HORTOBÁGY FORCED LABOUR CAMPS
In Memory of the Victims
Dr. Mária Hajdú
Zsuzsa W. Balassa
Dr. Jolán Vecsernyés
Photos, cover designed by
Archival research: Dr. Miklós Füzes Dr. Zsuzsa Hantó
O ASSOCIATION OF HORTOBÁGY FORCED LABOUR CAMPS DEPORTEES
Responsible for publication
ASSOCIATION OF HORTOBÁGY FORCED LABOUR CAMPS DEPORTEES
H-1052 Budapest, Semmelweis u. 1-3.
Responsible for publication: Dr. GyörgyBodnár
head of association
Translated by Kinga Széchenyi
layout and design:
Krisztina Jámbor, All 4 One Bt.
Printed by: Open Art Nyomda
For more than half a century the Great Hungarian Plain, the famous Hortobágy "Puszta" (prairie) has kept the secret of a concealed and inhuman period of our history. What a terrible contrast! Our most renowned national park, the pride of Hungarian tourism, Hortobágy up to this day hides the secret of the barely known former Hungarian GULAG, the Hungarian Siberia.
Thinking of Hortobágy Puszta Hungarians envision the unchanged magnificence of nature, horses racing with the wind, migrating birds, and the fiery beauty of the setting sun. The Puszta also enchants foreigners, because here in a certain sense the ancient Hungarian life-style has been preserved. The sky enwrapped wide horizon, the peace of the prairie all speak about liberty.
Liberty? In the first half of the 1950s, in the darkest period of Hungarian communism, Hortobágy was the scene of the tragedy of several thousand families who were taken there as captives. From 1950 to 1953 about ten thou-sand people, thousands of families suffered in twelve forced labour camps, and this happened in peace time, in their own country they were treated like slaves. So far the public knows very little about the facts. Until the political changes the still living victims did not speak, they were not allowed to speak, the inaccessible archives were locked even for historians up to 1995.
Research encouraged by former deportees started in 1999. As a result of this research the work Outcasts I. and II. were published in 2001 and in 2002. These volumes are the first to give a historically authentic and comprehensive picture of the atrocities in the 1950s based on records, documents and the oral and written memoirs of former deportees. In the first decade after the political changes there was no previous research done except for the brave award-winning film, Without breaking the law made by the Gulyás brothers in 1988. A decade of silence followed the release of the film.
But meanwhile something very important happened. The still living "outcasts", the former Hortobágy deportees gathered in 1990 to unveil their first monument, the Hortobágy Cross at the famous Nine-arched Bridge in the centre of Hortobágy. This cross was made of rails to commemorate the terrified families who were transported in cattle-cars to their unknown fate and destination. The Hortobágy Cross became a place of pilgrimage for the people who had experienced the trials of the forced labour camps. Almost no trace is left of the secret labour camps. And yet monuments and memorial tablets are set up one after the other at the site of the former camps as mementoes for posterity and history. The purpose of our publication is to show these monuments, and to give information about the labour camps, as even today they are rarely mentioned.
After World War II Hungary, occupied by Soviet forces, shared the fate of the other Central and Eastern European satellite countries. The last years of Stalin, the Soviet dictator, until 1953 meant the period of severest terror in our country. While Western Europe had already forgotten the war, pursued peaceful rebuilding, in our country concentration camps, labour camps were set up, and thousands of political convicts suffered in prisons. Those who are interested in this period can read about the concentration camps of Recsk and Kistarcsa, and about the so-called kulaks (wealthy peasant farmers) deprived of their livelihood. But our society knows nothing about the fenced in labour camps as they were called in the documents of the Ministry of Interior, but in reality they were forced labour camps, where entire families lived in captivity.
The twelve forced labour camps shown on the map were situated in different geographical regions. Lenintanya and Tedej in the north are on the border of Hortobágy, just like the five southern most labour camps. Only Kácspuszta, Arkus, Borsós, Kónya and Elep were situated in today's Hortobágy National Park. They used buildings, most often sheepfolds to accommodate the deportees far away from highways, deep in the puszta. Borsós Camp was the only exception, it was near the Debrecen-Füzesabony road. The camps were established at different times and the number of deportees in the camps also differed. But the fate and circumstances of the people were very similar according to the orders given by the Ministry of Interior the memories of former deportees. Contemporary documents show that important decisions were made by the central departments of State Security Authority (AVH) but the county police did the operative work, they sent their reports to the Police Department of the Ministry of Interior. Lots of data can be found in the monthly reports that deal with every one of the forced labour camps. 1
DEPORTATION AND NUMBER
OF PEOPLE DEPORTED
The deportation of the families took place in several waves between 1950 and 1953, the Hortobágy forced labour camps were established in totally secret actions. The first wave of mass deportation was carried out during the night of June 22–23, 1950, people were driven from southern villages near the Jugoslavian border. On the average four or five families were deported from each village. The operation was con-ducted under the greatest secrecy by the State Security Authority and it was extremely well organized. Every village was affected near the border. The authorities had previously prepared lists, but did not notify anybody. The members of State Security in groups of 6–8, raided the families with loaded guns. Regardless of age, state of health the whole family was taken. After packing a few of their belongings they had to go on foot or were taken in carts to the nearest railway station where the deportees were collected, and a train consisting of cattle-cars waited for them. After travelling almost two days in locked cattle-cars under strict surveillance, they got off the train crossing Hortobágy somewhere not very far from there future camp. They had to walk or were taken on carts to the site. Every labour camp belonged to one of the state owned farms of Hortobágy, the camps were established in the centre of the state farm, and the deportees were crowded into sheepfolds and cattle-sheds. A police-station was also set up in the farm centre with a police-officer and 8–10 armed policemen to guard the 500–600, sometimes 1000 deportees. The deportees by hundreds had to live in sheepfolds and cattle-sheds, most of them slept on the ground. On arrival the police confiscated all their documents. Everybody who was able to move had to work in the fields, in summer even small children were forced to work. The deportees had no contact with the outside world, receiving parcels, even letters meant exceptional favours, but the favours could be revoked any time without reason. Visitors were not allowed except during the last summer in 1953, when the government had already decided to abolish labour camp system. The public did not know about the camps, and the intimidated villagers did not speak.
