Gábor Tánczos ( 1928-1979)

Tánczos was born in Budapest into the family of a paint merchant from Baja. During the war, he and his mother were deported to Vienna, where he survived the war as an orderly in a hospital attached to a concentration camp. Back in Baja in 1945, he helped to organize Madisz and set up a people's college Nékosz. That autumn he joined the Hungarian Communist Party, of which he became youth secretary in Baja in 1946 and not long after, in the county. After completing secondary school, he moved to Budapest, where he became one of the youngest members of the István Győrffy People's College and deputy general secretary of the communist-led National Association of Hungarian Students. Tánczos began to study philosophy at Budapest University, while working as a functionary in various youth organizations. However, he was dismissed from the apparatus during the purges after the Rajk trial, partly because of his' class background' and partly through one of his colleagues, who was arrested in a show trial. He graduated in 1953 and was appointed an assistant lecturer in the philosophy department of the university. He was the first of the young communist leaders and intellectuals to recognize his political and moral obligation to support the reforms of Imre Nagy. At the beginning of 1955, the leaders of the youth organization Disz elected him to head the Petőfi Circle, for which he devised a programme in keeping with Nagy's policies. This called for an informal framework without introductory lectures, in which the debate was immediately thrown open to the floor. Thanks to his role as an intermediary, the Petőfi Circle was able to continue functioning, even in the final days of the Rákosi system. After the debate about the press on June 27, 1956, the HWP Central Committee passed a resolution condemning the activity of the Petőfi Circle, but its leaders refused to retract. Tánczos took part in the political events of the autumn following Rákosi's downfall, supporting the policies of Nagy in an article entitled 'Cleansing Anguish'. Meanwhile he worked for an organizational and political renewal of Disz. He was present at the student demonstration on October 23 and wanted to address the crowd at Bem tér, but faulty amplifiers prevented him. From October 24 onwards, he tried to be of assistance to Imre Nagy at the party centre. He made a conciliatory appeal to the rebels, while criticizing the inconsistencies in the policies of Nagy. Ernő Gerő framed a party resolution calling for his removal and personally ordered him out of the building. Tánczos took part in establishing the Revolutionary Committee of the Hungarian Intelligentsia (MÉFB), signed its appeal in the name of the Petőfi Circle, and helped to revive the latter on November 3. On the morning of November 4, he and his wife joined the group applying for asylum in the Yugoslav Embassy in Budapest. They were arrested and interned in Romania on November 23. On March 17, 1957, Tánczos was arrested again in Snagov brought back to Hungary and prosecuted in one of the subsidiary trials to the Imre Nagy trial. On August 19, 1958, he was sentenced by the Supreme Court to 15 years' imprisonment, but was released under an amnesty in the spring of 1962. After his release, Tánczos taught for some years in a secondary school and then worked at the National Pedagogical Institute, doing research into the sociology of schools and reading. He also took part in sociological research into the history of the people' s colleges Nékosz. In the final years of his life, he was concerned with the poor, Gypsies, and Hungarians living beyond the country's borders. In 1979, Tánczos signed the declaration of solidarity with the imprisoned members of the Czechoslovak Charta ' 77 civil-rights movement. He committed suicide on December 6, 1979, while suffering from depression. His ashes were buried in Plot 300 at the main Budapest cemetery in 1990 not far from the remains of Imre Nagy and his fellow martyrs.

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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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