Kőszeg, Ferenc (1939-) a writer, editor, human rights activist and politician.
He was born in Budapest, as the only child of his parents. His father: Ferenc Kőszeg was a dentist, who died in the Sovietunion in 1943 as a Hungarian Jew forced for military labour service at the front line, his mother Lívia Eidus was a dentist too. He himself married editor Éva Fekete (1944-1997), they have three children.
Having passed his school leaving exam at ELTE János Apáczai Csere Secondary School in 1957 he started his university studies at ELTE in Latin as wll Hungarian Language and Literature. However, in October 1957 he was arested and spent two months in prison charged with his activities in students’ resistance movement, but as the purges ended in high schools and universities, he was released too. He received his MA degree in Latin and Hungarian Language and Literature in 1967.
Kőszeg started his carreer as an editor of Szépirodalmi Publishers from 1963 to 1975, then that of Europa Publishing House for another five years. During the 1960s and 1970s he published book reviews, and translated English and German literature. From the mid 1970s he got in close contact with the circles of Hungarian democratic opposition. Having signed the solidarity proclamation with the imprisonned members of the Charta ‘77 dissident group of Czechoslovaki, he lost his job as an editor at the state company. From 1980 he made his living as a free-lance translator, and a foreign language teacher, then took a job as an employee in a book shop. In the mid 1980s he received a few months long research grant from the New School for Social Research, New York, by returning home his passport was taken by the police and he was not alowed to travel abroad for years.
He was an active member of Hungarian dissident movement as one of the founders of SZETA, the Fund for Aiding the Poor from 1979, and founding editor of samizdat periodical Beszélő from late 1981. He was also a founding member in 1987 of Asylum (Hungarian Association for Migrants), in 1988 of Independent Legal Aid Service, and in 1989 of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (of which he was later elected the Executor Director 1995-1999, and the President 1999-2007).
In 1988 he was also the founding member of Hungary’s liberal party: the Alliance of Free Democrats, (1988–2010), of which he was elected as a representatives in the Budapest Parliament (1990-1998). As an MP he held the post Vice President of the Committee on National Security (1996-1998).Ferenc Kőszeg retired as the President of Hungarian Helsinki Committee in 2007. As a politician his main activties were: protection of human rights, fighting against censorship before 1989, and to make freely available all the records of the Communist era following the system change. As a writer and journalist he has published a number of finely writen articles, pamflets and memoirs with a polemic and often self-ironic tone in his masterly chronicles of the transition period.
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- Budapest, Hungary
Author(s) of this page
- Nóvé, Béla
- Scheibner, Tamás