As the documents of the Ministry of Interior show, in the first wave 1991 people were deported. They had to establish the first seven camps: Arkus, Borzas, Kócs, Kónya, Kormópuszta, Tiszaszentimre 9, Polgár-Lenintanya. The number of deportees increased to 2361 by October. Deportation continued in 1951, when the existing camps were gradually populated, at the same time three new camps were set up: Elep in July, Ebes in November and Tedej in December. Altogether 1156 new deportees arrived, the families were brought from the western border region of Hungary. However, sporadically smaller groups arrived from all counties of Hungary to the ten labour camps. In 1952 two more camps were established: Lászlómajor in May and Borsós June 25 with 550 deportees. In 1952 a new element appeared in the deportation, people were brought to Hortobágy camps from provincial towns. Trains arrived three weeks in a row: 297 deportees to Kócs Camp from Nagykanizsa June 17, 550 to Borsós from Miskolc June 25, and 650 to Ebes from Szeged July 5.
During this mass deportation 1500 people were carried off from different towns. The method was the same; everything was done in greatest secrecy, just like in the case of the 1950 deportation from the border region. After giving them half an hour to pack some of their possessions, the families were taken to a railway-station in trucks. A freight train was waiting for the deportees at the station. Their apartments, houses were locked and an officially sealed, in half an hour's time the families lost their properties and belongings forever. In three years some other towns experienced similar deportations, smaller groups were brought to Hortobágy from Siklós, Csorna, Nagy-atád, Hatvan, Várpalota, Komió. Even in January 1953, 150 deportees arrived from Kunmadaras to Borsós camp and in February 51 people were transported from Etyek, Fejér County.
A report of the Ministry of Interior indicates that the total number of deportees was 7252 in August 1953, when they started releasing the deportees. However, we have to add to this number those who died in the labour camps and the number of children who had been released earlier. Based on these data and a true estimate put the number of deportees around 10000.
Anybody could have been on the Hortobágy deportee list, it was enough to have a nice, well-equipped farm or a spacious apartment in the city or an influential enemy. However, the purpose of the deportation was clear: they wanted to liquidate the urban and agricultural middle class and at the same time terrify the whole society. But in the case of the frontier region deportations smallholders were also affected, and among the urban middle class factory workers could be found in quite high numbers, especially members of the Social Democratic Party. This is quite clear if we take into account the sociological research done about the different labour camps.
DEPORTEE, SETTLER, FORCED LABOURER
No right term
There is no adequate term how to define this concealed and in our country unprecedented deportation. The code-names such as deportees, settlers used by the contemporary communist authorities are frequently applied even today, but they do not really define the situation and status of these people. Why did they want to blot out the fate of ten thousand Hungarians? Because there is no explanation for such an action in which a lot of families lost their fortunes, were driven out of their homes in the middle of the night with elderly invalids and innocent babies, locked in cattle-cars, and were sentenced to life-long homelessness with a standardised document. The text contained the following: "Decree... So and so, you and your family mean public danger here and are expelled from... You have no right to appeal this decision." There were even people who did not get any kind of document. They crowded families, women and children into sheepfolds tilled with manure and into concrete cattle-sheds; the width of the area a person could occupy vas 70 cm, the conditions were unbearable. These facts had to be kept in secret.
One cannot find anything about Hortobágy forced labour camps in the House of Terror (Museum to commemorate the victims of the communist regime). They show the relatively well-known deportation from Buda-pest. This happened in the summer of 1951, affected about 13–14000 people and it was well publicised abroad. These deportees were mostly intellectuals and their families also became homeless, and after their release they were still expelled from the capital. However, they received their document 24 hours prior their deportation, this way they had at least some chance to save a few of their possessions. They could move around in the assigned village, though they were under police surveillance. Every family was crowded into one room in a farmhouse. Their documents were not confiscated and visitors were allowed. These "privileges" were out of the question in Hortobágy labour camps. Here the deportees were isolated, guarded by armed police all the time, and driven to forced labour every day, lived with hundreds of people in crowded cattle-sheds. Only their faith and moral courage gave them strength to survive.
After their release from deportation, life still had its terrible effects. Following Stalin's death the deportees were released, but they were still expelled from their villages or towns, they were practically homeless and the police had their files. They not only lost their homes, but also had to start anew in unfamiliar places. This restriction was lifted only in 1957. Because of their past record young people were unable to continue their studies, only the most persistent could study much later, most of them got their degree after having families of their own. The elderly did not have the resources to afford new homes; they had to depend on their children. The parents' generation did not live to see the changes in the political system, and as a consequence they did not even get the minimal compensation for their ruined lives and livelihood.
We want to commemorate them and the historic times they lived through for future generations.
l Statistical data were taken from the association's documentations and from the work Outcast II. /sec bibliography/.
We wish to express our appreciation to all those who helped our work with their memoirs, photos, editorial work and trans-lation:
Lehel Bede Fazekas
Dr. Lóránt Béky
Mrs. Miklós Dubay
Mrs. Mihály Guzsvánv
Mrs. Erzsébet Hegyi Schrem
Mrs. Kornél Kis
Dr. Dániel Kováts
Mrs. Erzsébet Kovács Papp
Mrs. Márta Schulz Dezső
János Takács honorary
The editorial board
For more than half a century the famous Hortobágy "Puszta" (prairie) had been guarding a well-kept secret of an inhuman period of our history, the Hungarian Gulag, the Stalinist Siberia of our country.
In the first half of the 1950s Hortobágy Puszta was the scene of the tragic fate of several thousand deported Hungarian families. From 1950 to 1953 about ten thousand people were deported to the puszta, families in the thousands were in captivity in twelve labour camps. In peace time they were treated like slaves in their own country. Up to this day the public knows very little about these labour camps. For a long time even the still living victims and witnesses did not dare to speak about the facts, and the documents of the restricted, inaccessible archives were locked even for historians until 1995. five years after the political changes.
In 1990 at least a thousand former Hortobágy deportees gathered to celebrate the erection of their first memorial, the Hortobágy Cross at the famous Nine-arched Bridge. This cross is made of rails to commemorate the deportees, who after being driven out of their homes, were transported in cattlecars to the fenced labour camps. Since that time the Hortobágy Cross has become a place of pilgrimage. The communist system covered up most of the traces of the secret labour camps, and yet memorials and memorial tablets are set up one after the other at the site of the different labour camps for history and posterity. These memorials are shown in our publication. At the beginning of the 1950s, when in Western Europe the war was already forgotten, and peaceful rebuilding was pursued, in the last years of Stalin, the Soviet dictator, terror reached its highest level. There is now extensive literature dealing with this period, however, only in 2001 and 2002 the first two volumes of Outcasts, based on the most recent research on Hortobágy labour camps, were published.
A map shows the sites of the labour camps, and the date when they were established. The number of people refer to the year 1953, the time when the deportees were released, we have to add to this number the estimated number of those who died and that of the earlier released children. This way the total number might be as high as 10 thousand.
