Béla Biszku was born on 13 September 1921 in Marokpapi, Hungary. After finishing six years of elementary studies and four years of state civil school, he received a locksmith’s apprenticeship in 1937.
Biszku became member of the Hungarian Communist Party in 1944. Between 1957 and 1961 he served as the Minister of Interior in the government of Janos Kádár, and between 1961 and 1962 he became the Deputy Prime Minister. From 1962 to 1978, Biszku was the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.
In 1972, together with Zoltan Komocsin, and other fellow communists, he became involved in a plot to force Kádár to resign from virtually all of his public functions in an effort to return Hungary to a more orthodox Soviet-style line. However, instead, Kádár slowly removed Biszku from power. He was forced to retire in 1978 when he was replaced as Secretary of the Central Committee.
The uprising against Hungary’s communist dictatorship and its submission to the Soviet Union began on 23 October 1956. It was one of the largest revolts against the communist government in the Eastern Bloc but within three weeks the Revolution was crushed by a Soviet invasion. Suppression and punishment of those having participated in the anti-Communist Revolution ensued and Biszku is said to have been the chief director of the post-1956 reprisals. Biszku is accused of ordering the security forces to open fire indiscriminately on anti-Communist protesters on two separate occasions. One incident took place on 5 December 1956 at Nyugati railway station in Budapest and five people died as the result. The second incident occurred only three days later in Salgótarján, a city in the North of Hungary, resulting in 46 dead. Among them was also the Revolution’s leader, reform communist Imre Nagy.
After the rebellion, some 26,000 protesters were hauled before the courts, around 300 of whom were executed. An estimated 200,000 people fled the country during a brief period before the borders were sealed. Biszku allegedly personally intervened in court cases to ensure heavy sentences against the revolutionaries, including the death sentence.
From the end of communism, Biszku involved himself in revisionist causes trying to portray the Communist dictatorship in Hungary in a favourable light. In August 2010, Biszku appeared on TV claiming the revolution of 1956 was “a counter-revolution” that wanted to reinstate capitalism in the country. He also said that the punishment of those who took part in the revolution was correct. Biszku attracted attention on himself through this speech as it was contrary to Hungarian law, which prohibits to downplay the events that took place under communism or show them in a good light.
In 2011, the so-called “Biszku Law” was adopted, which abolished the statute of limitations on crimes against humanity and war crimes. On 17 February 2012, the nationalist Jobbik party filed an official criminal complaint against Biszku in a bid to have him tried under the new laws abolishing the statute of limitations on crimes against humanity.