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Janos Kadar
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World Leader
    (May 26, 1912-July 6, 1989)
    Born in Fiume, Austria-Hungary (now Rijeka, Croatia)
    Birth name was Janos Czermanek
    Minister of the Interior of Hungary (1948-50)
    Prime Minister of Hungary (1956-58,1961-65)
    Secretary-General of the Hungarian Communist Party (1956-88)
    He frequently cut classes to play soccer before eventually dropping out.
    During the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, he told the Soviet ambassador, in the presence of the Hungarian Council of Ministers, that if Soviet tanks entered Budapest, he would fight them with his bare hands.
    Less than 24 hours later, he slipped out of Budapest and showed up along the Soviets, demanding that they intervene to 'end the excesses of the counter-revolutionary elements.'
    He promised his predecessor, Imre Nagy, safe passage out of the country.
    Instead, as soon as Nagy left the sanctuary of the Yugoslavian embassy, he was arrested, then put on trial and executed.
    He started his reign with a crackdown that led to the arrest and imprisonment of tens of thousands of Hungarians and the execution of several hundred.
    He was a chain smoker.
    He was imprisoned for three years and tortured by an earlier Communist regime (1951-54).
    He eventually eased restrictions on free speech, culture and travel.
    His 'goulash Communism' approach, which adopted elements of free market economies, produced a higher standard of living than in most Eastern Bloc countries.
    He had zero tolerance for government corruption.
    He lived modestly, avoiding the self-indulgence of many other Communist leaders.

Credit: C. Fishel

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