Pál Maléter

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Pál Maléter
Pál Maléter Anefo.jpg
Born(1917-09-04)4 September 1917
Eperjes, Sáros County, Kingdom of Hungary, Austria-Hungary
Died16 June 1958(1958-06-16) (aged 40)
Budapest, Hungarian People's Republic
Allegiance Kingdom of Hungary
 Soviet Union
 Hungarian People's Republic
Hungarian revolutionaries
Years of service1942–1956
RankColonel General
Battles/warsWorld War II Hungarian Revolution of 1956

Pál Maléter (4 September 1917 – 16 June 1958) was the military leader of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

Maléter was born to Hungarian parents in Eperjes, a city in Sáros County, in the northern part of Historical Hungary, today Prešov, Slovakia. He studied medicine at the Charles University, Prague, before moving to Budapest in 1938, going to the military academy there. He fought on the Eastern Front of World War II for Axis, until captured by the Red Army. He became a Communist, trained in sabotage, fought against the Germans in Transylvania and was sent back to Hungary, where he was noted for his courage and daring.

In 1956 he was a colonel and the commander of an armoured division stationed in Budapest when he was sent to suppress the Hungarian Uprising, but on making contact with the insurgents he decided to join them, helping to defend the Kilian Barracks. He was the most prominent member of the Hungarian military to change sides, allying himself with the insurgents rather than the Rákosi government.

As the chief military presence on the insurgents' side he came into contact with the new government, and enjoyed a rapid promotion from colonel to general, and on 29 October was appointed Minister of Defense. On 3 November he went to Tököl, located near Budapest, to negotiate with the Soviet military forces based there. During discussions on the following day, and against international law, Soviet officers arrested Maléter at the conference and imprisoned him.

He was executed along with Imre Nagy and others in a Budapest prison on 16 June 1958, on charges of attempting to overthrow the Hungarian People's Republic. His first wife and three children went to the U.S. in the wake of the uprising, while his second wife remained in Hungary; both wives subsequently remarried.

In June 1989, on the anniversary of their deaths, Imre Nagy, Pál Maléter, three others who had died in prison and a sixth, empty coffin symbolising all those who had died were formally reburied in Budapest with full honours.

A pine cultivar has been named after him,[1] a dwarf variety. Maléter was known for his great height; according to historian Victor Sebestyen, Maléter was "more than two meters tall",[2] or at least six feet eight inches.


  1. ^ Pinus mugo 'Pal Maleter'. arrowhead-alpines.com
  2. ^ Victor Sebestyen (2006), Twelve Days: The Story of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, ISBN 030727795X, p. 130.

Further reading[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Károly Janza
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Ferenc Münnich