Imre Finta was born on 2 September 1912 in Kolozsvar, a town located at the time in Hungary but today part of Rumania. After law studies during the nineteen thirties, Imre Finta enrolled in the Hungarian Royal Military Academy. He was appointed lieutenant on 1 January 1939. On 5 April 1942, he was promoted to the rank of captain and transferred to Szeged with the title of Division Commander of Gendarmerie Investigations.
The alleged crimes occurred in Hungary at the end of the Second World War, in the context of the Nazi policy to eliminate the Jews. In 1940, Hungary joined the Axis powers and, between 1941 and 1944, adopted a whole range of anti-Semitic laws. In March 1944, German troops invaded Hungary. They replaced the ruling government, which was favourably disposed towards the Axis powers, with an even more servile puppet government. At the time, the Royal Hungarian Gendarmerie figured prominently at the top of the power structure, dominated by the Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler (see ‘related cases’), the supreme Gestapo leader.
On 7 April 1944, the Hungarian Interior Minister adopted the “Baky” decree which provided for a plan to eliminate the Hungarian Jews, modelled no doubt on the one that the Nazis called “the final solution to the Jewish problem”. The execution of this decree which was entrusted to investigative units of the gendarmerie and to local police forces was to be carried out in six stages: isolation, expropriation, confinement to ghettos, concentration camps, before embarkation and finally deportation of the Jews, principally to the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps. The town of Szeged was the location of one of seven concentration camp sites.
During Imre Finta’s time as Divisional Commander of the gendarmerie investigative units in Szeged, 8617 Jews were forcibly held at brickworks in the town in appalling sanitary conditions and with no personal belongings. On 24 and 30 June, they were deported in such inhumane conditions that several of them died during the journey.
After the Second World War, Imre Finta was judged in absentia in Hungary by a Szeged court, found guilty of “crimes against the people” and sentenced to five years of forced labour – a sentence later commuted to five years in prison. In the end, he was able to benefit from a general amnesty proclaimed in 1970
From 1946 to 1951, Imre Finta lived in Germany. He then spent two years in France before leaving for Canada in 1953 where he received citizenship in 1956.