János Szabó ('Uncle Szabó') ( 1897-1957)

Born in Zaruzsény (now in Romania) into a poor peasant family, Szabó had eight years of schooling before training to be a fitter. He was called up in 1914 and served throughout the First World War. During the Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919, he served as a company commander in the Red Army. After the Treaty of Trianon, he remained in the part of Hungary ceded to Romania, working on the railways. He moved to Hungary in 1944, working as a driver at the Agriculture Ministry, and from 1946, as a casual labourer. Szabó joined the Hungarian Communist Party in 1945 and remained a member of the HWP for a year after the merger with the Social Democrats. In 1949, he was sentenced to three months' imprisonment for an illegal attempt to cross the border of the country. On his release, he again worked as a driver, for the Food Delivery Enterprise and then the Vegetable and Fruit Delivery Enterprise. He was arrested in 1953 on charges of spying, but freed after nine months without being prosecuted. On October 26, 1956, Szabó joined the Széna tér (1st and 2nd districts) group of insurgents, soon becoming their commander. They built their defensive positions around a drilling tower for the construction of the Metro (underground railway) and surrounding site buildings. The group tried to halt and delay the Soviet troops. They were dispersed repeatedly by fierce attacks, only to regroup. At the end of October, the group moved its base to the ÁVH barracks in nearby Maros utca (12th District). During the ceasefire period, the Széna tér group kept public order and monitored road traffic, as well as searching the homes of ÁVH officers and party officials and arresting some of them. Further heavy fighting with Soviet troops ensued after November 4. Unable to hold Széna tér, the group retreated towards Hűvösvölgy and Solymár. Szabó was among those listed by the delegation of the CPSU Presidium for immediate trial before a military court. He was arrested on November 19, 1956. On January 14, 1957, the Special Council of the Military College of the Supreme Court convicted him of heading a conspiracy and sentenced him to death without leave to appeal. He was executed on January 19.

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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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