Dad the ‘Football Fan Deserter’

 

A while back I published my father’s Curriculum Vitae in which he described his escape from communist Hungary.  Last week my friend György found these two articles published in Hungarian newspapers about the event that my father described and the subsequent investigation.

Here’s the official story as translated by my brother’s friend Anikó.

Nepszava article 1948mayIt is known that two groups totaling several hundred fans traveled to last week’s football game held in Vienna, on a so called collective passport. One group was organized by Rapid Travel, 220 of them took a chartered train ride from the Capital. The other group’s trip was organized by MAV (Hungarian Rail Authority) Konzum Coop and completed on a boat. This group had 377 people. At the beginning of the week after the chartered train and boats have recrossed the Hungarian border on their return trip, the Passport Office’s representatives concluded that of the total number of visitors, 38 failed to return to Hugary. For the time being we only know the identities of six people, those took the trip courtesy of Rapid Travel, to attend their first ever football game

The names of the boat deserters, 27 men and 5 women have not been released yet, their cases remain under investigation. 

Among the deserters from the charter train was Dr Endre Edes, a clinical doctor, whose colleagues said he had been preoccupied by thoughts of escape for a while. Also escaped with premeditated plans the former owners of the nationalized Pal Fisher cotton and wool factory, Marcel Fisher and Karoly Paradi. They have been methodically emptying their apartment for the past three weeks and boarded the train with several suitcases. Also escaped Laszlo Simon, secretary of the Trade Union, who falsly told his acquaintances that he would be moving to the west of the Danube region. 

Also failed to return from Vienna Andras Lakatos police lieutenant, who is especially guilty of fooling his superiors into promoting him, received permission from the secretary of the Police Association as an “accomplished athlete” to view the Austria-Hungary soccer game. He had mentioned on multiple occassions that he has relatives in Australia and at first opportunity he will escape to join them. The sixth escapee Mrs Pal Rados, “amateur” english teacher, also remained in Vienna. Of course she, as the others “forgot” to return from Vienna. 

Vilg and Nepszavat sec1

Saturday – World (section)

The full list of “Football Fans Deserters” have been fully identified by police.

Three of them wanted to return back home.

The escapees also smuggled out western hard currency and valuables.

Vilg and Nepszavat sec2A full force investigation was launched to establish the identities of the 41 deserters who attended the Austria-Hungary football game in Vienna, that also widened to reveal those who helped plan this mass desertion. Some of the audience members took a boat while others traveled on a train to attend the Vienna game. 

The group should have initiated their return departure at Monday 9AM. At that point it became known that several members went missing from both the boat and the train. The boat waited three additional hours for the missing passengers. By then it was evident that these passengers declined to return home, thus the boat departed without them. A similar scene played out at the train departure as well. The train’s group agreed to meet in the lobby of Hotel Central, when they discovered that 9 fewer people showed up. 

[cut-off sentence here… ends with] Marcel Stern Fisher, whose factory was recently nationalized. The investigation uncovered that Fisher had stolen high value share certificates along with several thousand Forints from his factory’s safe, half of which he handed over to fellow house mate textile technician Karoly Faradi, who joined him in the escape.

Preparing to Desert…

Police determined after interrogating several witnesses that the deserters have been preparing for this illegal escape from Hungary for an extended period of time. The majority of them smuggled their money out in advance, and now they plan to catch up with those funds. It became evident that several of the deserters appeared to have fled to acquaintances waiting for them in the west. The Police HQ’s Passport Department – as it is already known -had spent the utmost care to background check all of the passengers personal details and their reliability, only those received permit to travel [sic].

The participants were only allowed to board the boat after they offered personal guarantees that they would not smuggle any foreign currency or other valuables out of Hungary on them. To ensure security, a secondary search was performed on the boat, and those who had foreign currency  [cut off here]. 

* * * * 

Deserters Official List of Names

The organizers of the event immediately reported the case to the proper department of the Police HQ as soon as they returned to Budapest, and began assembling the deserters list of names. The Passport Department gave its official report to the Ministry of the Interior on Wednesday noon, and received orders to immediately begin investigating the circumstances of this large-scale desertion. 

World was the first to report on Wednesday the Vienna Football Train’s known names, and this morning the Police HQ issued the list containing the remaining names:

[see list of names and their former home addresses]

People from the Countryside:

In addition to those, the following passengers from the countryside also deserted [list of names from various towns and villages]. Among them were the already reported deserters Dr Endre Edes physician from Kispest, Mrs Pal Rados from Budapest, and Dr Laszlo Simon from Budapest [cut off here].

* * *

Thanks to both György and Anikó for this amazing story.

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The Ghost Captain of the kuk Kreigsmarine

FTB Bela and siblings hi-res cropThere are those things that we rarely think about when we are young but are more important to some of us when we get older. For instance, what were our parents lives like? Who were the people in their families?

My father escaped from communist Hungary in 1948, came to Canada and married my mother. His parents left after the 1956 uprising and came to live with us. We never met any other members of his father’s family. And now that I am older and they are all gone, I want to know.

Mom pestered everyone for details about all the branches of the family which she dutifully records in the book that my sister gave her for that purpose. Here is the page for dad’s father’s family. There are lots of dates missing. Over the past few years I have managed to fill in some of them. I know when and where all the other children were born. I know when and where their parents died.I found Otto’s marriage record to Erzsebet Klinghammer. Recently I even found the marriage record of elusive Cousin Margit.Marine_Österreich-Ungarns_(Meyers)

But great-uncle Imre has remained a ghost. He was my grandfather’s favorite brother. And a Naval Captain! How could he be so hard to find? I looked in all the places where the other children were born.  I searched every online Austro-Hungarian military database for every imaginable spelling of his name. And I came up empty every time.

The Austrian kriegsarchiv (military archives) require that you have the name, date and place of birth of any enlisted man that you want researched. But out of sheer frustration I finally gave it a try. I wrote and asked if they would be able to search for an officer without those details. Early the following morning the email response came back from the kuk Kreigsmarine (Austro-Hungarian Navy) archive;

KUK re Edes Imre box“ein Marineoffizier mit dem Namen EDES, Imre oder Emmerich ist nicht bekannt und auch in den Akten nicht nachweisbar. Es gibt überhaupt keinen k.u.k. Marineoffizier mit dem Namen EDES.”

I do not know any German but had a pretty good guess what it said. This was confirmed by one of the volunteers at the Facebook group Genealogy Translations;

“a marine officer with the name EDES, Imre or Emmerich is not known and in the records not found. There is not one marine officer known with the name EDES”

I feel like I smashed into a 3 foot thick brick wall. I will have to regroup and think of another way to approach this problem.

Until then, I will keep thinking of Imre as a ghost of the Navy that disappeared with the Empire he served in it’s dying days.