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.

Escape – My Father’s Story

My father was a young physician in Budapest during WWII when standing up for your principles was dangerous. He escaped in 1948. This is the story as he told it in his curriculum vitae soon after his arrival in Canada.

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I was born on the 14th day of July, 1921, in Kispest, a city with a population of 70,000 – a suburb of the Hungarian capital Budapest. Being the only son of middle-class parents, who were merchants; I had every opportunity to pursue the career to which I felt most drawn.

At the age of six, I entered elementary school; where a four year course of studies was followed, as a preparation for middle school. In my native country, as in other Central European and most Western European countries, there prevails this middle or Intermediate school, (called “Gymnasium” ) a system assigned to give a preliminary education for University during an eight year course. I graduated from this school with the best qualifications obtainable.

Dr. Endre Édes ~ age 25

I enrolled at the Medical Faculty of the University of Budapest, and in September 1939, started my studies there in medicine. This course consisted of five years of University study, and one year of compulsory rotating internship.

During my third year as student, I was rewarded with one of the six scholarships, sponsored by the City Council of the Capital, which covered all my University expenses. In October, 1944, I graduated from the University with the qualifications, “Summa cum Laude”, among the first four of a group of 120 graduates.

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Soon after my graduation, I was drafted into the Army, but refused to enter. Continue reading

Dancing with my Ancestors

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The Seven Dancing Hajdú in the town square of Hajdúbosormény, with a couple of extras.

In Eastern Hungary close to the great plains, in the town square of Hajdúbosormény, the 7 Hajdú warriors are dancing. There is one for each of the original 7 villages built on the land donated by Bocskay István in the 1600s. The dancers are rugged and fierce and carry their weapons of war. They all wear big bushy very Hungarian looking moustaches.

These are the people of my oldest named grandmother, Kerekes Katalin who was born in nearby Hajdúhadhaz.

The beautiful baroque buildings on the square contrast with the shabbier businesses and homes elsewhere in town. Around the corner, the building that houses the Hajdúsag museum is in need of a paint job. It looked so sad we were surprised that it was really open. But, we were in luck.  We had the place to ourselves and were amazed at the quality of the exhibits in such an out of the way place.

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Artist’s conception of bronze age couple with tools and adornments found in archeological dig in Hajdú region.

A special exhibit told of excavations of the Bronze-age treasures being discovered in nearby ancient burial grounds. An animated video in Hungarian told the story of those ancient people.

There were many exhibits of life in the Hajdú towns.

Illustration of men's uniforms. The fur coat on display had a pest strip tucked inside for protection.

Illustration of men’s uniforms.

Beautifully embroidered ladies’ capes and men’s heavy fur coats helped keep them warm in winter. The massive fur coat on display had a pest strip tucked inside for protection.

Hajdú lady's embroidered fur cape. "kisbunda"

Hajdú lady’s embroidered fur cape. “kisbunda”

An exhibit of an old style hut and household equipment gave an idea of what life in the area would have been like.

Village life. Corn grinder and bee hives.

Village life. Corn grinder and bee hives.

I estimate my hajdú heritage to be about  0.1%. I’m proud of that little bit of these brave proud people.

Growing up in a Hungarian community we would go to parties where the grownups danced the csardás, dancing and stomping their feet as the gypsy fiddler played faster and faster. I can imagine the hajdú dancing to the music and keeping up just fine.

Note: The museum website had pictures of some of their exhibits but at the time of this post the site was infected with malware. 

Crying Place

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Sírhely/Gravesite/Crying Place

Sírhely  the Hungarian word for gravesite was new to me. Sír (sheer), I knew, means cry and hely (hay) is place. On a day trip from southern Hungary we visited two crying places, scenes of heartbreaking death and destruction that took place over 4 centuries apart.

Grave Posts

Grave Posts

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Greatⁿ-Grandma Katalin, Hajdú Warrior

kato egri copyKerekes Katalin is hands down my favorite ancestor. Our lineage gets a little fuzzy in the 17th century so I’m not sure how many ‘greats’ apply. In the early 1600s Katalin was fighting by the side of her warrior husband, Édes Gergely, and his brothers. She received nobility in her own name because of her valor. This was no small accomplishment at a time when women were considered less than human. She was “a big strong armed woman who fought like an animal’ according to the patent of nobility. Her husband’s family was from Székelyföld. No word about her dad, but Katalin’s mother was a hajdú.

The hajdúk (plural for hajdú) had been peasant cattle drovers on the puszta, the eastern plains of Hungary. Driving herds of the big grey long-horned ‘Magyar szürkemarha to market, they had to become fierce fighters to defend themselves on the vast treeless plains.

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Google Bookshelf of Hungarian Social History

Google Books is my new favorite bookshelf. Searching for accounts of life in 19th century Austro-Hungary to  fill in the context of lives of our ancestors,  I have added several dozen free volumes to my reading list that were all published in the 1800s or very early 1900s. There are more contemporary volumes available for download for a nominal price. I’ll look at those later when I finish with the current virtual tower of books.

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A Very Very Bad Day

August 29th was a very very bad day in Hungarian History. 800px-Grimm_Battle_of_Mohács_1857On that date in 1526, the Hungarian army, led by young King Lajos, was defeated by the Turkish forces of Suleiman the Magnificent at the Battle of Mohács. In retreat from the bloody battle, Lajos fell off his horse crossing the river. Weighed down by his armor he drowned. More than 14,000 Hungarian soldiers were killed. Continue reading

The American Story

The ‎American Story has long been written by immigrants.

On July 4, 1776…
“Fifty-six founders put their names on a piece of paper. Up until that moment, none of them were American. Even those who had spent their entire lives in one of the thirteen colonies had grown up in another country.” —Cecilia Muñoz, White House Domestic Policy Council

July 4, 1776

July 4, 1776

This quote has me thinking about the immigrants who sacrificed and risked so much to create this new country. Continue reading

Easter Monday Sprinkling?

Easter Monday Sprinkling is an old Hungarian custom. Young men would sprinkle cologne or water on the ladies of their fancy, often extended to all the women in the house or the village. Mother told of a Canadian boyfriend who upon hearing of the tradition showed up at their house and woke the family at the crack of dawn on Easter Monday with a bottle of perfume to be the first to sprinkle her. A sweet gesture not much appreciated by her tired parents. 

Apparently some communities take it quite a bit further, drenching the girls with buckets of water.

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photo from sulekha.com

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