The Info List - Imre Nagy

Imre Nagy
Imre Nagy
(Hungarian: [ˈimrɛ ˈnɒɟ]; 7 June 1896 – 16 June 1958) was a Hungarian communist politician who was appointed Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Hungarian People's Republic on two occasions. Nagy's second term ended when his non-Soviet-backed government was brought down by Soviet invasion in the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956, resulting in Nagy's execution on charges of treason two years later.


1 Early life and career 2 Revolution 3 Secret trial and execution 4 Memorials and political rehabilitation 5 Writings 6 Family 7 Nagy in film and the arts 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External links

Early life and career[edit] Nagy was born in Kaposvár, to a peasant family and was apprenticed to a locksmith. His father, József Nagy (1869–1925) was a manorial servant, a county worker, and was later post assembly worker, and his mother, Rozália Szabó (1877–1969) served as a maid before she was married. He enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian Army
Austro-Hungarian Army
during World War I and served on the Eastern Front. He was taken prisoner in 1915. He became a member of the Russian Communist Party
Communist Party
and joined the Red Army. Nagy returned to Hungary
in 1921. In 1930, he travelled to the Soviet Union and rejoined the Communist Party, also becoming a Soviet citizen. He was engaged in agricultural research, but also worked in the Hungarian section of the Comintern. He was expelled from the party in 1936 and later worked for the Soviet Statistical Service. Rumours that he was an agent of the Soviet secret service surfaced later, begun by Hungarian party leader Károly Grósz
Károly Grósz
in 1989, allegedly in an attempt to discredit Nagy.[1] There is evidence, however, that Nagy did serve as an informant for the NKVD
during his time in Moscow
and provided names to the secret police as a way to prove his loyalty (a common tactic for foreign communists in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
at the time).[2]

Imre Nagy, statue at Vértanúk tere (Martyrs' square) in Budapest

After the Second World War, Nagy returned to Hungary. He was the Minister of Agriculture in the government of Béla Miklós
Béla Miklós
de Dálnok, delegated by the Hungarian Communist Party. He distributed land among the peasant population. In the next government, led by Tildy, he was the Minister of Interior. At this period he played an active role in the expulsion of the Hungarian Germans.[3] In the communist government, he served as Minister of Agriculture and in other posts. He was also Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary
1947–1949. After two years as Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Hungarian People's Republic
Hungarian People's Republic
(1953–1955), during which he promoted his "New Course" in Socialism, Nagy fell out of favour with the Soviet Politburo. He was deprived of his Hungarian Central Committee, Politburo and all other Party functions and, on 18 April 1955, he was sacked as Chairman of the Council of Ministers. Revolution[edit] Main article: Hungarian Revolution of 1956 Nagy became Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Hungarian People's Republic again, this time by popular demand, during the anti-Soviet revolution in 1956. Soon he moved toward a multiparty political system. 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.[4] Throughout this period, Nagy remained steadfastly committed to Marxism; but his conception of Marxism was as "a science that cannot remain static", and he railed against the "rigid dogmatism" of "the Stalinist monopoly".[5]

Statue of Imre Nagy, facing the Parliament.

When the revolution was crushed by the Soviet invasion of Hungary, 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. Secret trial and execution[edit] Subsequently, the Soviets returned 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.[6] His trial and execution were made public only after the sentence had been carried out.[7] According to Fedor Burlatsky, a Kremlin
insider, Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
had Nagy executed, "as a lesson to all other leaders in socialist countries".[8] American journalist John Gunther described the events leading to Nagy's death as "an episode of unparalleled infamy".[9] Nagy was buried, along with his co-defendants, in the prison yard where the executions were carried out and years later was removed to a distant corner (section 301) of the New Public Cemetery, Budapest,[10] face-down, and with his hands and feet tied with barbed wire. Next to his grave stands a memorial bell inscribed in Latin, Hungarian, German and English. The Latin
reads: "Vivos voco / Mortuos plango / Fulgura frango", which is translated as: "I call the living, I mourn the dead, I break the thunderbolts".[11] Memorials and political rehabilitation[edit]

Memorial plaque at the Embassy of Serbia, Budapest
in memory of Imre Nagy who found sanctuary there during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956

