Pal Maleter

Pál Maléter

Pál Maléter (4 September 1917-June 16, 1958) was born to Hungarian parents in Eperjes, a city in the northern part of Historical Hungary, today part of Slovakia. He was the military leader of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

Maléter studied medicine at the Charles University, Prague, before moving to Budapest in 1938, going to the military academy there.

He fought on the Eastern Front, until captured by the Red Army. He became a Communist, trained in sabotage and was sent back to Hungary, where he was noted for his courage and daring.

In 1956 he was Colonel and commander of an armoured division stationed in Budapest. He was sent to suppress the rebellion, but on making contact with the insurgents during the Hungarian Uprising he decided to join them, helping to defend the Kilian Barracks. He was the most prominent member of the Hungarian military to change sides.

As the chief military presence on the insurgents' side he came into contact with the new government, and enjoyed a rapid promotion from Colonel to General, and on 29 October was appointed Minister of Defense. On 3 November he went to Tököl, located near Budapest, to negotiate with the Soviet military forces based there. The following day during discussions, against international law, Maléter was arrested and imprisoned.

He was executed along with Imre Nagy and others in a Budapest prison on 16 June 1958, on charges of attempting to overthrow the Hungarian People's Republic.

His first wife and children went to the USA in the wake of the uprising, while his second remained in Hungary: both subsequently remarried.

In June 1989, on the anniversary of their deaths, Imre Nagy, Pal Maleter, three others who had died in prison and a sixth, empty coffin symbolising all those who had died, were formally reburied with full honours.

A pine has been named after him - ironically, given Maléter's height, a dwarf variety.

Further reading

  • Sebestyen, Victor Twelve Days: The Story of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. New York: Pantheon. ISBN 0-375-42458-X.
  • Durschmied, Erik Unsung Heroes : The Twentieth Century's Forgotten History-Makers. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-82520-0.

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