120 Years Ago: Imre Nagy, Prime Minister Of The 1956 Revolution, Is Born
Robert Velkey 2016.06.07.
His life path to the Parliament of Hungary
In the Millenium’s year of Hungary, on the 7th of June1896, Imre Nagy was born in Kaposvár, southern Hungary, to a poor, peasant family. His father, József Nagy, was a manorial servant and county worker, and his mother, Rozália Szabó, served as a maid. Imre Nagy enlisted in the army during World War I and served on the Eastern Front. After he was taken prisoner in 1915 and survived Siberia he became a member of the Russian Communist Party in Irkutsk in 1920. The next year he returned to Hungary and settled at his hometown in Kaposvár as a functionary in the social democrat party. In 1928, he emigrated to Wien and later to Moscow, and worked as a editor of Hungarian programs of the Radio Moscow. In 1944, he returned to Hungary from the Russian capital and took part in the establishment of the Hungarian Communist Party.
The rocky road to Chairman of Council Ministers of the Hungarian People’s Republic
In the communist party, he was an expert of agricultural issues but his plans did not correspond to Rákosi’s who was the actual Stalinist-style leader of Hungary. Although this way Imre Nagy was locked out from the Political Committee of the party in 1949, but he could return in 1952 and rise up to be the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People’s Republic of Hungary (1953–1955). He supported the agricultural development instead of forced industrialization, he closed the interment camps and rehabilitated the political convicts. His policy reforms had not existed for a long period of time because Rákosi returned from Moscow and reclaimed the leadership of the country in 1955. Imre Nagy was accused of “right-wing deviation” and he had to resign his position. However, the people liked his reforms in the past and he was popular so the Party replaced Imre Nagy to get the sympathy of the people.
Prime Minister of the 1956 Revolution
On the second day of the revolution, 24th of October 1956, Imre Nagy became Prime Minister. In the first days, he tried to keep calm and temperate. Until the 27th October he was not effective in the politics and he did not influenced the house-to-house fights and the soviet invasion. On the 28th of October he became more radical and disbanded the ÁVH (secret police force), abolished the one-party system and named the event on the 23 of October as a Revolution. On 1 November, he announced Hungary’s withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact and appealed through the UN for the great powers, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, to recognise Hungary’s status as a neutral state. Politically, Hungary was announced as a free and sovereign country until the bloody retaliation by the Soviet troops.
The execution and the rehabilitation of a true Hungarian, communist Prime Minister
When the revolution was crushed by the Soviet invasion of Hungary, Imre Nagy, with a few others, was given sanctuary in the Yugoslav Embassy. In spite of a written safe conduct of free passage by János Kádár, on 22 November, Nagy was arrested by the Soviet forces as he was leaving the Yugoslav Embassy, and taken to Snagov, Romania. Subsequently, the Soviets returned Imre Nagy to Hungary, where he was secretly charged with organizing the overthrow of the Hungarian people’s democratic state and with treason. Nagy was secretly tried, found guilty, sentenced to death and executed by hanging in June 1958.
Nagy was buried, along with his co-defendants, in the prison yard where the executions were carried out and years later was moved to a distant corner (section 301) of the New Public Cemetery, Budapest,face-down, and with his hands and feet tied with barbed wire.
In 1989, Imre Nagy was rehabilitated and his remains reburied on the 31st anniversary of his execution in the same plot after a funeral organised in part by opponents of the country’s Stalinist regime. Over 250,000 people are estimated to have attended Nagy’s reinterment.