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Karhatalom! M1957 Tunic


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During a weekend prowl at the 'Thievs Market' I cam across this little gem sitting atop the roof of a car. Instantly I recognised it as a M1957 parade tunic as it has piping along the ege of the collar and the patina on the gold bullion braid on the shoulder boards (only the early shoulder boards from the late 1950's do this - the 1963 versions seem to have 'stay brite' in them). But I was a little confised as it was a military type tunic with police type insignia. I bought it anyhow and talked to the post Rakosi tunic expert who instnatly identified it as a Karhatalom tunic. Just after the 1956 Revolution, the new premier Janos Kadar raised the 'Kadar's Hussars', a unit loyal to him that was designed ot keep the peace and maintian military order. They dressed in Soviet padded jackets and pants and went around letting everyone know who was now in charge. The ranks were filled with loyal communist army, police and quite a few unemployed State Security (AVH) personel. Kadar had disbanded the AVH as he himslef had fell victim to their brutality in 1951. As the old AVH had an armed unit that was fundamentaly trianed to fight any form of 'counter-revolution', Kadar maintained this type of force with the Karhatalom from 1957 to the very early 1970's. There was about 20,000 members of the Karhatalom and they even had conscription rights.

This particular tunic has loops for the 'Excelent Karhatalom Service' badge and has marks where two other badges were (perhaps an academy badge and anohter pin on device) The medal bar is absolutely beautiful; Retun of Power to the Workers-Peasants medal (for participation in fighitng aginast the 1956 revolution) Merit Medal of the HUPR in Gold, Distinguished Serivce Medal, Serivce Medal, and the Karhatalom Serivce Medal in Bronze (for 5 years of service)

The rank is for a Lt. Col.

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Charles,

If I understand you correctly, the Karhatalom unit was actually "Kadar's Hussars" made as a permanent organization with roughly the same responsibilities? I often wondered what the HUPR government did to replace the AVH. All repressive regimes need some organization to keep people in line. The idea is to balance control with repression.

The colour piping on the uniform certainly shows why, when we find these Karhatalom badges they are backed in a police colour of blue.The uniform you pictured is of the post 65 cut so that makes your comments about the gold trim on the shoulderboards very interesting.

Here is a pictorial representation of a "Kadar Hussar" from the Osprey Elite book "The Hungarian Revolution 1956".

Regards,

Gordon

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Gordon -

From what Sandor M informed me and what I was able to find on the Hungarian Wikipedia, the Kadar Hussars molded into the Karhatalom.

This is a M57 tunic with the M57 boards for parade use. Hence it has the bar on it and not the ribbon bar. The interior of the tunic shows many preforations to the liner where this bar was taken on and off quite a few times in the past. Wish it had come with the other items on the other side! This tunic also has the white silk lining to the arms, typical of the M57's.

Sandor M informed me that the M63/65 tunics for the Karhatalom had the typical brown/green boards as standard army, but they used the Kadar crest buttons. Combat jackets also had the patch 'KH' instead of 'MH' on them.

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Charles,

I thought that the info you posted would have come from Sandor. The cut of your tunic confuses me and I'll have to talk to him about it. He will be delivering some police uniforms on Tuesday afternoon and perhaps we will have some time to talk then. Had a good day today at Ecseri and I'll be posting some new stuff later.

Regards,

Gordon

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Here is a link from Sandor's site on the M57. If you look at the two types he has in photos you see the open collar as the parade and the closed colalr as the everyday type

http://www.nephadsereg.hu/1957-65.html

57M t?rsas?gi ruha (l?v?sz) = M57 Parade Clothing for Infantry (Open collar)

57M ny?ri gyakorl?ruha (p?nc?los) = M57 summer everyday for Panzer (Closed collar)

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Charles,

It is not the open collar versus the closed collar that confuses me. It is my understanding that the 57M tunics had similar construction to those worn during WWII. The front of the tunic is made of four pieces of fabric. That is apparent when you look at the waist of the tunic and see the line where the two pieces of fabric for each side are sewn together. On the 65m tunic the front is made of only two pieces of fabric. Each side being one piece of cloth thus there is no line at waist level. I looked at Sandor's site from the URL you posted and if you expand the pictures of the closed and the open collar tunics it would appear that on both tunics there is a line at the waist where the two pieces of cloth are sewn together to made one side of the front. The tunic that you posted appears to me to have the 65M construction with no line at the waist.

