Gyula Horn

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Gyula Horn

In office
July 15, 1994 – July 6, 1998
Preceded by Péter Boross
Succeeded by Viktor Orbán

Born July 5, 1932
Political party MSZP (socialist)
Spouse Anna Király

Gyula Horn (born in July 5 1932, Budapest) is a Hungarian politician, having been Prime Minister of Hungary 1994-1998 leading the socialist-liberal coalition.

He's remembered because he played a major role in 1989 in opening the "Iron Curtain" for East Germans, contributing to the later unification of Germany, and about the Bokros package, the biggest fiscal austerity programme in post-communist Hungary, launched under his premiership, in 1995.


[edit] His studies and his family

Gyula Horn first studied in a lower technicians' school in Hungary. He graduated from the Don-Rostov College of Economics and Finance in 1954. He's married, he has a daughter and a son.

[edit] Administration and party carrier

He worked in the Ministry of Finance from 1954 to 1959. He got a job in the Foreign Ministry in 1959, first as an official in the independent Soviet department. In the 1960s he was a diplomat in the Hungarian embassies in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia.

In 1954 Horn joined the Hungarian communist party, then called the Hungarian Workers' Party. In November 1956 he joined the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (HSWP) established by János Kádár to lead the crushing of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956|1956 Hungarian revolution]] against Soviet occupation and communist rule.

In 1969 he became an official in the foreign affairs department of the HSWP Central Committee. By 1983 he rose to the rank of department head. In 1985 he was appointed secretary of state (deputy minister) in the Foreign Ministry. In 1989 he stepped forward to become foreign minister in the country's last communist government led by Miklós Németh.

He is a founder of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), formed in 1989 as the successor of the HSWP, and became its chairman in 1990. As a minister he was in charge of foreign affairs when Hungary decided to open the western border (the "iron curtain") to East Germans wishing to emigrate to West Germany. He is often credited with having a major part in the decision and, consequently, a role in German unification.

Gyula Horn was elected prime minister of the Republic of Hungary on July 15, 1994. He was first elected to Parliament in 1990 and has retained a seat ever since. Although he has relinquished leadership of the party after the Socialists lost the 1998 elections, he was for a long time considered to have considerable influence in the party, partly because of his personal popularity among elderly voters. In the years after 2002, he hasn't taken a very active role in politics.

Horn has received several awards for his achievements in foreign relations, among others the Charlemagne Award of the city of Aachen in 1990.

[edit] His role in 1956

Although the fiscal austerity package under his rule eroded his popularity heavily, the most controversial part of his life is his role after the 1956 revolution, which started on October 23 and was crushed in the days from November 4.

At the end of October he joined the National Guard, the armed body of the revolution consisting soldiers, policemen, and civic freedom fighters. In December he joined the "pufajkás" brigades (in German Steppenjackenbrigade), a Hungarian armed body set up to help the invading Soviet troops restore the communist regime, and he served there until June 1957.

His elder brother was killed by the rebels during the uprising. His daughter was born on October 30, "The conditions were bad. The uprising released many criminals who endangered public safety. In the pufajkás squad I defended the legal order," he told German paper Die Welte 50 years later. "First, I would like to make it clear that 1956 was not a fight againts communism. Even the rebels did not want to wipe it out. This is incorrectly depicted today."

Horn's precise role in crushing the revolution is unclear as the reports of his brigade have gaps, however, in 1957 he received the award "For the Worker-Peasant Power", which was only granted to those whose services earned satisfaction. When decades later, already as a prime minister he was questioned and criticized over this part of his life, he only said: "I was a pufajkás. And what?"

[edit] Trivia

There is a street named after him in the German town of Wertheim.

Preceded by:
Péter Boross
Prime Minister of Hungary
Succeeded by:
Viktor Orbán
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Gyula Horn

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