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M1949 Tunic for the Military Criminal Section


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In the rapid changes of tunics during the post war era in Hungary a new type of tunic was instroduced in April of 1949 just four months beofre the Hungairan Peoples Republic was formed. The new form was the 'M49' and replaced the 'M1945' tunic. The new M49 was desinged after the WW2 era Air Force tunic for NCO's and Other Ranks, commonly known as the 'mixed' tunic introduced in 1930. (mixed used a flat sew on pocket like the Air Force officer's tunic and the closed collar like the Army types) The M49 was used until the M1951 was introduced, though photogrpahic evidence shows that they were worn into at least 1952.

What maked this one of the most interesting of all my tunics is the history behind this particular tunic. First of all it still retains the buttons used from 1945-1949 on the cuffs, commonly known as the 'Tildy' era after the President of the Hungarian Republic. Per the September regulations, the buttons on the front and the pocket were changed to the 'Rakosi' HUPR buttons.

Also the branch of serivce is unique and rare. This belongs to a member of the Military Criminal Section, or a member of the Military courts that saw the show trials of thousands of offciers and generals where over a hundred were executed and thouhsands imprisoned.

Alos of interest is somethign I learned about these M49's on a trip to the MIltiary Museum to talk with the curator of uniforms.

What I learned is this is for all intents and purposes a standard M1949 tunic - but it began life during WW2!!!! The details to the interior struck me as having many elements of the Horhty era tunics. This tunic was originally a Army type, closed collar probably manufactured in 1944 or 1945. In 1945 there was a provision made to use old tunics that were modified from old wartime tunics. The scaloped pockets were cut flat and the M1945 sew in shoulder boards were to be used. This has the modified flaps which are exactly in corelation to scaloped flaps being cut down to a strait edge. You can see how the button hole has extra sewing on it - this is to connect the region where the old button hole was for the scaloped flaps! Also - this tunic has sewing on the seam of the arm and chest portion which suggests that sew in boards were once used.

Additionally the shoulder board loops are modified to accept the M1951 type shoulder board.

So in all this suggests that the tunic was made late in the war and then modified and used into the early 1950's by a man who probably had some hand in the military purges of 1949-1953.

Now - if I can only find the gray colored shoulder boards....to make it complete once again.

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Not my collecting field, but it looks like a nice addition to your collection.

The utilitarian design may also have been influenced by the economic constraints of the post-war period. The "austerity" look seems to have been a fairly common fashion statement in other parts of Europe at that time.

I am frequently surprised how many historical items of clothing, including uniforms, have survived until today and were not just used up or recycled over the years. Good luck with your search for the matching shoulder boards.

How did an item from post-war Hungary find its way into a collection that lives in the US?

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David - the history of the Hungarian uniforms from 1945-1957 is absolutely fascinating and absurd at the same time. After the war the M1945 was an exact copy of the Horhty era Offciers Air Force tunic, in fact many in 1945 were simply left overs from the warehouse, still more were modified. In 1948 the Hungarian Republic entered into a pact with the Soviet Union to supply and train the Hungarian army. The M49 was the attempt to move back to a tunic that could be practical in actual combat and one that they already had desings for, but also one that did not resemble too closely the wartime tunics. Hence the use of a Soviet looking collar tab devices. In 1951 a new tunic was introduced which was a near exact copy of the Soviet Kitel tunic. Then in 1952 the Air Force got a new double breasted (agian Soviet design) tunic, this was also adopted later in 1954 by the Panzer units. What resulted was a massive strain on the garmet industry as the Hungarian economy was in peril anyhow during these years and the Quartermates kept coming up with new shoulder boards and tunics about every 3-4 years.

Also - not currently living in the USA - working in Budapest right now.

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