The Confession of János Kádár Cover Image

The Confession of János Kádár
The Confession of János Kádár

Author(s): Tibor Hajdú
Subject(s): History
Published by: Society of the Hungarian Quarterly
Keywords: János Kádár; Hungarian Revolution in 1956;1956 as a counter-revolution; Imre Nagy; Imre Pozsgay; Russian military assistance; László Rajk’s trial in October 1949

Summary/Abstract: We are publishing a translation of the text of Kádár János’s last speech, taken from the minutes of the meeting of the Central Committee (CC) of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (HSWP) as the Communist Party of Hungary was then known. The ailing János Kádár addressed the CC three months before his death on 12 April, 1989. It is no easy matter to understand the text in its original Hungarian, let alone translate it into another language. Nevertheless, for anyone with an interest in Kádár’s role in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, it repays the trouble of puzzling out what he might have meant since, other than in broad generalities, he never spoke about this subject—not even to close associates or his official biographer. He felt obliged to speak up, not so much by his conscience, but by an anxiety that amounted to a persecution mania, a need to place his own version on record before he died and was made the defenceless scapegoat for a course of events that was not of his choosing. Anxiety, often raised to the point of madness, is the common destiny of dictators in the twilight of their rule. Precisely because they have suppressed freedom of speech, they have no way of knowing what fate will await them should they be toppled. It is conceivable that a Stalin or his Hungarian clone Rákosi, a Horthy or a Franco would not have clung so tenaciously to power if they had been able to hope that their enemies would show them any mercy. This is a mental condition that has become familiar to us thanks to Shakespeare’s plays or Mussorgsky’s operatic portrayal of Boris Godunov. Kádár’s last soliloquy is in the same line.[...]

  • Issue Year: 2006
  • Issue No: 183
  • Page Range: 100-110
  • Page Count: 11
  • Language: English