Ilona Duczyńska: Hungarian revolutionary historian (1897 - 1978) | Biography, Bibliography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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Ilona Duczyńska
Hungarian revolutionary historian

Ilona Duczyńska

Ilona Duczyńska
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Hungarian revolutionary historian
Was Linguist Historian Journalist Translator
From Austria-Hungary Hungary
Field Journalism Literature Social science
Gender female
Birth 11 March 1897, Vienna, Austria
Death 24 April 1978, Pickering, Canada (aged 81 years)
Star sign Pisces
Politics Hungarian Social Democratic Party, Communist Party of Austria
Spouse: Tivadar Sugár
The details (from wikipedia)


Ilona Duczynska (Polish: Ilona Duczyńska; Hungarian: Duczynska Ilona, Ducsinszka Ilona)(11 March 1897, Vienna – 24 April 1978, Pickering), was a Polish-Hungarian-Canadian revolutionary, journalist, translator, engineer, and historian. Her husband was Karl Polanyi and her daughter is Kari Polanyi Levitt.


In 1897, Ilona Duczynska was born near Vienna to a Hungarian mother and a Polish-Austrian father. In 1915, during the First World War, she became acquainted with anarcho-syndicalist revolutionary Ervin Szabó, who connected her with the work of the Galileo Circle. She became a revolutionary socialist. For her anti-war activities, she was expelled from school in 1915. She studied engineering at the Technical University of Zurich. There she was befriended by a community of representatives of the Russian Social Democratic Party opposed to the war, including Lenin, his wife Krupskaya, and Angelica Balabanoff. Together with delegations from Germany, France, and Britain, as well as other European Labour and Socialist parties, they met to draft a program of action against the war, known as the Zimmerwald Declaration (see Zimmerwald Conference). The 18-year-old Duczynska was entrusted to smuggle this call to action into Hungary.

In Hungary, she took part in the early 1918 strikes that called successfully for workers' councils. During the Galilei trial, she was imprisoned. In the Aster Revolution, she and other revolutionaries were freed. On November 17, 1918, she married Sugár Tivadar [hu] and soon after joined the Hungarian Communist Party. During the Hungarian Soviet Republic, she worked in the propaganda department of the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs and she was a member of the Budapest Central Revolutionary Worker and Soldier Council.

She fled to Vienna to escape the counter-revolution in Hungary. With an excellent education and knowledge of several languages, she was called to Moscow to serve as translator to Karl Radek in the preparations for the historic Second International Congress of Communist Parties. Ilona returned to Vienna in 1920, and subsequently was expelled from the party for "Luxembourgist deviations" and a publication in a journal edited by Paul Levi, who also fell into disfavor with the party. In 1922, she divorced Sugár. The next year she married Karl Polanyi and their only child Kari was born. From 1927, she edited the Der linke Sozialdemokrat and organized the left opposition in the Vienna branch of the Austrian Socialist Party. Her underground name in Vienna was Anna Novotny. In 1929, she returned to university, the Technical University of Vienna, studying technology, mechanics, mechanical drawing, electronics, and electric number theory.

In 1933 Karl emigrated to England followed by Kari in 1934 and Ilona in 1936. Duczynska participated in the 1934 workers' uprising in Vienna. Following the destruction of the Austrian working class movement in February 1934, Duczynska rejoined the Communist Party in order to continue the struggle of the now-illegal Schutzbund, the military arm of the Austrian Social Democratic Party, until 1936 when she joined her family in London. Subsequently, she was expelled from the Austrian Communist Party in London on orders from Moscow.

When she returned to England from Bennington, Vermont in 1942/3, she worked in the Political Intelligence department of Foreign Affairs. During World War II she also worked for the Royal Aircraft Establishment testing model aircraft in wind tunnels for a year or perhaps two.

After World War II, the family moved to Canada. Due to her background as a former communist, Duczynska could not gain an entrance visa to the United States. Karl Polanyi began his teaching position at Columbia University. He commuted to New York City from Canada. In 1964, Karl Polanyi died.

In the 1970s, Duczynska joined the widowed Countess Katalin ("Katus") Károlyi and Júlia Rajk, the widow of László Rajk, in the front row of the trial of the dissident poet and philosopher Miklós Haraszti. Their presence was probably responsible for his receiving a suspended sentence. By this time Duczynska was associated with many leading Hungarian writers and poets. She translated most of the novels and short stories of József Lengyel whom English critics named "the Hungarian Solzhenitsyn."

After Polanyi's death, she supervised the editing and publication of his posthumous works, and the translation of much of his oeuvre into Hungarian and several other languages.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 09 Apr 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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