János Zalay

János Zalay

János Zalay was born on 24 September 1918 in Debrecen, his father was a secondary school teacher, later a principal. In 1936 he enlisted in the 11th Honvéd infantry regiment, in 1937 he received the rank of reserve officer, in 1942 he qualified as an officer and enrolled in an armoured retraining course. On 10 March 1944, he was transferred to the Hungarian occupation forces in the rear area of the Galician front with the 101st Tank Regiment. Here he was a frontline officer. The company was withdrawn to Hungary in the summer of 1944, and in August 1944 he became commander of the 1st Tank Regiment's Mobile Regiment, but before the start of operations he was appointed regimental commander. For 5 days on Christmas 1944 he led a combat group near Maglod.

During the siege it was not engaged in combat, it was also detached from its unit and on 11 February 1945 it was transferred to Soviet troops. In Jászberény he became commander of the newly formed 4th Company of the 1st Infantry Regiment. Afterwards he served in the Border Guards. In September 1945 he joined the MKP, and shortly afterwards the Freedom Fighters' Association, and in 1948 he completed a month's party school

In February 1947, he was awarded the Medal for the Capture of Budapest (which he called the Medal for the Liberation of Budapest in his autobiography), and at Christmas he received the silver degree of the Order of Hungarian Freedom.

In 1947 he was transferred to the Kossuth Academy as a teacher, and by 1950 he was already head of department. His evaluations were positive, but the 1950 evaluation noted that he "feared for his livelihood". By 1951 he was assessed as unfit for team service because of his class position. Nevertheless, he was assigned to a unit in Ashdod, where he received an 'unsatisfactory' rating at an inspection in the spring of 1951. In the same year, he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment in the first instance for breach of official secrecy. "His 'crime' was to leave boxes containing top secret and classified documents unattended in his tent during a military exercise while he went out to dinner. At the second instance, the sentence was reduced to 10 months, on the grounds that the incident took place in a closed military camp and that there was an armed guard outside the tent.

I have not been able to find any further details of his fate.