Zoltán Tildy ( 1889-1961)

Born in Losonc (Lučenec, now in Slovakia) into the family of a county official, Tildy took a theology degree at the Reformed Theological Academy in Pápa, before spending a year on a scholarship at the Belfast Assembly College in Ireland. In 1921- 9, he served as minister at Szenna and then at Tahitótfalu. He and a partner founded a printing and publishing firm in 1924. Tildy edited the only Reformed Church daily paper in Hungary, the Keresztény Család (Christian Family), and several church periodicals. He was minister in charge of the Hungarian Tract Society from 1928 to 1932 and then minister to the Szeghalom congregation until 1946. He joined the National Independence and '48 Peasants' Party in 1917 and the United Party in 1922. In 1929-30, he, Ferenc Nagy and others established the Independent Smallholders' Party (FKgP), of which he became executive vice-president. He was returned to Parliament for Szeghalom in 1936 and Békés in 1939. In January 1940, Tildy became acting executive president of his party. He took part in the foundation of the Hungarian Historical Memorial committee in 1942. Tildy pressed for an alliance with the workers' parties. He was among the first to urge Prime Minister Miklós Kállay and the head of state, Miklós Horthy, to bail out of the Second World War, and co-authored the FKgP' s anti-war memorandum of 1943. Tildy went into hiding after the German occupation of Hungary. After 1945, he became national leader of the FKgP and headed the editorial board of the party' s political weekly. Tildy was prime minister from September 1945 to February 1946, when he was elected the first president of the Republic of Hungary. However, he was forced to resign on July 30, 1948, after his son-in-law had been arrested for corruption and infidelity. Tildy was kept under house arrest in Budapest from the end of August 1948 until May 1, 1956. In September 1956, he spoke in the economic-policy debate at the Petőfi Circle. On October 27, 1956, he became a member of the national government of Imre Nagy, and on November 3, state minister in the coalition government, performing the functions of a deputy prime minister. During this period, he forged links mainly with peasant and church organizations. He gave radio addresses advocating a multi-party system, national independence and freedom, and calling for re-establishment of the FKgP. On November 4, he managed to pass through the Soviet cordon round Parliament. On June 15, 1958, he was sentenced by the Supreme Court to six years' imprisonment, in the trial of Imre Nagy and associates. However, he was released under an individual amnesty in April 1959 in view of his advanced years (in fact due to illness). He then lived in complete retirement until his death.

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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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