Gyorgy Szabad, who has died at the age of 90, was a historian who survived forced labour during the Holocaust to become the Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly. A university history professor, and a Member of the National Assembly from 1990-98, he also played a key role in the negotiations in 1989 and 1990 which led to the end of Hungary's communist regime.
He was one of the founders of the centre-right Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) party, which won the country's first democratic elections in 1990 and formed a coalition government with two other right-wing parties. After becoming an MP that year, he became a deputy speaker of Parliament and, some months later, was elected Speaker, serving until 1994. His areas of historical expertise included Hungarian economic and social history and the development of the country's middle class.
Szabad was "one of the leading figures of national thought and the new Hungarian democracy," said a joint statement from President Janos Ader, Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Parliamentary Speaker Laszlo Kover.
Szabad was born into a Hungarian-Jewish family in Arad, Romania, in 1924, and moved to Budapest as a child. His university application was rejected because of a Hungarian policy which limited the number of Jews in higher education. Instead, he worked for a time as an apprentice gardener. In October 1944 he escaped from a forced labour brigade, to which many Hungarian Jewish men were sent during the Holocaust. In 1945 he was captured by Soviet troops for more forced labour, but again was able to escape.
Gyorgy Szabad, historian and politician: married twice (one daughter); born Arad, Romania 4 August 1924; died 3 July 2015.Reuse content