Originally published 06/21/2013
Gyula Horn, a former leader of Hungary who in 1989 literally ripped a hole in the Iron Curtain, helping to set off months of tumultuous change in which Communist governments in Eastern Europe fell one after the other, died Wednesday in Budapest. He was 80.The Hungarian government announced the death. He had been hospitalized since 2007 with what was reported to be a brain malfunction.Mr. Horn’s life encompassed much of the history of 20th-century Hungary. His father, a Communist, was executed by the Nazis occupying Hungary in 1944. Gyula (pronounced JOO-la) also became a hard-line Communist, serving in militia units that hunted down government opponents during their revolt in 1956. The rebels lynched his brother, also a Communist.As foreign minister, as Moscow’s grip on Eastern Europe slipped, Mr. Horn proved nimble as a newly minted, nonideological, pragmatic reformer in helping to lead Hungary away from Communism. Elected prime minister as a Socialist in 1994, he angered Hungarians by cutting social programs to stanch raging inflation....