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Göncz, Árpád

Göncz, Árpád ärpäd gŭnts [key], 1922–2015, Hungarian writer, translator, and political leader, first democratically elected president of Hungary (1990–2000). A lawyer, he was conscripted (1944) into the Hungarian army, from which he soon deserted, joining an anti-Nazi resistance group. Following the Soviet occupation of Hungary, he joined the Independent Smallholders' party, where he served as an administrator and editor of the party's newspaper (1945–48) until the Soviets disbanded opposition parties. He then worked in factories, and later (1951–56) as an agronomist. For his part in the abortive anti-Communist Hungarian Revolution (1956), he was convicted of treason and jailed for life, but was released as part of a general amnesty in 1963. Having taught himself English in prison, he then worked as a translator, novelist, short story writer, and playwright. In 1988 he co-founded the Alliance of Free Democrats and was twice elected president of Hungary (1990, 1995). Göncz is credited with easing the country's peaceful transition from Communism to democracy.

See study by D. S. Kim (2013).

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

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