Mátyás Rákosi

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Portrait of Mátyás Rákosi

Mátyás Rákosi (born March 14, 1892 as Mátyás Rosenfeld –February 5, 1971) was a Hungarian politician and the leader of Hungary from 1945 to 1956 through his post as General Secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party.

Rákosi was born in Ada to Jewish parents, what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Serbia). He served in the Austro-Hungarian Army during the First World War until captured on the Eastern Front. Returned to Hungary, participating in the government of Béla Kun; after its fall he fled, eventually to the Soviet Union. Going back to Hungary in 1924 he was imprisoned, and, on his 1940 release he went back to the Soviet Union, where he became leader of the Comintern. He returned to Hungary with the Red Army.

When the communist government was installed in Hungary Rákosi was appointed General Secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party. In 1948, the Communists forced the Social Democrats to merge with them to form the Hungarian Workers Party. At this point, Rákosi dropped all pretense of democratic government, and Hungary became an outright Communist dictatorship.

Rákosi described himself as "Stalin's best Hungarian disciple". He also invented the term "salami tactics" - eliminating the opposition slice by slice.

He imposed authoritarian rule on Hungary, but the country was not economically successful. In August 1952 he also became prime minister of Hungary, but on June 13 1953, to appease Tito, he was forced to give up the office to Imre Nagy, while retaining the office of General Secretary. Rákosi was then removed as General Secretary of the Party under pressure from the Soviet Politburo in June 1956 (shortly after Nikita Khrushchev's Secret Speech), and was replaced by Ernő Gerő. He then fled to the Soviet Union again, where he died in Gorky in 1971.

Preceded by:
General Secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party
Succeeded by:
Ernő Gerő
Preceded by:
Zoltán Tildy
Prime Minister of Hungary
Succeeded by:
Ferenc Nagy
Preceded by:
István Dobi
Prime Minister of Hungary
Succeeded by:
Imre Nagy
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Mátyás Rákosi

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