Anna Kéthly ( 1889-1976)

Born into a working-class family of nine children in Budapest, Anna Kéthly went to work in a garment factory at the age of 15. A year later, she moved to a newspaper office, which gave her the chance to study further. She was elected secretary of the women' s section of the MMOSZ in 1917 and its vice chair in 1920. From 1939 until the German occupation of 1944, she chaired the organization. In 1917, Kéthly joined the Hungarian Social Democratic Party. She was elected to its Central Women' s Steering Committee in December 1919, and in 1920, joined the staff of the paper Nőmunkás (Woman Worker), where she was responsible editor and publisher from 1926 to 1938. Meanwhile, she published articles regularly in the Social Democratic daily paper Népszava (People' s Voice). Elected to Parliament in 1922, she remained the only female member for a decade and a half. She was elected onto the national committee of her party in the same year. Having gone into hiding during the German occupation of 1944, Kéthly joined in reorganizing the Hungarian Social Democratic Party after the war and became a member of its Political Committee. She was elected a member of the Provisional National Assembly on April 2, 1945. In the general elections in November of that year, she became a member of Parliament, head of the Social Democratic faction in Parliament and a deputy speaker. She also edited the journal Világosság (Clarity), joined the editorial panel of Szocializmus (Socialism) and held numerous offices in social organizations. Kéthly then became a leading figure among those opposed to the fusion of the two workers' parties, the Hungarian Social Democratic Party and the Hungarian Communist Party. On February 18, 1948, György Marosán convened a sudden meeting of the party leadership in Greater Budapest, which dismissed her. She then lost her party membership at the party congress in March. Shortly afterwards, she also lost her seat in Parliament and was kept under house arrest for two years. On July 9, 1950, Kéthly was arrested as a series of show trials against social democrats began. On January 20, 1954, Kéthly was convicted of spying and activity directed against the state and sentenced to life imprisonment, but she was pardoned after international pressure was applied. In April 1956, Kéthly rejected offers of a review of her case and posts in the national front. One of those who initiated a revival of the Social Democratic Party when the revolution broke out, she became its president on October 31, 1956. On November 1, she travelled to the meeting of the Socialist International in Vienna, where she delivered a report on the Hungarian situation on the same day. On November 2, in her absence, she was appointed a delegate to the UN General Assembly. On November 3, her party put her forward as state minister in the coalition government. Prevented from returning from Vienna by the Soviet intervention, she flew to New York for the UN General Assembly. On January 5- 7, 1957, she was elected to the chair of the general assembly of the Hungarian Revolutionary Council. In 1962, the Supreme Court annulled the 1954 verdict against her, but sentenced her in her absence to two years' imprisonment for incitement against the state. Kéthly was editor-in-chief of the emigré Népszava (People's Voice), published in London, from 1957 until it ceased publication in December 1963. In 1970, she founded the Szociáldemokrata Szemle (Social Democratic Review), which she edited for three years. She then moved to Brussels, where she represented the main Hungarian emigré social democratic and labour-movement organizations. She chaired the Vienna conference of the emigré Social Democratic Party Abroad in the summer of 1976. Kéthly died at Blankenberge, Belgium, on September 7, 1976. Her ashes were returned to Hungary in October 1990 and laid to rest on November 3. A full rehabilitation of Anna Kéthly took place on July 7, 1994, when the Supreme Court annulled the 1962 verdict against her.

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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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