Gyula Kállai, 1910–1996

Kállai, the son of a bootmaker, was born in Berettyóújfalu (Hajdú-Bihar County). On leaving school in 1930, he enrolled at Budapest University, studying Hungarian and Latin, transferring to Debrecen University in 1932. He joined the Hungarian Communist Party in 1931. He was one of the organizers of the [?& communist-led] March Front, for which he was expelled from the university in 1937. He then worked as a journalist on the Független Újság (Independent News) in Debrecen. He was called up into the army in 1938, but demobilized again after training. From 1939 to 1944, he worked for the [?& Social Democratic] newspaper Népszava (People’s Voice). He was an organizer of the Hungarian Historical Memorial Committee and the demonstrations on March 15, 1942. He was arrested in July that year but released in November for want of evidence. In September 1944, he attended the founding meeting of the illegal Hungarian Communist Party Central Committee. Representing his party, he worked for the Executive Committee of the Hungarian Independence Front. From 1945 onwards, he was editor of the newspaper Szabadság, general secretary of the Budapest National Committee, a member of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Communist Party and later the HWP, and head of the Central Committee Propaganda Department. On June 15, 1945, he was appointed administrative state secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office and on July 18 political state secretary. From November 1945 to May 1946, he was political state secretary for information. He headed the Press Department of the HWP from 1946 to 1948, the Intelligentsia Department from 1947 to 1948, and the Cultural Policy Department from 1948 to 1949. In 1948–9, he also headed the Office of the President of the Republic. On June 11, 1949, Kállai was appointed foreign minister, but in 1951, he was dismissed from all his positions after being arrested on trumped-up charges on April 20 and sentenced to life imprisonment in a secret trial. He was released in July 1954 and appointed head of the Publishing Division at the Ministry of Public Education. In February 1955, he became deputy minister of public education. In July 1956, he returned to the Central Committee, where he was appointed head of the Scientific and Cultural Department. At the plenary on October 24, 1956, he was elected a member of the HWP Political Committee and Secretariat. He did at a friend’s house during the revolution but kept in touch with the Central Committee members. On November 7, he became a member of the Kádárite HSWP Provisional Executive Committee. He was a member of the HSWP Central Committee from 1956 to 1989. From February 1957, he was a Central Committee secretary and a Political Committee member. He was the head of the Scientific and Cultural Department of the Central Committee again until 1975. At the meeting of the HSWP Provisional Executive Committee on January 1957, Kállai reported on the talks held with the Nagy group in Romania and raised the question of prosecuting its members. On February 28, 1957, he was appointed to head the cultural portfolio in the Kádár government. His appointment as minister of culture ensued on May 9. In the same year, he published a book assessing the revolution, entitled The Hungarian Counter-Revolution in the Light of Marxism-Leninism. Kállai chaired the National Council of the Patriotic People’s Front from 1958 to 1989. On January 28, 1958, he was appointed state minister. From 1958 to November 1961, he was editor-in-chief of the journal Társadalmi Szemle (Social Review). In 1960, he became first deputy prime minister. He remained a deputy prime minister until 1965. He then served as prime minister from 1965 to 1967 and then speaker of Parliament until 1971. In 1967, he joined the Presidential Council. He was a member of Parliament from 1945 to 1951 and 1958 to 1990.

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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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