Anybody could have been on the deportee list, it was enough to have a big, well-equipped farmhouse, or a nice spacious apartment in the city, or to have an influential enemy. However, the purpose of the deportation was clear: first of all to liquidate the urban and agricultural middle class and to terrify the whole society. This, up to this day concealed and in our country unprecedented deportation has no adequate term to define what really happened. In the fifties the authorities used deportation as a codename, and the deportees were called settlers.
The first wave of the State Security Authorities' well-coordinated, secret action swept through the villages of the southern frontier line. More than two thousand people were rounded up on 23rd June, 1950, and the seven first labour camps were established. In 1951, three more labour camps were set up. Then in 1952 the last two camps were populated by people rounded up in some provincial towns like Nagykanizsa, Miskolc, Szeged.
Armed groups of police and State Security raided the families without any previous notice in the middle of the night, after giving the families half an hour to pack some of their belongings, all of them, small children, old people and the sick were carried off. In half an s time they lost their properties, possessions,. their houses or apartments were confiscated. After their arrival in the puszta they were crowded into sheep-folds in groups of one or even two hundred, where they could only sleep on the ground. Special police-force guarded them, and they were forced to work long hours under terrible conditions. Their documents were confiscated, and they were forbidden to have contact with the outside world. Medical treatment was almost out of reach, they were taken to hospital only in case of severe emergency.
The decree the deportees got from the authorities did not even mention the time period of the deportation, they had no hope to get their freedom back.
After Stalin's death the political system gradually let up. In July a law was enacted to dissolve the forced labour camps. From August to the end of October the deportees were released in small groups, but the majority was still expelled from their villages or towns. They did not get their properties back, this way it was very hard to start a new life. Their past record, and the police or security observation documents followed their steps until 1990. For a long time young people had real trouble to get college or university admission.
The elderly and the parents' generation could not live to see the collapse of communism. We have erected the Hortobágy monuments to commemorate our grand-parents and parents, and so that future generations should be able to learn from history.
Association of Hortobágy Forced Labour Camps Deportees
The memorial tablet was set up by the former deportees and the Association in June 2002. The tablet can be found on the wall of the old granary opposite the cattle-shed.
Árkus Labour Camp was one of the largest; it housed about a thousand people. Árkus is deep in the puszta, situated 10 kilometers in the south-west direction from Hortobágy village, previously it belonged to Szásztelek Farm. The following buildings could be found on the farm: two cattle-sheds built of concrete, a Id-shaped sheepfold, six houses and a granary. As the farm was far from all roads and the railroad, it was an ideal place for an enclosed labour camp. From June 23, 1950 to the end of March 1953 deportees were continuously brought here from wealthy peasant farmers (kulaks) to intellectuals and to the so-called "enemies of the people". They were trans-ported in cattle-cars and trucks. 8-10 policemen and police dogs guarded the camp. The deportees were not allowed to cross the whitewashed line around the camp.
The first deportees were brought from the southern region of Hungary, from Baranya, Somogy and Zala counties, altogether 365 people. They were crowded into one of the wings of the sheepfold in the picture, while sheep occupied the other part of the building. The deportees had no tools to clean the sheepfold, so they had to use their bare hands. The reason why they did not freeze in winter was the warmth given by the sheep, and they had straw to lie on. After a while the deportees themselves built houses out of sun-dried bricks and barracks. They moved into the damp buildings in the spring of 1951. The same year 78 deportees arrived from Tyukod, who were also housed in the same crowded buildings.
Between August 4, 1951 and August 1953 other groups were brought to this labour camp altogether 374 people, they were all squeezed in the cattle-shed with room for only 150. Nine Greek guerillas were among them. The cattle-shed was so crowded that people had to sleep in the troughs. In 1952, 76 deportees were brought from the southern part of Hungary. At that time bunks were set up to place even more people in the cattle-shed. As there was no heating at all, the vapour of people's breath came down from the ceiling like rain and dampened everything. Washing and cleaning was not solved any-where in the camp. There was only one latrine. Sick people could go to a doctor or to hospital only with police permission. The doctor's office was 10 kilometers away in the building now used as Hortobágy Csárda, and the patient either had to walk or was taken on a cart accompanied by two armed policemen. A physician came every other week from Debrecen to give medical help to the deportees of the labour camp.
Children under six were allowed to leave the camp there was a relative who was willing to take care of them. In this way 79 children were able to leave the camp, but there were cases when the child was brought back. If the deportees paid a certain fee, they could get their meals from the camp kitchen. Later they set up a shop where the deportees could order the most needed basic necessities. Two teachers instructed children of school age in a room without heating, they did not have any school equipment either.
Roll call was every night in the camp, and afterwards people were not allowed to leave their building. During the night the police checked the barracks and the cattle-shed, this was one of the methods to terrify the deportees. At the morning line-up there was another roll call, next everybody got orders for the day's work. After getting the usual coffee and 5 decagrams of bread the deportees started off to work 2-4 kilometers far from their camp. The elderly and the sick were not allowed to leave the site of the camp; they took care of the children after school, washed and dried clothes, and guarded the buildings from different rodents. The camp kitchen supplied the deportees with meagre food. They were really starved, and hoped to get food from relatives and friends. But they rarely received letters or parcels, because there was always some way or other to punish the deportees, sometimes all favours were revoked. From 1953 they were allowed to receive visitors once a month in a designated place with guards present. It was forbidden to talk to the free people working on the farm, or if they met them at work, but most of the time they understood one another without words. By helping them to get letters or parcels, the free workers made their confinement a bit easier. The deportees reported police abuse. On hearing this, the police-chief shot himself in the head.
There were 20% intellectuals, 30% farmers, 8% merchants, 22% house-wives and 8% school children and some others among the deportees in
Arkus labour camp. Between 1950 and 1953, 22 babies were born in confinement; they remained in the camp until the release of the deportees. 33 people died, we do not know the place where seven of them are buried.
