Péter Veres ( 1896-1970)
Born in Balmazújváros, Hajdú-Bihar County, Veres was illegitimate and brought up by a landless peasant family. He worked as a farm servant and herd boy, before joining the railway as a plate layer at the age of 16. Called up into the army in 1917, he served as a telegrapher during the fighting at Piave. He returned home in 1918 and remained in the army. During the Hungarian Soviet Republic, he became a member of the Balmazújváros Directory. He was taken prisoner by Romanian forces in May 1919 and returned from there in 1920, only to be imprisoned for his part in 1919. On his release in 1922, he took part in the farm workers' movement. Veres's first piece of published writing appeared in the periodical Századunk (This Century). Most of his writings concerned the land question and the peasantry. In 1933, he attended the congress of the social democrats. His descriptive social study The Peasantry of the Great Plain appeared in 1936. Veres joined the so-called populist writers, became one of the leaders of the March Front, and joined the National Peasant Party in 1939. He took part in the government-organized meeting of writers at Lillafüred in 1942, and at the Balatonszárszó meeting of the populists in the following year, he spoke of the need for a leftward change of course after the war. He performed labour service three times during the war. In August 1944, he went into hiding in Budapest. Early in 1945, he was elected in Debrecen as president of the National Peasant Party. He became chairman of the National Land Redistribution Council, as well as a member of the Budapest National Committee and local-government authority. Veres supported the idea of his party cooperating with the communists. He became a member of the Provisional National Assembly in April 1945 and later a member of Parliament. In 1947- 8, he was minister of reconstruction and public works and then minister of defence. However, he was eased from power by the communist leaders during the period of land collectivization. His writings in the 1950s were mainly a mixture of autobiography with social description. He received the Kossuth Prize in 1950 and again in 1952. From 1954 to 1956, he was president of the Writers' Union and a member of the Patriotic People's Front national presiding committee. On October 23, 1956, Veres read the Writers' Union statement at the Petőfi and Bem statues. He was elected onto the steering committee of the revived National Peasant Party. He espoused the aims of the revolution, although he did not work actively to support them. The 1958 party position on the populist writers included him in its criticisms, but no obstacles were placed to his literary activity. He was again elected a member of the Patriotic People's Front presiding committee, and in the autumn of 1959, he became a founder member of the re-established Writers' Union.
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