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Mátyás Rákosi

(1892—1971) Hungarian Communist statesman, First Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party 1945–56 and Prime Minister 1952–3 and 1955–6.


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(b. 9 Mar. 1892, d. 5 Feb. 1971).

Prime Minister of Hungary 1952–3 Born in Ada, Rákosi became a Communist and was a commissar for Kun's Communist regime. After its collapse he fled to Moscow, but he was sent back in 1924 to revitalize the ailing Communist Party, which had been forced underground by the regime of Horthy and Bethlen. He was imprisoned in 1925 and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1935. He was sent to the USSR in 1940, however. As the formerly leading Communists had mostly died in the Great Purge of Stalin, Rákosi became a leading figure in the Hungarian Communist Party. After Hungary's liberation from German occupation in December 1944, he became Deputy Prime Minister, though as General Secretary of the Communist Party he exercised central political control. Rákosi thus engineered the 1948 Communist takeover of the state. As a devoted Stalinist, he instituted a repressive regime and orchestrated his own purges, culminating in the show trial of Rajk. The brutality of his regime fell out of favour with the USSR after Stalin's death, and he was forced to resign the leadership to Nagy. He returned to power in 1955, but memories of his terror were so strong that he was forced by the Soviet Union to return into exile there.

Subjects: Social sciencesPolitics


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