The deportees came from 75 different villages and towns., they are tbc following:
Alsópáhok, Aroktő, Barcs, Bácsborsod, Bázareketve, Becsehely, Bélavár, Belezna, Beremend, Berzence, Borsodivánka, Bősárkány, Csurgó, Csokonvavisonta, Decs, Diósviszló, Drávaszerdahely, Drávacsepel, Drávaszentes, Egyházasrádóc, Erdliget, Fityeháza, CÍvékénves, Háromfa, Hajós, Hegvszentmárton, Heresznye, Hunva, Kásád, Kercsaszomor, Katymár, Kelebia, Kémes, Kisnémedi, Kistelek, Letenve, Molnári, Murakeresztúr, Murarátka, Márokföld, Nemespátró, Orosháza, Pettend, Porcsalma, Petrivente, Porog, Porogszentkirály, Rád-falva, Rinvaújlak, Sarkad, Semjénháza, Somogvaracs, Somogvcsurgó, Somogvbükkösd, Surd, Szava, Szeged, Szekszárd, Szentgotthárd, Szentgvörgvvölgv, Szulok, Tarcal, Taranv , Telki, Tiszabábolna, Tótszerdahely, Tótszennmárton, Tyukod, Záhony, Zákány, Zajk, Vaspör, Budapest, Babareszőlős, Csanádapáca, Erdőkocsonya, Esztergom, Ciöresony, Kétnvárpuszta, Komlósd, Kunharócs, Lenti, Márfa, Nemesapáti, Péterhida, Porogszentpál, Somogyudvarhely, Szenta.
The communist regime made the deportees live under circumstances fit only for animals, depriving them from all their rights illegally. The parents' and grandparents' property and belongings were confiscated, nothing was left, young people had no opportunity to study, and all of them became second-rate citizens.
A lot of those who got their freedom back have already passed away, about 150-190 are still living from the forced labourers of Arkus Camp.
Dunn spiro, spero!
This exceptionally handsome monument was erected in memory of Borsós Forced Labour Camp in September 2003. The monument is at the entrance of the former camp if you come from the direction of Tiszafüred, on the left of highway 33, about two kilometers from the Nine-arched Bridge, in front of Hortobágy Hotel built in the 1960s. The designer of the monument is Sándor Sófalvi, the Transylvanian sculptor, now living in Székesfehérvár, whose generous gift commemorates the victims. The interestingly formed "kopjafa" with its distinct three parts symbolizes the exiled Hungarian families. The 1050 deportees of Borsós Labour Camp went through the same ordeals as the deportees of other camps. But we can emphasize some characteristic features of this camp.
This populous labour camp situated in the centre of Hortobágy, near the highway shows – as Tamás Isépv said in his speech at the dedication of the memorial cross in 1990 – how self-confident the regime was in 1952. While the other labour camps were hidden along side-roads and trails, deep in the puszta, they placed Borsós Camp deportees in farm buildings near the highway. But this did not mean that the deportees were able to move around freely, however, it made some things a little easier. For example if a physician was needed, the deportees could go to a doctor's office, or the railway station was accessible, and it was easier to get to the hospital in Debrecen, but of course only accompanied by policemen.
Borsós Camp was established on June 25, 1952, so chronologically this camp was set up last. Though deportees were brought until the spring of 1953, but new camps were not built due to Stalin's death in March 1953.
While most buildings of other camps have been demolished except for that of Árkus and Kónya, the buildings of Borsós camp still exist after different reconstructions. First the deportees were housed in two different places two kilometers apart. Camp I was near the Nine-arched Bridge, Camp II was set up around Borsós State Farm.
The so-called big sheepfold had earlier been used as a building for thresher-machines and now its front section, after several reconstructions functions as a bird-hospital. Passing the Shepherd Museum the first street to the right leads to the building. Nearby there are two or three houses, which served as a police-station, sickroom, and the place where people with small children lived until the spring of 1953. The 300 deportees housed in the big sheepfold were transferred to Camp II in October 1952, and the building became a chicken hatchery. The today's Shepherd Museum had never been part of the labour camp, and it was a work-shop in the first year of our deportation. This mistake occurs in two recent publications. Near Hortobágy Csárda stood the cultural centre; its building has been demolished. It was the place where the 150 deportees from Kunmadaras were housed on January 6, 1953.
The overcrowded housing of Camp II is a still existing building. Originally it was built to accommodate seasonal workers, and it consisted of four big rooms. They crammed 350 people in this building. In the former yard of the big sheepfold today you can see the well-kept park of the restaurant of Hotel Hortobágv. To the west the four former firm-hands' dwellings and henhouses, pigsties form rows. The smaller and bigger rooms, pantries, henhouses and pigsties built of brick, every square inch was filled with bunk-beds during the deportation. But deportees were also housed in the rat-invaded granaries and crumbling, thatched stables of the state farm. From the spring of 1953 shacks were built of sun-dried bricks on the marshy soil beside the reservoir.
This was our deportee village, Village of Sorrow as we called it. Now the place is deserted. The first group of Borsós Camp I and II was brought from Miskolc during the night of June 24 and 25, 1952, the 550 middle class people became a distinct group in both camps. Before long a group of 31 intellectuals oiled from Várpalota joined them, and later groups from Besenvotelek and Kiskore, among them deportees originally from Budapest, who were brought to Borsós with farmers and their families. Thus about 60% of the deportees were intellectuals, and about 40% were farmers from different counties of Hungary. The social and age structure of Borsós Camp differed from that of other camps. The members of the former high-ranking middle class belonged to the 50-80 age group and had grown-up children. In these camps there were fewer young people with small children. But of course the people coming from the middle class also took part in the heavy, manual labour, though at the beginning with less expertise as the deported farmers. This community functioned like a close-knit family.
In spite of the fact that the people here were exiles or deportees, the preserving force of culture was present in Borsós Camp. Books were not forbidden, and relatives were able to send some. During the winter months, when the state farm did not give enough work, some enthusiastic young people established a kind of library chain, lending books to one. another. The help of our friends who took risks to support us meant a lot. We are very grateful to the theologians of the Debrecen Reformed College, for the support of Mindszent Parish Church of Miskolc and for the help given by a lot of other people. A parcel with food or medicine could save lives in the camp.
We can only estimate the number of deportees who died in the camp; it must be between 30 and 40. We had two dysentery epidemics in August of 1952 and January of 1953, no wonder, as the hygienic conditions were unspeakable. After writing several applications small children were released in 1952, and in 1953 all children under 14 were allowed to leave.
The. deportees of Borsós Camp can never forget the midnight mass on Christmas Eve in 1952 held in the "classroom" of the huge sheepfold. The guards tolerated the mass, and the deportees gathered around the makeshift altar with the Hortobágy Madonna, and sang Christmas carols and the national anthem. This small celebration gave them strength to bear their uncertain future. It was exasperating when at Epiphany 150 new deportees were brought from Kunmadaras. At last from August 1953 our long-awaited freedom became reality, though life was harsh even after our release, as we had no home where to return, no possessions and got the worst jobs.
