Béla Barabás

Béla Barabás

Béla Barabás was born on 28 December 1915 in Szeged, his father was a teacher in the village. He was promoted to the rank of infantry lieutenant in 1938, and after the reorganisation of the 2nd Honvéd infantry regiment he was transferred to the armoured corps. Until 20 September 1944 he was an assistant officer of the 1st Armoured Regiment. His 1953 autobiography of his subsequent years of service did not reveal all the truth. It only stated that 'In the first days of December 1944, I was sent with my unit to Buda, where I was wounded, and took advantage of this to stay at the home of a good friend, and there, on 12 February 1945, while awaiting the arrival of the liberating Soviet army, I volunteered.'

In comparison, other sources and an interview with Barabás in 1995 show that in October 1944 he took over the command of the tank regiment and at the end of the year he was appointed to the General Staff, as the Chief of Operations of the 1st Armoured Division. On 26 October 1994, he wrote to the author of these lines that he had first started out with the group of General Staff Captain Frigyes Waczek, but that they soon scattered in all directions of the windward column. His group consisted of 2-300 men, mostly Germans, who clashed several times with Soviet troops. "I made it as far as the lookout on János Hill, was wounded in close combat and was taken prisoner". Not long before, a sniper's bullet had taken the life of his friend, Lieutenant Kálmán Rapcsányi. Unsurprisingly, in his biographies after 1945 he did not even mention his noble ancestry - nor did he try to pass himself off as a worker.

He returned home in 1947, after which he joined the MKP and immediately volunteered for service. He was immediately employed, became a teacher at various retraining and weapons courses, was also head of studies at the Kossuth Academy for a year, and in 1951 became commander of the armour department at the University of Technology. He also held party functions. In 1948, he was awarded the bronze degree of the Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic, which was exchanged for the corresponding degree of the Order of Merit of the Hungarian People's Republic in 1950.

In 1953 he was discharged from the army. No documents of this can be found at the moment, but the dismissal was apparently due to the downsizing of former "Horthysta officers". He then took a job in the film industry.

On 22 January 1958, he was summoned to the Military Staff Headquarters and his demotion was justified on the grounds that "during and after the counter-revolution he had shown reprehensible behaviour. He insulted and slandered the Party. He declared that there was no need for a Party. He hated the Communists and the Soviet Union [...] He listened to Radio Free Europe in the shelter and adopted what was said on the air. In the shelter, this led to an argument. In this discussion it was said that you are a 'Muscovite' too, why don't you fight for the 'revolution', [Barabás] told Comrade Kolonich [the Russian interpreter of the film factory]." According to Barabas, this statement was made after Kolonich asked Barabas why he did not go out into the streets to fight to put down the counter-revolution. We have no information on his subsequent life.