Mihály Farkas, ( 1904–1965)

Born in Abaújszántó (Abaúj-Torna, now Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County), Farkas completed higher elementary school and trained as a printing-press mechanic. In 1919, he became secretary of the Young Workers’ Group in Kassa (Košice), and in 1921, a member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party. His political activity led to a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence in 1925. After his release, he was a delegate to the Communist International of Young Workers, which then sent him to work in Western Europe from 1932 to 1935. In 1936–7, he fought in the Spanish Civil War, after which he became second secretary of the Communist International of Young Workers in Moscow. In 1941, he was transferred, at the request of Mátyás Rákosi, to the Hungarian party, whose Foreign Committee he joined after the dissolution of Comintern. During the Second World War, Farkas served on the front and did propaganda work in the army. On November 5, 1944, he arrived in Szeged, where he joined Ernő Gerő, József Révai and Imre Nagy in setting up the Central Committee of the Hungarian Communist Party. Farkas was made responsible for the trade unions, young affairs and mass organizations, and later party finances and military and special-forces affairs. He became a member of the Provisional National Assembly in December 1944. In April 1945, he was appointed editor-in-chief of the journal Pártmunka (Party Work, later known as Pártmunkás—Party Worker—and Pártépítés—Party-Building). He became a member of the Secretariat of the Hungarian Communist Party Central Committee on May 11, 1945 and soon entered the Political Committee as well. From July 15 to November 23, 1945, he served as political state secretary at the Interior Ministry. In November of the same year, he was chosen as deputy general secretary of his party. From December 1945, he oversaw the Central Committee departments for party organization, cadres, mass organizations, finance and information. From September 1946, he headed the party Organization Committee and chaired the Military Committee of the Central Committee. In September 1947, Farkas took party in the meeting that established Cominform. At the end of that year, he was put in charge of Central Committee departments for party organization, agitation, finance, police and army and information, along with the Women’s, Youth and Sports committees. As the fusion with the Social Democratic Party approached, Farkas became a member of the joint Political Committee and Organization Committee. He was appointed minister of defence on September 9, 1948, and in that capacity directed a forced pace of development of the army. After the arrest of László Rajk, Farkas, Rákosi and Gero set up the secret State Security Committee. Farkas headed the HWP Political Committee investigations of János Kádár and Gyula Kállai in 1951 and Gábor Péter in 1953. In June and July 1953, he was removed from all his positions, but regained membership of the Political Committee and the Secretariat in August. In 1954, he was placed in charge of the Scientific and Cultural and the Administrative departments of the Central Committee and given operative supervision over the central party daily, Szabad Nép (Free People). He soon turned against Imre Nagy as well, which left him completely isolated. The April 1955 meeting of the Central Committee did not elect him to the Secretariat or the Political Committee, and for a while, he was sent to military academy in the Soviet Union. In March 1956, the Central Committee of the HWP launched an investigation into Farkas. In June, he was excluded from the party for his role in illegal activities and demoted from army general to the ranks. Miklós Gimes, writing in the new paper Hétfői Hírlap (Monday News), called in the name of public opinion for a public trial and punishment of Farkas. On October 6, the HWP Political Committee decided to have him arrested, which was done on October 12. After October 23, the false rumour spread around Budapest that Farkas had been murdered by ÁVH men afraid of what he might say about others when brought to trial. In 1957, he was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, but he received an individual pardon on April 5, 1960 and was released. He then worked until his death for the publisher Gondolat, as a foreign-language reader for the social sciences.

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This page was created: Wednesday, 3-Dec-2003
Last updated: Wednesday, 3-Dec-2003
Copyright © 2003 The Institute for the History of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution

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