The farm-buildings of Borzas farm were built before World War II to the East of Nagviván village. The farm is surrounded by barren prairie with wild fowl habitat in marshes and lakes. The first big group brought to Borzas Camp was from the southern region of Hungary; they were families mostly from Baranya County. The first wave of deportation from the villages started on June 23, 1950. There were some so-called kulaks, a physician, a parish priest, a former police-chief among the deportees, even some Greek freedom fighters who had been driven out of their own country because of their communist conviction, and later from Budapest as a consequence of voicing their opinion.
The cattle-cars stopped at Hortobágy-Halastó railway station with the first group. The farm animals (horses, cattle) and equipment were not allowed to be unloaded, the train took them to an unknown place. Our personal belongings were piled on trucks and policemen escorted the families on foot towards their unknown dwellings. The elderly and the small children were travelling on top of the piles on trucks. On arrival there was only a wooden barrack with bunk beds for one hundred people. But as ninety families arrived with more than two hundred people, there was no place where to sleep for a lot of them. First our guards thought we should throw out the bunk beds, then they realized this was not the best idea, because this way they could place even fewer people in the barrack. Finally they decided to house them in a very breezy, thatched roofed stable where the kept grey oxen. The deportees had to clean the stable from the manure mainly by hand, because there were only six or eight pitchforks to work with. This stable became our "new home".
They needed workforce badly, but only , men, to work in agriculture. Nobody at the state farm thought they would bring babies, women, elderly and sick people. There were some children who spent their vacation with friends or relatives, they were also brought along and were not given back to their parents. Most deportees came from 46 different villages of Baranya County. A week later some women and their children were brought from Hatvan, the fathers were taken to internment camp. Next November 28 families were brought from Somogy County, they were followed by five families from Sopron.
Next day after arrival everyone in camp except small children had to start work in the fields. During the first week no food was provided, the families were on their own. There was no fireplace where to cook, the women dug holes in the earth, made fire in the hole with branches and dried cow manure collected by small children, and put their pots on the hole to cook, but as it often happened the guards trod down their primitive fireplaces with their boots. While the men were out in the fields harvesting, making hay or hoeing, the policemen searched their belongings and confiscated all their food. This way they solved the common food supply, but everyone had to pay six forints for meals. Later a kitchen was set up for the camp and the cost of the meals was deducted from the wages.
The workers had to start at six in the morning, walk 8-10 kilometers to reach the fields where they worked, after work they had to cover the same distance. Most men worked in rice fields, and women did the hoeing.
They confiscated our cameras, any kind of equipment, and all our documents. Parcels and letters were not distributed to the deportees in the first year, but later they decided to deliver them because they were afraid of a revolt. Without the food parcels sent by relatives, the deportees would have been in even poorer health. Visitors were only allowed in the second year of their deportation.
Mothers giving birth were taken to "DEMKE" maternity cetre, the kind staff tried to keep them in the centre for a longer period. Every work-day the deportees got a three forints' value stamp in their health insurance form. But some deportees could not get any medical treatment, because their "brigade" leader stole the health insurance money. After a year two or three times a month a doctor came to treat patients. Two deportees brought from Siklós were frustrated because of the conditions, and they reported the circumstances to the Debrecen police-station. When the camp guards found this out, both of them were hit with truncheons very badly.
The Camp was moved from Borzas Farm to Mihálvhalma from the autumn of 1951 until the spring of 1952. This place can be found to the east of Borzas in the direction of Nádudvar. One reason for moving the camp was the nearby Soviet airforce training airport, as the bullets were dangerous for the people working around the camp.
The granary is the only building still existing of the former labour camp.
At the beginning of the fifties Ebes village was a small settlement consisting only of few houses. Ebes is about eight kilometers from Debrecen. The farms belonging to the village, on the eastern side of the railroad between Hajdúszoboszló and Debrecen, show a typical Hungarian settlement system where the farms form so-called "bushes" (a bush means a few farms built quite near one another). After nationalising small farms and regrouping the farmland, most farm buildings were demolished and State Farms were established.
In 1951 families were brought here with the purpose to work in the huge fields. The people brought there by force came from Zala, Vas and Somogy Counties, they had to leave their properties and belongings, were housed in stables, henhouses, tents where they had no washing and heating facilities. After the first trainload of people soon a second transport arrived. These deportees, almost 600 people, were carried off from the Szeged area and from the city of Szeged on the night of July 3, 1952.
They came from different social backgrounds. The deportees coming from villages were mostly farmers, while among the city folks there were former army officers, craftsmen, merchants, inn-keepers and intellectuals. There were also railway employees, mail-men, children and elderly, teachers and students alike. The food supply was very poor considering the heavy farm work they had to perform. Besides the adults children over fourteen had to work as well, they carried water for the farm workers and had to thin out sugar beet. Wages were very low, sometimes not even enough to pay for the meals. We were not allowed to leave the place guarded by police, and it was forbidden to keep in touch with deportees in other camps. People breaking the rules got severe punishments: beating or revoking some favours e.g. correspondence, getting parcels.
We named the farms after their characteristic features. this way Field-mouse Farm was infamous for all the rats there. There was one exception Nagy Béla Farm named after the original owner; this became the police-station. During the period we spent there, babies were born and people died at Ebes. Some committed suicide and some even tried to escape. But nobody was successful in escaping from the camp as the police always brought the person back.
After the amnesty in 1953 the camp was closed, they let the deportees free, but they were not allowed to go back to their homes, their properties were confiscated. The site of the camp was razed to the ground. Nothing can be found from the barracks and stables that served as dwellings.
After the political changes former deportees of Ebes, some of whom left Hungary, erected a memorial in the garden of the Reformed Church to commemorate all those who lost their freedom, their future, and quite a few of them even their lives during the dictatorship. There are always fresh flowers at the memorial to show that the former forced labourers and their children will never forget their sufferings.
The Elep Camp memorial tablet can be seen on the wall of the doctor's office, it was set up in September 2003.
Elep Labour Camp functioned between May 1951 and October 1953, it was a unit of the Hortobágy State Farm, near the Main Eastern Canal. The still existing central building of the state farm was at the junction of route 33 and the road leading to Nádudvar. At present it houses an inn. The other buildings, originally belonging to Kadaresi farms, have been demolished. If we start from the junction in the direction of Nádudvar, after 1,5 kilometers, on the right side we find the old granary. The settlement to the right did not exist at the time of the labour camp.
