As a carpenter, Köblös became active in the trade union movement and was won over to the ideas of revolutionary socialism. He took part in revolutionary activities in the Austro-Hungarian empire at the end of 1918, fighting against Romanian troops in defense of the Hungarian Soviet Republic. When Transylvania was incorporated into Romania in 1920, Köblös became a Romanian citizen.
Elek Köblös was a delegate to the May 1921 Congress of the Socialist Party of Romania, where supporters of the Russian October Revolution established the "Socialist-Communist Party" (soon renamed the Communist Party of Romania). Köblös was arrested at the closing of the Congress on 12 May 1921 and implicated in the Dealul Spirii Trial before being released in 1922.
In October 1922, at the 2nd Congress of the Romanian Communist Party held at Ploiești, Köblös was elected member of the Central Committee, together with Gheorghe Cristescu, Alexandru Dobrogeanu-Gherea, Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu, Marcel Pauker, Eugen Rozvan, and Boris Stefanov. Köblös headed the party's trade union section, with particular attention given to the woodworkers' union, of which he was the head.
In 1924, at the 3rd Congress held in Vienna, Köblös was appointed general secretary of the Romanian Communist Party, replacing the disillusioned Gheorghe Cristescu. He continued in this position until 1927. During this period, Köblös came into conflict with Marcel Pauker.
Köblös returned to Romania in 1925, where he headed a secret meeting of the party Central Committee in July which decided to use the existing workers' and peasants' bloc as a legal outlet for Communist Party activity. This effort at legal work proved unsuccessful, however, and Köblös was forced to flee the country in the fall of 1925. He remained in exile until 1927, staying in Vienna and the Soviet Union as a part of the Romanian Communist Central Committee in exile.
In 1927, Köblös returned to Romania, where he once again came under police scrutiny. He hastily fled to Czechoslovakia but was arrested at Košice by Czechoslovak authorities and held for possible extradition to Romania. A major press campaign was launched on Köblös' behalf, with many international leftist activists, including French novelist Henri Barbusse, successfully lobbying the Prague authorities not to extradite Köblös to Romania. Köblös was finally allowed to leave for the Soviet Union.
In June 1928, Köblös attended the 4th Congress of the Romanian Communist Party, held in Kharkov in the Ukraine. Köblös came under severe criticism at that party gathering for perceived errors in the Romanian party's political line and despite engaging in public self-criticism for these alleged shortcomings, Köblös was not re-elected to the party's Central Committee.
In December 1929, the Russian Communist Party and the Comintern once again condemned the political activity of Köblös and he was forbidden to take part in any further work of the Romanian Communist Party. Instead, Köblös returned to carpentry in an aviation factory.
Arrest and execution
- (in Romanian) Cristina Diac, "Ostaşul fidel al puterii proletare", Jurnalul Naţional, 11 October 2005
- Branko Lazitch with Milorad M. Drachkovitch, Biographical Dictionary of the Comintern: New, Revised, and Expanded Edition. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1986; pg. 219.
- (in Romanian) Ilarion Ţiu, "Aliatul lui Stalin", Jurnalul Naţional, June 7, 2005.
- (in Romanian) "Pauker – Köblös, in lupta pentru putere", Jurnalul Naţional, January 6, 2005
- Lazitch with Drachkovitch, Biographical Dictionary of the Comintern, pg. 220.
- (in Hungarian) Romániai Magyar Irodalmi Lexikon
- Vladimir Tismăneanu, Fantoma lui Gheorghiu-Dej, Editura Univers, Bucharest, 1995
- Dosarele Istoriei, 10/1998
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of the Romanian Communist Party