József Szilágyi ( 1917-1958)

Born in Debrecen, Szilágyi attended the Reformed Church Grammar School in the city. He received a law degree from Debrecen University in 1939. As a student, he had taken part in the activity of the anti-fascistMarch Front, and in 1938, joined the illegal communist party. He was arrested in the spring of 1940 and sentenced to three years' imprisonment for disrupted the social order. He was freed on March 15, 1944 and then went into hiding until the end of the war. At the end of the year, he became the police chief in Debrecen. Later the communist party gave him the task of organizing the national police headquarters. In 1947- 49, he headed the military and special forces department at the communist-party headquarters, joining the party's Central Control Committee in 1948. However, in 1949, he questioned the grounds for charging László Rajk and his associates and was dismissed from his positions. In the following year, he became a department head in the Produce Trading Enterprise. He became associated with the Imre Nagy circle after 1953 and was expelled from the HWP early in 1956. In 1953, he became an evening engineering student at Budapest Technical University. On October 13, 1956, Szilágyi gave the funeral address at the reburial of a group of rehabilitated high-ranking army officers. On October 22, he spoke at the mass assembly at Budapest Technical University. During the early days of the revolution, Szilágyi worked alongside Sándor Kopácsi in the Budapest Division of the Interior Ministry. He became a close associate of Imre Nagy, and on October 27, tried to persuade the prime minister of the need for a change of political course. On October 28, he and Jenő Széll set up Nagy's prime ministerial secretariat, which Szilágyi headed. He and his family fled to the Yugoslav Embassy on November 4 and he was among those interned in Romania after November 22. Arrested in Snagov on March 27, 1957 and brought back to Hungary, he refused to answer his investigators, passionately swore his innocence and went on hunger strike. When the trial of Imre Nagy and his associates began, Szilágyi refused to cooperate in any way and was tried apart for that reason. The People' s Court Council of the Supreme Court separately convicted him on April 22, 1958 of initiating a conspiracy and sentenced him to death without room for appeal. He was executed on April 24.

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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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