Nicholas (Miklós) Nyaradi – from banker to anti-Communist crusader

As part of our series on lesser known Hungarian Americans we introduce Nicholas Nyaradi or Miklós Nyáradi (Scheidl) the Hungarian banker and politician who became a significant voice in the anti-Communist movement in the United States.

Nicholas (Miklós) Nyaradi

Miklós Scheidl was born in 1905 in Hungary and after receiving his law degree in 1928 he had a long career in banking.  He became the head of the legal department of one of Hungary’s largest banks, the Pesti Hazai Első Takarékpénztár.

After World War II Scheidl changed his German sounding name to Nyárádi and became the financial expert of the Independent Smallholders’ Party. In 1947 he became Finance Minister.

In December 1948 he resigned while on an official visit in Switzerland and asked for asylum at the American Legation in Bern.  Two American diplomats interrogated him and produced a 72-page-long document.  Nyaradi gave a comprehensive picture of the methods used by the Soviet Union to control Hungary’s economy.  He had first-hand experience as head of the delegation negotiating in Moscow over reparation claims. The Soviets demanded 200 million dollars and later established numerous “joint ventures” in Hungary.

Nyaradi resented the political and economic influence of the Soviet Union and opposed the seizure of private property, e.g. the planned nationalization of MAORT, a US-owned oil company.  He stated that the financial fraud charges against Cardinal Mindszenty were baseless. The Hungarian Catholic Church had been accused of exchanging foreign donations “on the black market” and Nyaradi pointed out that according to a 1947 decree, the Church had the right to do that.  Nyaradi was most disturbed by the Communist tactics used to split and eventually eliminate his Smallholders’ Party.

Nyaradi’s defection caused a political crisis in Hungary and led to the resignation of Prime Minister Dinnyés.  After arriving to New York he soon received a teaching position at Bradley University, Peoria Illinois and founded the University’s School of International Studies. As an anti-Communist crusader in 1961 he warned that the US should not please Socialist countries just because US politicians are “yearning for love.”   He felt that the US was “throwing around billions and billions of good American greenbacks in foreign aid to nations who in many cases were neither thankful nor loved us more for these gifts.”

Book cover

Nyaradi promoted Hungary’s western orientation and was deeply concerned about the country’s economic independence.  He was an antifascist, an opponent of the Horthy regime and not universally welcomed by Hungarian Americans.  Some Hungarian right-wingers considered him an “agent of the Rotschilds.”

He died in 1976 while in Vienna, Austria and was buried in Peoria, Illinois.

On a tragic note, seven years after his death, in 1983, his widow, Eva Roskoványi was shot in Peoria as part of a suspected robbery.  The case has never been resolved.

His daughter Eva was a historian who died in 2002 at the age of 47.  Her memory is honored with the Eve Nyaradi Dvorak Award for Inspiring a Better World which was established in 2005 at Bradley University.

György Lázár

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