|General Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party|
May 22, 1988 – October 7, 1989
|Preceded by||János Kádár|
|Succeeded by||End of communist rule
Mátyás Szűrös (as President of Hungary)
|Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People's Republic of Hungary|
June 25, 1987 – November 24, 1988
|Preceded by||György Lázár|
|Succeeded by||Miklós Németh|
August 1, 1930|
|Died||January 7, 1996
|Political party||Hungarian Communist Party,
Hungarian Working People's Party,
Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party,
Grósz was born in Miskolc, Hungary. He joined the Communist Party in 1945 at the age of 14. The Communists took full power in 1949, and Grósz rose through the party ranks, becoming an important party leader in his native region. In 1974 he was appointed head of the Department of Agitation and Propaganda of the governing Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party.
In 1979 Grósz was elected first secretary of the party committee of his home county. In 1984 he returned to national prominence as the head of the party committee in Budapest. At the next Party Congress in 1985, he became a member of the Politburo. In 1987, he was appointed Prime Minister of Hungary (Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People's Republic of Hungary) to succeed György Lázár, who had filled the post for more than eleven years. The appointment of the younger and more energetic Grósz was acclaimed both at home and abroad. As the country was facing economic troubles and growing discontent, the aging party leader János Kádár decided to resign, although originally he had planned to remain in office until 1990. In May 1988 a party conference was convened, which elected Károly Grósz as general secretary of the party at Kádár's recommendation on May 22, 1988.
Grósz remained prime minister until later that year, when he was succeeded by Miklós Németh, a representative of the radical reformer faction. He advocated moderate and measured changes in the political and economic spheres with the aim to accomplish a careful reform of socialism without touching the latter's foundations. He liked to call this a "model change" (i.e. reforms and refinements within the Communist framework), as opposed to a total "system change", i.e. the replacement of Communism by a Western-style system.
However, his fate was sealed when he agreed to meet with Romanian leader Nicolae Ceaușescu to discuss what to do with a large number of ethnic Hungarians who had fled Romania. Many of Grósz' party colleagues thought he trusted Ceaușescu too much. He lost a good deal of authority as a result, and was thus powerless to slow down the dramatic changes the country was undergoing in 1989.
He tried to slow down, stop or reverse the radical changes advocated by his adversaries that were aimed at establishing a Western-type political system and market economy in Hungary. He opposed the rehabilitation of the executed Imre Nagy, Prime Minister during the 1956 revolution. Hoping to defuse the campaign to rehabilitate Nagy, Grósz broke the news of the latter's earlier NKVD ties in a speech at the September 1, 1989 meeting of the HSWP Central Committee, but those present decided not to publish the facts.
Soviet KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov had sent a dossier of incriminating KGB documents, both genuine and bogus, to Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on Friday, June 16, 1989 – the same day that several hundred thousand Hungarians gathered in Hősök tere (Heroes’ Square) in Budapest to witness the ceremonial reburial of Nagy and several other leaders of the 1956 revolt who had been tried and executed in 1958. In February 1993, when Kryuchkov's secret letter to Gorbachev was published in the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Grósz gave an interview to the Hungarian newspaper Népszabadsag the following month, acknowledging that Nagy had indeed worked for the Soviet secret police in the 1930s and early 1940s.
As 1989 wore on, Grósz was increasingly sidelined by the radical reformers within the party, including Németh, Rezső Nyers, Gyula Horn and Imre Pozsgay. In the summer of 1989, he became a member of a four-man collective presidency of the MSZMP, chaired by Nyers. However, he opposed the radical reformers' drive to reorganize the party as a Western European-style social democratic party. He remained general secretary until October 7, when the party reorganized itself as the Hungarian Socialist Party.
The communist ("hardline") faction, led by Grósz, was defeated at the congress and refounded itself in December 1989 as a new Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party, with Grósz as its first acting chairman (later renamed Workers' Party and the 'Communist Workers' Party'). The party failed to win parliamentary representation in the first multiparty election in the newly formed Republic of Hungary. These elections took place on 25 March and 8 April 1990.
In 1996, he died of kidney cancer at age 65 in Gödöllő, Hungary.
- Sebetsyen, Victor (2009). Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire. New York City: Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-375-42532-2.
- Johanna Granville, "Imre Nagy aka 'Volodya' – A Dent in the Martyr's Halo?", Cold War International History Project Bulletin, Spring, 1995.
- www.electionresources.org/hu; ipu.org (Inter-Parliamentary Union)
|Prime Minister of Hungary
|Party political offices|
|General Secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party