Regards,

Gordon

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Ah Ha! :blush: Good eyes Gordon! :beer:

I see what you mean! Looking through all of my M57's that still have the piping as well as the two that were modified for M65 wear, all have this two piece construction. The regulations for the M57 clearly show the multi piece construction. I wonder now if these are later - perhaps from 1960? Or it may have just been a factor of which factory made them at the time? Sandor may be able to help more here.

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Just for some clarification, I talked to Sandor M and he informed me that there is no solid evidence of when exactly the M65 cut started on the M57's. He beleives that it was probably in 1960-1962. So what we have here is probably a later M57.

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Charles,

Interesting information on the tunics. I guess we just have to make "educated" guesses as to when this type of tunic was produced. Perhaps in time we can come up with some more concise info. Right now, Sandor seems to be the most knowledgable person we can accept his stetements as factual.

I found something today, while cleaning up some piles of papers, that I had forgot that I had. It is probably the carrying document for the "KIV?L? KARHATALMI SZOLG?T?RT" as displayed on your tunic. Strangely enough, it is stamped, dated and signed, but not named. Goes well with by badge.

Regards,

Gordon

Edited by Gordon Craig
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Very interesting document. From what I have gathered 1973 was (probably) the last year of the Karhatalom. September 27th would also be in coincidence with "Army Day". This was probably meant for a mass awarding, and the number gives some indication on how rare these badges are. From the current avalability combined with the relativelty small numbers who actually served in this branch, it would reason that there may have been only about 5000 awards betweeen 1957-1973 (74'?)

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Charles,

I had a chat today with Sandor re 57M tunics. I wanted to make sure that I understood who had decided what was, and what was not, a 57M. According to him it is tradition in the military to call both cuts of tunic the 57M until the piping was removed and the shoulder boards changed to the new style in 1965. I wanted to make sure that the designation was used officially by the military and that the tunic nomenclature had not been simply decided by the collecting community.

I am now fully satisfied with the 57M designation for this tunic.

Regards,

Gordon

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  • 2 weeks later...

Charles,

I paid a visit to the Military Museum again today. Primarily a picture taking expedition for the Border Guard Exhibit. While I was there I made the usual rounds and took more pictures of things we have taken pictures of before! As usual I found something totallly unexpected. A Karhatalom tunic with a sign in front of it dating the uniform from the 1970s. It makes an interesting comparison to yours from this later date. Interestingly, the shield on the left arm has "KH" in it.

Regards,

Gordon

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Amazingly it did.....wish there was some way to research it. Interesting part was what appears to be a schedule for a parade that was torn up and left in the pocket. I spent about two hours with the little bits of paper to find '0800 assembly, 0830 load up, etc...'

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Charles,

A fantastic uniform and as others have stated the badge and medal bar are gorgeous!!!! :love::jumping:

I wondered... could you post a pic of just the badge? I've love to see that one up close and personal. :cool:

Congratulations my friend! A terrific piece of history! :beer:

Dan :cheers:

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Dan,

I will post pictures of my badge which is exactly the same as the one Charles has. They both have the same blue felt type cloth backing. I have had mine for some time but niether of us could come up with the organization that it belonged to. However, now that we have some input from other Hungarian collectors, and a uniform, we have been able to put it all together. Two things to note about this badge. 1-The wide, therefore early period, prongs on the back; 2-the use of the word "Karhatalmi" on the badge. This gives us what looks like a link back to the AVH and I'll add that link, through another carrying document that I have, later when I have more time.

Regards,

Gordon

Edited by Gordon Craig
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