Sandor Racz: Labour activist who helped lead Hungary's anti-Soviet resistance during 1956
Wednesday 01 May 2013
Sandor Racz, who died in Budapest on 30 April at the age of 80, was a labour activist who played a leading role in the tumultuous events of 1956. The 1956 Hungarian uprising broke out on 23 October and was crushed by the Soviet army in early November. But Racz – president of the Budapest central workers' council – and other labour leaders pressed ahead with the objectives of the movement for several more weeks, negotiating with the pro-Soviet Prime Minister Janos Kadar and top-ranking Soviet military officers.
"For me, the revolution was so unambiguous, that I could not even imagine a Hungarian who does not feel that the Hungarian people are 1,000 per cent right when they want to free themselves from an unacceptable foreign, murderous and pillaging system," Racz, who was born in March 1933 near the city of Hodmezovasarhely in the south-east of the country, wrote in a memoir published in 2005.
Even as the crackdown on those who took part in the revolution was under way – at least 225 people would be executed by 1958 – the workers' councils held two nationwide strikes in November and December.
Racz, then a 23-year-old a tool maker at an electronics factory, was arrested on 11 December 1956 after being lured to Parliament with the excuse of holding talks with Kadar, who would rule Hungary until a few years before the end of the communist regime in 1990. Racz was sentenced to life in prison in 1958 but released under a 1963 general amnesty.
After his release he returned to work as a toolmaker and participated in secret meetings with students, telling them about the events of 1956. He retired due to poor health in 1987 and spent the rest of his life keeping alive the memory of the uprising.
"The workers' councils were very important but they tend to be forgotten because most of the attention is given to the armed aspects of the revolution," said Bob Dent, author of a book about the revolution. "The councils were unofficial trade unions representing workers during and after the uprising."
Racz is survived by his wife, Aniko Damasdi, and two children.
- 1 The scientist who takes 100 drugs a day so he can live to 150
- 2 The Visit: Trailer for M Night Shyamalan's latest horror film is terrifying
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 The confessions of men who ordered mail-order brides
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
General Election 2015: Tories sack candidate who said she would never support 'the Jew' Ed Miliband
9/11: Iranian General accuses US of organising September 11 terror attacks
General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
Yazidi sex slaves undergoing surgery to 'restore virginity' after being raped by Isis militants
Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
HSBC review into moving headquarters from UK 'underway'
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B software supplier, spe...
£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing SaaS (Softwar...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen for an ex...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunity for a pro...