BUDAPEST, Hungary — Laszlo Rajk, a Hungarian architect, dissident and film and theater production designer, has died. He was 70.
Rajk died Wednesday from an undisclosed illness, according to online architecture publication epiteszforum.hu.
Rajk shared the name Laszlo with his father, a communist interior minister who was executed in 1949 after an infamous Stalinist show trial during the early days of Hungary’s communist regime. Rajk hadn’t celebrated his first birthday when his father died.
After his mother, Julianna Foldi, was imprisoned for allegedly supporting her husband’s “subversive” work, the young Rajk spent several years in state care. He was temporarily given a new name, and returned to his mother after her 1954 release.
As an avant-garde architect in the 1970s, he became involved in Hungary’s dissident movement. Rajk later helped publish and distribute underground “samizdat” publications. The publications carried articles on taboo subjects like the 1956 anti-Soviet revolution, and sociological and economic studies intended to give a clearer picture of Hungarian reality than the one appearing in state-censored newspapers and magazines.
Rajk turned his own home into a “samizdat boutique,” where issues of the clandestine journals could be purchased.
Rajk was blacklisted in 1981 by Hungary’s communist regime and mostly banned from working under his own name for a decade.
The same year, he co-founded AB Fuggetlen Kiado, an independent publisher of mostly Hungarian and Eastern European dissident authors but also works by anti-authoritarian writers like George Orwell, or those writing about the region, like British historian Timothy Garton Ash.
Miklos Haraszti, a fellow dissident and former Representative on Freedom of the Media at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said Rajk was a “pioneer” in the launch and strengthening of Hungary’s democratic opposition.
Born in Budapest on Jan. 26, 1949, Rajk is survived by his wife, Judit, a renowned concert singer.