Béla Király, Dr. (1912 - 2009)

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Kaposvar, Hungary
Death: Died in Budapest, Hungary
Managed by: Malka Mysels
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About Béla Király, Dr.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%A9la_Kir%C3%A1ly

Dr. Béla 2009 (14 April 1912 - 4 July 2009) was a Hungarian resistance fighter during World War II, as well as a military historian, author, and politician. New York Times Obituary

Bela Kiraly Dies at 97; Led Revolt in Hungary.

During the war, Mr. Kiraly commanded a battalion of 400 Jewish slave laborers at the Ukrainian front. Disobeying orders from his superiors, as The Jerusalem Post wrote in 1993, he “put the 400 men under his command into Hungarian uniforms and treated them humanely.” For his actions, he was honored in 1993 as a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial authority in Jerusalem.

Captured by the Russians in 1945, Mr. Kiraly was sent to Siberia. He and two dozen of his men managed to escape from the train carrying them there and walked over the Carpathian Mountains back to Hungary. Mr. Kiraly was made a general in 1950 and appointed leader of the military academy in Budapest.

Gen. Bela K. Kiraly, the commander in chief of the revolutionary forces in the Hungarian uprising of 1956, who for more than half a century was considered a folk hero in Hungary, and who returned there in 1989 to serve in its post-Communist government, died Saturday in Budapest. He was 97.

His death was announced by the Hungarian Defense Ministry, which provided no details, The Associated Press reported. The A.P. cited the Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet for the time and place of the general’s death.

At his death, General Kiraly was emeritus professor of history at Brooklyn College, where he taught from 1964 to 1982. Before returning to Hungary, he lived for many years in Highland Lakes, N.J.

A former major general in the Hungarian Army, General Kiraly was the senior military leader of Hungary’s short-lived revolt against Soviet forces in the autumn of 1956. As commander in chief of the Hungarian National Guard and the leader of the Budapest garrison, he commanded a force of 26,000 insurgents and 30,000 Hungarian Army troops who had joined them.

When the uprising began on Oct. 23, General Kiraly was weak, ill and exhausted; he had just been released after spending five years in prison, four of them on death row, on manufactured charges of espionage. After the uprising was put down violently by the Soviets less than two weeks later, he fled to the United States.

General Kiraly was one of the most highly visible Hungarian exiles in the United States, writing and lecturing widely and speaking about the uprising before the United Nations. In 1989, as Hungary’s Communist government dissolved, he was able to return there; the next year, he was elected to a four-year term in the National Assembly, as the Hungarian Parliament is called. He also served as vice chairman of the assembly’s defense committee and later advised the Hungarian government on military reform.

Bela Kalman Kiraly was born on April 14, 1912, in Kaposvar, in southwest Hungary. After graduating from the state military academy in Budapest, he served as an army officer in World War II. In later years, General Kiraly said in interviews that he had tried to join the Russian side in the war rather than serve with Hungary’s fascist forces, but was unable to do so.

During the war, Mr. Kiraly commanded a battalion of 400 Jewish slave laborers at the Ukrainian front. Disobeying orders from his superiors, as The Jerusalem Post wrote in 1993, he “put the 400 men under his command into Hungarian uniforms and treated them humanely.” For his actions, he was honored in 1993 as a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial authority in Jerusalem.

Captured by the Russians in 1945, Mr. Kiraly was sent to Siberia. He and two dozen of his men managed to escape from the train carrying them there and walked over the Carpathian Mountains back to Hungary. Mr. Kiraly was made a general in 1950 and appointed leader of the military academy in Budapest.

In 1951, General Kiraly was arrested on charges of subversion, sedition and spying for the United States. (The charges are now widely believed to have been concocted by Hungary’s Stalinist leaders.) He was given a death sentence, later commuted to life at hard labor. In October 1956, General Kiraly was among the prisoners paroled by the Hungarian government in a futile effort to appease mounting popular unrest.

When the uprising started, General Kiraly was in a Budapest hospital. “I was skin and bones coming out of five years of imprisonment,” Agence France-Presse quoted him as saying in 2006. “I was far from being healed, so I had to slip out of the hospital because the doctors would not let me go.”

At the request of Imre Nagy, a liberal Communist who was Hungary’s prime minister from 1953 to 1955 — and who was returned to office at the start of the uprising — General Kiraly organized the loose confederation of students, workers and other insurgents into a well-oiled fighting force.

“In 24 hours, I created a professional military staff,” the general said in the Agence France-Presse interview.

But it was no match for the hundreds of Soviet tanks that rolled into Budapest on Nov. 4. Pursued by two tank divisions, General Kiraly and a small band of resistance fighters headed for Budapest. As they approached the border, the general ordered his men to blow up a nearby ammunition dump. With the Soviet tanks enveloped in the resulting cloud of smoke, General Kiraly and his men slipped through the border fence.

General Kiraly made his way to the United States, where he remained for the next 33 years. In 1958, Mr. Nagy and other leaders of the uprising were executed by Hungary’s post-revolutionary government. Had General Kiraly returned, he would most likely have met the same fate.

After receiving a master’s degree from Columbia University in 1959, General Kiraly earned a Ph.D. from Columbia in 1966. His many books include “Hungary in the Late Eighteenth Century: The Decline of Enlightened Despotism” (Columbia University, 1969) and “Basic History of Modern Hungary” (Krieger Publishing, 2001).

In the mid-1970s, General Kiraly started a nonprofit organization, Atlantic Research and Publications, which has published more than 100 monographs on Central and Eastern Europe. Through the organization, he also convened a series of seminars about the region, held in the United States, Western Europe and the East Bloc.

General Kiraly married and divorced in Hungary. His survivors include a nephew, Attila Tevely, and Mr. Tevely’s children, said John A. Parmelee, the comptroller of Atlantic Research and Publications and a longtime friend. Information on other survivors could not be confirmed.

During his exile in the United States, General Kiraly vowed not to return to Hungary until the remains of Mr. Nagy and other executed leaders of the uprising were taken from their unmarked graves and properly reburied. In June 1989, the general was an invited guest at the public funeral and hero’s burial for Mr. Nagy and several associates in Budapest. At the ceremony, which was organized by members of Hungary’s anti-Communist opposition, four Hungarian Communist Party officials laid wreaths.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 28, 2009 An obituary on July 8 about Gen. Bela K. Kiraly, the commander of the Hungarian resistance in the uprising of 1956, misstated the year that he was captured by Russian forces in World War II, misstated the location of an ammunition dump blown up by his resistance fighters, and included erroneous identifications from an associate for his survivors. General Kiraly, then an officer in the Hungarian Army, was captured in 1945, not 1944, and the ammunition dump was near Budapest, not at the Austrian border. He is survived by a nephew, Attila Tevely, and Mr. Tevely’s children, not a son and a grandson. (The general often described Mr. Tevely as his grandson.)

New York Times

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Dr. Béla Király's Timeline

1912
1912
Hungary
2009
2009
Age 97
Budapest, Hungary