Gábor Földes, 1923–1958

Born in Budapest, Földes went to drama college. He worked first as a director and actor at the People’s Army Theatre and then as director in chief at the Kisfaludy Theatre in Győr. Meanwhile he had joined the Hungarian Communist Party in 1945 and remained a member of the HWP after the fusion with the Social Democrats in 1948. In 1953, Földes joined the group supporting Imre Nagy and the New Course, to which he adhered even after Nagy had been dismissed as prime minister. He took part in several of the Petofi Circle debates in the 1956 and attended the funeral of László Rajk on October 6. Földes and his associates founded a similar Petofi Circle in Győr on October 23, of which he became the chairman. On October 25, 1956, there was a demonstration in Győr, and at Földes’s suggestion, this was joined by several people from the theatre, singing the Nékosz anthem and bearing slogans criticizing the party’s mistakes. Földes made a speech in support of Nagy and his policy, calling for Hungary’s sovereignty to be restored. After shots had been fired on the crowd outside the county museum, Földes did his utmost to prevent further bloodshed. On October 26, he took part in establishing the Győr National Council, assuming the chair of the constituent council of the intelligentsia. In the afternoon, Attila Szigethy sent him to restore order and prevent further violence in Mosonmagyaróvár. While Földes negotiated with the soldiers there, the crowd burst through the gates into the barracks and several attempts by him to obtain reinforcements were fruitless. He arrested the political deputy of the commanding officer, whom he handed over to the national council at the town hall. He sent two other officers by car to Győr, at their request. On October 27, Földes was given political supervision over the Győr radio broadcasts. In the afternoon, he spoke at the national council meeting, opposing the idea of setting up a counter-government in Transdanubia and emphasizing the importance of rallying the democratic forces behind Imre Nagy. On October 28, an extremist demonstration prompted Attila Szigethy to dismiss Földes temporarily, but he returned to politics on November 3 and wrote articles for the newspaper Hazánk (Our Country). Afterwards, Földes tried to keep the spirit of 1956 alive through theatre and other performances. For instance, the first new production by the Győr theatre was Bánk bán, a patriotic 19th-century tragedy. On May 3, 1957, he was arrested. The court of first instance sentenced him to death on June 10, 1957 after convicting him of leading a conspiracy and of murder. On December 21, 1957, the Special Council of the Military College of the Supreme Court acquitted him of murder but upheld the death sentence. His appeal for clemency was rejected by the Presidential Council and he was executed on January 15, 1958.

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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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