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Imre Nagy

Political Figure / Prime Minister of Hungary

Born: 7 June 1896
Died: 16 June 1958 (execution)
Birthplace: Kaposvár, Hungary (then Austria-Hungary)
Best known as: Martyred hero of Hungary's 1956 revolution
Imre Nagy was a Hungarian political leader whose efforts at reform in Soviet-controlled Hungary led to his removal from office in 1956 and his execution in 1958. Born in Hungary when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Nagy served in the army and was captured by the czarist Russians in World War I. Influenced by the Marxist doctrines of the Russian revolution, he joined the Bolsheviks, and after the war he returned to Hungary and began working for socialist causes. Active in the Communist Party after the 1920s, he couldn't make a go of it in Hungary as a socialist leader and lived in Russia for fifteen years, returning as a leading member of the party when the Soviet army overtook Hungary in 1944. Nagy had a rocky relationship with party leaders in Moscow and was in and out of favor, but in 1953 he rose to the post of prime minister of Hungary. His "New Course" of liberalization was more than the Kremlin liked, and Nagy was forced out and replaced by opponent Matyas Rakosi in 1955. When a popular anti-Soviet uprising erupted on 23 October 1956, Nagy emerged as a local hero and was made prime minister in an effort to quiet the storm. He announced Hungarian neutrality and withdrew from the Warsaw Pact, and the Soviet military responded with force on 4 November. Nagy had asylum briefly in the Yugoslav Embassy in Budapest, but was arrested on 22 November. He was imprisoned for nineteen months, then secretly tried and executed in 1958.

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