Kunfi (Kohn), Zsigmond

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KUNFI (Kohn ), ZSIGMOND (1879–1929), Hungarian socialist. Born in Nagykanizsa, Kunfi joined the radical Sociological Society and wrote for its political organ Twentieth Century. His anti-religious views led him to leave his post as secondary school teacher and join the Social Democratic Party, becoming editor of its newspaper Népszava.

When the revolution of 1918 overthrew the Hungarian regime, Kunfi was made minister of social welfare and later minister of education. He was commissar of education during the Communist dictatorship of Béla *Kun but resigned soon afterward in protest against Kun's extremist policies. In August 1919, when the counterrevolutionaries seized power in Hungary, he immigrated to Austria. He became editor of the socialist Arbeiter Zeitung and also of Vilagossag, an emigrant socialist paper in Hungarian. He taught at the People's University of Vienna, where he preached against the danger of Communism and even criticized his own role in the Hungarian revolution.

Kunfi was a brilliant essayist, a convincing orator, and a sociologist of distinction. He translated the works of Marx, Kautsky, *Lassalle, Anatole France, and *Zola into Hungarian and, although he officially left the Jewish community, he wrote a penetrating study of the Jewish problem in Hungary. He committed suicide in 1929.


uje, 6 (1942), 488; Magyar Irodalmi Lexikon, 1 (1963), 721; E. Fischer, Erinnerungen und Reflexionen (1969), index.

[Baruch Yaron]