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National Exhibit
National Exhibit
Andras Hegedus

Hegedus (1922 -1999) is probably best known in Hungary for inviting the Soviet troops in late October 1956 when he was prime minister to put down the Revolution. As a prominent hardliner he was sent to the Soviet Union (for his safety) during the Revolution and stayed for two years. It was during these years that he reassessed his political attitudes and began his remarkable and
long journey of disillusionment. In 1988 he published (in Hungarian) a volume of memoirs (entitled Under the Spell of History and Power) in which he chronicled and examined his political evolution and the sources of his disillusionment.

Hegedus, was of peasant background and joined the communist underground in 1944 as a young man, was arrested, escaped and after World War II began his spectacular career as a party and government functionary. In 1951 at age 29 he became minister of agriculture that helped him to learn about the suffering and economic losses the coercive collectivization of land inflicted
on the peasants. He was appointed prime minister in the spring of 1955 and held that position until the Revolution in 1956.

He accepted the necessity of the Rajk trial when it took place and as prime minister attended his reburial in early October 1956. He was uneasy about his and his family's privileges as a member of the nomenklatura (party elite) but suppressed his misgivings. Khrushchev's revelations at the 20th Party Congress had a great impact on him but he continued working as a loyal
functionary. In 1958 while in Moscow exile he was still capable of rationalizing the execution of Imre Nagy as he recalled in his memoir: "...while I was deeply shocked by the human tragedy involved, I felt no moral revulsion against those who made the decision..."

After his return to Hungary he was barred from further political activity (on account of his past association with the Stalinist hardliners) but was allowed to join a research institute of the Academy of Science. He became a self-trained sociologist and a critic of Soviet-style socialism. As he summed
up in his memoirs, "It was the combination of a sense of historical mission with the need for power that made it possible," to persist in his beliefs and attitudes for so long.

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Hungary
Location:  Eastern Europe
Capital:  Budapest
Communist Rule:  1949-1989
Status:  Dissolved - 23.10.1989
Victims of Communism:
27 000