István Dobi, 1898–1968

Born into a poor peasant family in Szony, Komárom-Esztergom County, Dobi began to work as a day labourer while still a child. He received only six years of primary education, although he completed a people’s college course in 1949. Having fought in the First World War, Dobi joined the Hungarian Red Army under the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic, being taken prisoner of war by the Romanians at Szolnok. After his return home, he worked as a navvy and day labourer. He joined the National Alliance of Agricultural Workers and the Hungarian Social Democratic Party in the early 1920s. In 1930, he became the branch chairman of the Social Democratic Party in Szony, but in 1936, he joined the Smallholders’ Party instead. With the Smallholders’ support, he found a job with the Kisalföld Chamber of Agriculture. He became an organizing secretary of the party and a member of its national board. In 1937, he became the chairman of the agricultural labourers’ section of the party, and in 1941, he was elected national secretary of the Peasants’ Federation. From 1943 to 1947, he was chairman of the agricultural labourers’ section and executive president of the party. After the German occupation in March 1944, Dobi became active in the anti-fascist Hungarian Front. On June 24, 1945, he was elected in his absence to be a member of the Provisional National Assembly. On August 20, 1945, he became deputy president of the Smallholders’ Party and a member of its Policy Committee and National Steering Committee. From November 4, 1945 onwards, he was a member of Parliament, and on November 15, he was appointed minister of state in the Zoltán Tildy government. He served as minister of agriculture from February 23 to November 30, 1946, and from November 1946 as minister of state, before returning to the agricultural portfolio. Dobi was a member of the committee of five charged with looking into the accusations made against Smallholder members of Parliament. In May 1947, his party elected him its president, and he became president of the Hungarian Peasants’ Federation as well. In June 1947, he became editor in chief of the Smallholders’ Party newspaper, Kis Újság (Little Paper), and in 1948, the president of Défosz. Dobi served again as agriculture minister from April 16 to December 10, 1948, and then as prime minister until August 14, 1952. From 1949 to 1960, he was deputy president of the Hungarian Independence People’s Front, later the Patriotic People’s Front. From August 14, 1952 until 1967, he was a member of the Presidential Council, and from 1951 onwards president of the Agricultural Cooperative Council. During the days of the 1956 Revolution, Dobi never left the Parliament building. He appointed and administered the oath of office to the Imre Nagy government, and after November 4, exercised the powers of the Presidential Council almost alone. On November 7, 1956, he unconstitutionally dismissed the Nagy government and appointed the members of the Kádár government (the Hungarian Revolutionary Workers’ and Peasants’ Government). In 1957, he was elected deputy chairman of the Patriotic People’s Front National Council. Dobi formally joined the HSWP in 1959 and was elected to the Central Committee at the 6th Congress. In 1961, he received the International Lenin Peace Prize, and in 1967, when he retired, the title Hero of Socialist Labour. In 1968, he was appointed president of the National Cooperative Council. His memoirs appeared in 1962.

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This page was created: Wednesday, 23-Aug-2000
Last updated: Wednes, 12-Sept-2001
Copyright © 2000 The Institute for the History of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution

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