Béla Kovács ( 1908-1959)

Born into a poor peasant family in Patacs, now part of Pécs, Kovács completed upper elementary school before attending courses in agriculture and training to be a waiter. He began farming in 1926 on four-and-a-half hectares, which he had increased to 17 hectares by the end of the Second World War. He went into local government in 1927, and in 1933, joined the Independent Smallholders' Party, becoming a local organizer. In 1939, he became the party's national deputy general secretary and a candidate for Parliament. In 1941, he was elected general secretary of the Hungarian Peasants' Association. Kovács was appointed a state secretary at the Interior Ministry in the provisional post-war government, and a couple of months later, agriculture minister. On August 20, 1945, his party elected him its general secretary. On February 23, 1946, he resigned as agriculture minister to devote himself full time to his party work . On March 13, 1946, he became editor-in-chief of the Kis Újság (Little Newspaper). He was arrested on February 25, 1947 by the Soviet authorities and sentenced without trial to 20 years' hard labour. He spent a lengthy period in Neukirchen in the Soviet zone of Austria, in 1948. From 1952 onwards, he was in several different Soviet prisons. He was returned home in the autumn of 1955 from the Mordova reception camp for political prisoners, first to Nyíregyháza and then to Jászberény. While in captivity, he learnt Russian and German. During the revolution, Kovács was elected an executive member of the revived Independent Smallholders' Party and its chairman on November 3. He served as agriculture minister in the national government of Imre Nagy from October 27 to November 3, when he was appointed state minister in the coalition government. After November 4, Kovács sought means of reaching agreement with the Kádár government, negotiating with Kádár officially. He became a member of Parliament in November 1958, representing the Patriotic People's Front, but the high blood pressure he had developed while in Soviet captivity worsened and he was unable to take his seat.

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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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