In Memoriam Robert Gabor 1919-2017

Washington, DC – Members of the Hungarian American Coalition (Coalition) are deeply saddened to learn that Robert Gabor passed away peacefully on October 16, at his home in Friendship Heights, MD. He was 98 years old.

Robert Gabor. Photo published in The Washington Post on October 21, 2017.

Born in Budapest, Hungary in October 1919, Mr. Gabor became active in politics at a young age and dedicated his life to the struggle for social justice. At risk of his own life, during Germany’s occupation of Hungary, Robert helped operate a clandestine radio station. His efforts included procuring false papers for many Jewish families.

After the war, Mr. Gabor played a role in the struggle to stop Soviet-backed communists from seizing control of the Hungarian government. In late 1947, the newly empowered communists sought his arrest, but he eluded capture by escaping the country. Months later, he was tried in absentia in Budapest and sentenced to death by hanging, on charges of conspiracy and espionage.

He arrived in the U.S. in 1950 with his wife Elizabeth. Robert soon joined the research department of the Free Europe Committee. He later managed an international news feature service and founded Peace with Freedom, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping newly independent African nations overcome the legacy of colonialism. In 1986, he and his wife moved to Washington, where Robert worked at the AFL-CIO as a specialist in Eastern European affairs.

With the collapse of communism in Hungary, after 40 years in exile, Robert returned to Hungary where he received a hero’s welcome and medals of honor for his work against the Nazis and communists. In 1998, he authored the book Genuine Social Democracy: Struggles against Fascism and Communism in Hungary, 1944-1948.

Coalition member Dr. János Horváth, Ambassador-at-Large and former doyen of the Parliament of Hungary, remembered Robert’s legacy: “He was a vivid presence for many of us who were privileged to participate in and witness his journey. His was a very active life, filled with wisdom, work and good will; a compelling example of a noble life poured out for others throughout the course of a grim century.”

Mr. Gabor is survived by his daughter Vivian, her husband Jim Grossfeld, and their daughter Elise of Bethesda, MD; and by his son Andrew, his wife Kimbell, and their children Laura and Ted of Wheaton, IL. A memorial service will be held at a future date in the Washington area.

The Hungarian American community mourns the loss of this true Hungarian patriot, deeply committed to the Hungarian-American community and a genuinely good man.

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