Born Nov. 16, 1886, in Seregélyes; died Nov. 29, 1967, in Budapest. A leader of the Hungarian labor movement; political and state figure of the Hungarian People’s Republic. A lawyer by training.
During World War I, Münnich was captured in Russia in 1915. In Tomsk in 1917 he joined the RCP (B). He was active in the Great October Socialist Revolution and in the Civil War of 1918–20 in Russia. Upon returning to Hungary in November 1918, he helped found the Communist Party of Hungary and was an organizer of the Hungarian Red Army and of the Hungarian Soviet Republic (HSR) of 1919.
After the suppression of the HSR, Münnich lived as an émigré in Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Germany. From 1922 to 1936 he lived in the USSR, where he held managerial posts. Münnich fought in the National Revolutionary War in Spain (1936–39), where he commanded the 11th International Brigade under the name of Otto Flatter. During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), he fought at Stalingrad.
After the war, Münnich returned to Hungary, where he served as chief of police for the city of Budapest from 1946 to 1949. He was in the diplomatic service from 1950 to 1956. In early November 1956, at the time of the struggle against the counterrevolutionary revolt in Hungary, Münnich participated in the formation of a Hungarian Revolutionary Workers’ and Peasants’ Government. He served as deputy premier from November 1956 to January 1957, minister of the armed forces and of internal affairs from November 1956 to January 1958, and first deputy premier from February 1957 to January 1958. He held the post of premier from January 1958 to September 1961 and of minister of state from 1961 to 1965.
From 1956, Münnich was a member of the Central Committee and of the Executive Committee (Politburo, since 1957) of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party; from June 1957 to November 1965 he was a member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party. He was twice awarded the Order of Lenin (1965, 1967).