Initially, the troops chose the colour of their ties for themselves. Then the uniform tie became white, triangular, with red stripes on the edges. It was special that the tie was held together by a red wooden ring instead of the usual knotting. About half a year later, white ties were replaced by blue ones, and shortly thereafter burgundy ties, initially associated with excellent pioneers, became general.

According to their systematization, their smallest unit was the patrol, which consisted of 6-12 people, a squad of 2-4 patrols, and all the squads of a school were called a troop. Due to the large number and age variability, the children were assigned on this basis: students in forms 2-4 were little drummers and students could be pioneers in forms 5-8. Above them were the youth leaders and the pioneer leaders were at the top of the rankings.
Their unity was strengthened by common slogans and the points described below.

6 points of little drummers:

  1. 14_755067.jpgA little drummer is a faithful child of the Hungarian homeland.
  2. A little drummer loves and respects his parents, educators and friends.
  3. A little drummer studies and works diligently, helping his or her peers.
  4. A little drummer tells the truth and acts justly.
  5. A little drummer trains his/her body and protects his/her health.
  6. A little drummer lives to be worthy of the pioneers ’red tie.

12 points of pioneers: 

  1. 18_755067.jpgA pioneer is a faithful child of our country, the Hungarian People's Republic, and works responsibly for it.
  2. A pioneer strengthens the friendship of peoples, protects the honour of the red tie.
  3. A pioneer studies diligently, seeks to know the world and himself or herself.
  4. A pioneer enriches and defends the values of the socialist society.
  5. A pioneer is helpful and serves the community voluntarily.
  6. A pioneer tells the truth and acts justly.
  7. A pioneer loves and respects his/her parents, educators and the elderly.
  8. A pioneer is a true loyal friend.
  9. A pioneer is brave and disciplined.
  10. A pioneer loves and protects nature.
  11. A pioneer trains his/her body and protects his/her health.
  12. A pioneer lives to be worthy of the membership in the Hungarian Communist Youth Association.

The alliance still operates, and although their numbers have declined, their enthusiasm has not. Finally, they were spiritually committed to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


Dóra Besze
Student of ELTE BTK Institute of Library and Information Science

Translated by Zita Aknai



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