1909 – 2008
Who was Ferenc Fejtő?
He was born in Nagykanizsa to a well-off Jewish Hungarian family of booksellers and publishers. Following the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, several members of his family became Yugoslavian, Italian, Czechoslovak and Romanian citizens.
He studied literature at Pécs and Budapest universities, alongside Slavic, German and Italian students. In 1932, he was condemned to a year in prison for organizing a Marxist study group. In 1934, he enrolled in the Social Democratic Party, where he contributed to the Népszava daily and to the Szocializmus journal. In 1935, together with the poet Attila József and the publicist Pál Ignotus, he founded the anti-fascist and anti-Stalinist literary journal Szép Szó. He published Sartre, Mounier, and Maritain. In 1938, following a sentence of six months in prison for an article criticizing the pro-German stance of the government, he left Hungary for France. During the Second World War, he took part in the French Resistance.
In 1945, François Fejtő headed the press department of the Hungarian embassy in Paris. He resigned his position in protest against the condemnation of his longtime friend László Rajk, and cut all links with Hungary. He returned to his native country only once, for Imre Nagy's national funeral in 1989.