The first families were brought to Elep in May 1951, and soon a lot of others followed. In July 1951 deportees were brought here from Magyaróvár and vicinity, Sopron district, then from Koszeg, Szombathely and Szentgotthárd districts, in September people from Nagyatád and vicinity were trans-ported to the camp. Later in May 1952 deportees were carried off from Gyékényes, Nagykanizsa and from villages along the Dráva River. At that time the population of the camp was 908 scattered in the farm buildings of a larger area. The farms were called: Ecseri, Bléga, Erdei, Erdész, Bácsi, Gaá1 Dobó and Béres.
At the beginning 5-6 policemen guarded the deportees, later their number increased to 12-14. Three police-chiefs followed one another. The police-chief appointed a leader for the camp from the deportees. Four people got this task one after the other in the camp.
Most of the deportees were brought from the following villages and towns: Rajka, Máriakálnok, Albertkízmérpuszta, Hegyeshalom, Mosonszolnok, Mosonszentpéter, Mosonszentjános, Pusztasomorja, Várbalog, Hidegség, Nagy-cenk, Balf, Kópháza, Brennbergbánya, Sopron, Zsira, Pornöapáti, Felsőszölnök, Vaskeresztes, Kőszeg, Agfalva, Hegykő, Fertőrákos, Pinnye, Perenve, Szentpéterfa, Alsóbönöck, Felsőcsatár, Narda, Őrtilos, Gvékénves, Szentmihálvhegy, Zákány, Görgeteg, Nagvberek, Bozsok, Nagyatád, Szeged, Daránv, Bulcsu, Horvátlövő, Kerkateskánd, Csákánydoroszló, Csurgó, Daránv, Tornyiszentmiklős and Pinke.
The release of the deportees started in August 1953, and the last deportees were allowed to leave the camp at the end of October. First the elderly, people who were unable to work were released, and families with small children. Altogether two families remained there, they were employed by the state farm and got a place where to live. The release documents stated that nobody was allowed to move back to his original village or town. This restriction was lifted only in the spring of 1957.
The deportees who died in Elep camp were buried in different cemeteries in Balmazújváros, Hajdúszoboszló and Nagyhegyes if not taken elsewhere later. Sometimes they just buried people near the camp, but the numbers are unknown. In the past years the still living former deportees have met a couple of times. Some of them live abroad; others died, about 40-50 live in the country. Those who were deported from Magyaróvár County live relatively close to one another, others live all over the country. The former camp leader succeeded in finding and inviting the Elep deportees to different programs of the Hortobágy Association, and 25 of them came to the meetings. The almost one thousand deportees were split in smaller groups living in different farm buildings not very close, and because of the restrictions some of them did not even know the others. After their release they tried to find
new homes in different parts of Hungary. But still several documents, photos, and con-temporary sketches bring back the memories of Elep Camp and fellow deportees.
Between 1950 and 1953, 169 families, 500 people suffered in forced labour camps at Tiszaszentimre Farm 9, Erzsébet Farm and László Farm. The memorial was erected by the survivors in 2002. HKTEE
The former Návav manor-house in the outskirts of Tiszaszentimre village, opposite the manor-house you find Mária Grove. In the shade of the trees there is a small chapel with the statue of the Holy Mary and a black marble memorial tablet in memory of the forced labour camps of Tiszaszentimre, László Farm and Erzsébet Farm. The camp at Tiszaszentimre was established at the time of the first mass deportations from the southern border region of Hungary, most of the families were carried off from Csongrád and Baranya Counties.
Around half past two in the morning. June 23. 1950 under the direction of the newly organized State Security Forces and the help of the local authority, policemen banged the doors and the State Security surrounded the houses of the people on the list. They informed the head of the family that they had to leave the place in half an hour, and they can only take as much as they can carry. The desperate families packed some clothes, bed-linen, plates, pots and pans in haste. They were taken to the station and transported in cattle-cars. On this day 264 people were deported and taken to labour camps from 18 villages in Csongrád County, 59 people from eight villages from the vicinity of Villánv, Baranya County. The deportees from Csongrád County arrived at night on 24th; those from Baranya County came on the third day to their assigned, guarded camp. When the deportees arrived at the railway station of Tiszaszentimre armed policemen and members of the State Security escorted them on tractors and trucks. They placed 120 people in the labour camp. The camp consisted of a granary, stables and other farm buildings. The police with the 9 policemen got the only house; they had the police-chiefs office and the jail there. The deportees, from babies to the very old were housed in the granary, in the attic of the granary and in a stable. They had only straw to sleep on. 120 people lived, slept, washed and ate (if they had food) in the granary.
As they arrived in summer when the bulk of the work is done in the fields, everyone considered healthy had to work under severe police surveillance. At dawn the deportees were counted, then policemen escorted them in smaller groups. They had to go kilometers on foot to work in the fields. While working they were even forbidden to talk to "free" people or buy something on the way. If somebody tried to buy something and the police found the food at the evening search, they confiscated it, and the guilty person was sent to jail. Meanwhile a kitchen was set up, where in large kettle chicory coffee was made for breakfast, for lunch something like beans or peas. Supper was some weak tea.
On Sundays they had to make sun-dried bricks out of which they built a new building during the summer of 1950, where the people from the attic of the granary moved for winter. At night police came to inspect if everyone was there, they went around the buildings with flashlights. Occasionally they ordered every-one old and young to go out at midnight to take roll call. The deportees were allowed to receive letters and parcels only in the second year of their deportation. Visitors were never allowed. Hope that one day this will all end, was most often followed by despair.
The deportees awoke on May 31, 1952 to see a crowd of people in the middle of the camp. It turned out that 381 people were brought from Vas County. For days they were in the yard, as they did not have any place. Later 102 of them remained in our camp; the others were taken to László Farm. Seeing that new deportations occurred, our release seemed very unlikely in the near future. October 12, the same year the commander of the camp informed the deportees that they had to pack the following morning, as the camp would be moved to a new place, a few kilometers from there to Erzsébet Farm. The deportees were taken there on carts and trailers.
The real trauma happened on February 5. 1953, when more families. actually 51 people were brought to the camp. The new deportees were also desperate. not to speak about those who had already spent two years in the camp. The "old"
tried to comfort the newcomers. The number of deportees rose to 493 in the camp.
Release arrived only in September or October 1953. after Stalin's death. The former deportees, who were nor allowed :o return to their villages near the border of the count-a in great numbers in Szeged and Pécs, and tried to start anew with-out owning anything. They were left destitute, as they did not get their properties and possessions back. Though their life was very hard even after the deportation, they found opportunity to meet and remember the past. Quite a number of poems written in the camp and songs the deportees sang recall the memories of Tiszaszentimre Camp.
