Hungary. 5,000 Forint 2011. 100th Anniversary Birth of István Bibó. Silver Proof

Hungary, 5,000 Forint 2011. 100th Anniversary Birth of István Bibó. Silver Proof


The Magyar Nemzeti Bank (National Bank of Hungary) has issued a silver coin with a face value of 5,000 forint to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of a 20th century Hungarian hero, István Bibó. The obverse was designed by György Szabó. Below the line bisecting the obverse, in the center, is a quote in Hungarian from the famous proclamation issued by István Bibó on November 4, 1956, arranged in six horizontal lines: ‘THE PEOPLE OF HUNGARY HAVE SHED ENOUGH BLOOD TO DEMONSTRATE TO THE WORLD THEIR DEVOTION TO FREEDOM AND JUSTICE’. The inscription ‘István Bibó’ appears below the quote. The reverse, bearing a portrait of Bibó, was designed by Mihály Fritz. The inscriptions ‘Bibó’, ‘István’ and ‘1911–1979’ appear in three horizontal lines. The coin is struck in .925 fine silver, weighs 31.46 grams and  is 38.61 mm in diameter with a milled edge. The issue limit is 6,000 coins in proof quality .

The Life of István Bibó

(b. Budapest, 7 August 1911 – d. Budapest, 10 May 1979)

Széchenyi Prize (posthumously, 1990), Hungarian lawyer, politician and political thinker, Minister of State in the 3rd government of Imre Nagy in 1956

István Bibó’s interest in the philosophy of law, the relationship between law and power and the political development of Central and Eastern European states was fostered by his family background, as his father, an ethnologist and philosopher, was director of the University Library in Szeged. He received his doctorates in law and political science from the University of Szeged in 1933 and 1934, respectively. He initially worked as a court notary, before switching to the Ministry of Justice. From 1940 he was a private docent in legal sciences at the University of Szeged. He married Boriska Ravasz, daughter of a Reformed Church bishop, in 1940. Arrested in October 1944 by the Hungarian fascists because of issuing permissions for Jews, he escaped a few days later and went underground. He held office in the Ministry of the Interior of the interim national government in 1945-46. From 1946 to 1950 he was an instructor at the University of Szeged and the Institute of Eastern European Sciences, of which he was also acting director. Stripped of all offices, in 1950 he became the University librarian. In 1956 he participated in the reconstitution of the Petőfi Party (National Agrarian Party). As the candidate of his party, he was appointed Minister of State in the coalition government by Imre Nagy on 3 November 1956. After the revolution was crushed, he sought compromise, but was later convicted in 1958 for publishing an analysis of the revolution and for his political behaviour and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was released as part of an amnesty in 1963 and worked at the library of the Central Statistical Office until his retirement in 1971.

He hardly had any opportunity to pursue his creative intellectual work and publish, as he had to translate and take on side jobs. He was only able to publish the work which he considered to be his most important, on the paralysis of international institutions, abroad in an abbreviated form in 1976. He was unable to finish or even begin the other works that he had planned. His earlier studies were in great demand starting from the early 1970s and only shortly before his death was he able to reach an agreement on their publication in Hungarian with his friends abroad. He did not live to see the publication of four volumes of his writings in Switzerland (European Protestant Hungarian Free University, 1981-1984).

A selection of his writings (excluding those from 1956) was subsequently published in three volumes in Hungary (Magvető Publishing House, 1986), and the final volume with the missing works only went to print in 1990.

After his death, he became an iconic figure for more liberal intellectuals, but his widespread appeal and integrative approach is well reflected by the collection of works planned for the celebration of his 70th birthday (published posthumously as a samizdat Bibó Memorial Book in 1981), which was signed by more than 70 authors with widely varying views.

Several collections of his work were published after the change of regime, and from the end of the 1980s the most important ones were published individually or in collections in different European and Eastern European languages.

The College of Law and Political Science of ELTE University is named after him.


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