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Valyi, Peter


VALYI, PETER (1919–1973), Hungarian statesman. Valyi was born in Szombathely, Hungary. His father, Emanuel, the owner of a brick factory, was for some time head of the local Jewish community. There was even a suggestion that Valyi should train for the rabbinate, and for this purpose, in addition to his secular studies at the local high school, he was taught Bible and Talmud privately. During the period of Nazi rule in Hungary in 1944, the Valyi family was exempted from transportation to Auschwitz in view of the fact that the head of the family had been awarded a gold medal for bravery in World War i.

Valyi graduated as an engineer at the Technion of Budapest. As soon as the Red Army entered Hungary, he joined the ranks of the Communist Party, gradually rising to a position of importance. In 1954, he was appointed deputy director of the planning organization of the Communist Party and continued in this office until 1967, when he was appointed minister of finance in the government of Hungary. In 1970, he was appointed deputy prime minister, and put in charge of economic planning. He was regarded as the father of the new policy which produced a remarkable growth of Hungary's economy. This policy, which included the establishment of strong economic ties with the West, was not viewed favorably by the Russians and it also met with internal opposition. As a result, it was only in his last years that Valyi was elected to the Central Committee of the party, and he was never made a member of the Politburo. From the time that he rose to prominence, Valyi severed all relations with the Jewish community, and even with members of his family. He died in mysterious circumstances in 1973. According to reports, he fell into a furnace while inspecting the processes of steel manufacture at a factory.

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