|Country of Origin||Hungary|
|Date of Birth||4/30/1890|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||1965|
|Submitted by||Attila Urmenyhazi|
Story: Geza Lakatos (1890-1967), General in the Hungarian Army, Prime Minister of Hungary, migrant.
In 1910 he graduated as second-lieutenant officer from Ludovika Academy, the Military College of Hungary in Budapest. He served as army infantry officer of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in various posts until 1914 when he was accepted to the War Academy in Vienna. His higher military studies were interrupted due to the outbreak of WWII when he was sent to the Russian front and, as combatant in war zone, served from 1915 December to 1916 November in the capacity of staff officer to a Brigadier, a division commander. Between 1917 and 1918 his active service was on the Italian front.
In May 1919 whilst the Hungarian army was largely disarmed, a Soviet style Bolshevik-Communist insurrection and revolutionary putsch saw the Hungarian government passing on to home grown Communists for 133 days. Early in that period of somber Hungarian history Geza was in charge of the military headquarters in Gödöllö until he joined the Nationalists under the elected leader Admiral Horthy. After graduating from the War Academy in Budapest in 1921 he became lecturer in the same establishment. From 1923 he was in charge of communications and intelligence. In 1925 he received high honour, the title of ‘Vitéz’ (hero of the nation) and in 1928 he was assigned military attaché to Prague whilst further rising in his stellar military career. Geza Lakatos was promoted to Chief of Personnel in the Hungarian Army in 1935. He became a ‘3 star’ General (Altábornagy) in 1939. In 1941 Geza was an Army Corps Commander and in 1943 was promoted to the ultimate echelon in the military: that of a ‘4 star’ General (Colonel-General), Chief of the Defence Staff operating out of Kiev, Ukraine.
Two months after the Nazi invasion-occupation of Hungary he resigned from the military and had an audience with the tolerated and neutral Head of State Admiral Horthy who predicted that: ‘- after your well earned leave in the country, I will invite you back to Budapest to serve the nation, appointing you Prime Minister’. That is what had happened. Lakatos reluctantly accepted the Prime Ministership due to prevalent Nazi pressure in a country invaded and occupied by them, however he took up the challenge and tried to assemble a government formed by majority of anti-Nazi ministers. Whilst in power Geza Lakatos who headed a military government stopped the deportation of the Hungarian Jews and with Interior Minister Béla Horváth ordered Hungarian gendarmes to use deadly force against any deportation effort.
A man of honour Lakatos also reopened peace talks with the Allies as a last ditch effort to save his nation. However Hitler’s Germany had other ideas. Geza’s attempts failed as he was arrested and kept captive by the Germans from 2 January 1945.
He languished in prison but released afterwards only to be interned again until Soviet troops retook Hungary and had him undergo harsh investigations. Lakatos was released from detention in January 1946 after being subjected to endless People’s Tribunal hearings where his account as witness was sought. In 1949 the communist Hungarian government stopped the payment of his military pension and took away his property. He then was forced to come back to Budapest where tried to make a living by illustrating books and handpainting on silk scarves, resurrecting a dormant talent.
Finally the communist Hungarian government allowed Geza Lakatos to leave Hungary to join his daughter, a resident of Adelaide since 1957. He arrived in Australia in 1965 as a migrant sponsored by his own daughter. Afterwards he wrote his memoirs detailing in particular his earnest diplomatic-political attempts during his Prime Ministership of Hungary for the nation’s neutrality, sovereignty and independence and also to steer clear Hungary out of collision course between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. His book ‘As I Saw It: The Tragedy of Hungary’ was published in 1981 and released in the then West Germany and also in the USA. Following the universal collapse of communism, it was re-released in Hungarian in 1992, that time in Hungary.
Geza Lakatos was the very last constitutional Prime Minister of the Royal Kingdom of Hungary between 29 August 1944 and 15 October 1944 before his arrest and subsequent installation of a puppet sucessor to the Prime Ministerial post by the Nazi invaders. The final years of this great man, a national hero, the immigrant in Australia was among loving family and fellow countrymen until his quiet and peaceful passing away in Adelaide, 24 May 1967.
Submitted by : Attila Ürményházi