During the time when the Stalinist leadership of Hungary
would not permit his death to be commemorated, or permit access to his burial place, a cenotaph in his honour was erected in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. In 1989, Imre Nagy
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 the democratic opposition to country's communist regime.[12] Over 100,000 people are estimated to have attended Nagy's reinterment. The occasion of Nagy's funeral was an important factor in the end of the communist government in Hungary. Writings[edit] The collected writings of Nagy, most of which he wrote after his dismissal as Chairman of the Council of Ministers in April 1955, were smuggled out of Hungary
and published in the West under the title Imre Nagy on Communism. Family[edit] Nagy was married to Mária Égető. The couple had one daughter, Erzsébet Nagy (1927–2008), a Hungarian writer and translator.[13] Erzsébet Nagy married Ferenc Jánosi. Imre Nagy
Imre Nagy
did not object to his daughter's romance and eventual marriage to a Protestant minister, attending their religious wedding ceremony in 1946 without Politburo permission. In 1982, Erzsébet Nagy married János Vészi.[2] Nagy in film and the arts[edit] In 2003 and 2004, the Hungarian director Márta Mészáros
Márta Mészáros
produced a film based on Nagy's life after the revolution, entitled A temetetlen halott (English: The Unburied Body) (IMDb entry). Nagy is mentioned and seen in the movie Children of Glory. References[edit]

^ János Rainer: Nagy Imre, (Budapest, 2002), 26. ^ a b Gati, Charles (2006). Failed Illusions: Moscow, Washington, Budapest
and the 1956 Hungarian Revolt, p. 42. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-5606-6. ^ (hu) Imre Nagy's unknown life, in Magyar Narancs ^ Gyorgy Litvan, The Hungarian Revolution of 1956, (Longman House: New York, 1996), 55–59 ^ Stokes, Gale. From Stalinism
to Pluralism. p. 82–3 ^ Richard Solash, "Hungary: U.S. President To Honour 1956 Uprising", Radio Free Europe, 20 June 2006 ^ The Counter-revolutionary Conspiracy of Imre Nagy
Imre Nagy
and his Accomplices White Book, published by the Information Bureau of the Council of Ministers of the Hungarian People's Republic (No date). ^ David Pryce-Jones, "What the Hungarians wrought: the meaning of October 1956", National Review, 23 October 2006 ^ Gunther, John (1961). Inside Europe Today. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 337. LCCN 61009706.  ^ Kamm, Henry (8 February 1989). " Budapest
Journal; The Lasting Pain of '56: Can the Past Be Reburied?". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 May 2010.  ^ 1798 Friedrich Schiller "Song of the Bell" ^ Kamm, Henry (17 June 1989). "Hungarian Who Led '56 Revolt Is Buried as a Hero". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 May 2010.  ^ "Erzsebet Nagy, only child of Hungary's 1956 revolution prime minister Imre Nagy, dies". Associated Press. PR-inside.com. 29 January 2008. Archived from the original on 15 February 2008. Retrieved 14 February 2008. 

Further reading[edit]

Gyula Háy
Gyula Háy
(Julius Hay). Born 1900: memoirs. Hutchinson: 1974. Johanna Granville. " Imre Nagy
Imre Nagy
aka 'Volodya' – A Dent in the Martyr's Halo?", " Cold War International History Project Bulletin", no. 5 (Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Washington, D.C.), Spring, 1995, pp. 28, and 34–37.

Johanna Granville, trans., "Soviet Archival Documents on the Hungarian Revolution, 24 October – 4 November 1956", Cold War
Cold War
International History Project Bulletin, no. 5 (Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Washington, D.C.), Spring, 1995, pp. 22–23, 29–34.

Johanna Granville, The First Domino: International Decision Making During the Hungarian Crisis of 1956", Texas A & M University Press, 2004. ISBN 1-58544-298-4 KGB
Chief Vladimir Kryuchkov
Vladimir Kryuchkov
to CC CPSU, 16 June 1989 (trans. Johanna Granville). Cold War International History Project Bulletin 5 (1995): 36 [from: TsKhSD, F. 89, Per. 45, Dok. 82.] Alajos Dornbach, The Secret Trial of Imre Nagy, Greenwood Press, 1995. ISBN 0-275-94332-1 Peter Unwin, Voice in the Wilderness: Imre Nagy
Imre Nagy
and the Hungarian Revolution, Little, Brown, 1991. ISBN 0-356-20316-6 Karl Benziger, Imre Nagy, Martyr of the Nation: Contested History, Legitimacy, and Popular Memory in Hungary. Lexington Books, 2008. ISBN 0-7391-2330-0

External links[edit]

Political offices

Preceded by Fidél Pálffy Minister of Agriculture 1944–1945 Succeeded by Béla Kovács

Preceded by Ferenc Erdei Minister of the Interior 1945–1946 Succeeded by László Rajk

Preceded by Árpád Szabó Speaker of the National Assembly 1947–1949 Succeeded by Károly Olt

Preceded by Mátyás Rákosi Prime Minister of Hungary 1953–1955 Succeeded by András Hegedüs

Preceded by András Hegedüs Prime Minister of Hungary 1956 Succeeded by János Kádár

Preceded by Imre Horváth Minister of Foreign Affairs 1956 Succeeded by Imre Horváth

