László Iván Kovács, one of the lads from Corvin Lane

László Iván Kovács was born in Debrecen in 1930. After graduating from high school, he applied to law school, but since his family was considered politically unreliable, he was not accepted. Consequently, Iván Kovács wound up taking night classes at the Budapest University of Economics for a year, after which he worked for the army in a civilian capacity, from where he was eventually dismissed. After this he worked as a miner and a sports secretary. He struggled to find his place in life but without success.

On October 23, 1956 the Hungarian college students organized protests in solidarity with the Polish people due to the recent developments there. The students put together a list of 16 points among which was a call for an independent and democratic Hungary, which they wanted to read out on the Hungarian Radio. Iván Kovács belonged to one of the groups who made it inside the radio building as the protest was going on outside. As we know today, the ÁVH secret police opened fire on the protestors, who responded by laying siege to the building.

That same day Iván Kovács obtained a gun at the nearby Kálvin Square, and later took part in the fights against the Soviet armored vehicles that arrived via Üllői Road. The following day, on October 24th, he joined the revolutionary group at Corvin Lane, where his initiative and proficiency with weapons immediately set him apart from the others. He gained the respect of the others quickly and soon became the group’s leader, which by that point had grown in size to almost 50 people. The youths under his command took up the fight against the Soviet armed units despite the miserable odds.

Iván Kovács was received by Prime Minister Imre Nagy as one of the revolutionary commanders on October 28th, and he laid out the demands of the Corvin Lane group: the negotiated withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary’s territory, an end to the one-party system, and the creation of a national guard with the inclusion of the armed revolutionaries. Iván Kovács participated in many negotiating sessions in late October and early November, where the formation and structure of the national guard was worked out.

Following the overthrow of the revolution, Iván Kovács called for the foundation of an illegal political party to guard the ideals of the revolution. He produced fliers calling for further resistance and hid guns for later use.

Unfortunately, Iván Kovács was arrested March 12, 1957. Brave throughout his interrogation, he refused to compromise his belief in the revolution’s ideals. Condemned to death December 27, 1957 for his organizing activities, the sentence was carried out three days later.

László Iván Kovács was one of the Lads of Pest who believed in democracy, who tried to live and find happiness in the darkest depths of Hungary’s dictatorship. He and these youths took up arms and courageously fought against tyranny, with many of them becoming martyrs for Hungary’s freedom.

Ajtony Virágh