The Auschwitz survivor who led the Tüzoltó street group
István Angyal was born into a Jewish artisan family. At the age of 16 he was deported to Auschwitz where his mother and sister were murdered. Upon returning to Hungary, he graduated from high school and was admitted to the University of Budapest.
Angyal had hoped to find solutions to the post-war social problems facing Hungary under the communists, but the Stalinist dictatorship of the 1950s dissuaded him of his ideas. He was expelled from university for political reasons and subsequently had to take up a job in construction. But that didn’t stop him from being active in Budapest’s youth intellectual circles and attending literary meetings.
Upon receiving word of the student protests on October 23, 1956, Angyal immediately left his place of work in the countryside and traveled to Budapest to join the crowd marching from Bem Square to Parliament. That evening, he and his writer friends went to the Hungarian Radio building, where the secret police opened fire upon the crowds. Following the siege of the radio building, Angyal assisted in transporting the injured and collecting munitions.
On October 25, he participated in the protest before the Yugoslav embassy, and following this he distributed revolutionary fliers and transported bandages and food to the revolutionaries fighting in Corvin Lane and the surrounding areas. Not long afterward he became the leader of the group in Tűzoltó Street, and it was in this capacity that he negotiated with Prime Minister Imre Nagy and even Party Secretary János Kádár on October 29, although the negotiations were cut short.
István Angyal fought to defend his corner of the city until November 8, despite the overwhelming odds. Following the revolution’s overthrow, he was arrested and convicted of organizing against the people’s democratic state, for which he was executed in December 1958.