József Dudás, 1912–1957

Born in Marosvásárhely (Tîrgu Mures, now in Romania), Dudás joined the illegal communist movement in Transylvania at the end of the 1920s. He was arrested in 1933 and sentenced to nine years in prison. He was freed in 1939, and after the Second Vienna Award (which transferred Northern Transylvania, including Marosvásárhely, to Hungary), he travelled to Budapest. There he studied to be a mechanical engineer, but never qualified. In 1944, he worked as a liaison between groups within the anti-fascist movement. In September of that year, he was a member of the first, unofficial ceasefire delegation to visit Moscow and a founder member of the Liberation Committee of the Hungarian National Uprising. While retaining his communist connections, Dudás turned in 1945 to the Independent Smallholders’ Party and was elected as a Smallholder candidate to the Budapest local government in the following year. As the communist attacks on the Smallholders’ Party mounted, Dudás was interned at the South Buda Camp. Although freed in 1948, he was soon arrested again and held at Kistarcsa and then at Recsk. In 1951, he was handed over to the Romanian state security service, but he returned to Hungary on his release in 1954. Dudás was working as an engineer when the 1956 revolution broke out. He addressed the crowd in Széna tér (2nd District) on October 27, 1956, and on October 29, established the Second District National Committee, whose 25-point programme appeared to be radical at that time. Its main demands were a coalition government, a multi-party system and neutrality. On the same day, he moved his headquarters to the offices of the central party daily, Szabad Nép (Free People), and started a newspaper (Magyar Függetlenség—Hungarian Independence), which announced on its front page, ‘We do not recognize the present government!’ The name of the body was changed to the Hungarian National Revolutionary Committee, although it did not have the organization to match that name. The so-called Dudás group of about 400 armed men loosely affiliated to him did not gain a good reputation among the revolutionary forces. During the morning of October 30, Dudás negotiated with Colonel Malashenko, acting chief of staff of the Soviet Special Forces, with the aim of being recognized by the Soviets as the main seat of political and military power in Hungary, instead of Imre Nagy. The same afternoon, a meeting with Nagy was brokered for him by the Revolutionary Committee of the Hungarian Intelligentsia, but nothing specific was agreed. On October 31, Dudás made an approach through a personal emissary to Attila Szigethy, chairman of the Transdanubian National Council, offering cooperation and the formation a joint alternative government, but this was firmly rejected. The next day, Dudás was on the telephone to one of the leaders of the Students’ Parliament in Miskolc, but that offer of cooperation was likewise fruitless. He continued publishing his newspaper until November 3, continually criticizing the hesitancy of the government. Then he came into conflict with his own armed men, who dismissed him on the 3rd. He was twice arrested by government forces for acts attributed to him, or rumours of such acts (an attack on the Foreign Ministry; looting of the National Bank). On November 4, he was wounded and taken to hospital. The CPSU Presidium delegation in Hungary placed him for immediate trial before a military court. On November 21, he was enticed by the prospect of negotiations into entering the Parliament building, where the Soviets arrested him. He was charged with leadership of a conspiracy and sentenced to death on January 14, 1957, by the Special Council of the Military College of the Supreme Court. An appeal for clemency was rejected by the same body on January 18, and he was executed the following day.

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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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