The story of the forced labour camp on László Farm is closely connected to that of Tiszaszentimre Camp 9. Therefore the memorial tablet shows the name of both camps. On May 31, 1952, 381 new deportees were brought to the camp with already 349 people. The Szombathely division of State Security Forces deported them from the western border region. The State Security did not inform the Interior Ministry or the county police about the arrival of the deportees, so they had no building where to place them. Thus they were temporarily put up in the tents provided by the farm.
Finally the police authorities and the Hortobágy Trust found a solution to place the 381 deportees from Vas County. They housed 279 people in stables on the nearby László Farm, and the remaining 102 people were placed in the already overcrowded Tiszaszentimre Camp. So the last but one camp was established at László Farm, and after a few weeks, June 23, 1952 the last one, Borsós Camp was set up. Considering the number of deportees László Farm is one of the smallest. Kormópuszta Camp established on June 23. 1950 and László Farm were the camps where the number of deportees was less than 300, while the average number of deportees in other camps was between 500-1000.
The police-chief of László Farm was chosen from the members of the police station at Tiszaszentimre Camp, and deportees remember him as one of the worst members of the "K" police force.
The release of the deportees and starting new lives for the families who were still not allowed back to their original villages and towns happened the same way in all camps as prescribed by the Ministry of Interior.
The first group of deportees was brought from Zala County on June 25, 1950. Nothing was prepared for their arrival; most of them bad to spend the night in the open air. After cleaning out 50 centimeters thick manure from two sheepfolds only straw was thrown on the ground to house about one hundred families. Their camp was at Lovas Farm at the junction of route 33 and the road going to Nagviván. The camp had to move before winter to Piroska Farm six kilometers from Love Farm. Here people slept in makeshift beds and a kitchen was set up, but the distance doubled to work.
The number of deportees in the camp almost did not change in two years, until on June 19, 1952, 52 families from Nagykanizsa and 40 families from the Nagykanizsa area were brought here. At that time the camp was located on Jusztus Farm where the earlier deportees had already been moved.
A camp belonging to Kócs was set up in the first year at Tiszaugar where 70 deportees were placed; mostly families without children considered effective labourers. When the deportees did not have enough work, they were sent off to other state farms far longer periods, this way families were torn apart. Before the release from the camp the number of deportees was 625 according to reports for the Ministry of Interior. Earlier the numbers changed due to death, released children and elderly, and because some deportee families were brought from the area between the Danube and the Tisza River.
This camp was under the surveillance of the Szolnok County Police Headquarters; "K" police guarded the deportees with 6-10 policemen. The circumstances were the worst and police surveillance unbelievably strict and the cruelest among the four forced labour camps in Szolnok County and the eight camps in Hajdú County. The camp had to be self-supporting with little help from the state farm. The state farm provided a farm-wagon to bring some goods from the village, and gave straw to heat with. The 23 decagrams of bread per person shows that families were starved compared to the amount people could buy under rationing all over the country. To make matters worse the confinement to the camp did not case a bit during the 40 months existence of the camp. The deportees were not allowed to have visitors, receive parcels, except tar a very short time. Piroska Camp was 20, Jusztus Camp 14 kilometers from Tiszafüred, and people had to walk to work 15 kilometers on the average. Corporal punishment was regular and a lot of humiliating atrocities happened. Health care was minimal, and children got the least possible schooling; in 40 months children attended school for only four months. A policeman committed suicide and three others were imprisoned for years because they made some allowances for the deportees.
After the labour camp was closed down nobody was allowed to move back to the place they had been deported from, had no right to claim his property and belongings. Much later instead of a full compensation the government decided on a par‑tial compensation. Nobody has been held responsible for the deportations that are considered crimes against humanity; nobody has been punished for giving order for or executing the deportations. Only about 30 percent are alive of the former deportees.
Kónya Camp just like Árkus Camp is deep in the prairie; the site is desolated even today. The first deportees arrived on June 24, 1950. At that time there were four buildings: a former German barracks for 120 people, a sheep-fold for 1000
sheep (it still exists and can be seen in the picture), and two houses with two rooms each, these were for the special police to guard the deportees. The barracks was a part of the camp, but does not exist any more.
If we stand in front of the monument (kopjafa) and notice the buildings of the former police-station, the camp was about a hundred meters to the right. By 1951 the camp consisted of two barracks, two sun-dried brick buildings and there was a separate house for the kitchen and storage. All these formed a U-shape with a well in the middle and a latrine in the back. Most of the deportees were carried off with the first huge group of people from villages of the southern border region of the country. A few days after them women and children were brought from Hatvan. In Hatvan after the Franciscan friars had been carried off, there was protest against this action, and the protesters who worked for the Hungarian Railroad Company were punished. The fate of the women from Hatvan became extremely difficult, as their husbands had been taken to Recsk (the worst concentration camp in Hungary) earlier, and this way the women had to struggle alone for the livelihood of their children and elderly family members without knowing anything about their husbands. The monument commemorates the deportation from Hatvan; the monument was carved from an oak brought from Recsk. After this the number of deportees did not change significantly. We can read the following in a report: total number of deportees 482, men capable of work 167, women capable of work 147, men incapable of work 14, women incapable of work 40, and 114 children under the age of 16.
Life in the forced labour camp can be characterized with quotations taken from the documentary novel written by József Lukács: "We had to stand in line with our families, we were counted, they put down our names, took all our personal documents." ...
“During the three years we were counted every other week."... "Two weeks after our arrival a sudden storm lifted the shed like a matchbox, and turned it over in a second, then the rain started pouring in. Only the elderly and we children were around. We took our belongings and moved into the sheepfold. The manure had already been cleaned out: even the floor was washed with chloride. But there was no time to whitewash the walls."
Kónya Farm just like Árkus Farm still exists. and the crumbling sheepfold shows how depressing the place was at the time of our deportation, the one-time Hungarian GULAG.
The dignified memorial cross rising out of rocks commemorating Kormópuszta forced labour camp can be found in the churchyard of the Tiszagvenda Roman Catholic Church. The first reason for placing the memorial there is that the former camp buildings, that were 5-6 kilometers from the village, had been razed to the ground, and secondly because the deceased deportees of Kormbpuszta camp were buried in the cemetery of Tiszagvenda.
Dr. József Saád, a former deportee himself, gives a dramatic description of these burials in his October 14, 1989 Magyar Nemzet article:
"For two years caring for the sick in camp was the duty of a medical student, who tried to defend the sick and injured from police relentlessness. After the student's release decisions on any kind of health problems was up to the police. They buried the dead in the Tiszagvenda cemetery at night. The deportees made the coffins, and the police escorted the deceased's relatives to dig the graves in daytime. In this way the village people got to know about the burial, and they and their priest waited for the deceased with candles at the out-skirts of their settlement. The burials of deportees from Kormbpuszta soon became significant events, opportunity to show compassion and sympathy. People from the neighbourhood expressed their solidarity at a lot of other occasions and at different places."
