December 25, 1877 – January 8, 1945
István Szelle in his uniform from the First World War, 1927 (private collection)
István Szelle was born in Kisudvarnok (today Malé Dvorníky/Slovakia). Orphaned at an early age, he worked as a child for farm estate owners in his home village. He married in 1902. A father of five, Szelle earned his livelihood as a seasonal worker in agriculture and road construction. He was disabled in the First World War. Upon his return, he ran a small tobacco shop.
István Szelle was a founding member of the local Communist Party in his village. He was jailed several times for organizing farm worker strikes. After the Communist Party won the 1927 election, Szelle occupied a high post in the local government. He succeeded in bringing electricity to the village and having more wells built. Due to his age, Szelle was not drafted into military service in the Second World War.
The Hungarian police arrested Szelle in the fall of 1944 for his activities in the Communist Party. In mid-November, the SS transported Szelle to the extremely overcrowded Flossenbürg concentration camp. After several weeks, he fell victim to the horrific conditions at the camp. István Szelle died at age sixty-seven.