A Great Man Passes On; Bela Kiraly, Leader of Hungarian Revolt, Dies


Although Being Prepared is devoted to personal injury,  insurance law, and issues affecting people injured in accidents, I must note the passing of a great man that I knew.

        General Bela K. Kiraly died at the age of 97 in his native Hungary.  He was the military leader of the failed Hungarian uprising of 1956.  Read his full obituary from The New York Times here.

I knew the general as Professor Kiraly of the Brooklyn College History Department.  He escaped Hungary with the Soviets in hot pursuit when the uprising failed.  He settled in New York where he took doctoral studies at Columbia University and became a professor of history.  I took his course in military history.  

Although General Kiraly was an Hungarian hero, he did not talk about it in his course.  He was a modest, nice, and humble man.  When I was privileged to have lunch with him he did discuss much about his great past, such as the following  from the Times obituary:

During the war, Mr. Kiraly commanded a battalion of 400 Jewish slave laborers at the Ukrainian front. Disobeying orders from his superiors, as The Jerusalem Post wrote in 1993, he “put the 400 men under his command into Hungarian uniforms and treated them humanely.” For his actions, he was honored in 1993 as a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial authority in Jerusalem.

Mark E. Seitelman, 7/9/09, www.seitelman.com, letters@seitelman.com, 800-581-1434.

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