In the very same camp a very unusual case happened, when the deportees went on strike as a result of their desperation. We can read about the strike in the Magyar Nemzet article: „In spite of all the struggles of settling in the camp the first six months were considered a "better period" in the memories of the deportees. But following this period corporal punishment, harassment of women, checking on the deportees at night became frequent. Some were beaten to death; others became crippled by the beatings. At its worst, the autumn of 1951 the deportees of the camp went on strike. They protested against the undrinkable water, the epidemic danger, and because a fellow deportee suffering from malaria had been unconscious for days; and because the police did not give permission to take him to the doctor. After police reinforce-ment had been called from Kunhegves, they decided to negotiate.”
Kormópuszta was one of the seven camps where deportees were brought to the first forced labour camps of Hortobágy from villages in the southern border region of the country after a well-organized, secret action directed by the State Security Forces on June 23, 1950. Out of the seven camps three were in Szolnok County and under the direct surveillance of the Szolnok police-station. Kormópuszta does not belong to Hortobágy geographically, but in those days as a political category it was among the Hortobágy forced labour camps in the reports of the Interior Ministry, just like Tiszaszentimre 9 Camp.
The camp had two distinctive features compared to other camps. It had the lowest number of deportees, 271 people, who were brought from villages in Bács-Kiskun County. It is worth mentioning while the other camps got new deportees continuously, the number of people in Kormópuszta did not change much, except for a few babies born there and the relatively high number of deceased. The number of deportees was 254 before the release in July 1953.
Kormópuszta was 6-8 kilometers from any populated area and the strictly controlled camp belonged to Bánhalom State Farm. The deported families were crowded into two farm buildings, later they built an addition, and this way there was a row of buildings. A little further the police had its own building. To the west vast rice-fields awaited the deportees to cultivate them. A significant number of deportees came from different ethnic groups: "bunyevác, sokác" (Southern Slays) and German. About 40% of the deportees were German.
Very tight control was typical in the camps of Szolnok County. Except for the first months there was no possibility to correspond or receive parcels. In the camps belonging to Hajdú-Bihar County these favours were granted more frequently, though they could be revoked any time.
Kormópuszta exists only in our memories, and some old drawings show the buildings and the three poplars we remember.
If travelling to the east from Polgár to Hajdúnánás after the 9th kilometer-stone you will find the memorial in the picture. The inscription says: „This road leads to Lenin Farm, the forced labour camp, where between June 23, 1950 and October 31, 1953, 175 families, 630 people, babies, children, adults and elderly were brought without being sentenced to be captives forever.
To commemorate the deportation for the future the memorial was erected by the survivors on September 14, 2003.”
Between 1 and 2 am, during the night of June 23, 1950 from 55 Baranya and Somogy County villages and from the city of Pécs 115 families were forced to leave their homes, and at the same time their properties and possessions were confiscated. From July 1951 to March 1953, 60 more families. 265 people from 18 villages or towns were brought to Lenin Farm forced labour camp. They came in cattle-cars or trucks. To house the deportees there was a sheepfold, an army bar-racks, a stable, a shed, a granary and the attic of the police building and that of the administrative building of the farm. Three sun-dried brick houses were built each with two rooms in autumn of 1950. Conditions and housing were terrible and almost did not change in 40 months.
If we had work, working hours started at daybreak and lasted until sunset, and working after hours was frequent at night. Our wages could not be lower, but the families with few people capable of work suffered even worse privation, in spite of meals provided by the deported workers of the stare farm.
We were isolated from the outside world; news came only through illegal channels. Our correspondence was censored. Health care was not sufficient and very rhapsodic from the beginnings. Hygienic circumstances could not be more primitive. Children who were supposed to go to kindergarten or school almost did not get any schooling and did not have any school supplies.
The ratio of males and females was approximately fifty-fifty. 35% percent of the deportee population in camp were children under 16 and people older than 60. 65% of the heads of the families were small-holders and wealthy peasant farmers so-called kulaks, about 20% army or gendarme officers from the Horthy era, 15% craftsmen, merchants, carriers, innkeepers, and intellectuals. In 1952 and 1953 relatives got permission to take in some of the small children and elderly people who were unable to work.
After our release for years a lot of trials, privation, humiliation, and discrimination awaited the former deportees, who started their new lives in great poverty.
Tedej is the northern most camp among the twelve forced labour camps, and it was the tenth to be established. It can be found where Hajdú-Bihar County is connected to the geographical region of Nyírség. Thus it only belongs to the Hortobágy labour camp system in a political sense, as the twelve camps were regarded in contemporary Interior Ministry reports.
The camp in Tedej was set up on December 7, 1951, when the first group of deportees, 343 people, was transported here. The next group was brought two weeks later with 661 deportees. The police-station had 9 policemen to guard the deportees. Most families came from villages in the southern border region of the country, they were rounded up at night, on December 19, boarded cattle-cars in Baja, and after a long train ride arrived at dawn, on December 21 at Tedej railway-station situated to the north of Hajdúnánás. They were crowded into the farm buildings around the center of the state farm, in a bunkhouse, a stable, and a shed. During winter another big stable was built to house the deportees. This made circumstances a little less crowded, as they could place almost 300 people in the still very wet stable.
This procedure was strange and unexplainable. Why did they carry out their action during Christmas time, in the frosty weather of winter, when there was yen- :Effie a done in the fields? Thus the families, who had to live on the--own provisions, ran into debt at the camp kitchen. A lot o~ them went hungry, as they had no income. The center of the state farm, not far from the mass housing, was off limits for the deportees. They did not receive their wages in the center, but got it in their camp office where the calculation was done. The state farm calculated the wages in a very corrupt way, so that the police had to ask for an investigation from the authorities. There was a case when one person earned 1 forint and 35 pennies in a week.
Just like in the other camps children of school age got some kind of instruction from one of the deportees assigned for the task. But in winter, because of the deep, watery mud the children were unable to go from one barrack to the other. Infrequently a doctor came from Hajdúnánás; for severe cases there was a hospital in Hajdúnánás. Six people died in the first month. The number of children was 149, and there were 105 people unable to work. Before our release the number of deportees was 670.
At the site of the camp the farm buildings still exist, and a memorial tablet will be set up after the publication of our work.
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