Jószef Fischer (April 12, 1901 – February 23, 1995) born in Budapest, the son of a printer, Fischer joined Ármin Krausz’s building school as an apprentice bricklayer and then began to study architecture at the Building Trades College. He took part in the revolution of autumn 1918 and joined the Red Army under the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic. After the defeat of the Soviet Republic, he won a place at the College of Applied Arts, but did not complete the course for financial reasons.
He worked as a vase painter and then a technical draughtsman in Miklós Ligeti’s pottery workshop, but was dismissed after 18 months. He then went to work for an architect in private practice, as a site supervisor and then as a designer. In 1926, he obtained a qualification as a master builder and was charged with building the Császár Baths. He and his wife started a building firm in 1931.
In 1932, he mounted an exhibition of modern architecture on Margaret Island in Budapest. Fischer met several leading politicians in the Hungarian Social Democratic Party, for which he was charged with anti-class agitation and sentenced to a month’s suspended prison sentence. However, he retained his Social Democratic connections and was chosen as a candidate for the party in the 1939 general election. He was also elected chairman of the architects’ group in the party. Fischer edited Tér és Forma (Space and Form), a journal of modern architecture.
In January 1940, he was called up into the ranks of the army. However, in 1943, he conscripted into the SAS and posted to Csepel Aerodrome and then to the Transdanubian Guard. Fischer managed to conceal fugitives in his flat during the German occupation. In November 1944, he deserted from the army, so that he and his family became fugitives as well.
In January 1945, he was appointed government commissioner for reconstruction, and until 1948, he chaired the Budapest Public-Works Council. For a short time, he worked for a design company and then became a technical inspector with a contracting firm. When the firm ceased to exist, he became foreman of the maintenance department at the Budapest Urban Construction Design Enterprise.
During the 1956 revolution, Fischer’s home became a meeting place for Social Democratic politicians, and when the party was revived, he was elected onto the leadership. On November 3, he was appointed state minister in the coalition government as his party’s nominee. He went into hiding for a few days after the revolution was defeated, but then returned to his work place. He was dismissed from his job in 1959 and made an application to emigrate.
He had to wait seven-and-a-half years for a passport, but finally managed to emigrate to the United States in 1965, where he received citizenship in 1969. He worked for several architectural practices there and became a member of the Hungarian group of the International Congress of Modern Architecture (CIAM). He returned to Hungary in 1978 and retired.
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