The collection area of the Historical Archives was defined by (1) 1§ Act III of 2003. According to the Act, the Archives’ collection comprises the documents of the former (State Security) Department III of the Ministry of Home Affairs and their legal predecessors, documents referring to the employees, secret employees and top secret employees of the Department III, and the documents of the Screening Committee, which controlled some prominent personalities who hold important offices or offices of public confidence and posts that form public opinion.

The collection of the Historical Office (founded in 1997) and the Historical Archives (since 2003) is legally defined as sets of documents which came into being through State Security Organizations that existed in different eras and worked separately from each other concerning structure and document handling. After taking over, exploring and basically sorting the material, it was possible to create a homogenous archives system into which the documents of the State Security Organizations between 1944 and 1990 could be arranged. The main sections of this newly formed archives system, with a detailed classification of the documents, can be found in the List of Fonds and Collections. The archival material is divided into sections.

  • Section 1 Documents of State Security (State Defence) Organizations and their operations (1942) 1945-90 (1997) – volume: 554,85 linear metres

    This section includes the separately maintained functional documents of organizational unity formed by the former State Security Organizations. There are independent series within this section containing the documents of the Central State Security Organizations that worked in different periods, of the State Security Organizations within different police headquarters, and organizational units with similar tasks inside the Ministry of Defence and the Hungarian People’s Army.

  • Section 2 State security documents that do not belong to any organizational entity (1912) 1945-90 (2000) – volume: 763,96 linear metres

    In this section there are sets of documents created and treated by several different State Security Organizations and organization entities or documents specially treated in certain respects.

    The main sets of documents in this section are the former so-called “Closed Archives”, which contain, first of all, the documents of the show trials; different operative and network files; documents referring to internment and deportation; informational reports for the Ministry of Home Affairs; and documents about staff, finance and employment.

  • Section 3 Network, operative and investigation files (1851) 1945-90 (2003) – volume: 2485,78 linear metres

    This section contains the majority of the documents of the Archives, investigation files, operation files, work files, enlisting files etc. Beside the files that were handled by the central operative archives, a separate series of files contain documents of the former Main Division III/I (Intelligence Service).

  • Section 4 Collections (1910) 1944-2007) – volume: 103,29 linear metres.

    This section comprises different background materials used by the former State Security Organizations; a collection of decrees in connection with State Security; documents concerning different extreme rightwing organizations; a collection of items handed over to the Archives for safe custody; and contemporary State Security training films.

  • Section 5 Documents after the year 1990 1994-2005 – volume: 45.21 linear metres

    In this section there are documents of the so-called “Screening  Committee” which controlled certain persons performing important, public confidence and public opinion forming positions.

The majority of the documents in the Archives are mainly the documents of the Division III/III, the so-called counter interior reaction division. With effect from February 1, 2000, contemporary regulations obliged the National Security Organizations to hand over to the Archives all the documents that had ceased to be of interest to them in respect of management. It was then that the collection was expanded with the documents of Main Divisions III/I (Intelligence Service), III/II (Counter Intelligence Service), III/IV (Counter Military Service), those of III/V (special services) and other internal documents relating to State Security.

The documents that are still classified as secret and are still kept in the National Security Services must be checked every three years by the secret owners. If these documents cease to be classified secret, they will also be transferred to the Historical Archives.

The Historical Archives is continuously receiving and processing the documents that can still be found with other organizations and, after necessary archives processes and according to legal regulations, the Institute wants to make them available for scientists or the citizens concerned.

At the end of 2011, the quantity of documents kept in the Historical Archives was 3953,09  linear metres. More than two thirds of this quantity are documents of different types of files. The rest is made up of functional documents of the former State Security Organizations and the collections, background documents and contemporary registers created and used by those organizations.

The Archives maintains mainly paper-based records, but we also have large quantities of contemporary security microfilm copies of investigation and operation files and Daily Operation Information Reports.

Processing the different (investigation, operation, work , enlisting etc.) files that make up the majority of documents kept in the Historical Archives consists of three steps:

  • in order to serve citizens and researchers more effectively, we put the personal data of the people concerned into our electronic database;

  • we digitize page by page the most often used files that are in bad physical condition. We keep the contents on the central database, making preparatory work inside the Archives easier and thus saving the original documents; and

  • during the thematic processing of these files all the information that may help us find the given document later, description of context, data concerning when and how the documents came to being, are recorded on our central database. Within the legal frames, our researchers have access to the central database of the Historical Archives and other electronic research aids both in the Reading Room of the Archives and on the Internet.

Most of the documents kept by the Archives is of highly acidic structure, fragmented and heavily damaged by continuous use over the decades. The Historical Archives gained support for the implementation of the project under the title of “Implementation of complex document protection programme in the Historical Archives” within the framework of EEA and Norway Grants in April 2009. The entire programme involves the restoration, digitization, mass deacidification of the documents, furthermore, their non-classified digital copies will be publicly accessible. Under this project we have restored, de-acidificated and digitized over 1.3 millions of damaged pages.