Military Wiki
Pál Maléter
Born (1917-09-04)4 September 1917
Died 16 June 1958(1958-06-16) (aged 40)
Place of birth Eperjes, Kingdom of Hungary
Place of death Budapest, Hungary
Years of service 1942–1956
Rank Colonel

Pál Maléter (4 September 1917 – 16 June 1958) was born to Hungarian parents in Eperjes, a city in the northern part of Historical Hungary, today Prešov, Slovakia. He was the military leader of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

Maléter 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, until captured by the Red Army. He became a Communist, trained in sabotage, 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 his countrymen rather than the Soviets.

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, Pal Maleter, 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 has been named after him[1] – ironically, given Maléter's height, 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. [1]|Pinus mugo 'Pal Maleter'
  2. Victor Sebestyen (2006), Twelve Days: The Story of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, p. 130.

Further reading

  • Sebestyen, Victor (2006). Twelve Days: The Story of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. New York: Pantheon. pp. xix. ISBN 0-375-42458-X. 
  • Durschmied, Erik (2004). Unsung Heroes: The Twentieth Century's Forgotten History-Makers. Hodder & Stoughton. chap. X. ISBN 0-340-82520-0. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Károly Janza
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Ferenc Münnich

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