Let the River Flow: Fighting a Dam in Communist Hungary

David A.J. Reynolds


Faced with communist Czechoslovakia and Hungary’s 1977 scheme to construct a diversion canal and hydroelectric dam system on the Danube, a movement gradually arose in Hungary to fight the plan. This national dissident campaign, which started with discussion groups and technical articles, not only brought in an extraordinary cross-section of opinion and background—united around the preservation of natural heritage—but played a key part in the rebirth of a lively civic society within a long repressed political and intellectual culture. The story of this movement’s arguments, strategies, and ultimate success is both a key story in the decay and collapse of communist rule in Hungary, but a case study in how a non-western European/American approach to the politics of preservation can rally support and achieve consensus.


Hungarian civic society; Danube; hydro-electric dams; dissent in communist Hungary; preservation; Czechoslovak-Hungarian relations

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/ahea.2020.391

Copyright (c) 2020 David A.J. Reynolds

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