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Béla Kun

Kun, Béla (bāˈlŏ kōn) [key], 1886–1937, Hungarian Communist. A prisoner of war in Russia after 1915, he embraced Bolshevism. After the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917 he was sent to Hungary as a propagandist. In 1919, Count Michael Károlyi and his government resigned and the Communists and Social Democrats formed a coalition government under Kun. Kun set up a dictatorship of the proletariat; nationalized banks, large businesses and estates, and all private property above a certain minimum; and ruthlessly put down all opposition. He raised a Red Army and overran Slovakia. The allies forced Kun to evacuate Slovakia, and a counterrevolution broke out. Kun was at first victorious over the counterrevolutionists, but he was defeated by a Romanian army of intervention and was forced to flee to Vienna. Kun's Red Terror was followed by a White Terror. Nicholas Horthy de Nagybanya became regent of Hungary. Kun, after being held at an insane asylum in Vienna, went (1920) to Soviet Russia. He reappeared (1928) in Vienna and was briefly imprisoned but was allowed to return to the USSR. There he took an active part in the Comintern until he was accused of anti-Stalinism and perished in the Communist party purges of the 1930s. In the late 1950s and 1960s his reputation was restored in the USSR.

See study by R. L. Tökés (1967).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Austria and Hungary, History: Biographies

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