Gy­orgy Sz­abad, speaker of Hungary’s first post com­mu­nist par­lia­ment, dies at 90

Cape Breton Post - - WORLD/IN MEMORIAM -

Gy­orgy Sz­abad, a his­to­rian who sur­vived forced labour dur­ing the Holo­caust to be­come the speaker of Hungary’s first postcom­mu­nist Par­lia­ment, has died at age 90.

Sz­abad’s death on Fri­day was an­nounced by Par­lia­ment, where he was speaker be­tween 1990 and 1994. No cause of death was given.

Sz­abad, a univer­sity history pro­fes­sor, also played a key role in the 1989-1990 ne­go­ti­a­tions which led to the end of Hungary’s com­mu­nist regime.

Tributes from all sides of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum high­lighted his con­tri­bu­tions to democ­racy.

Sz­abad was “one of the lead­ing fig­ures of na­tional thought and the new Hun­gar­ian democ­racy,’’ said a joint state­ment from Pres­i­dent Janos Ader, Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Or­ban and Par­lia­men­tary Speaker Las­zlo Kover.

The op­po­si­tion To­gether party, mean­while, said Sz­abad, in his role as speaker, helped en­sure “that the huge po­lit­i­cal and so­cial changes hap­pened in the form of a peace­ful tran­si­tion.’’

Sz­abad was born to a Hun­gar­ian-Jewish fam­ily in Arad, Ro­ma­nia, on Aug. 4, 1924, and moved to Bu­dapest as a child. His univer­sity ap­pli­ca­tion was re­jected be­cause of a Hun­gar­ian pol­icy which lim­ited the num­ber of Jews in higher ed­u­ca­tion.

In­stead, Sz­abad worked for a time as an ap­pren­tice gar­dener.

In Oc­to­ber 1944, he es­caped from a forced labour brigade, to which many Hun­gar­ian Jewish men were sent dur­ing the Holo­caust. In 1945, he was cap­tured by Soviet troops for more forced labour, but again was able to es­cape.

He is sur­vived by his sec­ond wife, An­drea Sujan and their daugh­ter Ju­lia.

Fu­neral ar­range­ments were not im­me­di­ately an­nounced.

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