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Second Republic

Rákosi F. Nagy Rákosi Dinnyés Dobi

People's Republic

Dobi Rákosi I. Nagy Hegedüs I. Nagy Kádár Münnich Kádár Kállai Fock Lázár Grósz Németh

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House of Representatives (1848–1918)

Pázmándy P. Almásy Palóczy Ghyczy Szentiványi Somssich Bittó B. Perczel Ghyczy Szlávy Péchy Bánffy Szilágyi Madarász D. Perczel A. Apponyi D. Perczel Justh S. Gál Berzeviczy Návay Tisza Beőthy Szász

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Rakovszky Gaál Scitovszky Zsitvay

House of Magnates (1927–1945)

Wlassics Széchényi Perényi (III) Rátz

House of Representatives (1927–1945)

Zsitvay L. Almásy Sztranyavszky Kornis Darányi Tasnádi Nagy

Provisional National Assembly (1944–1945)

Vásáry Zsedényi

National Assembly (since 1945)

F. Nagy Varga Szabó I. Nagy Olt Drahos Dögei Rónai Metzker Vass Kállai Apró Sarlós Stadinger Szűrös (Fodor) Göncz Szabad Z. Gál Áder Szili Katona Schmitt Kövér

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Ministers of the Interior of Hungary
since 1848

Revolution of 1848


Kingdom of Hungary

Wenckheim Rajner V. Tóth Szapáry K. Tisza Orczy Baross Teleki Szapáry Hieronymi Perczel K. Széll Khuen-Héderváry I. Tisza Kristóffy Andrássy Khuen-Héderváry Lukács Sándor Ugron J. Tóth Wekerle

Transition period

Batthyány V. Nagy Landler and Vágó Peyer Samassa Perényi Friedrich Beniczky


Simonyi-Semadam Dömötör Ferdinandy Tomcsányi Ráday Klebelsberg Rakovszky Scitovszky Keresztes-Fischer Kozma Darányi J. Széll Keresztes-Fischer Jaross Bonczos Schell

Transition period

Vajna Erdei I. Nagy Rajk Kádár

Communist Hungary

Zöld Házi Györe Gerő Piros Münnich Biszku Pap Benkei I. Horváth Kamara I. Horváth Gál


B. Horváth Boross Kónya Kuncze Pintér Lamperth Bajnai Gyenesei Varga Pintér

v t e

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since 1848

Revolution of 1848

Esterházy K. Batthyány

Kingdom of Hungary

Festetics Wenckheim K. Tisza Orczy Szőgyény-Marich Fejérváry L. Tisza Andrássy Fejérváry Jósika D. Bánffy M. Széchényi Széll G. Széchényi Khuen-Héderváry I. Tisza Khuen-Héderváry Fejérváry Zichy Khuen-Héderváry Lukács Burián I. Tisza Roszner T. Batthyány Zichy

Transition period

T. Batthyány M. Károlyi Berinkey Harrer Kun Pogány Kun Ágoston Tánczos Lovászy Somssich


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Transition period

Kemény Gyöngyösi Mihályfi Molnár Rajk

Communist Hungary

Kállai Kiss Molnár Boldóczki Horváth Nagy Horváth Sík Péter Puja Várkonyi Horn

Republic of Hungary

Jeszenszky Kovács Martonyi Kovács Somogyi Göncz Balázs Martonyi Navracsics Szijjártó

v t e

Ministers of Agriculture of Hungary
since 1848

Revolution of 1848

Klauzál Batthyány

Kingdom of Hungary

Gorove Szlávy Zichy Bartal Simonyi Trefort Kemény Széchenyi Szapáry A. Bethlen Fejérváry Festetics I. Darányi Tallián György Feilitzsch I. Darányi Serényi Ghillány Mezőssy Wekerle Serényi

Transition period

Buza Csizmadia Nyisztor Hamburger Vántus (opposed by Kintzig) Takács Győry I. Szabó Rubinek


I. Szabó Mayer I. Szabó I. Bethlen Mayer Ivády Purgly Kállay K. Darányi Marschall Sztranyavszky Teleki Bánffy Jurcsek

Transition period

Pálffy I. Nagy Kovács Dobi Bárányos Á. Szabó Dobi Csala

Communist Hungary

Erdei Hegedüs Erdei Matolcsi Kovács Dögei Losonczi Dimény Romány Váncsa Hütter

Republic of Hungary

F. J. Nagy Gergátz J. Szabó Lakos F. Nagy Torgyán Boros Vonza Németh Gráf Fazekas

Ministers of Agriculture, Industry and Trade (1848-1889)

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 46834329 LCCN: n88652180 ISNI: 0000 0001 2131 105X GND: 118586319 SELIBR: 265616 SUDOC: 027641368 BNF: cb11963956x (data) NDL: 00524684 NKC: jn20040109026 SN