János Kádár, 19121989
Kádár was born János Csermanek in Fiume (Rijeka). His mother, a domestic servant, was dismissed after the birth of her child. She then gave the baby to foster parents in Kapoly, Somogy County, who moved to Budapest in 1918. There Csermanek completed elementary and middle school, after which he became an apprentice typewriter mechanic. On completing his apprenticeship in 1930, he was employed in the same workshop for several months as an assistant. At the age of 17, he was already a member of the youth group of the Ironworkers’ Trade Union, and in 1931, he joined the illegal Hungarian Association of Young Communist Workers (KIMSZ) and the Hungarian Communist Party. His alias in the communist movement at this time was János Barna. Arrested in November 1931, he was released for want of evidence, but kept under police surveillance. In 1933, he became secretary of the KIMSZ Central Committee, whereupon he was arrested again and sentenced in October to two years’ imprisonment for communist organization work. However, at the end of that year, he was expelled from KIMSZ, on grounds of his behaviour before the police. During his years in prison, he made the acquaintance of several communists, among them Mátyás Rákosi. On his release, Csermanek had several labouring jobs and became active in the Social Democratic Party, where he soon became a member of the Budapest 6th District branch. In 1940, he was appointed head of the Youth Group of the Social Democratic Party Central Committee. In the spring of 1941, he became a member of the Budapest Area Committee of the Hungarian Communist Party, whose Central Committee he joined in May 1942. In December that year he was appointed a Central Committee secretary, and in February 1943, its leading secretary. At that point, he received the new cover name János Kádár in the communist movement. After the dissolution of the COMINTERN in 1943, the Hungarian Communist Party was also dissolved and then reorganized as the Peace Party. In April 1944, Kádár was sent by the Peace Party to Yugoslavia, where he was to make contact with communist leaders in exile, but he was arrested at the Hungarian border. He managed to disguise his real identity and went on trial instead as an army deserter, receiving a two-year sentence of imprisonment. He escaped from prison in November 1944 and made his way back to Budapest. After the 1944 Siege of Budapest, the ‘Budapest’ Central Committee of the Communist Party appointed him deputy to the Budapest chief of police. His position as leading secretary was taken over by Ernő Gerő, who arrived in Budapest in January 1945. In April, he was elected secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party Central Committee, secretary of its Budapest Area Committee, and head of the Central Committee Cadre Department. He also joined the Political Committee, formed in May 1945. In 1946, he became a deputy general secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party and then the HWP, in which capacity he remained a Political Committee and Central Committee member until his arrest in 1951. Meanwhile he had played an important role in preparing for the show trial of László Rajk, while minister of the interior between 1948 and June 1950. In May 1950, Kádár became a member of the Organizing Committee of the HWP CC and head of its Department of Party and Mass Organizations. His arrest by the ÁVH in the spring of 1951 was followed by removal from all party positions at the May meeting of the HWP Central Committee. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in December 1952 by the Supreme Court, but rehabilitated and released again in July 1954. He then became secretary of the HWP 13th District Committee, and in September 1955, first secretary of the HWP Pest County Committee. The HWP Central Committee readmitted him to membership at its July 1956 plenary meeting, where he was elected a Political Committee member and second secretary of the Central Committee. On October 25, 1956, Kádár was elected first secretary of the HWP Central Committee, and then a member of the Directory formed in place of the Political Committee on the following day. On October 28, he became chairman of the HWP Presidium. Within the Council of Ministers, he became a member of the Government Cabinet formed on October 30 and was appointed minister of state. On October 31, he became a member of the Steering Committee of the newly forming HSWP. However, on November 1, he and Ferenc Münnich went over to the Soviet side and left Hungary. They took part in meetings of the CPSU Presidium on November 2–4, where he was appointed to head an alternative government to replace that of Imre Nagy. He announced the formation of the Hungarian Revolutionary Workers’ and Peasants’ Government
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