Sándor Kopácsi ( b. 1922)

Kopácsi was born in Miskolc, where his father was a turner and a leading local Social Democratic politician. He already took part at the age of 15 in leafleting against the fascist Arrow-Cross movement and received a bullet wound in the thigh. He completed the iron-industry specialist secondary school in Miskolc and worked as a turner at the Dimavág engineering factory during the Second World War. He and his family joined the Mokán resistance movement during the German occupation of Hungary in 1944. After his native city had been liberated by Soviet forces, Kopácsi joined the new special-forces organization and the Hungarian Communist Party. In 1949, having completed police officers' training and two party courses, he began to work in the special-forces department at the party centre. In the autumn of that year, he was sent on a two-year party course and then appointed to head the party organization in the police force. In 1952, he became chief of Budapest police. After the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956, Kopácsi spoke out openly, at a police party meeting, against Mátyás Rákosi. Influenced by events during the Poznan workers' uprising, he and several others announced at a meeting of high-ranking army and police officers that they would not fire on the people. On October 31, 1956, Kopácsi was included in the executive committee of the HSWP, charged with preparing for the first congress. He won the confidence of the insurgent groups during the revolution, and on November 3, he was elected deputy commander of the national guard, at a meeting of special forces at the Kilián Barracks (9th District). His plan, at talks with Imre Nagy, was for the rebels to be disarmed after the fighting had ceased. On November 5, 1956, he was arrested by Serov. Placed on trial with Nagy and his associates, Kopácsi was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court on June 15, 1958, but freed in the 1963 amnesty. From 1963 to 1965, he worked as a turner in the telephone factory, but then he found a job in Solymár (Pest County) as a technical officer. In 1969, he obtained permission to complete his university studies, but on receiving his law degree, he failed to find a job to match his qualifications. In 1975, he emigrated with his wife to Canada, where he worked as a waiter, a worker in a refrigerator factory, and then as a manual worker in the Toronto Electricity Works. He retired in 1987. In 1989, he returned to Hungary, where he was rehabilitated. He had his rank restored in 1990 and was then promoted to major general. He is currently chairman of the reconstituted Social Democratic Party of Hungary, which has so far failed to win seats in Parliament.

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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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