Zoltán Vas (1903-1983)

Born in Budapest, Vas joined the Hungarian Communist Party in 1919. After the fall of the Hungarian Soviet Republic <?&> in the summer of that year, he was expelled from his secondary school. He then travelled to Czechoslovakia, from where he returned secretly in 1921 on a party mission and was arrested and sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for rebellion. However, he was sent to the Soviet Union under an exchange of prisoners in 1922, where he studied at Moscow University until 1925. Vas was co-opted onto the Central Committee elected at the first congress of the Hungarian Communist Party, held in Vienna, and appointed central secretary of the party youth organization, Kimsz. He returned to Hungary on a mission from Comintern <?&> in 1925, but was caught at a secret meeting arranged with Mátyás Rákosi, receiving a 16-year prison sentence in the Rákosi trial. In 1940, he and Rákosi were allowed to emigrate to the Soviet Union in exchange for the return of some 1848 military banners. There Vas worked for Comintern and the Hungarian-language Radio Kossuth. He returned to Hungary on October 10, 1944. After doing organization work for the party, he was involved in the preparations for the Provisional National Assembly, of which he became a member. On February 15, 1945, he was appointed government commissioner for Budapest public supplies, and from May 16 to November 28 of that year, he served as Budapest mayor. He was elected to Parliament on November 4, 1945. From December 5, 1945 to 1949, Vas was secretary of the Economic Supreme Council. He was then appointed president of the National Planning Office, but relieved of the post in February 1953 and appointed manager of the Komló Collieries. Vas was on the Central Committee of the Hungarian Communist Party and later the HWP from 1945 to 1956, and an alternate member and then full member of the Political Committee from 1948 to 1953. From February 22, 1954, he headed the Materials and Produce Management Secretariat set up within the government secretariat. Prime Minister Imre Nagy appointed him to head the latter on April 27. An article by Vas entitled 'The New Stage of Economic Policy' appeared in the central party daily Szabad Nép on October 27. In January 1955, he became deputy minister of foreign trade, and in June, president of Szövosz [?&, the umbrella organization for the cooperatives]. Meanwhile Vas spoke at Pető fi Circle debates on the press and on economic policy. In August, he led a Szövosz delegation on a visit to Yugoslavia. Vas met [?& the Kremlin envoys] Anastaz Mikoyan and Mikhail Suslov on their arrival in Budapest on October 24, 1956. On October 27, he became chairman of the government public-supplies committee. He requested asylum at the Yugoslav Embassy in Budapest on November 4. He, György Lukács and Zoltán Szántó left the embassy on November 18, but were arrested by the Soviets and interned in Romania on November 23. He was stripped of his parliamentary seat when it convened again in May 1957. He was allowed back to Hungary in the autumn of 1958, with the members of the Nagy group who had not been arrested and dependants. He then retired and worked as a freelance writer and translator. On February 20, 1973, he was again prosecuted on the orders of the Chief Prosecutor's Department, for 'agitation injurious to the friendship of the Soviet Union and the Hungarian people' , for an autobiographical novel entitled Nem a tejes csenget (It's Not the Milkman Ringing).

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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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