Béla Király ( b. 1912)

Born in Kaposvár, the son of the stationmaster, Béla Király won a place at the Ludovika Military Academy after completing secondary school. He was commissioned in August 1935 as a second lieutenant in the 6th, King Louis the Great Infantry Regiment. He served in 1939-40 in the 10th Kaposvár Artillery Regiment and then completed the staff officers' academy with distinction in 1942. In December of that year, he was transferred with the rank of captain to the Defence Ministry, where he ran the organization department and later the theoretical sub-department of Department 1/A. In the summer of 1943 [?], he was sent into active service with the 2nd Hungarian Army. Király was seconded in 1944 to the 8th camp reserve division as a supply staff officer. From there, he was transferred in October 1944 to the 1st Hungarian Army, fighting in Subcarpathia, before being transferred back at his own request. In March 1945, he volunteered to command the defence group being formed to defend the town of Kőszeg (Vas County). At the end of the month, he and his forces changed to the Soviet side and were sent to prisoner-of-war camp. However, Király managed to escape while being transported to the Soviet Union. Returning home in the summer of 1945, he joined the Hungarian Communist Party. Early in 1946, he became a lieutenant colonel in the post-war Hungarian army and was then appointed chief of staff of the 1st Pápa Division. He became head of the Defence Ministry training department in 1947, deputy commander of the infantry in 1948, and commander in 1949. In April 1950, he became head of the higher command course and in September, commander of the Army Academy, with the rank of major general. However, he was arrested in the summer of 1951 on trumped-up charges of war crimes and activity against the state. The Budapest Military Court sentenced him to death on January 15, 1952, but on appeal, this was change to life imprisonment and loss of his military rank. He was freed on September 2, 1956. On October 29, he submitted a legal protest with the Supreme Court and he was rehabilitated on October 31. On October 30, he became chairman of the Preparatory Committee of the Revolutionary Armed Forces Commission and then of the body itself and the Revolutionary National Defence Commission. On October 31, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the national guard and military commander of Budapest. Following instructions from Imre Nagy, Király ordered the Hungarian forces to put up no resistance to the superior Soviet forces on November 4. After the clash at Nagykovácsi (Pest County), he fled to Austria. He was elected vice-chairman of the Hungarian Revolutionary Council in Strasbourg in January 1957. Settling in the United States, Király founded the Hungarian Committee, and then in April 1957, the Freedom Fighters (National Guard) Association. He entered Columbia University in September 1957 and obtained a teacher' s degree. In 1962, he received a doctorate in history and began to teach at Brooklyn University. Király retired from the emigré movement after 1966 and occupied himself with historical research and teaching. He became a professor of military history in the doctoral department of Brooklyn College and the City University of New York, where he received an honorary doctorate in 1994. [?/]. On June 16, 1989, Király delivered an address at the reburial of Imre Nagy and his martyred associates. He received back his Hungarian citizenship and was promoted to the rank of colonel general. He was an independent member of Parliament from 1990 to 1994. Since then, he has acted as a government adviser in Hungary.

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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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