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General Béla Király Dies

kiraly-belaBéla K. Király (1912-2009) was born in Kaposvár, Hungary. He graduated from the Ludovika Military Academy in 1942. During WWII, he served as an officer in various units of the Hungarian Army. After 1945, he participated in the reorganization of the new Hungarian army, and soon became one of its highest ranking commanders. He was arrested and imprisoned on fabricated charges in 1951. In 1956, he was released, joined the revolutionary government of Imre Nagy, and became the commander of the National Guard. Following the Soviet intervention, he emigrated to the United States. Király played a major role in organizing the Hungarian Freedom Fighters Federation, the most important émigré organization of 1956 refugees in the West. He earned a PhD in history at Columbia University in 1962. From 1963 to 1984, he taught at Brooklyn College, where he had been the chairman of the History Department for several years. Ha also established the Atlantic Research and Publication Ltd. (ARP), which published numerous works of prominent dissident scholars from the Eastern and Central European region, and thus contributed to a great extent to the final collapse of the Soviet bloc.

On June 16, 1989 Béla Király returned to Hungary, and was one of the speakers at the reburial of Imre Nagy and the martyrs of 1956. In 1990, he won a seat in the Parliament with the support of the three major opposition parties. He joined the faction of the liberal party and was a Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary Military Committee between 1990 and 1994.

In 2001, Béla Király donated the major part of his private papers to OSA Archivum. The collection contains documents on his political activities and academic career after 1956, and is available to researchers. Another part of his personal papers is deposited with the Columbia University Libraries in New York City, and will be opened for research in 2012.

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