Ernő Gerő

Ernő Gerő ([ˈɛrnøː ˈɡɛrøː]; born Ernő Singer; 8 July 1898 – 12 March 1980) was a Hungarian Communist Party leader in the period after World War II and briefly in 1956 the most powerful man in Hungary as the second secretary of its ruling communist party.

Ernő Gerő
Gerő Ernő 1955 (cropped).jpg
Gerő in 1955
First Secretary of the Hungarian Working People's Party
In office
18 July 1956 – 25 October 1956
Preceded byMátyás Rákosi
Succeeded byJános Kádár
Minister of the Interior
In office
4 July 1953 – 6 June 1954
Prime MinisterImre Nagy
Preceded byJózsef Györe
Succeeded byLászló Piros
Minister of Finance
In office
3 December 1948 – 11 June 1949
Prime MinisterLajos Dinnyés
István Dobi
Preceded byMiklós Nyárádi
Succeeded byIstván Kossa
Member of the High National Council
In office
26 January 1945 – 11 May 1945
Preceded byBéla Miklós (de facto head of state)
Succeeded byJózsef Révai
Personal details
Ernő Singer

(1898-07-08)8 July 1898
Terbegec, Kingdom of Hungary
(now Trebušovce, Slovakia)
Died12 March 1980(1980-03-12) (aged 81)
Budapest, People’s Republic of Hungary
Political partyHungarian Communist Party,
Hungarian Working People's Party
Spouse(s)Erzsébet Fazekas (1900-1967)
Children2 sons
1 daughter

Early careerEdit

Gerő was born in Terbegec, Hont County of the Kingdom of Hungary (now Trebušovce, Slovakia) to Jewish parents, although he later totally repudiated religion. An early Hungarian communist, Gerő fled Hungary for the Soviet Union after Béla Kun's brief Soviet government was overthrown in August 1919. During his two decades living in the USSR, Gerő was an active NKVD agent. Through that association, Gerő was involved in the Comintern—the international organization of communists—in France, and also fought in the Spanish Civil War, during which he performed purges against Trotskyist groups in the International Brigades. As a result he was called the "Butcher of Barcelona".[1]

The outbreak of the Second World War in Europe found him in Moscow again, and he remained for the duration of the war. After the dissolution of the Communist International in 1943, he was in charge of propaganda directed at enemy forces and prisoners of war. Gerő was among the first communist functionaries to return to Hungary in early November 1944.[1] He was a member of Hungary's High National Council (provisional government) between 26 January and 11 May 1945.[citation needed]

In the November 1945 election, the Hungarian Communist Party, under Gerő and Mátyás Rákosi, got 17% of the vote, compared to 57% for the Smallholders' Party, but the Soviet commander in Hungary, Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, installed a coalition government with communists in key posts. The communists held an election and took full control in 1949, with Rákosi as party leader. Gerő and Mihály Farkas were Rákosi's right-hand men.[citation needed]

Rákosi took over the premiership as well in 1952. However, his authority was shaken a year later by the death of Stalin, when Imre Nagy took over as prime minister. Gerő was retained as a counterweight to the reformers. Rákosi, having managed to regain control, was then undermined by Nikita Khrushchev's secret speech in early 1956 denouncing Stalinism and forced to leave office on 18 July 1956 by Anastas Mikoyan. He retained enough influence that the MDP designates Gerő to succeed him as party leader.[citation needed]

Gerő interregnumEdit

Gerő led the country for a brief period, known as the 'Gerő Interregnum', from 18 July 1956 to 24 October 1956, just over three months. He had been Rákosi's close associate since 1948, and was involved in party expulsions, the industrialization and collectivization of Hungary.[citation needed]

Later life and deathEdit

On 23 October 1956, students marched through Budapest intending to present a petition to the government. The procession swelled as several people poured onto the streets. Gerő replied with a harsh speech that angered the people, and police opened fire. It proved to be the start of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.[2]

As the revolution spread throughout the country, the central committee met on 25 October and agreed that János Kádár should be made party leader and Imre Nagy be made prime minister, marking the end of the Gerő interregnum. Gerő went to the Soviet Union, but after the revolution was crushed, the Communist government of Kádár initially refused to let him return to Hungary.[citation needed] He was finally allowed to return from exile in 1960, but was promptly expelled from the Communist Party. He worked as an occasional translator in Budapest during his retirement. His character plays a central role in Vilmos Kondor's 2012 novel, Budapest Noir, and the whole series. He died in Budapest in 1980 at the age of 81.[citation needed]



  • Almendros, Joaquín: Situaciones españolas: 1936–1939. El PSUC en la guerra civil. Dopesa, Barcelona, 1976.
  • Chacón, R.L.: Por qué hice las checas de Barcelona. Laurencic ante el consejo de guerra. Editorial Solidaridad nacional, Barcelona, 1939.
  • The First Domino: International Decision Making During the Hungarian Crisis of 1956 Texas A & M University Press, 2004, p. 33.
  • Johanna Granville, "Soviet Documents on the Hungarian Revolution, 24 October – 4 November 1956", Cold War International History Project Bulletin, no. 5 (Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Washington, DC), Spring, 1995, pp. 22–23, 29–34.
  • Thomas, Hugh (1976). Historia de la Guerra Civil Española. Círculo de Lectores (in Spanish). Barcelona. ISBN 84-226-0873-1.
Political offices
Preceded by
Miklós Nyárádi
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
István Kossa
Preceded by
József Györe
Minister of the Interior
Succeeded by
László Piros
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mátyás Rákosi
General Secretary of the
Hungarian Working People's Party

18 July 1956 – 25 October 1956
Succeeded by
János Kádár